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DO (MAYBE) PLAY: Moon RPG Remix (PS1, Switch....soon PS4/PS5/PC (Steam))

How Many Lov-de-Lic Games Have You Played?

  • Sadly, none

    Votes: 10 62.5%
  • One

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • Two

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • Three

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • All three, AND their spiritual successors (Endonesia, Chulip, etc.)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16
  • Poll closed .

If you've never heard of this game before, well you're in for a treat; post-SNES/SFC era, some Square programmers, artists etc. left the company and went to do their own start-up, Love-de-Lic, headlined by Kenichi Nishi, and they set out to create some very unique, original and inspired gaming experiences, beginning with Moon: RPG Remix released in 1997. While called the "anti-RPG" by those who've played it, this descriptor is more apt in terms of the genre tropes and themes it provides deconstruction and commentary on, for the actual play structure is much more in line with a point-and-click adventure game mechanically...just without the point-and-click part.

The game focuses on a young boy who gets sucked into a literal JRPG game world, seeing beyond the typical scripted events and realizing that, to the entities within, it's a very real and whimsical world, characters with their own personalities, motivations, dreams, and pursuit of Love. Love plays a major part in this game: you do activities with and find items for characters to gain Love, you find the souls of departed animals to gather Love, etc. And with the Love you gather, you increase in your levels; these level increases increase your active time gauge, which determines how long your main character can stay about on foot before they get tired and need to go to bed. Stay out too long and he'll pass out, bringing a Game Over, though there are items you can acquire which can aid in staving this off.


One of Moon's greatest strengths is how well-realized its world is. The game has its own calendar system, its own (semi) astrology, its own world creation backstory, currency etc. While small by today's standards, the world invites exploration and has a semi open-world approach insofar as allowing the player to venture where they want, the only limiting factor being your stamina level. And, unlike many other open world games of today, practically every inch of Moon's world offers something for the player that is meaningful, whether that be items to procure, characters to meet, lore to discover, or most often, a mixture of all three. The world gives a very lived-in atmosphere, with the type of fun-hearted, whimsical, charming magical weirdness you'd only get from a Japanese indie developer of the '90s.

So, it sounds like a guaranteed recommendation, right? Wellll, yes and somewhat no. While I firmly believe everyone should at least play the game a little bit to experience its charms, for me some of the quirks in certain game design choices show their ugly head towards the start of the last third of the game. These issues have nothing to do with basic game mechanics, mind. Things like controls, collision detection, event triggering, data integrity (no save game glitches like certain surprising modern games) etc. all work perfectly. Singular game mechanics like gathering and using items, catching animal spirits and the such are very well done, and work together.


However, if you're understanding of the fact that Moon has a lot more in common with an adventure game than a JRPG, that should start to give you a hint to perhaps some of the rather deceptive and obfuscated logic you'd need to utilize to solve certain challenges later into the game, this exacerbated by the fact the game operates on its own rules of logic that, most of which, aren't predicated on the world in which we live in. This makes instinctual transfer of certain knowledge born of logic in our lives, almost nullified WRT worth of use in Moon: RPG Remix.

Now, I can enjoy a perplexing puzzle or two, and heading into the late game this should probably be expected. However, unless you're using a guide and/or doing extensive notetaking, you're likely going to have a very difficult time solving a lot of the latter puzzles, because unless you are absolutely intimately acclimated to the game's lore and worldbuilding like the back of your hand, you're not going to be able to solve many of the later puzzles by feel-only. Part of this is due to the nature of these puzzles; they aren't just usually logic-based, but also depend on timing.

And this extend beyond timing dexterity with catching certain things; you will also have to acclimate yourself with the game's calendar system. The various NPCs within the game world...ALL of them have their own daily routines, including doing certain tasks at certain times of the day, or only on certain days. If you don't either familiarize yourself with these schedules, or use a detailed guide, you WILL repeatedly miss out on key events to do to gather the Love you need to complete the game. Combined with the stamina system (which acts basically as a time limit), and you can easily find yourself reloading saves or cutting adventuring well short to go save your progress. This can also end up forcing the player to compartmentalize their Love gathering into very small bite-sized chunks, else they might run the risk of passing out due to no stamina, and getting a Game Over.

Basically, a little past the halfway point, Moon can start to become deviously difficult, much moreso than the general mood would let on, unless you are doing certain micro-management of puzzle events for Love and using a guide. However, the ever-increasing role of these two things feel very contrariwise to the open-ended, freeform, chilled nature of exploration Moon seems to give off, or at least it did for me. This feels like a game where I should be able to venture about however I feel, with little to stress about in terms of timer resources or complex NPC schedules & calendar systems, just meeting the characters and gathering on the lore.


Granted, this is supposed to be a game at the end of the day; there has to be some type of challenge present, and mechanics/systems in place to gradually challenge the player over the course of the game. IMO, if Moon: RPG Remix were just a tad less obfuscating with its logic within the game world itself, a tad less focused on micromanagement with certain game system resources (particularly past the halfway point)...then it would have the perfect balance and pretty much be the type of game I'd unquestionably recommend to everyone. And, while I still recommend everyone to try it out at least up to the first third or so, I personally had to put the game down after reaching (IIRC) Love Level 22. Even though I'm sitting on a save file needing only 7 more Love (IIRC) to complete the game (and DO plan on picking it back up in the near future), the feeling of needing to constantly consult a guide and micromanage the calendar & scheduler systems just to make progress, just didn't feel great to me. Taking my attention away from the game world to refer to outside info just so I'm not wasting half an hour (if not more) just attempting to complete one of the latter events for Love (and in some cases, realizing an imminent failure forcing a saved game load), just felt counter-productive to the spirit of the game.

If you're looking towards playing Moon: RPG Remix, I recommend you pick it up either on the Switch, or (when it arrives to them) PS4/PS5/Steam early 2022. The price should be cheap enough, and it's worth the pickup. You can also find a translation of the PS1 version to play via emulator if that's your bag, though some of the dialog isn't necessarily translated (tho the parts that aren't, are inconsequential). I recommend it; just be mindful that around the last third of the game can feel more like a light exam study course and time/scheduler micromanager rather than the sort of chilled, kickback oddball experience the game feels like it should be (and thankfully, does realize in full up until the last third, at least IMO).

Love-de-Lic would go on to create a few other games for later systems, such as L.O.L: Lack of Love for the Dreamcast, and Chulip for the PS2 (technically Love-de-Lic was no longer around by the time Chulip released. However, former Love-de-Lic employee Yoshirou Kimura, directed Chulip, so it's a Love-de-Lic game in spirit). I've yet to play these other games, but they're on my list to do in the near future. The same goes for Endonesia on PS2; while Love-de-Lic was not the developer, Vanpool was, and they were comprised of several Love-de-Lic employees. Sadly there's no English translation yet, but there's always the hope that one comes about in due time.


Anyway, have any of the rest of you played Moon: RPG Remix? If so, how has the game been for you? It'd be neat to see how the experience was for others; you don't find games like Moon that often in this industry, especially ones that feel this (overall) well-done.
 

kalecsan

Banned
It's an interesting game with a lot of heart, but personally I prefer the next Love-De-Lic game; Lack of Love. It carries the moral message with less pandering and its gameplay design is more elegant and organic. Moon feels like a lot of gimmicks put together honestly, and the most intriguing story part; the murderer hero, isn't even in the 90% of the game.
 
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It's an interesting game with a lot of heart, but personally I prefer the next Love-De-Lic game; Lack of Love. It carries the moral message with less pandering and its gameplay design is more elegant and organic. Moon feels like a lot of gimmicks put together honestly, and the most intriguing story part; the murderer hero, isn't even in the 90% of the game.

It's true about the murdering hero, he's not really central to most of the game. Maybe that can be interpreted at a thematic level; since this is an anti-RPG game deconstructing genre tropes, it makes sense in that context the typical hero isn't the focus of the game. The playable character does spend most of the game dealing with the consequences of his actions in finding the deceased animal spirits, FWIW. But, I can definitely see where you're coming from on this.

A lot of people say stuff like L.O.L and particularly Chulip are definitely more refined versions of what Moon: RPG Remix does, which is why I started with it first. It might be a bit more of a chore for those who started with one of those other two coming back to Moon, but it could be interesting for them from a historical POV.

Hipsters love this game

sassy dance GIF by Neurads

The hipsters co-opted the game, this is an effort to take it back! 😁
 

kurisu_1974

is on perm warning for being a low level troll
I played Moon for a couple of hours but I wasn't completely feeling it. Not a big fan of the graphical style (an issue I also had with Lack of Love on the Dreamcast) and it was rather confusing on how to progress, felt like I needed a guide to play the game properly.
 

Handel

Member
This is the game closest in style to Majora's Mask that I've played, but it definitely is much more of a slog than MM due to not having the three day cycle and other time mechanics to speed through days, the stamina system being very unforgiving early, worse warp mechanics, no Bomber's Notebook, and just a general lack of QoL features. The characters are pretty charming, and there's lots of secrets to find though a good deal are obtuse or require too precise of timing. Almost managed to get to the end playing it myself, but burned out and watched the ending on YouTube.

I'm amazed this came out in 1997 with how different it was to anything else on the market. It's quite an achievement despite the issues.

Also anyone looking to play this, READ THE MANUAL! This is an old school game where many mechanics are only explained in the manual and it's near impossible to play without it.

https://moon-rpg.com/en/sub/manual.html
 
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kalecsan

Banned
A lot of people say stuff like L.O.L and particularly Chulip are definitely more refined versions of what Moon: RPG Remix does, which is why I started with it first. It might be a bit more of a chore for those who started with one of those other two coming back to Moon, but it could be interesting for them from a historical POV.
For me, L.O.L is on another whole level in the Love-de-Lic universe of games. It stands beside SOTC and ICO in terms of presentation and the harmony between mechanics and themes.

Also, forgot to add that the anti-rpg part had less effect on me because before Moon, I played Soleil/Crusader of Centy (1994), that does the very same thing; a young boy protagonist following the steps of a traditional rpg hero that murders all in his path. 3 years before Moon.
 
For me, L.O.L is on another whole level in the Love-de-Lic universe of games. It stands beside SOTC and ICO in terms of presentation and the harmony between mechanics and themes.

Also, forgot to add that the anti-rpg part had less effect on me because before Moon, I played Soleil/Crusader of Centy (1994), that does the very same thing; a young boy protagonist following the steps of a traditional rpg hero that murders all in his path. 3 years before Moon.

Ah see, that might explain why it felt more novel for me in Moon, as I've yet to play Crusader of Centry. I know of it, just haven't been in the mood quite yet for an action-RPG for a while. But I definitely should play it sometime given a lot of people consider it the best Zelda-like on MegaDrive (well it's between that and Legend of Oasis).

Maybe after I finish PSIV.

This is the game closest in style to Majora's Mask that I've played, but it definitely is much more of a slog than MM due to not having the three day cycle and other time mechanics to speed through days, the stamina system being very unforgiving early, worse warp mechanics, no Bomber's Notebook, and just a general lack of QoL features. The characters are pretty charming, and there's lots of secrets to find though a good deal are obtuse or require too precise of timing. Almost managed to get to the end playing it myself, but burned out and watched the ending on YouTube.

I'm amazed this came out in 1997 with how different it was to anything else on the market. It's quite an achievement despite the issues.

Also anyone looking to play this, READ THE MANUAL! This is an old school game where many mechanics are only explained in the manual and it's near impossible to play without it.

https://moon-rpg.com/en/sub/manual.html

TBH the stamina system never threw me off, as I assumed that's what the gauge was for. There are some events you can try doing, though, that you absolutely SHOULD NOT do until your stamina is higher, lest you basically end up killing yourself...if you're playing without a guide, though, you won't even know what specific event that is until you try to do it. Heavily trail-and-error, there. It also kind of sucks the player starts walking slower when nearing their limit, thankfully there are the cookies you can buy to prevent that from happening.

Agreed wholeheartedly on lack of QoL features; this REALLY feels like a game that should've had at least a few more. IMO, it needed a calendar map to show what the days of the week are and the order the days come in. It also needed a scheduler log briefing you on the schedules of all NPCs you've met at least once, and specify what days and time of the day they do items in their routine on.

Some way of letting the player specify markers to act as bookmarks when viewing the latter would've been nice, but maybe not exactly necessary. Likewise, a notification pop-up system to inform the player when the time for an NPC activity is close to happening (wouldn't even need to tell them the location because NPCs stick to a small area for their tasks and the world is easy enough to get around without a map thanks to how distinct areas are) would've been nice, if not necessary. I know a lot of retro games didn't go big on QoL features but Moon needed at least a couple of extra things in that regard to make it feel more complete, make it feel like I could get by without needing to read a guide every other minute to do some of the simplest things to clear some of the events in the back half of the game.

Even with those issues though, as you said, it's amazing this came out when it did. The game's definitely a pioneer for the type of genre-deconstruction JRPGs that'd start to follow from indie devs over a decade later, and it probably felt really forward-thinking WRT deconstructing genre tropes. I think the game's right on the cusp of pure greatness, but it missing some key QoL features in-game and how the little problems magnify getting through the back half of the game, keep it shy of reaching it.

Still though, definitely worth a play if just to experience it for a bit.

Thanks. I was just trying to decide what to play, and you made my mind up for me...



I always seem to insert photos twice on here...

Just make sure to read that manual if needed!

Lov-de-Lic?

Is it still misspelled in OP? Thought I corrected spelling for all instances, gonna check again.

I played Moon for a couple of hours but I wasn't completely feeling it. Not a big fan of the graphical style (an issue I also had with Lack of Love on the Dreamcast) and it was rather confusing on how to progress, felt like I needed a guide to play the game properly.

You will definitely need a guide for the 2nd half of the game, once you clear out most of the events in the 1st half that you can kind of "feel out" the solutions for. It'd also help to read the manual to get a grip on the game mechanics.

That said, I actually quite like the visual style, I find it charming in its own way.
 

Bakkus

Member
All I know of Chibi-Robo is it has a strong cult following, and got ported from N64 to Gamecube (the N64 version was Japan-only). I might give it a try in the near future.
I think you're confusing with Animal Crossing. Chibi-Robo was never on the N64 anywhere. It came out really late in the GC era.
 
I think you're confusing with Animal Crossing. Chibi-Robo was never on the N64 anywhere. It came out really late in the GC era.

Nah, not Animal Crossing. I was getting it confused with Custom Robo, apparently. Are they considered part of the same series or just two different games that happen to have 'Robo' in their title?
 

Bakkus

Member
Nah, not Animal Crossing. I was getting it confused with Custom Robo, apparently. Are they considered part of the same series or just two different games that happen to have 'Robo' in their title?
Nope, not at all. I'm getting flashbacks to having these questions asked to me about Pokemon and Pikmin :p

The reason I even brought up Chibi-Robo is because it had many of the same people in it's development team as Moon did. It even has a character appearing in both of them. Tao the dog.
 
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Nope, not at all. I'm getting flashbacks to having these questions asked to me about Pokemon and Pikmin :p

Well thankfully I'd never commit a gaming sin this big xD.

But, I didn't know Chibi Robo had a lot of the same staff, that's interesting to hear. Should be right up my alley then whenever I find a chance to play it.
 

Bridges

Member
I love this game. Played it back when it came out on Switch, if it ever comes to Xbox I will for sure double dip.

It is a work of art for sure, so strange and at times, almost off-putting, but very interesting and unique.

I never played any of the other LDL games, but I've finished Chibi-Robo and played the first few hours of Chulip. I really enjoy free gameplay loop and wish there was more out there like these games, though I will say there are some aspects of this "genre" that are so obtuse you'd never understand what the game wants from you unless you looked at a guide.

There was an OT here for the Switch release that barely anyone posted in, hopefully coming to more platforms gets more eyes on this.
 
I love this game. Played it back when it came out on Switch, if it ever comes to Xbox I will for sure double dip.

It is a work of art for sure, so strange and at times, almost off-putting, but very interesting and unique.

I never played any of the other LDL games, but I've finished Chibi-Robo and played the first few hours of Chulip. I really enjoy free gameplay loop and wish there was more out there like these games, though I will say there are some aspects of this "genre" that are so obtuse you'd never understand what the game wants from you unless you looked at a guide.

There was an OT here for the Switch release that barely anyone posted in, hopefully coming to more platforms gets more eyes on this.

Glad to hear you've really enjoyed it. While games like this aren't for everyone, aren't for the masses per se, they definitely have their audience, those of us among them. While there are things about the design which have made me put it on hold for a little bit, even aside that I can safely say there are very few other games out there like it, and it's a great experience overall.

The more platforms this can come to, the better. Same for the other Love-de-Lic games, and those of spiritual succession. My anticipation for playing said other LDL games is quite higher thanks to Moon.
 
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