To The Moon (PC)

Remember when the theme of June was "Nice little story, shame about the game"? That seems to be a thing for the entire year!

The gist of To the Moon is there's this agency that can come to somebody when they're on their deathbed and rewrite their memories to make them think they accomplished their greatest wish in life. There could be a story in the moral ickiness of that, but it's backdrop to the story of two scientists exploring the life of an old man in reverse, as they figure out why he wants to travel to the moon. It's an interesting idea that gets hamstrung by motherfucking Working Designs pop culture references.

So I hope the story does something for you, because the actual gameplay is pretty shit. This was made with the RPG Maker engine, but there's no combat outside of a gag encounter at the beginning. Instead, gameplay consists of walking around a couple rooms and clicking on everything until you find five specific items which will then allow you to break a shield around a sixth item. Then you play a flipping tile puzzle to get to the next round of scavenger hunting. Late in the game there's a picture matching... thing that can barely be called a puzzle, and another bit where you're trying to maneuver around obstacles that's janky as all shit. Otherwise, it's basically a visual novel.


Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (PC)

The Disney Star Wars saga ends not with a bang, not even with a whimper, but the sputtering of a deflating balloon.

Most of the movie is a tedious loop of the heroes going to a place, finding a clue to the next place, running into Kylo Ren, him and Rey dueling, them escaping to the next place, finding a clue to the next place, running into Kylo Ren, him and Rey dueling, them escaping to the next place, finding a clue to you get the point. Bringing back Palaptine was a joke, and whenever things are looking bad for the Rebels they're handed a way out by the will of the screenwriters, like when they've all been captured on the star destroyer, or the trite twist when the big space battle at the end starts going tits up.

And there is some serious power creep going on in the Star Wars universe. Since the prequel trilogy the Force has steadily gotten more abilities shoveled into its repertoire by whatever the script needs it to do, and as of this movie it can now heal, raise the dead, and warp space and time. Then you have the bad guys going from moon-sized space station with the power to destroy a planet, to a larger moon-sized space station with the power to destroy a planet, to a planet converted into a weapon with the power to destroy an entire solar system. And now we have a fleet of thousands of Star Destroyers each equipped with a cannon that can destroy a planet. What's next, a fleet of Star Destroyers with cannons that can destroy a solar system? Then they give every Stormtrooper a bazooka that can destroy a planet? Who even gives a shit anymore.


Mune: Guardian of the Moon (PG, Netflix)

The world of Mune is divided into two halves, with one half of the planet inhabited by large, strong creatures of fire and rock and the other half by whispy beings of dreams in a sort of brawn and brains dichotomy. And the sun and moon are pulled across the sky by two colossal beasts guided by assigned guardians. But when Mune, an inexperienced faun, is put in charge of the moon, thing go horribly wrong and a lava monster runs off with the sun, so Mune has to team up with the cocky Guardian of the Sun and a girl made of wax to recover it.

It's a beautiful, visually creative movie, and there's this cool thing where characters enter the dream world and the art shifts to 2d, but something about the story just felt off to me. Not because I think it's stupid to have celestial objects be pulled around the sky by a pair of behemoths, fucking 'ell, I know what a fantasy world is. No, it's like it was being told by somebody in such a rush to get to the "good bits" they forget to tell you the details that, you know, set up those good bits? I think they were trying to characterize Mune as a little cheeky scamp who has to grow up when given responsibility, but if that was the case we should have gotten more time to establish Mune as a cheeky little scamp, and he should have lost the moon by being a cheeky little scamp.

Instead, we get one scene where Mune does one slightly annoying thing before we jump over to the changing of the Guardians. The Guardian of the Moon trained a fish man to take over, but then decides at the ceremony the new Guardian needs to be accepted by this magic goat that then latches onto Mune. Kinda makes you wonder why he didn't let the magic goat pick a Guardian before wasting his time training one. But Mune only botches the job of Guardian because the previous Guardian drops him off at the moon shrine and fucks off without showing him how to work the giant harp that controls the moon beast, and the Furby spiders inside the moon shrine kept giving him shit, but he was at least trying to do right. And if he wasn't supposed to be a cheeky little scamp, just an average, good-natured kid thrown into a difficult situation and struggling to learn things on the fly... what is his character arc? Learning to have confidence that he can take whatever the world throws at him? Hell, that would give the Guardian of the Sun more growth than the titular character as his massive ego gets deflated during the trip.

Later on they need to pass through a kraken's lair to get to the lava monster's hideout and they struggle against it for a while, then a sea slug/manta ray comes out of nowhere, calls off the kraken, and declares he used to be the Guardian of the Moon? And then he casts a spell on the wax girl so she's less susceptible to heat and cold? Can his species just do that? Or is it something former Guardians of the Moon can just do? Why would he have any magic over wax either way? I know the movie was originally in French, so maybe there's a translation thing.