Back on the Xbox 360, fast action platform games came thick and fast, Super Meat Boy and N+ where great titles that moved away from the graphical masterpiece many expected from the generation and concentrated on top-quality gameplay.
Over the years, the genre has slipped from the forefront of what was Xbox Live Arcade, and as digital only indie titles become more prominent we’ve had a few games I could mention but it’s a surprise we haven’t seen more of life’s simple pleasures.
The Sun and Moon uses the same objective, get from A to B as fast as possible. You control a small dot on the screen, and have to collect a number of equally small dots to open up the exit. Simple right…..
Well, in short, yes, it’s very simple, and it’s more difficult selecting the next level than actually working out what to do next. On the map screen your greeted with a selection of numbered blocks, these are sometimes positioned a little haphazard, but generally stick to a large grid that expands as you unlock more levels, there’s no pressure to complete every individual level unless you’re chasing achievements, but you’ll have to beat some incredibly tough times if that’s on your agenda.
Once inside the level, you’ll have a matter of seconds if you wish to get top marks, and initially you’ll want to ignore this completely and concentrate on completion and getting to grips with the control and movement. As you expect there’s the standard movement on the left stick and jump on the A button, but after the first few levels, you’ll find you need to switch through walls to pass through the surrounding walls and floors. this is done using the X or B button, and once you traverse into the other side, an anti-gravity effect pulls you up the screen, to an extent this can be controlled, but it soon becomes more challenging.
By the time you proceed past the first 20 levels you’ll soon be propelling yourself through tall structures using the momentum of the force to help you delve further into the walls to grab one of those important small dots.
There’s a massive selection of puzzles on offer and for the most part the game becomes much more puzzling than platforming due to the timing and execution required in small steps.
As you progress through the various areas you’ll notice new sections open up, completing a set number of levels opens up another set, so by the time you’ve completed 50 levels you could be well on your way to playing the 100th, many levels are pretty straight forward once you get to grips with the mechanics, and while incredibly challenging it’s getting the flow right to level completion that’s hard. time and time again I found myself knowing exactly what was required, and how to do it, but carrying out 2, 3 or 4 little tasks without failing the others would present more than enough restarts, cursed outbursts and tempter tantrums.
This shows Sun and Moon at it’s best, there’s a real sense of achievement when you do pass these tougher levels, however you might want to wrap your controller up in cotton wool if your likely to throw it in a rage.
There’s sadly a little inconsistency with the level layout, in each area you’re generally introduced to a new mechanic, whether it’s passing through walls, or timing jumps across panels that appear and reappear, but within each set of 20 levels, you’ll find some far easier than others. I was regularly struggling to pass one for ten minutes, only to fly through the next 3 or 4 on the first attempt.
It’s not bad, as cramping the tougher levels towards the end of an area might mean many wouldn’t bother, and as there’s regularly 2 or 3 levels available at any time, it’s got to be seen as an intentional move to always provide a choice both on level and the difficulty.
It’s not possible to completely avoid anything you might regard as tough, but if you’re better at catapulting yourself through walls than timing your jumps then there’s always the chance of progression.
Graphically The Sun and Moon certainly falls short, I know it’s simplistic, but often too much so, I can’t help but feel disappointed by how basic it all looks, and I know so much more could have been done, even at the often blistering pace, a little more detail or at least making the dots and blobs a little more noticeable against the camouflage background would have been major steps towards a better performance.
Audio, while equally as simplistic is much more impressive, it’s catchy, fits the theme of the game and didn’t get too tiresome, sound effects are minimal, but remain part of the game without ever being distracting during tougher times.
overall it’s not a bad performance on the eyes and ears, and while I’ll get shot for saying so, it’s just a shame there wasn’t something more graphically.