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Moon Diver Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While it's easy to compare it to Capcom's 1989 hit Strider, Moon Diver certainly stands on its own. The game does suffer from repetitive gameplay and a bit too much grinding, but the fact-paced action and four-player mode more than makes up for the shortcomings! Rating: 71%
Moon Diver
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Sometimes it feels like I became a games journalist just so I could beg, plead and demand Capcom make a proper sequel to Strider. Although the name doesn't command much attention these days, this arcade gem (the first must-own game for the Sega Genesis) is one of my all-time favorite games. While it's likely we've seen the last of Strider Hiryu, that isn't stopping series creator Koichi Yotsui from continuing on the legacy ... sort of.

Moon Diver is, by all accounts, a next generation version of Strider. While it's not connected in any way to the Capcom series, there are enough similar gameplay elements to confidently draw a line from one game to the other. You play one of several anime-inspired characters, each with their own lightning-fast swords and starting specialty. The idea is to run from left to right (and sometimes vertically) hacking, slashing and using your many special abilities to take down gigantic bosses. Even with a few brief cut-scenes sprinkled throughout the levels, Moon Diver is the type of arcade-style experience that would have felt right at home on my shelf of Genesis games.

Moon Diver (XBLA)

But don't write Moon Diver as a relic of the past, there are a surprising amount of modern ideas keeping this game fresh. For one thing there's a big emphasis on multiplayer cooperation. While some action games let you bring along a friend, Moon Diver offers four-player support online and off. There is also an RPG-style leveling up system, which allows players a chance to customize their favorite character in one of three ways (strength, magic and health).

Leveling up your character is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, it's always fun getting credit for killing enemies. Then again, I found myself repeating levels far too many times in order to level up my character enough to battle the next big challenge. The levels go from easy to painfully difficult in no time, making the single-player experience a frustrating one. This is made worse by the lack of checkpoints or extra lives. When the player's health reaches zero it's game over and back to the stage select. This can be incredibly annoying when you've spent ten minutes fighting to a boss that can beat you in one hit.

Moon Diver (XBLA)

In order to even stand a chance, players will have to repeat stages multiple times to collect the experience points. This is a little easier with friends helping you, but there are times when the added chaos makes things even more frustrating. The fact that players start so weak takes away a big chunk of what made the original Strider so cool in the first place. Hiryu's sword was able to cut through his enemies in a single swing, while everybody in this game takes multiple hits. Eventually you'll level up to the point where large crowds of baddies is no problem, but that certainly isn't the case in the first few hours of the game.

With only a few regular attacks and not much else, the gameplay in Moon Diver is fairly pedestrian. Players have a choice between quickly mashing the sword button, or holding it down for a more powerful (and considerably longer) strike. Each character has a few kick attacks, including a speedy slide and an aimed air kick. There is also double jump that can quickly take out weaker enemies. In a curious move, the developers have decided to equip Moon Diver with a crouch button.
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