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With a title screen like this, how can you go wrong?

Moon Crystal

The Japanese gaming industry makes me angry. Japanese companies produce stellar games: everything a gamer could want, all in one cartridge. Then, usually for no apparent reason, they leave the good stuff untranslated and give us the leftover crap. Moon Crystal is a prime example of this behavior.

Plot

This game is chock-full of gorgeous cutscenes. I hope they paid the artist darn well, because frankly, he did beautifully.
American sidescrollers have no plot. EVER. Sure, the better ones have a basic story, (Mario has to save Peach from the countless times she gets kidnapped,) but it only takes place at the beginning and end of the game. Well, guess what: this game is a sidescroller, and BOY does it ever have a plot. Without spoiling anything for you, (because you absolutely must experience this game for yourself,) I can tell you the basics: Ricky Slater is a young boy in what I think is Victorian England, though I could be wrong. Ricky's dad is a benevolent scientist who trying to unlock the secrets of the Moon Crystal, a stone of immense power that is somehow tied to the phase of the moon. As often happens with benevolent scientists, he is kidnapped by a sinister force that wants the Crystal's power for its own ends...

Gameplay

That's one huge spider.
One word: AWESOME. Hard as heck, but awesome nonetheless. It's a sidescroller, which leaves only so many options, but it's implemented beautifully, with some of the best physics I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. My only complaint is that for the most part, the bosses are fought with the same strategy, but the level design makes up for this.

Music/Sound

Evil fortresses always self-destruct. Everybody knows that!
One word: AWESOME! (Okay, so it was the same word as before. Sue me.) This game has some of the best music I've heard on any console, ever. The Level 1 theme in particular is quite memorable. The sound effects are also good, with none of the high-pitched "boing" jumping sounds or squeaky high-pitched "ouch" sounds of other sidescrollers. In fact, there are surprisingly few sounds; the only ones in the game are those that add, rather than detract, from the experience.

Graphics

Ricky looks kinda familiar, but I can't quite place him...
Again, AWESOME. I don't recognize any of the names listed under "Graphics" in the credits, but dang, these are some really professional-quality images. And of course, the one thing still images can't convey is the animation; it's absolutely the most fluid animation I've ever seen on the NES. Every one of Ricky's animations is smooth, unexaggerated, and perfectly drawn. I really hope they paid the artists a king's ransom, because they deserved it.

Conclusion

Thank God for fantranslators. Sure, the game itself is worth playing, but the plot is not to be missed either. There's a twist near the end that I didn't see coming and wouldn't have even known about if I'd played it in Japanese. Anyway, as you might notice, my description of this game is: AWESOME. There is simply no excuse for you not to go and locate the fantranslation and play through this masterpiece.

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