Moonstone (Second Review)

Title		Moonstone (A Hard Day's Knight) (Second Review)
Game Type	RPG
Company		Mindscape
Players		1-4
HD Installable	Yes (With Patch)
Compatibility	All (With Patch)
Submission	Adrian Simpson Profiled Reviewer

Knowing that the subtitle of Moonstone is 'A Hard Day's Knight' will tell
you two things. Firstly that the game involves knights in some way and
secondly that it doesn't take itself seriously. Further proof of this lack
of seriousness is seen with the now legendary (sort of) 'gore on/off'
option in the menu. Today it may be common practice to include an option
to turn any blood and gore off, but when Moonstone was released, it was a
somewhat unique feature.

Moonstone sees up to four players battle each other in a fantasy medieval
land. You start the game by selecting a knight to play as and this will
determine what part of the land you start in. The map is split into four
distinct pieces in a geographically improbable way. There is a flat land
of plains and fields, a dense forest, a murky swamp and an arid desert.
Each knight hails from his home village at each corner of the map, and
proceeds to visit monster lairs in each of the four sections, looking for
parts of a key. One key can be found in each land. The key allows access
to the central area, and completion of the game, following a final battle.

If the game was only about moving your little knights around a large map,
then it would be a little dull. Luckily, you get to fight whatever
creature's lair you have invaded. The game changes into sideways
beat-'em-up mode, and from here you can hack and slash creatures (or other
knights) with your large sword. This section is a lot of fun, and is a
change from most beat-'em-ups, due to the use of a sword. It is
reminiscent of the scene with the two knights from Monty Python And The
Holy Grail, with a lot of blood spurting from wounds. There is a different
set of creatures in each of the four areas on the map, and with specific
pre-set moves being effective on each creature. For example, with the
small and quick monsters from the forest, swift jabs are effective, while
with the large and slow monsters from the desert, you need to swipe at the
creature and then move quickly away. Once a battle has been won, you can
steal the treasure, which can be gold, magical items or weapons. The gold
can be exchanged for some better equipment at the large towns.

Dying can happen often, but you can top up your lives at the land's
equivalent of Stone Henge for a price. You can also go back to your home
village for some more lives. Each knight has the normal stats - dexterity,
stamina and strength. Knights gain experience points by winning battles
and these can be used to increase any of the above stats. The game changes
it's difficulty level to suit the proficiency of your character, and this
keeps the challenge up. However, it does mean that you feel like you are
not getting on top of the game, as the reward for playing well is extra
creatures to fight at once!

The game has so many good points, but little that is wrong with it. The
disk swapping and loading was always annoying, but the recent install for
it solves those problems. That means that there is no excuse not to play
it and see it as the classic that it is.

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