[Review] Moonlights

Discussion in 'iTunes App Store Reviews' started by Led, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. Led

    Led Banned

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    Developer: BonusLevel.org
    First released on June 13, 2009
    Reviewed on version 1.0.1
    Price is $0.99 at the time of writing
    Flash version can be found here

    Moonlights, in it's simplest form, is a physics based construction puzzler. Saying that, however, feels like a crime in the same sense that saying a Ferrari is just a car; it's much more. Moonlights combines accelerometer tilting, gravity changes, and difficult building environments to create an difficult and entertaining puzzle game. So, lets dive in:

    Interface:

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    The title screen

    The title screen is the usual, no-flare list of options seen in countless games before. The “About” link takes you to the credits, contact information, and a small list of what's to come. Back at the main menu are two, self-explanatory options in the bottom-right corner to toggle the music and sound effects.

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    The level list. The number to the right is your record for least nodes used

    Selecting “Play” brings you to a list of levels; forty-two to be exact. A cool little feature is the narrow bar to the left of the level list that turns from green to red to show increasing difficulty; it's common sense that the harder levels would be on the bottom, but I thought it was a nice tid-bit.

    Gameplay: The gameplay is where this game shines and shines brightly it does. Each level has one of three objectives. Most levels simply tell you to build to the Moonlight and hold a node in the light for three seconds. Others require you to collect all the stars in a level. A small few need you to collect the stars then climb to the top. While the concept sounds simple, the game uses multiple gameplay elements to make it not so. The physics, the crux of the entire game, are very, very well done. The physics act logically and never take any weird or unexpected turns; tilting your device is smooth and result in predictable outcomes.

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    Getting to the moonlight

    Building is very simple: tap your finger near two nodes, as they are called, and it will create another node between the two. If you tap in between two unconnected nodes, they will connect if close enough. The bonds created are not indestructible. If you put too much weight on a single connection, it could break, and your entire building would collapse. Deleting nodes are just as easy as making them; drag your finger across the nodes you want to delete and release it. A good number of levels have a node limit to increase difficulty; never have I felt that those levels should have more as doing so would make the game too easy.

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    Using fixed nodes such as these are one of the best ways to sturdy your structures

    Green moons will freeze any node that touches it in, and white moons will freeze the node that touches it in place and travel up a few nodes, freezing them. The biggest difference (besides the expansion of the ice) is that you can delete nodes attached to the green areas but not frozen by ice.

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    Using a bubble to navigate to the other stars

    In a few levels are bubbles that drag anything connected to it up. They are used to lift drooping structures, and some levels require you to float around and collect stars. Similar to the bubbles are clouds that reduce gravity and lets your nodes float up, but only in the boundaries of the cloud. Keep in mind that if you build to much, all your building will float down and out of the cloud.

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    Using clouds to get to the moonlight

    The only thing that can destroy your creations other than yourself are the very abundant red moons. Should a node happen to touch one it will be immediately deleted. Having all these concepts thrown at the player one after another would definitely be confusing for most, but Moonlights has nice video tutorials for each of the concepts as they're introduced.

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    The first video tutorial

    While the gameplay is solid and very well done it does have a few problems. The first might not be a problem at all. This game is hard. I thought I would be able to finish the game in a single morning. It ended up taking me two days. While some people might like a challenge, I thought this game got too frustrating at times. The single biggest problem I have with the game, however, is the gameplay pause menu. To bring it up, you have to shake your device. This was a horrible idea when using the accelerometer is a central part of the game. It's been rumored that the developer(s) will add a button in the next update, and I cannot help but hope that's correct

    Graphics: Do not expect much from the graphics. Everything there is done very well, but there isn't much to it. For example, the red moons works perfectly fine and are easily recognizable, but it's just red colored spheres. I would have loved to see it constantly change shades of red and flow as if it were magma; something to give it depth. The effects aren't very astounding; when a node is destroyed it fades away, when it is frozen in place it fades from black to green or white (depending on what it's frozen to), as it gets closer to the moonlight it turns from black to gray to white.

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    After beating the level, your construction is destroyed

    One exception, however, is the destruction of your buildings when you finish a level; from the point that reaches the moonlight it freezes, turns white, and is destroys itself from that point. It's fun to watch and is a well received reward for a completed level.

    Sound: Sound is very well done. The music feels appropriately spacial and fits with the lunar theme quite well (The flash version has the same music. Go listen!). The sounds effects aren't as nice as the music, but they work. There's a click when you place a node, a faint chink when you collect a star, a freezing sound when a node hits an ice moon, etc, etc. It's subtle and is barely audible over the music, but the sound effects are there. One thing that I would like to point out about the music is that, though very well done, it does not stop when you lock your device. I thought it would be common sense to silence all sounds when the game is suspended, but the game will continue to play the music unless you choose to turn it off at the main screen or close the application.

    Conclusion: Moonlights is a game with amazing gameplay that is both fun yet challenging, but is held back by a few bad choices. The gameplay is one of the most fun you'll have on your iPhone or iPod, but the poor choice to bring up the menu by shaking interrupted gameplay many times, often when I was holding my iPod still. The game lacks some sort of saving method which would have been a blessing in some of the more difficult parts. The graphics leave something to be desired, but the excellent music makes up for it. For 99 cents you can't go wrong.

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    This was Led's first review.

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  2. Axis

    Axis Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Cohesive and well-written review!
  3. TDG

    TDG Active Member

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    Very well written review Led, especially for your first one!

    I just suggest you come up with some scores, such as:

    "Graphics/Presentation - */10
    Controls/Gameplay - */10
    Audio - */10
    Replay Value - */10
    Value for Money - */10
    Overall - */10"
  4. JIMIneitor

    JIMIneitor Banned

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    you made me like buying it, but im tired, nice review
  5. Universal Denizen

    Universal Denizen Member

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    Great review Led! Looks like a fun game...
  6. studangerous

    studangerous Super Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    A well crafted review Led. Welcome to the review section mate

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  7. Chicken

    Chicken Retired Moderator

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  8. Led

    Led Banned

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  9. jbarnes

    jbarnes New Member

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    Good review!
  10. S.I.D. CrAzY

    S.I.D. CrAzY Active Member

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    Nice review, bought this when it came out and yes it's a good game

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