Moon is probably the most influential PS1 “RPG” that no one has ever played. Seeing its first localization on the Switch courtesy of Onion Games is this legendary title really as good as they say?.
Moon is a Playstation 1, RPG from 1997 by a rather obscure company called Love-de-lic, this was a dream team of developers from Squaresoft. While they disbanded after only a few games, staff members have gone on to make some of the most iconic, unique, and quirky titles such as Chulip, Rule of Rose, Tingle’s Rosy Rupee Land, and Dandy Dungeon. If you’re familiar with any of the titles mentioned you’ll already know that Moon isn’t going to be a straight and “normal” path.
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure or Moon: The Anti RPG as it is known is often credited as the inspiration for some of the quirkiest titles such as Undertale and Chulip. It may be considered spoiling my review early but it has to be said, Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is a special, unique, and game-changing title, maybe even more so than its original 1997 release.
Moon starts out with a young boy playing a rather run of the mill JRPG, there is a hero, there are monsters to kill, townspeople to greet and a giant Dragon to slay. Each “save file” shows small sections of the game, after a few of these files have been played the main character is told to go to bed. The main character wakes and boots the game up, only this time they are drawn into the TV and become part of the game.
Here is the first indication something is different here. You’re not the hero, in fact you’re just a ghost until you acquire some clothes, and the NPCs of the world start to confuse you with another character who died.
The hero will then go off on their quest, walking into houses, helping themselves, killing monsters for EXP, and doing everything a hero does, at the expense of the NPCs of the world. It transpires that your task, rather than slay a dragon and save the world is to gather the most valuable resource, that resource being Love.
Do you know what people who want to gather and spread Love don’t do? They don’t fight and neither do you, the game features no combat at all, leaning into the “Remix” or “Anti RPG” theme of the game. Instead, you feel like you’re mopping up the mess of a clumsy and self-centered Hero who isn’t actually making anyone’s life any better.
You gather Love in various ways, solving puzzles, helping out the NPC cast, learning about the world & interacting with it, and returning the monster souls back to their bodies. To do the latter you’ll have to find the body and learn about the monster, what it did, where and when to find its soul, capture it then the creature in the U.F.O flies down and collects the monster, leaving love and Yenom which is the game currency.
Love is at the very core of everything in Moon, mainly your stamina, run out of stamina and it’s Game Over, back to your last save which is whenever you last went to sleep. Every time you acquire Love and go to sleep you’ll level up which allows you to have more stamina and do more with a day. Moon was revolutionary for its time in that it has day and night, week & NPC routine systems, this is a living, breathing world in a title from 1997. This meant that I found myself tackling the game a lot like Story of Seasons in that I’d plan my days like the one I was on drew to a close.
Each day in the world of Moon I would discover something new, learn more about one of the many brilliantly written characters, find another monster, witness more Hero destruction. The quirky cast of characters becoming ever more familiar to me, not flying through the world at breakneck speed and slaying everything in my path, just taking it nice and slow.
The music in Moon is phenomenal, but there is a little note to put here, you’re in charge of it. Throughout the game you’ll find CDs, you use these on your Walkman and this allows you to create a beautiful playlist of some of the best video game music to ever cross your ears!. Couple this with the unique blend of 2D sprites and Claymation with the most inspiring art direction just adds to the fact Moon is an experience.
The game has a rather charming digital manual online you can read and it has a line that really impacted on the way I played the game, it is along the lines of “put some music on and stand around”. Doing this while waiting for events or night time really soothed me and just drew me further into this fascinating, quirky, and endearing title.
I did find myself fumbling around the menus and pressing the wrong button here and there but aside from that and the harsh lesson of stamina early on, there isn’t anything negative I can say about Moon.
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is as its other name implies, the Anti RPG. There is no urgency, no conflict, no god slaying, and no High Schoolers with character development. Instead, you are given a world where rather than being its savior, you’re a part of it, you experience it, you listen to its music and you stop and take in the sights. You learn about its monsters and characters that in other RPG games you would slay or talk to once. You spread the Love and the game repays you by offering a genuine, one of a kind experience that has never been replicated since.
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is the most important title of 2020, this is for a few reasons. Not only is it a highly anticipated title that fans of obscure, cult games have clamored for over the years but it also the perfect antidote for all the chaos, disturbance, and uncertainty of the year. While you aren’t creating your retreat like a similar Nintendo title, you’re given a fully created world to explore, lose yourself in, have an adventure or just stop and smell the flowers. Thank you Onion Games & thank you everyone at Love-de-Lic, it may be much later than planned but the world finally gets its Moon.
Moon is one of the most important games to ever be released, especially since its original release in 1997