It has been two centuries since humankind began exploring space, and a monitoring system at the far reaches of the solar system has picked up something strange. There appears to be a new comet moving through the system, but calculations predict that it will miss Earth easily. Probes are sent out to study the comet, but as they approach, it suddenly becomes brighter. It changes course toward the probes, destroying them and moving toward Earth.
The U.N. member nations combine their efforts and create special orbit-shifting missiles that are fired toward the comet to change its course. Instead of crashing into the Earth, it hits our moon instead, creating a large crater. Probes sent to study the remains find nothing out of the comet, but do find a group of alien spacecraft lurking about.
What does all this mean, you say? A response to the critical shortage of horizontal scrolling shooters perhaps?
Dead Moon is indeed a horizontal 2D shooter, and includes the typical power-ups, a choice of weapons and plenty of blasting to be done. It has been said that there is always room for another shooter, but ...
There are only six levels to complete, of which some are divided into two sections. Your mission proceeds first from the cities of Earth. After clearing the skies there, it's to the surface of the moon, then into a cave beneath the surface, a hidden lake and finally the core of the moon. Apparently unlimited continues make this game seem even shorter, unfortunately. Each game starts with three lives and three "bombs" for inflicting heavy damage.
Power-ups consist of four different weapon types, each of which has four levels of destruction. Guided missil and circling "drone" power-ups also provide a measure of the protection from the enemies and have several levels of power as well. An occasional "smart bomb" power-up will also float by, which clears the screen of enemies when nabbed.
The enemies follow set patterns that are fairly easy to memorize after a few plays, and about the only strategy required is deciding which weapons work best upon which enemies and bosses. Building up your weapon's power isn't really a problem, as not only are the power-ups fairly plentiful, but they are usually easy to grab. One level actually gives you eight power-ups in a row before a single enemy appears.
Graphics, both backgrounds and foregrounds, aren't too bad. The enemies are varied and look okay, though the bosses are a bit plain. The background graphics have excellent scrolling -- I counted nine separate planes of scrolling in one area -- and are pretty good throughout.
Longevity is going to be the problem, as you can probably guess. Six levels and unlimited continues should let even weaker players knock this one off without much work. As compared to other shooters available for the TurboGrafx-16, it certainly isn't the worst, but it doesn't have any freshness to make it especially attractive.