Have you ever woken up and thought “What I’d really like to be today is a moth. And not just any moth, but a moth that fires lasers”? If so, I’d first of all advise laying off the cheese before bed, and second of all point you at the latest to come out of 1CC Games. The original Space Moth DX was released way back in 2016 and what we have here now is the Lunar Edition of said game, promising to bring “the ultimate version of the beloved cult classic!”.
Normally at this point in a review I would talk about the story, the overarching narrative that drives your character (in this case, your little moth) to go out into the world and lay waste to every other living creature. Sadly, I can’t do this as there does not appear to be a story to speak of; not even a cutscene showing a spider spilling your pint or anything. Yep, in Space Moth: Lunar Edition it’s pretty much just straight on with the blasting.
Next thing on the checklist from the Reviewers Big Book of Stuff to Talk About is the way that the game is presented. And here the news is better, as compared to the original, the graphics have apparently been overhauled and improved. I didn’t play the original, so I’m not sure if that is true, but what I can say is that the Lunar Edition has a pleasingly retro look to it. The enemies are well designed and like to spew bullets absolutely everywhere, and there is not a hint of slowdown; not even as all the bullets in the world make their way towards your moth. The sound effects are all pretty good as well, and the tunes are nice, while also seemingly remixed from the original game. They complement the action nicely and help to suck you in.
Now, the meat and drink of the game – the way Space Moth: Lunar Edition plays out. From the beginning, you have two options to pick from; the regular moth, whose bullet spread pattern is all over the screen, and the hawk moth, who has a more organised spread of bullets, but also has a couple of orbiting turrets to add to its firepower. You know, just like you see in the garden! Having chosen your moth (I prefer the Hawk moth personally), it’s time to zoom off through what appears to be a garden and destroy all the (presumably) evil butterflies, frogs and assorted other insects. After blasting your way through a level, there is the inevitable boss at the end of each to deal with, all with wildly different attack patterns that will test your reflexes to the max.
Now, the actual combat systems on display here could do with a little explaining, as they are quite tricky to get your head round. There is a new scoring system this time around, and in order to maximise your score, you have to mix your attacks up. The A button is the standard shot button and it is this which “Soul Drains” the enemies that it hits; signified by them changing colour. However, soul draining enemies makes them cross, and they will shoot a lot more projectiles as a result. Once an enemy has been fully drained though, you can then hit it with the big laser attack (by pressing X) and this will not only kill them faster, but will add to the score multiplier.
Another mechanic that is present is a kind of ring that expands around your moth, which gets bigger as you successfully kill things – with a simple press of the Y button, any bullets that are inside the circle when you press it are converted into golden skulls, which add to the score multiplier at the end of the stage. The bigger the circle, the bigger the skulls and the higher the multiplier. All clear so far? The last combat option is the traditional bomb, that seems to take all the bullets on screen, convert them into red skulls, and then throw them at the enemies on screen.
This isn’t the longest game in the world, with only five levels to go at. Also, apart from the massive beetle boss, there aren’t any real obstacles for you to flit about, at least if you don’t count the massively high bullet count and the enemies flying down the screen at you. Luckily, the movement of the moth you choose is up to the job, although a word of caution: if you are firing the laser weapon, your movement is slower, so a pro tip is to release the laser button if you need to dodge. The collision detection is absolutely bang on though, and quite often I’d find myself almost ignoring what was happening further up the screen as I zigged and zagged through the projectiles on the screen.
So, Space Moth: Lunar Edition is a technically challenging shoot-em-up, with a lot of replayability as you chase the high scores. It’s a shame there are no online leaderboards, but other than that there’s enough here to keep you coming back for more. It helps that the difficulty is quite high as well, and if you lose all your lives and have to continue, your score is reset, so it keeps you on your toes. All in all, you could do worse than to give Space Moth: Lunar Edition a shot.
Space Moth: Lunar Edition is available from the Xbox Store