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Video Game / Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight

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"If you want a beat-'em-up that's
meaty, bloody and slightly strategic,
then Moonstone is phun with a capital F."
— Quote from the Amiga Computing review of Moonstone

A Hack 'n' Slash/Action RPG for the Amiga, developed by Canadian independent developer Rob Anderson and released by Mindscape in 1991, Moonstone: A Hard Days Knight (commonly referred to as just Moonstone) is notable for containing hilariously over the top Gorn and for being a huge Cult Classic among Amiga fans. It also received a more or less identical PC port.

Set in the medieval times, the story revolves around a quest for the titular stone. Every thousand years, a great warrior is chosen by the Druids for the task. To succeed, one must gain entrance to the Valley of the Gods and defeat the Moonstone guardian.

Moonstone was neither a critical nor commercial success upon its release, but over the years it gained a cult following and is now seen as a classic Amiga least in Europe. Moonstone never saw a release in North America, mainly because of its content. According to Rob Anderson, Toys 'R' Us refused to carry it and when Mindscape pitched the game to Sega and Nintendo, they liked it but refused to release a game with such content. Anderson noted the irony in the fact that both Nintendo and Toys 'R' Us later changed their stance a year later with Mortal Kombat, a game with just as much blood and gore (though, to be fair, Mortal Kombat had already proved to be a big hit in the arcades... and Nintendo published it censored).

Has a great fansite dedicated to it, The Moonstone Tavern.

This game contains examples of:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Played straight with the Black Knights (who are actually purple) who are part of a religious sect and believe that the Druids are blasphemous. If there are less than 4 human players, the Black Knights will fill in the empty spots and try to sabotage the quest. Luckily for you, they are utterly worthless and ridiculously easy to beat.
  • Black and White Mages: Actually, more like two Red and one White Mage:
    • Math the Wizard is a Red example. If you visit his tower, he will grant you a gift, either a physical one (i.e. gold, gems, scrolls, etc.) or a stat increase. However, if you visit him too often, he will accuse you of abusing his "abundal warmth and endless favors" and transform you into a toad for a number of turns.
    • The other Red example is Mythral the Mystic, who lives in Waterdeep. For a donation, he can either increase or decrease one of your stats. It all depends on your luck.
    • Finally, the White example is the healer who can be found in either of the cities. For a small donation, he can restore your health.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The main menu features an option to turn off the gore.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Being hit with a club? Just a flesh wound! Losing your last hit points while being hit with a club? Ludicrous Gibs ensues.
  • Descriptive Ville: The cities of Highwood and Waterdeep.
  • Fantastic Racism: Troggs and humans despise each other.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Several, including:
    • When fighting two Trolls (pictured above), the game will crash if they both try to do an overhead swing at the exact same time.
    • If you defeat a Black Knight, you get to take something from his inventory. Sometimes a Moonstone can be found, but trying to take it results in the game freezing.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: You always start out with a Long Sword. The Claymore and the Broad Sword can be purchased at a merchant while the Sword of Sharpness is usually found by defeating the dragon (though, if you're lucky, you can buy it in Highwood or get it from another knight).
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens when you get killed by spear-wielding Troggs or Trogg War Beasts.
  • Lunacy: The Ratmen grow stronger during a full moon.
  • Off with His Head!: When a knight dies, he kneels a few seconds before falling. This short time gives the opponent a chance to try out a well-aimed swing.
  • One-Hit Kill: A number of monsters have one. Trolls can smash the knight with one overhead swing, mudmen can drag him into the mud, baloks can squash the knight by jumping on top, and the dragon can kill with one bite or breath.
  • Palette Swap: The only difference between the knight sprites is the color.
  • Rest-and-Resupply Stop: Highwood and Waterdeep, where you can (among other things) buy healing supplies, change armor or spend a knight at the local tavern.
  • Scare Chord: Plays every time a Mudman appears.
  • Shout-Out: The title is a play on The Beatles song "A Hard Days Night".
  • Starter Equipment: The starter equipment is always the same: a Long Sword, padded armour, 10 throwing daggers and 10 gold pieces.
  • Stat Grinding: Probably unintentional, but it's possible to max out your stats in the first lair you enter. Every time you defeat all the monsters in one lair, you get an experience point and an opportunity to take whatever loot that was kept in the lairs' treasure chest (if you do, the lair disappears from the map). However, if you exit the lair without taking anything, you can enter it again and the enemies will respawn. Just repeat the process until you are practically unbeatable.
  • Stellification: After returning the Moonstone to Stonehenge, your reward is a druidic ritual where you become a constellation and a legend "passed from one generation to the next".
  • Swamps Are Evil: Played straight with the Wetlands, where you meet some very friendly Trolls and Mudmen.
  • The Many Deaths of You: A wide variety, which include being eaten, crushed, fried, stomped, impaled, gored and punched.
  • Three-Stat System: Strength, Constitution and Endurance.