Moon Diver Hands-On Preview

The director of Strider tries his hand at a new downloadable multiplayer action game.

You might not immediately recognize the name Kouichi Yotsui, but if you've been playing video games for a while, you probably know some of his work--most notably Capcom's popular action game, Strider. Not surprisingly, Yotsui's newest project, Moon Diver, bears some resemblance to the arcade classic in fundamental ways. Each of the four playable characters is equipped with a melee weapon that functions not unlike Strider Hiryu's scythe in that attacks are rapid, but they have relatively short range. Additionally, each of these four characters can also cling to walls and other surfaces to attack enemies or to just generally avoid danger.

Indeed, Moon Diver's core gameplay feels very Strider-like, but there are some key differences that give Moon Diver the depth its arcade ancestor lacks. Each character starts with varying stats for health, magic, and power--the kind of stats you start out with will be determined by the character you choose. For example, if you select Seyfert, you'll have balanced stats, whereas if you select the beefy Ourion, then you'll have more power than the other characters. This means that your strategy, at least early on in Moon Diver, will be largely dictated by your character's strengths. But, as you kill enemies, you gain experience and eventually level up. At the end of each stage (or restarting one after death), you have the opportunity to put extra points into individual stats, so if you find that your character isn't strong enough or you're running out of magic power too quickly, then you can increase your stats in those areas to compensate.

This becomes an increasingly important aspect of Moon Diver as you progress through increasingly difficult stages found within each level. Moon Diver can be quite punishing at times if you're not closely paying attention to what's happening onscreen or if you're not using all the tools at your disposal. One such tool is the moonsault combination--a special ability that uses your magic power. What these special abilities do depends on which ones you have equipped. You can have up to four equipped at once (accessible via the D pad), but each character starts with a single default moonsault. Some of them are offensive oriented, shooting out bolts of energy or causing your character to zip around the screen to inflict damage on all enemies in the area. Others are passive, granting you some extra power for brief periods of time or even enabling stealth that momentarily prevents cannons and other such weapons from tracking you. To get these other abilities, or to use stronger versions of them, you have to find them as they're generally placed in hard-to-reach areas within a level.

Up to four players can play at once.

The dynamics of the moonsault combinations are changed somewhat when participating in a four-player multiplayer game (players can drop in and out at any time). In fact, you can actually team up with other players to use one of these abilities. If one player requests to do a moonsault with you, then you receive the benefit of not losing any magic power for doing so. This feature is especially handy with dealing with some tough bosses that are easy to waste magic on if you're not careful. Of course, just having other players in a game to help deal out damage is pretty helpful as well.

The nice thing about Moon Diver's leveling system and your various skills is that you do become noticeably stronger throughout the course of the game. Enemies that appeared in earlier levels are easily dispatched in later levels with a powered-up character, but Moon Diver will throw plenty of other challenges at you during the course of the game that require more than just a strong character to survive. Moon Diver is currently scheduled for release on March 29 on the PlayStation Network and sometime in April for Xbox Live Arcade.

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Discussion

27 comments
jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

the reason this reminds you of strider is because it was made by the same guy.

JJB03
JJB03

@meleekill989 thats a good thing power rangers were awesome back in the day! XD the dinosaur version of them were the best

CruiserCaptain
CruiserCaptain

I like an old side scroller now and then, but I am getting tired of 90% of DLC for PSN being sidescollers and simple looking puzzle games. I mean can't we atleast get something like an updated NES style Zelda game (Zelda-like, I know it's Nintendo franchise) with some co-op adventuring or something. I'll take the classic graphics and isometric camera views, just please give us something other than 50 more sidescrollers. Not saying they are ALL bad, simply that it is about all we get.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@Gliave You have no gaming soul man.If you look at Braid its completely old school and OUTSOLD a huge amount of next gen games and is considered way up there in quality. Gameplay is gameplay and if people like it why change it.I mean look at nintendo, they barely ever change anything lol.

Ceraby
Ceraby

Hm...I do like the levelling up element and the co-op...

om3g4_prim3
om3g4_prim3

Rock... ON! love side scrollers with RPG elements! especially when they are co op.

travisstaggs
travisstaggs

If FeelPlus didn't have such a sketchy record I would definitely get this before any reviews. Hopefully it turns out good, though.

ElementalSoljer
ElementalSoljer

Not going to lie, in its current state, it looks pretty bland. Especially when you look back at Strider 2 and the recently released, Hard Corps: Uprising. Better pull some major rabbits out of their hats. Also, before I started reading the piece, I thought the main protagonist was DMC's Dante. Getting sick of seeing platinum-haired, girlie heroes.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

A side scroller that looks to be worth downloading I'll at least give it a shot.

Dualmask
Dualmask

Looks like my kind of game. More like this need to be made. If side scrollers are old school/retro then so are racing games, FPS games and just about every other genre out there. All have existed pretty much since the early days of gaming. Good gameplay transcends. That's why 2D Mario consistently outsells 3D Mario, after all.

Dragorro
Dragorro

Megaman Zero minus the buster looks good and sleek.

youngsexynerd
youngsexynerd

this looks pretty cool, it like a side scrolling devil may cry!

Gliave
Gliave

We buy next gen 250-350$ consoles these days...For side-scrollers.. Put the freagin things to use, and invest in Next Gen games instead ffs...

meleekill989
meleekill989

i like that it reminds me of strider. i don't like that it also reminds me a little of power rangers.

meleekill989
meleekill989

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

meleekill989
meleekill989

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lowkey254
lowkey254

I love a good side scroller. They're usually better than AAA games.

kamiboy
kamiboy

Man, I just cannot get into side scrollers with 3D graphics, I mean not at all. Why does no one try to go for the Symphony of the Night pure 2D sprite look, only with higher res sprites these days? No even Konami has tried, and the terrible Harmony of Despair does not count. Using 3D graphics in 2D platformers and not putting a ton of polish and charm into the graphics like in Donkey Kong Country Returns just makes the end result look bland. Oh, and do not get me started on blending 2D sprites and 3D graphics like in the upcoming Hard Corps, talk about a missed opportunity.

Ronin893
Ronin893

:question: Do people still care to play simple games like this anymore? i think you have to do a lot more than run and slash to make people wanna play.

eugoreez
eugoreez

since when gaming is about graphics? it should be about fun... im going to try this game.. multiplayer for this kind of game is never a minus...

Kratos_Kills
Kratos_Kills

imo looks good. its very similar to strider too, which is good imo.

megakick
megakick

this looks really bad the graphix. strider for genesis looks better.

brain56
brain56

Gameplay looks outdated and...er...boring.

jjmonster2006
jjmonster2006

it looks like a Sega version of Castlevania.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

The character in the video sounds like a manlier version of Link :P

fkbwii
fkbwii

What if you could rent PSN and XBLA games? That would be cool because this game is worth rental to me.