The 2D-platformer is a genre that has stood the test of time and, with just a few simple changes, it’s still possible to make it feel fresh and exciting. Whether it’s the power to reverse time, the ability to swap perspectives, or some gravitational tweaks to mix things up. 6180 the moon casts the Moon itself as our protagonist, showing that, with the right gameplay, even controlling astronomical bodies can feel elegant and precise.
Originally releasing on the Wii U eShop, our lovely lunar friend has made the jump to Switch, bringing the same, relaxing, minimalist journey we enjoyed so much in our original review. You control the Moon as it dances through the stars, venturing from planet to planet trying to find out why the Sun has vanished. It’s an adventure to the heart of the solar system, punctuated by charming, whimsical dialogue from an undeniably unique cast of characters. While the plot itself might not be anything remarkable, it’s presented to the player with such sincerity and heart that it becomes compelling, and the fact that each planet has its own personality makes you want to press on to see the next interaction.
Controlling the moon is as simple as pressing ‘A’ to jump and moving left or right to guide yourself around the series of 5 areas, each of which contains 10 levels. Some of these can be completed in less than a minute, while some trickier challenges can stretch this out over multiple attempts. While new ideas are steadily introduced, your bright orb of light is generally tasked with jumping from platform to platform, dodging spikes and other obstacles to make it to the goal. There are no lives or any kind of ‘Game Over’ screens, so you’re free to keep trying as much as you like, and even unlock checkpoints along the way. It’s simple, straightforward fun delivered in small, rapid chunks of gameplay – making this perfect for the Switch’s portable mode.
Unfortunately, what is arguably the game’s most defining feature has been impacted somewhat by the jump from one eShop to another. Whenever you jump off the screen, either from the top or bottom, you appear immediately on the other side, looping the area in a number of gravity-bending ways. Reaching a higher platform can be achieved by dropping down for example, and moving forward so you end up falling from the top of the screen. On Wii U, this actually took place across two screens, making delightful use of the GamePad by forcing the player to split their attention across both the television and the smaller screen as the moon moved between both. On Switch, everything is contained on the one screen, so the mechanic absolutely remains but is a little less interesting as a result. On other platforms, such as PC, this was always the case, so it isn’t an outright disaster by any means, but this astral phenomenon does lose some of its shine nonetheless.
That being said, the game still looks gorgeous on Switch whether in handheld mode or docked, with its distinctive palette of stark backgrounds and gleaming white abstractions of the Universe. It’s not going to stun with its variety of open environments by any means, but its artistic direction is clear and it carries a mysterious, whimsical mood that’s only elevated by the excellent soundtrack. Each movement frequently adds another note or delicate chime to the soundscape, lending a dynamic quality to the drifting piano pieces and quiet moments. The fact that the musical score follows you from one level to the next helps smooth over how quickly some of them go by, helping it feel more like a single, cohesive journey.
It isn’t a game that relies on punishing difficulty either, which may be seen as a flaw by some seasoned platformers, but helps make this accessible to anyone. In fact, you could fairly handily complete the entire game in about 2 – 3 hours total, and despite an integrated achievement system and unlockable mirror-mode, there isn’t a huge amount of content here outside of the main adventure. For its budget price, though, we still feel it’s absolutely worth it if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, with a gradual increase in challenge as you progress helping its cause nicely.
6180 the moon is a dreamlike journey through the stars, where every individual component of its delicate soundtrack, minimalist visuals and graceful gameplay mechanics work together to form an extremely compelling experience. Rather than an intense challenge, it offers up a short but memorable adventure that’s easily broken up into smaller sessions, or enjoyed all at once in a single lazy afternoon. While the Wii U version provided a unique perspective through its use of the GamePad, we’d still absolutely recommend this solar trip on Switch for anyone who missed out on it before – there’s still plenty of time to catch the sunrise.