1CC Games’ first title – Space Moth DX – is the focus of this updated game release. With new enemies, visuals and audio improvements, and a deeper scoring system, there’s a lot for Shmup fans to enjoy here.
Let’s get this out of the way up top – being so pure an old school game as it is, there’s simply one mode of play involved. While there are challenges (aka achievements) to contend with, and local leader boards should your household like the competition, be aware that what you see is what you get with Space Moth Lunar Edition.
Luckily, what you get is bloody awesome. Regular readers will know my penchant for old school shmup-style games, and SMLE hits pretty much every key point I look for in the genre. The action is immediate, hectic, fun, and almost overwhelmingly challenging at times, yet never so much so that it had me wanting to turn it off or blaming the game when I (inevitably) died yet again.
We have the choice of two craft to fight with; the titular Space Moth, or the Hawk DX-1. Both have unique attack weapons and movement speeds. I preferred Space Moth thanks to its wider Rapid shot, but then the Hawk has a more powerful version to make up for it. Both were fun to use though, and get their own leader boards to track so as to avoid one be favoured over the other.
In game we must switch between two fire modes; Rapid shot and Laser. Rapid is the default attack that, as you may guess, fires ultra-fast bullets out. While these may be fairly weak they are still capable of taking down smaller foes quickly. It’s when we get to the big buggers that its secondary purpose comes into play. As we attack with Rapid shot we Soul Drain foes. This causes them to change colour and become much more aggressive – their attacks increase in numbers and velocity. Doing this serves two purposes; one to increase our Skull Circle (more on that in a sec) and one to weaken them ready for us to switch to our Laser shot.
One they are Soul Drained, finishing them off with the more powerful Laser grants a big bonus to our score which we don’t get if we were to just use the Laser or Rapid shot constantly. It’s a smart way of encouraging use of both weapons and constant switching, especially when going for a high score. At the end of a stage we’re told how many of the enemies we Soul Drained successfully, once more incentivising repeat plays for a few more thousand points to try and add.
We also get a handful of screen clearing bombs to use per life that seem to turn enemies bullets back on themselves, meaning if we wait until the screen is full to deploy, we get an even bigger return on the use of it. However, by far the best use of the hundreds of bullets coming at us at a time is in the Skull Circle. As mentioned above, this increases in size by hitting enemies with Rapid shot. Once it has gotten big enough we can press Y to activate it. This then turns any incoming bullets to score-multiplying skull collectibles, with the better multiplier requiring us to build up the Skull circle to its max of the five levels available. Once again, it’s a very clever way to encourage high score chasing (when and where we deploy it is key) but it’s also a great way to give us a few seconds breathing room when the action gets too much. The Space Moth variant travels with us, while the Hawk remains static where we deployed it, meaning slightly different tactics are needed between the two. As bullets are collected it shrinks down until it’s gone too, so especially when using Hawk we still need to be vigilant on how much protection it offers.
Boss fights are fun and a good challenge too, with the same rules applying to the Skull Circle, bombs etc. They don’t fuck around when it comes to filling the screen with a ton of bullets to dodge around either. Full transparency: my limited skill set has only let me get to the third boss out of five so far, and while there’s a practice mode to let us try out levels we’ve gotten to there’s no way of increasing live or continue counts for the main arcade mode. It’s a title that is so quick and easy to pick up mind that I can see it being one I’ll have a crack at for half hour at a time then jump on something else in between failures.
One final neat touch I did enjoy was the option to alter the game’s rotation on screen. If you’re able to stand your TV up on its end (or have a fancy monitor that’ll pivot) then you can play it in full screen, vertical mode. I had to lie on my sofa to try this and to be honest it looked great. Having a full 58” screen to play on made the updated visuals really pop, though it did feel a little weird laying sideways to play. By default the game has some lovely border artwork to choose from though, and it’s perfectly playable that way too.
All in all, Space Moth Lunar Edition is a great modern throwback to the arcade Shmups of old. It has some clever systems to encourage high score chasing and repeat plays, it looks and sounds lovely, and is, most importantly, a lot of fun to play. If you’re a fan of the genre or just curious to try a title like this out, you won’t find much better than this.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.