Review – GetsuFumaDen (Switch)

GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is out now, and it’s fantastic. So far, as the time of writing this article, this is my favorite game of 2022. However, this is not a brand new IP. Undying Moon is actually the sequel to a long lost Famicom exclusive (therefore, never previously released outside of Japan) called GetsuFumaDen. It was originally released in 1987, to very little fanfare. If you decide to buy the Deluxe Edition of Undying Moon for either PC or Switch, you will also get a second game in the package: a remaster of said original, courtesy of the remastering wizards at M2. This is the version we’re discussing today.

GetsuFumaDen Remaster Fish Skeleton

The ghost of all the dead fish used to make the sashimi I eat every week.

GetsuFumaDen is a weird remaster. Let me clarify right from the get-go that there is nothing particularly bad with the work done by M2. The game runs well, doesn’t look excessively stretched, doesn’t stutter, and the developers did include a small manual explaining how the damn thing works. Why am I praising the inclusion of a manual? Well, here’s the thing: GetsuFumaDen might have been remastered, but it hasn’t been localized. Everything is still written in Japanese, and that doesn’t make things any easier, for there is more text in here than in most 8-bit outings of the time.

The game follows a somewhat similar gameplay style to Castlevania II and Zelda 2. It is, for the most part, a 2D side-scroller, but you get to choose which level to tackle by exploring a pretty simplistic overworld map. You can also visit shops and spend your money on new weapons and items, but again, it’s all in Japanese. If you decide to play this game, make sure to have a guide near you. That’s not what makes it a boring and annoying slog to endure, though. GetsuFumaDen is just not good. It’s the kind of game engineered to be clunky and annoying in order to mask its small runtime.

GetsuFumaDen Overworld

This overworld has almost nothing to do in it.

Everything you love from a bad 8-bit era game can be found in GetsuFumaDen. Slippery movement and floaty jumps? Check. Getting knocked back by a hard-to-avoid enemy, thus falling to your death? Check. Terrible hit detection? Sure thing. Boring and uninteresting level design? Aye. Odd button placement… for a game that only uses TWO buttons? You bet. Poor visuals which make your character and/or the enemies blend in with the background? Duh, of course. Therefore, it’s everything that retro purists praise as “Nintendo hard”, while others just see as “poor game design”. To make matters worse, GetsuFumaDen doesn’t feature nice visuals or an iconic soundtrack, unlike pretty much every other Konami game released for the NES.

8-bit Graphics

Blending in with the environment. Because the game’s visuals weren’t annoying enough already.

I will say that I like the gesture of giving people access to the origins of the GetsuFumaDen franchise. M2 didn’t necessarily do a bad job with what they were given, but this is just a bad game, even for 1987 standards. You will play this out of curiosity, mostly because you just wanted the better deal with the Undying Moon premium package. You probably won’t like it, however. Thank goodness GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, the real reason this remaster even exists, is a lot better, and a lot more addictive.

 

Graphics: 5.5

Not a very visually-appealing game even for 1987 standards. There is nothing wrong with M2’s remastering skills; they have done everything they could with what mediocre source material was available.

Gameplay: 5.0

Bizarre button placement, unfair deaths, floaty jumps, untranslated Japanese text, and boring level design. GetsuFumaDen has it all.

Sound: 6.5

Even though it’s, by far, the best aspect about this game, the soundtrack pales in comparison to what Konami was doing at the time.

Fun Factor: 4.0

You will only play this game for a few minutes out of curiosity. This is a pretty mediocre NES/Famicom game that simply did not manage to stand the test of time.

Final Verdict: 5.0

GetsuFumaDen is available now on PC and Switch. The original game is also available on the Famicom, exclusive to Japan.

Reviewed on Switch.