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A goofy experience that lets the chuckles carry you thorugh.

  • Oblic
  • 02/14/2012 05:42 PM
I usually don’t like games that try way too hard to not take themselves seriously, but I think this one has a nice balance of shenanigans and focus, making it, if nothing else, playable. Although I didn’t enjoy this from beginning to end, there was a weird charm to this game that compelled me to keep playing.

Here’s the breakdown once again:

SPOILERS!!!

Story:


Even though this game is meant to be goofy, I feel like the story is one of the most compelling parts. There isn’t much of an introduction, but if you look around and talk to enough NPCs throughout the game, you can get a pretty good feel for the game’s history (as shallow as it may be). There are three main characters (and one tag along that you get to control every so often), each with their own opening story. Each, might I add, slightly more ridiculous than the last. Well, except for Haddy, who seems to fit the role of intelligent female that babysits the less intelligent men.

Once these three characters meet, the story actually feels like it takes form. Before this point, you are more or less leading them through their own little side-story that forces them toward the other two. This doesn’t mean the ridiculousness stops; you just finally feel like you have a goal.

The ending seemed a bit rushed. I don’t know if this was intended, but it really kind of feels like the game just ends. Not only that, certain things come to fruition that never seemed to be there in the first place. Maybe this was part of the shenanigans? I really couldn’t tell. At least there was a promise of a sequel. This isn’t really a good or bad thing, but I am curious to see how the “end decisions” will affect the future release.

Since there really isn’t any other place to talk about this, I might as well talk about it here. I am, of course, referring to the games humor. Like I said, this game tries pretty hard to let the player know that it doesn’t take itself seriously. There are a few points where the game is interrupted just to let you know this (it’s not as blatant as I make it sound, but you’ll know what I mean when you get there). All in all, though, I liked most of the over the top humor. The cheesy facesets that accompany a lot of the dialogue actually enhance many of the situations in which they are used. Gulliver was especially funny to me; maybe that speaks volumes about my immature taste in humor, but I liked it! Fergus was also quite a character. He sort of fits his Gourry (from the Slayers anime) faceset image, even though he isn’t quite as slow on the uptake, which actually helped make him funnier. The “chosen one” could be considered HIGHLY offensive, but stuff like that rarely gets to me; I think it makes the hype and buildup to his introduction that much better!

Yet, even though I enjoyed most of the humor, some of it was overdone. Midard was one big Alzheimer’s joke, which can be funny for a while, but eventually gets annoying. Same thing with the one prostitute; she served her purpose very early on. There was no reason to keep bringing her back. The only reason why she is brought back is the fact that the maker really liked the sprite work, which is blatantly stated at one point in the game.

Overall, the story was alright; not great, but tolerable. Without the humor, I probably wouldn’t have finished.

The next few parts will be shorter, I swear…

Music/Sound:

This game uses quite a bit of custom music. As far as I could tell, it was mostly compressed .midi music from other sources, but at least it’s a step up from the stock music. The one thing that kind of bugged me was the same music that is used for the title screen is also used as the battle theme, albeit at different speeds. I feel like the title music should be unique, or at least only used sparingly throughout the game. When you hear it all the time from battle and then have to hear it every time you start the game, it gets a bit irritating.

Oh yea, the music used for the witch village was SO IRRITATING! The music itself wasn’t so bad, but about 10 seconds in, a really annoying high-pitched whine kicks in that kills my ears. Please… PLEASE reconsider the use of this song in future games!

Other than that, the music wasn’t really that memorable. Again, not bad, not great; just good enough to get me through.

Graphics:

For the most part, custom tilesets were used, which I always enjoy. Most areas were very bright and vibrant, giving life to the scenery. There were a few times where the tilesets didn’t seem to mesh very well, and the extra scenery (flowers, bushes, and the like) kind of seemed to be just thrown together. The mapping layouts weren’t so bad, though. Some passability issues here and there, but nothing game breaking.

The facesets were well done, in my opinion. Like I said earlier, they were a bit cheesy. I’m sure this was intended, because it really did fit with the overall theme of silliness the game was trying to portray.

The custom sprites that were used were also well done. I especially liked the “chosen one’s” sprite, which I’m sure took some time to put together, considering his… “unique abilities”? I also liked the way Fergus gets a sword and shield added to his sprite once he finds the corresponding item. Nothing too fancy, but it does add to the experience.



Gameplay:

There isn’t much to say here. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the battle system. For the most part, it used the default ATB system. There aren’t really any unique traits given to any of the battlers, other than healing for the healer, magic for the witch, and combat for the fighter. Fergus does have a pseudo summon ability, but I never found it that useful. As far as I can remember, the summons only caused status effects, which miss more often than not. Plus, since he dealt most of the (magic free) damage during battle, it was usually a waste of a turn to try and use one of the summons.

There was very little in terms of exploration. For the most part, once you left an area, you couldn’t go back until you needed to return to that area in the story. At one point, you take control of Gulliver so you can fit into an area to flip a switch. I accidentally left without going back for Haddy, and couldn’t go back and get her, making me reload my game. I think this needs to be fixed; not just this instance, but in general (allowing the player to revisit areas whenever they like). Exploration is important to me, and when I’m restricted to a very linear path, it bugs the hell out of me.

There was also a weird switch puzzle near the end that didn’t seem to make sense. I’m pretty sure the intent was to get you to hit the switches in the proper order, but it never worked out. I somehow just hit the last switch a few times, and then the way was finally opened. If this was intended, it’s a pretty bad design; there should be some kind of clue as to how to solve it if that was intended.

One last thing: the magic acquisition for Haddy seemed a bit off… What I mean is that I got some spells in an order that didn’t seem right. I may have missed a few here and there, even though I usually look pretty thoroughly through each area. Even though the order in which you acquired the spells seemed weird, I did enjoy hunting down the NPCs that gave them out.

Oh yea, no random battles! Thumbs up there! Random battles aren’t terrible. I just like when you can control how often and when you fight. It made most areas a lot smoother.

Odds and ends:

-If I remember correctly, there were quite a few “typos”. Some were intended to give certain characters accents, but a number of them were clearly mistakes. Like I said in a different review… I HATE this! Typos, spelling mistakes, grammar issues and anything else like them really bug the hell out of me! I honestly don’t know what goes into editing dialogue in a game like this, but it can’t be that difficult. I have played through MUCH longer games with nearly ZERO mistakes, which leads me to believe it’s not terribly hard.

To be fair, they weren’t rampant, but when I found one or two that were really bad, I started to fume. The reaction may be much larger than warranted, but having a smooth read is important to me.

-Getting away from my rant… I know I talked about this already, but I did enjoy the humor! I really don’t think I would have been able to finish some of the game without it. Again, the reaction facesets were great!

-The final boss seemed a bit trivial. Even with a stunted party, he was really just an HP tank. I also didn’t like how drastically the endgame decisions affected this battle, especially since you don’t get to see the fruits of which until the sequel comes out (here’s hoping it does; I want to know what happens next, dammit!)

Overall:

I think SBester did an alright job with this game. Even though I struggled to finish a few parts, it is far better than a lot of other games RMN hosts. If nothing else it is a unique experience that you should at least try out. Not for everyone, but what is?

Hoo boy, my least favorite part: the score. As I wrote this review, I was thinking about how to score this game. I don’t like to score individual parts, because some parts are clearly more relevant than others. Even though there are some areas that are truly lacking in luster, others pull through very well. I was originally going to give it a 2.5, but I clearly remember laughing out loud on several occasions, which matters to me! So…

3/5 seems to be where this game sits. I am looking forward to the sequel, so don’t let me down.

Posts

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Thanks for the review! It made me happy in so many ways! Most of the feedback I've been getting since its full release has been either "good game, pretty funny" or "the humour isn't for me", so I really appreciate having some solid ideas on how to improve it (both for future releases and for the sequel). I'll try to keep my responses short, but here are some of the things that made my day:

You liked Gulliver! The interplay between him and Haddy follows the typical anime back and forth quipping (perverted jokes and all), and I tried really hard to adhere to those conventions. It's not my regular style of humour, I'm more of a Fergus fan (the unexpected accidents type), but I tried really hard to make each personality stick to a different style of "funny" and it's nice to know the effort was appreciated. I felt the same way you did about Midard being overdone, and that's why (SPOILER AHOY) you get to choose whether he lives or dies at the end, thus deciding whether or not you'll have to deal with him in the sequel as a bonus party member.

I've taken your music suggestions to heart and I will definitely fix those parts up for the next release. I always wondered if the intro music being used as a battle theme was too much, and now I know for sure. I will say this though, sound effects played a much bigger part in the comedic timing of this game than one might realize. For instance, the humour wouldn't be nearly as effective if there weren't the musical lead-up to the princess' untimely demise, or the clanking of the prostitute's wheelchair as she tries furiously to injure Midard. I wish there were some way to get the word out that this game absolutely requires sound to function properly, but for now all I can really do is repeat it in my posts.

The fact that you liked my insanely crappy portraits that I edited in MS Paint tells me that you "got it"! I've had a few complaints about how awful they look, and I keep saying how it was intentional to add to the whole ridiculousness of it all, but you clearly understood that from the get-go, and I couldn't be happier :)

As for the issues you had with the gameplay, I couldn't agree more. The battle system is plain Jane, and I am actively working to improve it for the sequel. I spent most of my time on balancing issues for this game, so everything else got sorta shoved to the back. Hopefully I'll add in some tweaks to this for the next release, but we'll see how it goes. I'll absolutely fix the mistake you mentioned for the cave in episode 2. I did players a huge disservice with the lack of exploration, as you stated, but that's another thing that I'm focusing on for the second game. I'll also try and fix that end boss fight a bit.

As for the typos, I looked pretty hard to find and correct all of my two-fingered typing botches, and really never found all that many. I was an English major, so they really bother me too. I did get some false-errors reported during the beta tests, which were actually just me using Canadian spellings instead of the more popular American ones (example: armour/armor). Perhaps that was a part of it? Anyways, I'll pay more attention to it during my next play through.

Thanks again for taking the time to review this! I promise the sequel is making steady progress!
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
When I first started playing, I didn't know that the game was supposed to be a joke, so the portraits bugged me for the first five minutes lol! But, I eventually caught on, making them funny, at least for me.

In terms of the spelling errors, sorry for the rant. I may be wrong actually, but I'm pretty sure I caught one or two. I feel like I may have been taking out some frustration (unwittingly) caused by another game that I hope to review. A MUCH longer game, rampant with grammatical and spelling errors. So, yea, I didn't mean to be hurtful; I was just trying to get the point across that they can really break flow. The rant was really more of a disclaimer than anything lol.

Again, waiting for the sequel! Don't disappoint!
Oh don't worry, it isn't hurtful at all. I'm a two finger typer, and I tend to look at the keys instead of the screen while typing, so I'm sure there are still a few here and there. Anyways, I look forward to reading your next review, the Frozen World one you did was pretty great too.
I remember playing this game a while ago, and at first I wasn't too impressed. "Why is the soundtrack all Fullmetal Alchemist OPs?" I asked myself. "These battles are too easy! What is somebody's grandmother doing here? I don't like this very much at all."

But then there were all these little details, like the fact that as you pick up your equipment your character sprite changes to match, or that you could receive extra EXP by hunting rabbits or other wild animals you came across while wandering. I think you still have a ways to go regarding game design, integration of humor into the story, etc.

But know this--not everyone has as good a grasp of the small details as you do. 's a perpetually underrated gift but a remarkably powerful one in the right hands. Don't forget that!

(Also this is a pretty well-written review, good job!)
Thanks! Encouraging words there. I'll try and keep those little details alive in the future as well!
Shouldn't the word "down" be the very last word of this review?
Great one by the way.
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
Thanks! just fixed it!
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