Click here if you wish to visit the Legend of the Double Moon (Double Moon Densetsu) description page for screenshots, save files, and more information.
Review by tankMage (December 2015)
Legend of the Double Moon was an interesting game, but I’m going to be forthright with my bias here: I am not a big fan of the Dragon Quest style first person view, turn based battle system. I have always preferred more of a Final Fantasy or Star Ocean style battle system that allows you to see your party. LDM’s battle screen is exceptionally boring as it is merely a black screen with status windows and a few mobs floating in empty space. Aside from its dull battle engine, Double Moon is a fairly good RPG. In fact I was highly impressed by its large cast of characters and relatively sophisticated plot until I realized that the game was released in 1992 and JRPGs had already evolved quite a bit since their humble beginnings in the early eighties. Still, LDM’s story is somewhat enjoyable standard RPG fare and there were even a few moments that had me wondering what was to come next.
LDM’s large cast of characters is by far its most impressive selling point. Joules (the game’s main protagonist) enlists wizards, healers and martial artists in his ranks. The player is even able to choose from one of three classes for Joules before starting the game. The amount of variety available coupled with two possible endings gives this game a touch of replay value, but be warned: it comes at a price. Quite a bit of grinding is necessary to level up Joules & Co. and most players will probably want to stick with the same group rather than experiment with different lineups as a result.
As far as graphics and sound go, LDM is not terribly noteworthy. The visuals are what you would expect from an NES RPG, but there were a few nice touches that helped the it along in the special effects department. Many of the spells available to the player have their own simple animations, which was a nice change from the nearly nonexistent magic effects in other 8-bit RPGs that I have played. There is also a wide variety of monster sprites and I was impressed by the quality of some of the nicely detailed bosses.
LDM has decent music that is neither annoying or overly repetitive, but unfortunately it is not very memorable. With that in mind the theme song did set the stage nicely and was one of the few remarkable pieces found in this title.
Menus in Double Moon are fairly well set up and the game is convenient to play as NES RPGs go. Inventory management can be a pain, however, due to the fact that everyone has his/her own inventory and swapping items around can be a slow process.
As much as Double Moon has to offer, it still has some rather bad flaws. For the most part the game is somewhat generic and there aren’t going to be many surprises waiting in this game for veteran RPG players. Insta-death spells are used and abused by mobs. The entire party can be easily wiped out by a single spell, which will revert the game back to your previous save. If Joules dies to insta-death, (or at all for that matter) the game ends automatically. If that’s not bad enough, there were several points in the game where I had to face multiple enemies who used such spells with either Joules alone or a very small party, making it even harder to survive as I could not simply out-damage my opponents before one of them fired an incantation off. While this strategy made the game more difficult, it was cheap and it did not make sense that Joules could not be resurrected while everyone else in the game could be brought back from the nether by visiting your friendly neighborhood cleric.
Another shortcoming of LDM is the fact that you permanently lose nearly all of your allies near the end of the game. Not only had I worked hard to level up some of the characters, but it also took a lot of the thunder out of Double Moon. Why include such a large cast if they cannot even fight the last boss? For those who are interested in playing this game I have one major piece of advice: When you find a character named Sphinx, PUT HIM IN YOUR PARTY AND KEEP HIM THERE, you will thank me in the end.
Frustrating mechanics aside, I enjoyed LDM. There are some obvious reasons why it never made it to the US and it was interesting to play a game that was in some ways very familiar, but very alien in other regards. As RPGs go Double Moon is not terribly original, but it was well done for the most part. The game left me with the feeling that I went on a long journey and came out of it successful, which is part of what an RPG should accomplish.
If you played the more renowned NES RPGs (ie. The Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior games) and would like to explore the console’s library a bit more, then Double Moon Densetsu….err…Legend of the Double Moon is a viable option if you have the patience to play it. Just be prepared to do some searching since this game was never officially localized and you will need to find The Stardust Crusaders’ ROM hack, which can be found at ROMhacking.net via this link: