March to the Moon

March to the Moon is a shooter with RPG-style leveling up and attribute upgrades.  The whole shmup genre typically makes blood dribble out my ears.  It’s just not my thing.  On the other hand, the whole upgradable stats thing I usually have a lot of fun with at Indie Gamer Chick.  That’s because my first instinct with any upgrade system is to try to abuse it.  Pour all points into one stat, over power it, and see where it gets me.  People say “that’s naughty of you, Catherine!  You should play XBLIGs the same way you play non-indie games.”  To which I say, this is how I play non-indies.  It’s also probably why I finish about half the RPGs that I start.

All text is presented on the stage, with you walking over it.  There's not a lot, but what is there is sometimes funny, in a "listen to what that crazy drunk is saying" sort of way.

All text is presented on the stage, with you walking over it. There’s not a lot, but what is there is sometimes funny, in a “listen to what that crazy drunk is saying” sort of way.

I suppose I see their point of view.  When I’m just playing games on my own time, fine, abuse the shit out of them.  Play Call of Duty with your feet.  Play Uncharted underwater.  Play Dishonored while listening to right-wing radio.  Whatever floats my boat.  But treating small, simple, single-manned XBLIGs that way is grossly unfair.  To which I say this: boo hoo.  If I can break the game and turn my character into an unkillable human panzer tank, not only is it my journalistic duty to do so, but I typically like those games more when I can do that.

And I could do that with March to the Moon.  Oh lordy, could I.  The concept here is you’re a dude who wants to get to the moon to, um, shoot pigs and cows and stuff.  The plot is a completely incomprehensible mind-fuck that is so transparently weird just for the sake of being weird that it’s almost sad.  However, I did often giggle at the absurdity of it all, which I’m guessing was the point.  Mostly, it just serves to move along the 80s shooter that accompanies it.  Level design is extremely straight forward.  There’s four worlds, each with eight levels, all of which are just auto-scrolling shooters.  Some of them last a minute or less.  In theory, you could probably beat the whole thing in under an hour.

Me?  I had planned on just running through it as fast as I could.  But then I got to the second world, which featured a variety of goblins that shoot at you.  And I noticed something: the goblins gave off a very generous amount of experience when you killed them.  “Ah-ha!” I exclaimed, “abuse ahoy!”  An hour of grinding later, my character went from a low-ranking hunter to high-ranking hunter-slash-“spirit” that ate enemies for breakfast and shit bones for lunch, which it presumably then fed to the attack dogs I had acquired.  I then finished the rest of the game in approximately thirty minutes.

And you know what?  I had a good time doing it.  Despite having an experience system that is very exploitable, March to the Moon is actually really fun.  Like with Bird Assassin, the brief time I spent grinding my stats up was worth it just to plow through the game and enjoy being an invincible super hero.  If there’s a problem here, it’s that March to the Moon is too basic for its own good.  The levels have nothing to bother the player besides enemies, many of which you can take down with just a couple of shots.  The variety of enemies is also a little lacking.  A lot of the enemies don’t even move.  They just sort of linger there, shooting straight ahead.  Because I had upgraded my hunting skills to fire arrows in five directions, I was able to clear whole stages without moving my character.  If the stages didn’t fly by so quickly, that might have gotten boring.

If they were aiming for graphics that pay tribute to truly ugly early 80s computer games, mission accomplished.

If they were aiming for graphics that pay tribute to truly ugly early 80s computer games, mission accomplished.

I never even died until the last level.  When I got there, I was like “oh shit, maybe I should have built up my stats more evenly.”  But then, it turns out that you can remove points from some attributes and reapply them towards stuff that’s more helpful.  For example, I had put a lot of XP into useless attack dogs.  They weren’t so helpful against the final onslaught of evil space pigs.  So I completely sacked the dogs and re-applied them towards helper spirits that I could spawn faster than they blinked out of existence.  With them, I had a bigger barnyard body-count than Outback Steakhouse, and the final boss (or bosses) were dead before they knew what hit them.

March to the Moon is shockingly shallow for a game with so many upgradable stats.  Sure, there’s extra difficulty modes after you beat the game once, and some people might enjoy those.  However, I was bummed that I couldn’t put more than 13 points into a stat.  Actually, that’s probably a good thing.  If I could have,  my “human panzer tank” would have been firing the gaming equivalent of nuclear warheads and the game would have crossed the line from “too easy” to “you could beat it by taping down the fire button.”  But, I still recommend it because fun is fun, and March to the Moon is unquestionably fun.  I would also recommend that its developer send the game to PETA for free outrage marketing ethical approval.

xboxboxartMarch to the Moon was developed by Califer Games

IGC_Approved80 Microsoft Points said “isn’t Califer what people in Texas call California?” in the making of this review.

March to the Moon is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  Find out where it’s roosting!

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

2 Responses to March to the Moon

  1. I should probably point out that the skill cap raises for each difficulty level. Also that the story continues and you find out why the animals were on the moon to start with.

    But more importantly, thank you for the review. You’ve definitely picked out a few more issues with the game than other reviewers have, which is great since I’m planning out the next one. My goal now is to get my next game higher on your leaderboard.

  2. Jimmy Page says:

    I have to agree, a fun thing to do is definitely to try and see how the system in the game can be abused or broken, sometimes for the insane results more than any advantage.

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