Gotta Catch All Of Them: Moonrise

The headline is just one of several catchphrase suggestions for Undead Labs’ upcoming Moonrise. They could also go with “You Simply Must Capture ‘Em All” or “Cram yer pockets with pure tiny monsters, aye?”

The game, coming to Early Access on May 27th, might be the one to fill the enormous Pokemon-shaped hole in PC (and Mac) gaming. I swear there have been several attempts to Kickstart some kind of Pokemon-like but I can’t remember a single one and I’m always slightly surprised that Nintendo’s franchise hasn’t spawned a genre of imitators, as appears to be the case on tablets and cleverphones. The trailer for Moonrise is below.

Battles involve “real-time speed” but, thankfully, appear to be similar to Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battles rather than scrappy clickfests. There’s a full singleplayer campaign, taking place in a world with all kinds of different scenery – forests, deserts, villages clinging to the side of enormous land-spires – and PvP battling.

Journey to the far reaches of the world, discovering ancient ruins and braving untamed wilds.
Battle fierce Lunari to cure them of the corrupting effect of the Moonrise and recruit them to your growing team.
Collect hundreds of unique and powerful creatures, customize their skills, and evolve them into new and exciting forms.
Lead your Solari into battle with a deeply strategic yet easy-to-learn combat system.
Challenge other players from around the world to PvP matches to hone your skills, build winning strategies, and win valuable rewards.

Moonrise is Undead Labs second game, following State of Decay, and was first announced last year for mobile devices. It’s still coming to iOS but with the Steam Early Access release less than a week away, we’ll know how closely it sticks to its inspiration soon enough.

41 Comments

  1. catfr says:

    A beatifully realized world you say?

    • Xzi says:

      A hard pass I say. I was good with it until I saw that god-awful battle interface and the Barbie/Ken doll trainer avatars. Definitely stinks of F2P phone-game quality.

  2. Kitsunin says:

    While there might be a pokemon-shaped hole in PC gaming, there’s a Dragon Quest Monsters-shaped whole in gaming in general. I could take-or-leave another light monster gathering experience, but a proper monster collection-based RPG? With fusion and skill points and/or other such complexities? Oh man do we need more of those.

    I see the combat has got two active monsters at a time, with tamer skills and backups, so that’s a good start.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Have you played the Shin Megami Tensei games? They sound exactly like what you’re looking for. SMT IV on 3DS is a great jumping-in point.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Yeah, I finished that and I’m in the middle of Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker, right now. The original has to be one of my favorite games of all time, and yum, good voice acting!

        Still, in DQM, while you do have to cycle through monsters often, they at least feel like proper party members who level up and develop their skill trees before they get fused. The demons in SMT are just so, so expendable, for some reason it doesn’t feel comparable. Strangely, I had never even considered its similarities…come to think of it, DQM is SMT minus the protagonist party leader. Weird.

  3. Kyber92 says:

    How the hell have Nintendo and GameFreak not had this shut down?

    • Cockie says:

      Because you can’t patent game mechanics? I mean, this is less like pokemon than COD is like battlefield.

      • Kyber92 says:

        I bet you can patent game mechanics. If Namco can patent loading screen mini-games, I bet Nintendo and GameFreak have at least some recourse to sue the crap out of them.

        • Kitsunin says:

          But Dragon Quest Monsters, among other games, uses the same mechanic of fighting with monsters against other monsters, all of whom can be captured and added to your own team. I don’t think Ningamfreakdo owns the concept.

        • Cockie says:

          No, you really can’t, because it’s a way to nebulous concept.
          Easy proof: if you could, then every slightly capitalistic game company would already do it. EA would sue every match-three game there is, the people who made doom would own the fps etc.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Wizards Of The Coast and their “tapping” mechanic begs to differ.

          • Bugamn says:

            Wizards has no copyright on the mechanic itself, as other games can use it. The Game of Thrones card game, for example, uses it. What they can protect is the name, so other games cannot call their mechanic ‘tapping’.

        • KevinLew says:

          You’re also forgetting that patents aren’t forever. After 20 years, regardless if you have one or not, your invention can be used by anybody. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Pokemon will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016.

          Also to have patent infringement, you’d need to have a patent so generic that you patent “collecting wild monsters to fight for you”. And nobody’s going to do that since there’s hundreds of RPGs that do this, long before Nintendo ever invented Pocket Monsters. For example, every time a Ranger or Druid gets an animal companion in any RPG, then you’d be able to sue for patent infringement.

        • jrodman says:

          A bet you have lost.

          Patents cannot cover things like game rules. They cover inventions: typically machines. Mechanistic ways of achieving a specific goal, by physical mechanism or similar. Texts or text-like things (such as game rules) are not patentable, because patents do not apply to texts

          As for whether copyright or trademark law can be applied to game rules, very specific lawsuits have led to very specific case law that answers clearly that game rules themselves are not protected by any intellectual property law mechanism. The *expression* of those rules of course is (copyright), but not the exact mechanical system of say a very specific purchased game.

          Now, whether a HIGH LEVEL CONCEPT like “collecting monster things and levelling them up” is protectable, that’s just ludicrous. That’s not how any of these laws work.

      • Unclepauly says:

        Pong has just filed a suit to shut down ALL THE TENNIS GAMES. Oh wait, there isn’t any.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          That’s because they all got shut down by Two For Tennis.

    • ChairmanYang says:

      The same reason Atlus, in light of the Shin Megami Tensei series, hasn’t had Pokemon shut down.

    • Danley says:

      Cockie has already answered this as adequately as needs to be done, but I’m going to go a bit further with my own emotional response.

      What a disgusting and despicable notion, that any given company could or should shut down projects simply because they are similar to ideas that have been done before. Nintendo has every right to keep other people from using Pokemon/Pikachu/whatever, That’s their intellectual property. They have every right to keep other people from using their user interfaces, their battle system, art, music and any other assets they actually developed. They do not, however, own every similar idea or even every derivative idea.

  4. Archipelagos says:

    The ‘monster’ designs look okay but boy oh boy, the design for the player characters is incredibly dull. They need much better avatars, MUCH.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Yeah, they really look like something you’d find in one of those weird kid-friendly, possibly browser-based pseudo-MMOs.

  5. AngoraFish says:

    Toby’s Island has a ton of monster collecting elements. Seems to be scrubbing up pretty well so far:
    link to kickstarter.com

    • draglikepull says:

      I’m a backer of Toby’s Island. For anyone who’s not familiar with it, it’s half Harvest Moon, half Pokemon. They’ve released a demo to backers that was fun and reasonably polished. They’ve also been sending out regular development updates, and it seems like the game is coming along quite nicely. It’s got a sort of hi-res SNES art style that’s nice to look at and fits the game perfectly, and they’ve got some interesting twists on the genres they’re emulating. I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye on Toby’s Island as it gets closer to release.

  6. Orix says:

    I looked at Moonrise before, it sure does look pretty. But I’m put off by the fact its both FTP and MMO. Kinda prefer if it were single player, but might try it when it comes out… just always very dubious of FTP games :/

    There was a game in some bundle recently, Minimon (link to store.steampowered.com) that looks nice enough, but not heard much good about it so far. It’s still in early access, so it has time to improve I suppose.

  7. RedViv says:

    That’s pretty damn cute. By now though, games might actually have to live up to Zeta/Omicron, and then Insurgence, which might be kind of hard. Seeing how those are just straight fan game copies with massive polish and extra features.

  8. J Arcane says:

    There’ve been many attempts to ape the Pokemon games, but basically all of them have failed, because frankly I’m not sure any of them actually understood what made the games so uniquely great. Playing Pokemon Y at the moment has really thrown this into sharp relief, because it’s doubled down on the sense of attachment and the perfect combination of cute and clever that the Pokemon games have always won on. DQM’s games at least have Akira Toriyama’s art, but they fail by making the critters so expendable (especially with that awful fusion system).

    Part of the problem is that Game Freak is in a really unique place for a series. They have a dedicated core of designers with a very clear vision for the series, and the support staff and resources to make it happen. They are dazzlingly complex and intricate games, but nonetheless manage to be utterly approachable in spite of it.

    The result is the nascent “genre” that might form around it is all more or less in the shadows of a giant, much like the MMO market became in the wake of World of Warcraft. This doesn’t look like it’s liable to do anything to shake that, PC platform or no, and honestly shows signs of all the same misunderstandings as its other imitators (and some seriously obvious mobile-centric UI design to boot).

    • HopeHubris says:

      I personally prefer DQM, the sense of attachment is too strong in Pokemon, and due to the low difficulty, there is never any reason to change out your team. I usually just stick with 6-10 pokemon from start to finish, including HM slaves.

      With DQM, even though the fusion/breeding thing isn’t great, it gives you an actual reason to use different monsters, and you can still have attachment. I’m mid-game atm in one of them, and use the offspring of some of my very early monsters.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Yeah, my opinion is quite clearly: DQM is pokemon, if pokemon were a good game but didn’t quite nail the other stuff. Pokemon nails all the aspects incidental to the gameplay. Their monster designs are great, which means people get really attached, which makes it feel like an exciting journey. You get a strong sense of attachment through evolution plus the fact that they are essentially party members — you can use whichever ones you want for the entire length of the games, no problem, you just might have some minor type-related struggles.

        But at the end of the day you have like 150 possible party members in each game, of which you use at most six, one at a time…really, they have the depth of a kiddie pool, which isn’t great when you only necessarily use six throughout the whole game, with no mix-and-matching. I love pokemon. I’ve finished Blue, Silver, Ruby, Emerald, Pearl, and Black, but since I was a kid the pokemon vs. pokemon combat has never engaged much, and the items and other gameplay-related stuff is weird and could generally be better.

        DQM might not have the attractive art, sense of a childlike journey or attachment to your monsters but its gameplay is fantastic…also, frankly, the story and especially characters are better if you leave nostalgia by the wayside. If you think fusion is a bad mechanic from a gameplay perspective you’re banana-nut-crazy. I mean, there’s just so much same-y pokemon candy, especially with the fangames, but fuck do I want another DQM so bad.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    Yeah, this is pretty much what I wanted from Nintendo Pokemon PC game. For some 10 odd years. But now I’m 22 and couldn’t be arsed.

  10. Halk says:

    I just want another Jade Cocoon. :(

    That game was nearly perfect

    • RedViv says:

      Jade Cocoon with Grandia’s battle setup.

      • Barnox says:

        Jade Cocoon/Grandia would be ace. I just started playing both again fairly recently. The interrupts, the fusions, the wonderful environments.

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    Aerothorn says:

    I’m waiting for the sequel, Moonrise Kingdom.

  12. dagnamit says:

    “It is necessary to apprehend all of these small digital(?) creatures.”

  13. Eightball says:

    Something just seems off about the animations or graphics or something.

    • Lionmaruu says:

      yep, but keep in mind it is “early” acess so I guess that will be improved. looks good enough to hope for it… to launch great :)

  14. Pantalaimon says:

    Worthy of attention on the merits of the devs alone, I think. State of Decay is probably the best game in a hugely crowded genre because they nailed so many of the core mechanics alongside the atmosphere and presentation. I think outdoing Pokemon is a tall order, though, so I hope that they can go their own route in enough areas.

  15. malkav11 says:

    I haven’t actually played a Pokemon game recently, but I feel like WoW’s battle pet system is about as close a PC analogue as I really need.

  16. Lionmaruu says:

    it is pretty much the pokemon game that nintendo doesnt want us to have on a high end console or at least on their fucking piece of shit portable if it could handle it…

    of course much gameplay must be tested before someone will actually say it is exactly what it COULD be.

    I wish them all the luck in the world on making one game I would want to pay and play. hopefully it will be nice, but they wont be having my money so soon since I dont do “early/kickstarter/pre-order”