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If only a creator's heart and passion translated directly into a player's enjoyment.

  • LockeZ
  • 12/28/2011 05:40 PM
  • 2160 views
I love Final Fantasy. No, I mean I love Final Fantasy. I own collectible editions of the games, soundtrack CDs, even books of the concept art. I have eight Final Fantasy posters on my bedroom walls. I have a bunch of the cardboard boxes that the SNES and Game Boy games came in pinned to my living room wall in a collage. I am big into the fan-work scene for this series and for FF7 in particular. I legitimately enjoyed FF7: Dirge of Cerberus and FF4: The After Years.

I have a vested interest in this game.

I also have a natural tendency to ignore any and all faults in any game where you fight a battle as Cloud riding a motorcycle while Tifa sits behind him hanging onto his chest and using materia and items so Cloud can focus on driving and slashing enemies with a buster sword. And that's a thing that happens here.

As far as the story and dialogue goes, it's one of the most unique approaches to a Final Fantasy fan game or any sort of fan work I've ever seen. The basic plot is that the main characters are cosplayers who find that they are becoming more and more like the characters that they dress as, up to and including joining a paramilitary group called LANDSLIDE and blowing up a power reactor in the game's first mission. This is being caused by some sort of engineered virus which causes... I guess I would describe it as a new type of bioengineered schizophrenia, though the game just describes it as "turning into fictional characters" (an explanation which I found somewhat lacking). Your goal is to stop this virus before your lives disappear.


Basic plot of the game, right here. Honestly, this was kind of a cool idea.


The dialogue could use a little editing in a couple place, not for spelling or grammar but just for simplicity and coherence - I never did figure out where the Selphie-looking girl came from or why she joined my team, for example. But for the most part it is actually excellently written, especially in the important scenes. The characters, especially the two main characters Kumo and Levi, are extremely well developed and have a ton of personality while still seeming very realistic and grounded. Their reactions to situations are believable and their personalities and quirks come off as natural rather than forced. Despite the fact that they're both asses, both to each-other and to most everyone else, I found myself growing attached to them both quite early.

To put it simply, I started playing this game to see what would happen to Cloud and Squall, but by 50% of the way through the game I was playing to see what would happen to Kumo and Levi. SorceressKyrsty weaves a great character-driven narrative.

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Gameplay is based very closely on FF7. The materia system is essentially unchanged from FF7, although many of the actual materia themselves are different and teach more interesting skills (some from other FF games, some original). FF7's signature limit breaks are also present, though new ones are learned from story events rather than by using the old ones repeatedly.

I found the gameplay to generally be fun and well done. The designer made non-damaging skills be fun and tactically useful without being overpowered - positive and negative status effects both wear off naturally and quickly, making them something that have to be reused and also healed/dispelled. Ailments weaken opponents instead of completely crippling them. Elemental weaknesses on enemies are common, but the limited materia slots force the player to pick and choose how often to make use of those weaknesses at the expence of other tactical options and also of building AP on materia you'll need later.

The game creates fun without being too challenging. I rarely felt like I was in serious danger, but sometimes I did. Even when I felt like the enemies were unthreatening, the materia system was utilized excellently and the rewards made grinding much more tolerable.

It might sound obvious that a battle system ripped almost directly from one of the most popular games ever made turned out to be quite fun, but actually it is a very noteworthy achievement. I've played plenty of games where the battle systems were mostly indistinguishable from Final Fantasy games and they were nevertheless boring garbage. Getting it right takes skill. I feel Cosplay Crisis does an admirable job in this area.

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Sound and music is pretty much all straight from Final Fantasy, as expected. In a Final Fantasy fan game, it would obviously be stupid to complain about that. My only complaints are that I wish there were an optional high-quality music pack with MP3s instead of midis, and that I think the sound that plays when your limit gauge fills up is the single worst thing I've ever been subjected to in my life.

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Graphics in this game are not the built-in RTP graphics that come with RPG Maker XP, though the human characters are created in that same style. The vast majority of tilesets and character sprites seemed to be downloaded free resources that I recognized. This alone doesn't bother me at all - the resources chosen are great, and I don't consider them overused in other games. Many of the cities give off a very appropriate drab, urban, modern feel, while other locations mostly had graphics that also gave off strong thematic feels. A few locations, such as the interior of the airship, appear to be original or semi-original graphics. All Final Fantasy characters are easily recognizable and almost everything more or less matches in style within each area, though some of the different areas would look pretty awkward if they were side-by-side due to different styles of graphics.

However, the tilesets in particular were used extremely poorly. The towns bear no resemblence to real towns. Rows of absurdly tiny inaccessible buildings line every street like walls, with no alleys or fences or any sort of attempts at cleverness in mapping. Some buildings are flush up against the walls of other buildings on all four sides, making me wonder how anyone could ever use them. There's no indication whatsoever as to which edges of the maps cause you to go to the next maps - you just have to step on every edge tile in the game until you find all the right spots. Some areas (like the power reactor) actually have a really nice amount of eye candy and the visuals hold my interest due to their variety and attention to detail, but then others are horribly lacking with long barren stretches of floor and massive pointless hallways designed only to increase the number of random battles. I'd have preferred places like Oak and the Tokyo streets and alleys to have the same number of battles spread over a smaller area. Especially Oak, where I spent over half an hour just being lost.

Mapping errors were pretty frequent. Passability problems, layer problems, and problems with where you get sent when exiting a map were all present. They weren't present to the degree they were in the demo (i.e. holyshit intolerable, average of 10 errors per map) but they were still common enough to make me cry. A lot of the mapping in the cities was also just really bad with stairs that didn't work right, 3cm high objects you can't walk over, walls used on the ground, etc. There were other problems too: People speaking Japanese is supposed to be represented by bold text, but the message system doesn't support bold text properly and so the last couple words of every line gets cut off when you talk to people in Tokyo. The slow text speed and slow walk speed didn't help my immersion either - the text speed just made me get sick of text boxes and skip them by accident while trying to fast-forward them, while the walk speed just made me want to punch the monitor.

Many of the battle graphics for characters were done seemingly almost entirely from scratch, which was actually awesome. The characters change costumes several times over the course of the game and each variation has its own battle graphics. Enemies seem to be 100% original as well, not to mention animated, which makes me completely forgive the use of palette swaps.

However, battles also suffer from some graphical bugs - many enemies disappear when afflicted with certain status effects or when attacking the player, because the creator never bothered to define poses for those settings. In some battles, enemies appear to be floating in mid-air in front of buildings.

To summarize, while the creator clearly put a huge amount of time and effort and heart into creating this world, she put nowhere near enough effort into making that world good, or even playable. Designers need to remember that 95% of the time you spend making a game is expected to be spent fixing the problems with it. If all the bugs were fixed, this would easily be a 3.5 star game, and maybe higher.


Story: 4.5 stars
Combat: 4 stars
Interface: 1 star
Graphics: 2 stars


Final Score: 2.5 stars

Posts

Pages: 1
I'd say it's a fairly written review, though I doubt she will come back to this game. I'm sure you saw the comments where I tried to help her, but that didn't quite work out. I actually stopped playing myself due to the sheer amount of bugs, since it really ruins the whole experience. I'm hoping that eventually after working on some other games and improving her skills, she will come back and fix alot of the errors.

I agree with pretty much the whole review, and hopefully it motivates her. She wrote a great story and the battles were fun. I still have faith in her, so I figured I'd drop a comment on this.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5175
The full version of the game was just released two and a half weeks ago, and a patch that fixed several bugs was released while I was in the process of playing it for the secret santa review event, so to say she's given up on the game is... certainly jumping the gun a bit. Also, I mailed her and offered to actually help out, because I'm familiar with RMXP and love the idea behind this project. If the bugs were gone this would be an extremely enjoyable game for people like me and I think it's definitely worth the work.
Interface? What exactly does this entail? All the bugs? That's the only thing I can see that would cause you to give a 0. I've never seen this category in a review before.

Are you counting every single tile passability error in that number of bugs? The version I beta tested had 1, maybe 2 game breaking bugs cause of a missing event and file. Passability errors were present, but not nearly as much as it sounds like there is now. She should have released that version :/

And graphics 0.5? That is what a game like Block Land deserves. Things could have been better but it wasn't THAT bad.

There was a run button you know? Did you walk through the whole game?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5175
I know there was a run button but holding down a button for twenty hours is almost worse than walking slower. I edited the game after about an hour or so swap the walk/run speeds so that run was the default speed when not pressing the button. Also changed the messages to be displayed instantly.

I listed the seven game breaking bugs I found in the review, so obviously the other several hundred were not game breaking. If an entire wall had the wrong passability I'd consider that one error. If an enemy is missing a pose I'd consider that one error. If you teleported to the wrong place I'd consider that one error. Obviously I can't list them all. It's not like I literally counted, 400 is a rough estimate, but I can guarantee I found upwards of 50 bugs by the end of the first dungeon.

Opening the game right now, I can point out ten bugs just in the menu.

I don't mean to sound overly negative because 99% of these bugs are fixable without too much work and underneath them I think the game is really good. It was just released two weeks ago, so I expect they'll probably mostly get fixed in the next couple weeks. All it really needs is one complete playthrough by the developer with the editor open as she plays. When the bugs are fixed I will definitely update this review.
Puddor
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
3940
Hey, thanks for the review! I see what you mean about the bugs. To be 100% honest, this game's very patchy. Especially earlier mapping in cities and the like. I don't have a lot of experience in cities nor do I have a lot of access to them. Along with that most of the city areas are over a year old.

I've been playing through the game myself and I've been working quite hard on fixing up majority of the major graphical errors (passability) fixing up some older maps and revamping the menu layout.

As for the run button, sorry about that. It was a silly decision to make and I made it a long time ago. FF7 has a similar quirk- CC was originally intended to have FF7's systems, FF9's look and FF8's music, which quite clearly changed a long time ago.

As for MP3's...quite frankly it's at the point where I would never replace the music. Too many changes to make on top of the already ridiculous filesize- and I'm talking about my uploading. It'll take me six hours to upload as it is...
Puddor
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
3940
Although- the passability errors are less than Link's version. On top of that, I don't think the graphics warrants 0.5 stars when to be frank the mapping isn't HORRENDOUS (I mean, it's amateur, but c'mon, it's mainly only city maps, most interiors are ok and the enviromental areas aren't half bad). Are you saying that the entire game's graphical presentation, from battles to field, warrants 0.5 stars? I really don't think that's fair. I got a 0.5 for Darkseed: Revival, and that game was awful beyond comprehension.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5175
I thought the overworld, inner building, and natural area maps were mostly good enough looking. The FF7 reactor dungeon looked amazing, and your custom battlers for the party members were totally sweet. I admit I thought the cityscape maps were really bad, and most of the enemies looked dumb, but the low graphics score is mostly because of the passability problems and the missing enemy poses and animation problems.

If the technical problems were fixed, I would give your graphics at least 3 stars.

Shame about the music. ...Wait, six hours to upload? I know the game isn't 3GB! Are you on dialup!?
Despite the score, this review made me wanna download this game even more. As soon as the game-breaking bugs are gone, I'm certainly gonna give this a whirl.
Puddor
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
3940
LockeZ, I currently get a maximum of about 230kb/s upload speed, I think. Old connection was .43, and that took several hours usually. Woe be me...that's the estimate, but I'm sure it's a lot lower than that. A lot lower.
I might as well be on dialup...
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5175
OK, after playing the new version, a lot of the bugs have been addressed.

Sadly, in a game which had over 500 bugs in the version I originally reviewed, addressing 90% of the bugs still leaves about ten times as many as I'm willing to tolerate. But it bumped your score up by half a star, and I edited out the complaints that were no longer accurate.

Frankly, I still recommend doing about ten or fifteen more test runs on your own.
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