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A sleek demo that is hampered by tedious battles, questionable design choices, and unpolished dialogue.

(This is a short demo, so it won't be a segmented review)

I changed my listening to No Stars since this review is outdated and I don't want to bring down the average.

Fan games can be a blast if done correctly -- look no further than Hero's Realm. The problem with fan games is that they won't be taken seriously if there are even a few faults, mainly because of the negative stigma associated with them. Thus, first impressions are extremely important!



My first impression of this (very short) demo was quite mixed. The game starts by allowing the player to select the soundtrack (FF7, FF8, or FF9); this is a nice touch, as long as the mammoth amount of options are kept to MIDI to keep file size down. It seems Kyrsty is using only MIDI, so no complaint there. I ultimately chose the FF8 soundtrack for this demo, and I was quite pleased with its overall use.

The opening sequence is a parallel to the FF7 Mako Reactor run, though there's something not right with our protagonists. As a matter of fact, we don't play as Cloud and Barret -- we play as Cloud, Squall, and Zidane lookalikes. My guess is that they are cos-players stuck in a virtual reality world of Final Fantasy, but I'm not completely sure as the demo is quite short and reveals little. The dialogue is somewhat bland and features a few typos and grammatical glitches -- not enough to cause me to rage-quit, of course, but it still diminished my first impressions. There are also some consistency issues with the dialogue (e.g. "Avalanche" changing to "Landslide" between cutscenes).

One of the first things I noticed about this demo was the excellent graphics. Sprites are vivid and resemble their Final Fantasy counterparts. The mapping is solid, but not amazing. The battle backgrounds match the areas quite well, but they seem to be lacking some detail. There are also some minor pass-ability issues, such as the stair railings and other diagonal details. The maps could be enhanced with more detail in the open spaces.

The battle system is highly derivative of Final Fantasy 7, and it needs a bit more work. Kyrsty has implemented a Materia system, and it works well; however, the navigation controls are a little baffling, and I actually had to visit the gamepage to figure out how they worked. It might be best to include an in-game tutorial, like the actual Final Fantasies. Kyrsty even implemented her own materia designs into the game, such as "Fighter". It's always good to put your own spin on classic battle systems; otherwise, you won't grow as a designer.

The battles are a bit too long for requiring little-to-no strategy. Skills can occasionally miss, which just makes long battles even more frustrating. Kyrsty even recommends grinding in the Mako Reactor, despite this being the first dungeon. I usually frown on early grinding, especially in RPG Maker games, but I'm sure that will be fixed in the real version. Nevertheless, enemies are hard hitting and pose quite a challenge without being frustrating and tedious. I like hard-hitting enemies; it keeps me on my toes. I just want a bit of strategy and/or a rapid battle flow to augment the challenge.



As for the demo's boss, it's somewhat annoying but not outright frustrating. I was mainly confused by two things: the order of character on the screen and the boss' attack pattern. Indeed, the character order is inconsistent with their gauge order -- this oversight creates problems when trying to heal or buff on the run. Several times I ended up healing the wrong character, causing a nasty game over. Moreover, the boss' attack pattern is somewhat vague, as the sprite does not change when it raises its tail as in FF7. Consequently, I assumed it would be safe to attack after one tail laser -- needless to say, that was not the case. Heck, it didn't even -counter- with tail laser; it actually used it several times, leading to a second game over. I highly recommend that Kyrsty emulates the actual fight as closely as possible; this interpretation is quite boring, since I have to defend constantly in a boss that's overlong to begin with.

Another major design blunder is the inclusion of numerous soldier battles after the boss. This is a massive error, especially since there's no heal in between the boss and the gauntlet! Nobody wants to go through a long battle and then get killed by a bunch of mindless, hard-hitting encounters. There should be a full heal and/or a save opportunity after the boss, as it's never good to force a player into "no save land" for more than a few minutes.

On the whole, the demo comes across as an average RPG experience with the potential for easy improvement. The graphics, materia system, and music choices are all solid and help demonstrate the designer's game-making strengths. However, Kyrsty needs to focus on three things for the next release: refining dialogue, enhancing/redesigning battles, and minimizing player "annoyance" as mentioned above. Keep it up!

EDIT: I updated the star rating to reflect the newer version. It may go up again when I finish.

Posts

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Deckiller
Just a random RMNer once again.
18046
I will be updating this review once the new demo is out. I'm sure that star rating will be climbing steadily.
Puddor
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
3940
Thankyou for the review! I completely agree with the score judging by what I've left for download; in fact, I'd give it a lower score myself. I know developers can be overly critical of their work, but eh.

As for grammatical errors, this is something that I take into extreme consideration. When the full game is completed, I plan to go through all the dialogue and every scene to make sure that a) there are no spelling or grammatical errors and b) the dialogue is thorough and enjoyable.

Most boss battles in Cosplay Crisis are difficult somewhat; the first boss has been toned down because of the inclusion of Limit Breaks (so same stats, but you have more powerful attacks at your disposal). Battles are easy to understand now; though there are a few minor changes I would like to make I'm not sure how to go about them (heh). Overall battles have improved significantly.
And I'll take the soldier battles out -.-' (they are there because I am mean)

EDIT: Oh, right: the very very beginning dialogue between Kumo and Levi is almost the exact same conversation that Squall and Cloud have in Kingdom Hearts 2 before facing Heartless.
not to demean Kyrsty but in video 1 u commented on teh tileset, and it is from the pre-made game that one can download fro RPGMXP
Puddor
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
3940
He didn't say I made it, he asked.

I keep forgetting to make my credits list '3')b


Only tileset fully by me in this game is the Ragnarok.
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