We reviewed the digital release, published by Incube8 Games. Digital version available for €/$ 8.99 and physical version with extras for €/$ 59.99. Check the links below the review for more info.
Did you ever know there was a whole market for physical homebrew Gameboy games? You didn’t? Well, neither did I. But here it is: full boxed versions of homemade Gameboy games. Incube8 is a well-known player in these physical releases, maybe best known for their successful Kickstarter campaign for the never-released Gameboy Color game, Infinity. Their latest release is a game called 2021: Moon Escape, made by solo developer Mike Yamato.
In a galaxy far far away…..
The story of 2021 starts off with your protagonist Tars Nunien, a paladin of the Marked Brotherhood, who just stole some enemy war plans from the evil Kisur Barbarians. His mission? To bring back the plans to the capital planet Astra Nova so they can organize a desperate defense against the terrible Kisur Barbarians, who are on a path to galactic domination. Did someone say Star Wars?
Hit by a big asteroid, you crash down on a desolate moon, and together with your ship’s AI, Thuvia, you’re trying to find a way off this planet. Throughout the whole game, Thuvia and Tars have small conversations that shed a little light on their friendship, but it never made me feel like I had a connection with the two. The story is reasonably well-written, but clichés are all over the place. On the downside, I even noticed spelling errors here and there… sloppy.
A link to space.
When it comes to gameplay, 2021: Moon Escape is best described as an open-world combat game that bears resemblance to a stripped-down version of Zelda set in space. The game starts with you taking your first steps on the moon’s barren landscape after leaving your ship. It won’t be long before you encounter your first enemies, but the initial ones won’t pose much of a threat as you can shoot them down before they get to you. However, as you progress, the enemies change and start shooting back at you. Although the variety of enemies isn’t vast, it’s enough to keep you engaged. You’ll encounter typical close-combat enemies that try to hit you up close, enemies that shoot at you, and kamikaze exploding aliens. There’s even an enemy that teleports you to a different spot on the map, which can be annoying as you have to run all the way back to where you were.
Fortunately, you have your own arsenal of weapons, shields, and blasters to counter these enemies. Although the selection of weapons is limited, it’s just enough variety for the short duration of the game.
Throughout your adventure, you will enter dungeons, some for main quest purposes and others for side quests that are optional. Each of these dungeons presents a different kind of puzzle. Some of them require you to kill every enemy with limited bullets before you can progress to the next room, while others feature maze-like settings. None of them are really hard, and with a little smart thinking, you can master them in no time.
Deviate from beaten paths
As is typical of a Zelda game, you can search for extra health, energy, or key cards in this game. Most of these items can only be obtained if you have a certain key card. These key cards unlock different launch pads, which, in turn, open up new areas for you to explore. The areas you pass through are well made and look nice for a Gameboy game. Searching for all the items can make you lose track of where you’ve already been, but fortunately, you have a map that you can upgrade to keep track of the dungeons you’ve finished, the items you’ve already collected, and what is still left to uncover. The soundtrack is okay, but like the rest of the game, it doesn’t stand out.
Overall, this game is quite fun, although it doesn’t stand out in any sector. The short length of the game was my biggest issue. 2021: Moon Escape is priced at $8.99 for a digital release and a whopping $59.99 for a boxed version, but it only lasts for 4 to 5 hours. This is a really steep price, but as i looked further into the boxed homebrew scene this seems quite normal.
If you enjoy a compact game experience that resembles the Zelda style in space, you might find this game enjoyable. However, keep in mind that it doesn’t stand out in any particular way, and it’s quite expensive for what it offers if you’re not into collecting.
If you enjoy playing a short game that resembles the Zelda style of gameplay in space, then you might find this game enjoyable. However, keep in mind that it doesn't stand out in any particular way and it is quite expensive.