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The Rise And The Fall Of The Littlest Shrimp From Ara Fell
- 07/20/2013 05:27 AM
- 3525 views
A Game Made By: James "The Legendary" Radluck
Created Using: RPG Maker 2003
It's A: RPG Game
That Roughly Takes Around: 8 - 10 Hours To Complete
And It's A... COMPLETED GAME!!!
It’s “milestone weekend,” here, at RMN! …Okay, it’s not really THAT, it’s just another usual, boring-ass weekend like every other weekend around here. And since this is now my 10th review – count ‘em, ten -- since arriving back on the scene (watch out, Solitayre), I thought I would try reviewing a “good game” for once… Okay – lemme rephrase that! When I say the word good, that usually translates into something that the entire community finds good as well, not just me. And speaking of that, I thought I would take a trip down sweet ol’ memory lane and review one of my personal FAVVVVVORRRITTTTTEEEE games on RMN: Ara Fell: The Legend Of Dirisetsu Hollow; one of the all-time greats. (BTW – what the F*** is a Dirisetsu Hollow, anyways???) But before we do just that, let’s take a moment to setup perhaps one of the greatest rise to glory, fall from grace stories that make legends out of noobs and noobs into legends.
James “The Legendary” Radluck… Ah…there’s a name I’ve haven’t heard in quite some time… Back long, long ago, before anybody gave two licks about The Three Tile Rule and *sarcastic voice* “Which RPG Maker Software Is Better” – there used to a man! A simple man! Who arrived on the scene without a clue in his head and only five dollars in his spare pocket. And that, my friends, was the beginning of something quite grand. A legend that was soon in the making…
Okay, so Badluck didn’t quite enter the scene with such elegance as I hyped him out to be. Truth be told, Badluck had a sort of similar following to Neok (Alter A.I.L.A series creator) and many others before him who had such one-hit wonders, made a few games, didn’t do so hot, made a really – really – good game and then took off to super stardom. Radluck’s first initial releases were Rise To The Third Power (a mediocre role playing game at best) and Starlancer Six (a strange adventure / role playing hybrid that was like watching a magical girl anime more than actually playing a game). I believe he did a 3rd one as well…but I guess it was so bad, or completely forgotten that nobody even remembers it… (did it even exist? I swear he had a 3rd game somewhere) Finally, he did Ara Fell, which definitely caught a lot of attention back then with its pretty maps and the wonderful use of the Mack and Blue settings. Ara Fell released all over the Interwebz to overwhelming success, which was quite an incredible feat for an RPG Maker game back then. Few games have ever managed to achieve such a high level of praise before outside the RPG Making community… After Ara Fell’s release, fans demanded a sequel. I mean, if you played through the first episode it pretty much hinted that there were going to be more installments in the future. But time soon passed on with no word on a possible sequel to the original classic… Fans began to slowly lose hope – until…!!!
DUN, DUN - DUN!!!
A brand new Ara Fell game was FINALLY in the inner workings (f***, yeah). But unlike the previous game that left off on a cliff hanger, this one…definitely threw fans in a bit of a cliff hanger themselves. You see, this new game wasn’t a continuation of the original but a brand new entry in the series altogether. It was bitter sweet to see a new game announced but also at the same time feel sad for the fact that we have still no idea what was to become of the original characters and their fate in the original game, since the new project has a completely different protagonist and setting altogether - but we were still excited, anyways!
…Months and months soon passed with no new information…just the occasional screenshot with the occasional word of mouth from the legend himself. After some time, the Ara Fell official website was removed along with any trace of info about this brand new game. The last anyone had heard about the project was that Radluck had suspended it indefinitely as him and his team were working on another brand new game before eventually coming back to this… What that other new game is, no one knows… Whether you believe he’s working on it or not, the fact remains that the original 2k3 series is pretty much dead. No more Lita Lecotta, and no more adventures for her and the rest of her rag time crew… I guess we can just assume that stupid hot air balloon ran out of air and they just crash landed somewhere into the sea and the current swallowed them whole… I don’t know – NOBODY KNOWS!!! Maybe they went to Disneyland and Lita was too short to do any of the rides because she’s a freakin’ midget. And along the way, Kareem Abdul Jabbar happened to be there, being retired himself, and, he was like, “Yo, hommie – get a loud of that little pink haired troll thing! Just about the craziest shit I’ve ever seen, yo…!!!”
But we can take solace in the fact that it was still a heck-of-a-run. While Ara Fell and its creator slowly fade into RMN obscurity, like Lysander and Line’s End (face it, people – IT AIN’T COMING), we can all look back at what an incredible impact that this game made on the RMN community both inside and out. And wherever and whatever Radluck is doing, he’ll always be a part of the RMN family…even if he works now as a pole dancer in some low end bar paying off his creditors; he’s still family. Now that the history lesson is over – let’s get down to funky town!!!
Yep… That’s our heroine, folks, sleeping on the job…
In the floating land of Ara Fell exist many continents all throughout. One such continent where our story takes place is on island known as Auradorne, where the cogs of destiny are soon to begin to twirl on a rainy, uneventful evening. After a young, teenage youth managed to sneak into the Holy Land and retrieve a scared object from within, three spiritual entities visit the village of Aloria where they believe the chosen one resides. Enter our main, young protagonist of the story - and quite possibly the most unlikeliest heroines of them all: Lita Lecotta, whose real height is 4’11 and weighs an incredible 98 pounds (even a box of toothpicks could send her to her untimely doom)! Thing is, that even know Lita can be quite kind and lighthearted to most, call her a "shrimp" and she suddenly becomes the Slayer that she was born to be.
After awakening from his spring time nap, Lita finds out from her father, Edmond, that today is the day of the Archery Contest and it’s time to show the people of Aloria what she’s made of, all 98 pounds of it. But before she can do that, apparently Lita’s mom, Erica, tells her that her friend, Adrian Omani, found something that she really, really needs to see. Lita thinks that this is just another attempt at Adrian to get inside her pants - but she decides to find out what he wants, anyway. After meeting up with Adrian, he tells her of his expose into the Holy Land where he found this strange black ring, which Lita immediately tries to put it while turning down his offer for some TLC. After clearing something’s up in town, the two head on over to the Hunting Range where the archery contest is now underway. Everybody in all of Auradorne is there, including Lita’s family and friends, so she knows she can’t screw up this one up. Round after round, Lita seems to be doing just fine and hanging in there, until she’s up against last year’s champion. With failure seeming inevitable, some strangeness begins to happen on Lita’s final shot. A sort of energy motion begins to channel from the ring that she’s wearing as Lita makes her final shot and takes home the championship trophy, which seems to catch the eye of three wandering travelers that have heard stories that the chosen one might be in the area.
After the contest, Lita and Adrian return home to Aloria where that same energy motion that happened at the Hunting Range is happening here again. This time, it turns all the people of Aloria into solid ice sculptures (kind of like in Terranigma and the very beginning of the original Star Ocean). Helpless and afraid of what the ring has done, Lita soon meets Doran Indiel, a prophet from the Orlian Temple who managed to escape the curse just in time and asks her to come along with him to meet some people who will explain everything that is happening to her. Lita agrees, and the pair soon set out. After arriving at the Stone Quarry, Lita and Doran meet up with Seri Kesu, a sorceresses that is in charge of guiding the chosen one and her two other assailants from the temple, Armeny and the mysterious Baramon. They soon explain to Lita that the ring she has on is called the Dian’s Ring, and it’s one of the six artifacts that has the ultimate power to stop Ara Fell from crashing down to the surface world and that she is the mythical Slayer, one that will save the world from its untimely destruction. Lita has many questions about all this, but is soon interrupted by a group of vampires that have come straight from Blood Forest looking to take a bite out of the chosen one while she’s at her most vulnerable. While Doran and company try to fight off the suckheads, Seri Kesu takes Lita to safety and tells her to go on over to Blood Forest and find a way to reverse the curse that was set in Aloria by driving out all the vampires from within. Only then can she save her friends and family from the curse of Dian’s Ring. Lita agrees, and soon heads on over to Blood Forest on her own, packing spear, bombs, and arrows in hand…as the beginning of her journey soon begins…
…And that’s just in the beginning!
Ara Fell: The Legend Of Dirisetsu definitely has the right mix of action, suspense, drama and intrigue when it comes to overall direction of the story. From the moment you gain control of Miss Lecotta to the great escape at Silvara, the pace of the story doesn’t ever let you down. Not once did I stop caring about the story and I was always excited to find out what happens next. The whole shebang was done to a T here perfectly – MISTER BIG T, exactly; and this is simply one of the best stories I have ever seen or read in an indie game – EVER! One of the things I really, really found that worked effectively for the plot was just the overall emotional response that Lita is constantly going through as she struggles to deal with the fact that she is the Slayer and she must fight to save her people from disaster. All the raw emotion that comes out with her on her journey was just overall very touching, and you could feel exactly what she’s going through. It also helps when you have a strong supporting cast and an interesting world to explore – and this one delivers in spades! The townspeople are interesting. The world itself is interesting. The side cast was played out great. And although not all the story elements are completely memorable, you will at least find something noteworthy to take out of this game when you finish up playing. This is one of those games that I can remember pretty much 90% of everything that happened throughout my playthroughs and I simply have not forgotten about the overall experience. Hell, even Lita herself is an incredible, well-developed character that just brings a smile to my face whenever she’s being sarcastic about somebody making fun of her size or when she runs into something irritating along the way - like spiderwebs! (Watch her reaction when she runs into them; you will laugh your ass off.) There’s a reason why she has almost become the face of all female heroines in RM lore; because she’s just that likeable and memorable. I absolutely love this story and love all those that dwell with it. Fantastic, fantastic job.
And so do I!!!
With a strong narrative, you also need great gameplay to go along with it and this game, once again, delivers the goods. Ara Fell isn’t like most traditional RPG’s that you have played. Sure, you fight monsters, go through the odd dungeon, etc., etc. but this game plays more like an adventure game than it does so an RPG. You see, at the start, there is no overworld map to speak of. Everything you do or travel in is in an enclosed area that you simply walk to from location to location (or warp there, if you wanna, but I never did it). Also, instead of purchasing or finding new weapons along the way, you simply upgrade the ones you currently have using an Upgrade Stone. Similar to The Secret Of Mana and how that game upgrades its weapons, Ara Fell pretty much does the same. After defeating a boss or achieving certain objectives, you can upgrade your party’s weapons for a more stronger attack. You still purchase items and new armor like normal, but I do like this setup. Also, most characters (except for Doran, for some reason, because he’s a mutherfunkin’ badass) use two types of weapons in combat: a melee weapon and a ranged weapon for attacking flying based enemies. In order to hit flying based targets, you need to switch your weapons out constantly. At first, this process can get a bit annoying, but you eventually learn to deal with it. Or you can just use certain items or spells to get the job done, whatever’s faster.
Speaking of battles, you will have 4 playable characters in your quest: Lita, who is pretty much the jack of all trades character. She’s the second strongest and probably the quickest character on your team. She also comes eventually equipped with the only healing based recovery moves (unless you count Adrian’s Heart Of The Warrior as one, but, simply, that just sucks balls) and she can use stat buffs to help your team out. Her major downside is her lack of MP’s, but it’s not so bad since First Aid cost only a grand total of 1 MP (spam the crap out of it). Next is Adrian, who is very, very – VERY - useful in this game. He may not seem like it at first, but he will, trust me…he will. Adrian is the tank; the big heavy hitter. He the strongest, most useful SOB you will ever need. Screw everybody else; YOU GOT ADRAIN! Adrian has the most HP, most attack, and the highest defense on the team. He may not have a lot of speed or magical defense - but who gives a shit!? IT’S F**KING ADRAIN!!! The real charm lies in Adrian’s main, kickass ability, Adrenaline, which can do some INNNNNSSSSANNNNE damage if the cards fall right into place. I mean, this move is SOOOOOO damn good that it almost feels like cheating. It’s basically like this game’s version of Mega Man 2’s the Metal Blades – IT’S THAT AWESOME. On my best run, I was able to do almost 2000+ damage to an enemy while using this technique. Most other attacks I’ve seen the other characters do were less than 10% of that. He is a stud. Next up is Doran, who isn’t the most useful but I find him handy in the sense that you don’t need to switch out weapons with him. I usually just shuffled him into the back row and hoped no one noticed he was there (trust me, his overall defense stat blows). Finally, you have Seri Kesu, who is basically the hot sexy, ass lady of the team. Her magical attack and defense is her main driving force…but she mostly sucks balls (PFFT). I never found her that useful…
Battles may be all that and stuff – but what about the dungeons!? Well…they’re good, too! Each dungeon uses almost a Zelda-like approach that they mostly rely on clever puzzle solving and various tools to get the job done. Although this may feel like a complete rip-off, Ara Fell still feels unique enough not to just copy and paste it. (even though it uses keys, bombs, arrows…um…did I mention arrows?) First off, in dungeons, Lita can crawl, jump, swing her spear around like a madwoman to cut down stuff (which you will only use once), block certain enemies (which I never…really…found a use for) and to perform a chant on certain platforms or locations to activate certain things. She can also use a lantern to light dark passages; use bombs to clear out certain terrain; and transform herself into a bird to get out of sticky situations. I know, I know – it’s Zelda all over again. But you have to give Badluck some credit; he did a masterful job in making the dungeon crawling experience never really feel like a chore. Some games just have empty rooms where all you do is just go from the entrance to the exit fighting the odd monster in and there and nothing else in-between. Ara Fell makes this whole part of the experience an enjoyable one.
But what about the awesome side quests? Well – there’s that, too! (what doesn’t this game have?) Throughout the game, you can do odd jobs for people in town to earn items and money that will help you out on your quest. You can participate in some super-secret boss fights that will grant you some wicked stuff to help you on your way. It’s not really required to do all this, but it adds something to the game. You can find hidden items on the overworld through caves, swimming in the various streams that can surely help you out.
Overall, the gameplay is fun and addicting; nothing ever feels like a chore. Now the only bad parts in this side of the spectrum is the small amount of glitches that can occur during gameplay. Now, only one of them can be truly gamebreaking if you happen to get stuck on this part, which occurs when you try to rescue Doran from his cell in The Deep by pushing up to go into his cell. If you manage to do so, you’re stuck in this spot, so don’t save your game here, otherwise you’re screwed. There are a couple of other odd glitches, like tilesets errors and abilities that don’t seem to have any effect in battle, but it’s minor at best. I did find one funny glitch in Orlian Village – but I’ll let you find that out for yourself, ‘kay? Because I love ‘ya.
…Who you talking to, Doran, the chair?
Ara Fell’s perfect positivity on this review is about to end here, with the soundtrack. All of the game’s music seems to be mostly in MIDI form with the odd MP3 thrown in – which I don’t seriously mind. You see, this was still a time where MIDI’s were pretty much the way to go back then. Very few projects used a full MP3 lineup for at least a couple of years after this game, so it was pretty much the norm. That being said, the music in this game…works, I guess, but it isn’t as powerful as most gaming soundtracks are. Lemme explain, okay? A lot of the music from this game has been ripped straight out of such titles as Super Mario 64, Golden Sun, Donkey Kong Country, and Seiken Densetsu 3 – and even a song from the Super Nintendo version of The Lion King! That’s all well and good and all, but it just feels, well…out of place. In fact, some of the music used for certain locations seem REALLY out of place. For example, Esfrahnen Yards uses the song Gangster’s Paradise for it, which I don’t really understand why, because the vampires are gangsters??? Either way, that always bugged me a little. Strange thing is that most of the MP3 songs are original pieces and sound absolutely fantastic! Why couldn’t the entire game be like that? Probably my favorites are Aloria’s Theme and Orlian’s Temple theme, which sounds pretty good for a churchy, preachy choir song. The music in Ara Fell does the job. But I just can’t help feeling that the game could have been a lot more epic in scope if he used more original pieces like Aloria & Orlian Temple’s theme for the rest of the game. Oh, well. Since the majority of this game is so god damn epic – who really cares? The sound effects, on the other hand, are used VERY well in this game. Different ambient effects are used wherever you happen to travel on, like birds chirping, running water, and it’s used to great effect. There are some RTP sounds, but it all fits very well. The soundtrack & sound department gets a thumbs up, even if the MIDI tracks don’t quite deliver on the same stage as the MP3’s.
I have seen 16 bit heaven – and it is GLORIOUS!!!
LOOK AT THESE MAPS – LOOK AT ‘EM!!! There was a reason why so many people lost their shit back then when they first gazed eyes upon this greatness because at the time nobody had ever seen maps in quality like this before. This is definitely one of the most gorgeous games I ever had the grace of playing. And it’s not just the maps! The whole WORLD is flowing with such life. As you travel throughout Auradorne, you’ll find butterflies, rabbits, birds, frogs, everything that’s according to nature. This all paints a pretty picture of how greatly detailed this world appears to be, and you can feel a sense of atmosphere just oozing from it. Everything is used extremely well, here. Take into account that the whole setting takes place on a floating island – and you got yourself a world. Also, I do like the interesting touches on the facesets that display different emotions when a character is talking; it definitely fits the image of how the character is feeling at the time. The maps may be gorgeous and vast…but maybe a little too vast? This is only a small complaint, but I found that a lot of the bigger maps on Auardorne were a bit confusing to navigate from. Often times there is so much going on screen and so widely detailed that it can be a bit chaotic going from place to place. Luckily, it’s not that bad of a problem, as I can still make out what’s there.
The End Result
TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE, AND STEP ON IT!!!
What else can I say? This is a great game. It’s truly one of the best and finest pieces I have ever laid eyes upon. You know, I’ve played this game for around five times now and it never gets tiresome with each playthough. There’s something…”magical” about this game…something that triggers the inner child within you when you happen to think about all the wonderful fond memories of your childhood. When I play this game, especially with the scenery and lore, I remind myself playing The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time for the first time ever and just being in total awe about the spectacle that was unfolding in front of me. I consider this game to be almost the Ocarina Of Time of the RM world; a truly stunning game with a timeless legend and characters that will never fade. Lita’s is my hoe; Adrian’s my bro. I think of these characters like wonderful, summertime friends that I’ve stayed in touch with for years and years on end. And who knows – maybe, one day, Radluck will dust off his own illegally owned version of RPG Maker 2003 and give us a second chapter… Or maybe I’m just trying to give myself a false sense of hope. I know this review has been a long one. But for a defining game like Ara Fell: The Legend Of Dirisetsu – it deserves it! This is EASILY in my Top 5 favorite RM games of all-time for a reason: because of the everlasting experience it gave me.
This game cannot get less than a ten - it just can’t! Sure, there are a few issues – but, you know what, who really cares!? Sometimes you just got to put your trust into your own instincts more than your overwhelming criticism. If you haven’t played this wonderful spectacle of a masterpiece, then my advice is to go to play it now – RIGHT NOW, WHILE YOU’RE SITTING THERE, EATING THOSE CHEETOS! And if you already have, you’re an awesome, awesome person, and you have such fine taste in gaming.
The prophecy has been fulfilled.
(...I wonder what Lita does now, since she’s been unemployed for all those years...)
(...I wonder what Lita does now, since she’s been unemployed for all those years...)
5 / 5 - A ~ Perfection. Absolute Perfection.
THIS GAME IS AMAZING