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A trippy project that is hindered by underdeveloped gameplay and other minor issues.

  • Decky
  • 09/28/2010 10:55 PM
  • 9105 views
Space Funeral is a random game with interesting graphics, high doses of parody levied toward the RPG Maker community, and well-written yet strange dialogue. On the other hand, the game boasts mediocre and underdeveloped gameplay, as well as considerable design oversights and the occasional glitch. The near universally positive praise and assurances of brilliance leave me wondering: what am I missing? My guess is that some of these oversights in gameplay and design were intentional; however, this is a serious RPG Maker website, and I'm going to give it a serious, impartial review. Call me a prude or a twit, but that's how it is. I rate games based on my personal enjoyment and whether they accomplish their goals. The latter of those two reasons is probably why I'm giving this game an above average rating.

For the record, my review scale is: 0.5 = unplayable, 1 = very poor, 1.5 = poor, 2.0 = mediocre, 2.5 = fair, 3.0 = above average, 3.5 = good, 4.0 = great, 4.5 = excellent, 5.0 = perfect.

Graphics

The all-custom graphics are nothing short of excellent. Each charset and chipset conveys three things: randomness, silliness, and spookiness. The colors and barriers clash like crazy, and many of the charset animations are silly at best. Houses (and their interior walls) are made out of skulls, and copious amounts of blood and other "creepy" things are to be found everywhere. In short, the graphics are very relevant and succeed on every level. Catmitts deserves extraordinary praise for this category.

There are some minor issues, such as pass-ability errors and the occasional difficulty in distinguishing objects and features, such as paths from cliffs. The final map of the game also features some awkward mapping, but that's just a nitpick -- you'll know what I mean when you play it. Another nitpick is the open space and awkward layout in some maps; I see a bit more potential in the usage of these chipsets! Overall, though, the graphics deserve a 4.5 out of 5.

Audio

Most of the sound effects are RTP, and I have no problem with this. A few of the sound selections seem to come from the NES/SNES eras, which is a nice touch. I did find it strange that Catmitts elected to use some default music, such as the mystery themes -- I assume this was part of the overall parody of RPG Maker games.

Overall, the music selection is quite interesting. Most of the songs sound straight out of Woodstock, or at the very least modern interpretations of that entire movement. While the selections are interesting, I find it difficult to award points based on relevance. This is actually one of the categories that has me baffled: people say the music fits the overall story and theme perfectly, but I don't see this at all. Yes, the music is trippy, but it's a different kind of trippiness -- I don't exactly envision Woodstock when I see these graphics. Some of the tracks are definitely relevant, such as the Pokemon theme, the battle music, and some of the horror-flavored tracks. Other selections make little sense but are very likable, such as the fort and tundra themes. The rest is a mixed back; I couldn't stand the Blood Cave "music", and the victory theme just strikes me as unfitting.

I think a 3 out of 5 is reasonable for the audio: the selections are mostly interesting, but a few are nonsensical and one or two are downright annoying to me.

Story

I don't even know where to begin, nor do I know what's accurate or not. I'm just going to go with what I got out of this -- sorry if I'm wrong. For the sake of organization, I'm going to group "intent and overtones" into this category; to that end, I might make some references to gameplay or graphics.

(For what it's worth, most of the writing is solid.)

From what I've seen, the game's story is a parody of RPGs -- no, RPG Maker games in particular. The game's protagonist is constantly sad, much like the protagonists of various JRPGs and RMN games. We begin the game in his house, where his parents -- and his village -- seem to have shunned him. He's contaminated and a failure, and must head north to a city to find answers or thereabouts. The overall layout of the story is linear -- you progress to each area, get distracted by an obstacle, and progress until reaching the city. Along the way, you meet a "Leg Horse" -- I won't even begin to describe it. I'm also not quite sure what Leg Horse is meant to parody: sidekicks? Bossy secondary characters like Misty and that girl from Suikoden V?

Along the way, these two compelling characters deal with a blood-sucking wizard, criminals, and a character from Leg Horse's past. The scene regarding Leg Horse and the other character is downright awful, and I'm almost positive that it was a blatant parody at the horrible attempts at forced character development featured in most RPG Maker games. I bet it's based on a certain horrible scene from one of my own games! Maybe I'm over thinking it...

There are a couple hints embedded in cutscenes that suggest that nothing is exactly what it seems. These suspicions are indeed confirmed when the players make their way to the city and encounter the "antagonist". Spoilers ahead:

AGAIN, MAJOR SPOILERS

The thing behind the trippiness is "Moon". This "Moon" fellow was an artist who traveled to the city seeking to make something perfect. Once at the city, he realized that nothing could be made as perfect as the originals, so he went berserk and turned the world into a "grotesque mockery of itself".

So what was the original glory like? Well, you'll see in the ending. It's pretty obvious, but the ending confirms the parody in every way, shape, and form. The question is WHAT kind of parody? Is Catmitts mocking the RPG Maker community for being like "Moon" and trying to replicate the pros without success? That's my guess, but there's another option. Catmitts could be poking fun at newbies who try to emulate some of the classic RPG Maker games, like Hero's Realm, which gives meaning to the ending. You could really go both ways here!

Either way, it's a parody that generally succeeds. My beef is that, in my humble opinion, the humorous elements are not quite as cohesive or clever as they could be. Some of the parody is either lost by me or just plain doesn't fit, such as the "criminals" and some of the random enemies. The random Pokemon throwbacks is a nice reference to those fangames, of course, but I feel that there is some clear potential for improvement in the parody. I think Catmitts was going for equal parts randomness and parody, but I'm left a bit confused and wanting a bit more. And for me, confusion and missed potential takes away from my enjoyment of a story -- comedy, parody, or serious. 3.5 out of 5.

Gameplay

This is where everything falls flat for me. The gameplay is average, at best. On the bright side, there are plenty of sidequests, NPCs, items, skills, and not a single random encounter to be found. The "mystery" command is a nice touch; I got everything from an instant death spell to a full-heal. I approve of such a skill! Moreover, there are all sorts of neat items that have varying effects on enemies, and there are plenty of healing items and equipment to be found. Some of the equipment offer interesting trade-offs, such as increased defense at the cost of being poisoned.

Unfortunately, these cool features are underused and overshadowed by some problems. First, the game is far too simplistic and easy; enemies have low HP and pack little punch, so they can be offed with a few taps of "enter". Thus, all the skills and items -- including some detailed enemy movelists -- go to waste, and the entire battle system is left underdeveloped. That takes a lot of the fun away for me.

Some of the skills have balancing and/or logical issues. For instance, the physical attack skills are often weaker than regular moves, even early on! The buff/de-buff spells, as well as the status effects, have little purpose and don't really offer a significant advantage or disadvantage. I did like having the chance to use the Coin Trick ability against a certain boss, but even then it's not exactly rewarding. I also like the groups of frogs in the tundra area, as they would demand an area-of-effect bashing...if they had more HP.

There are a few basic puzzles in this game: switch-pushing, traps, and so on. All of them are elementary and none of them are annoying, which is a good thing to me. I did like the mummies in the pyramid, as they required a bit of thought to avoid. Unfortunately, there wasn't much punishment for colliding with the traps; I think most of them deducted 1 HP per collision. Thus, there was little incentive or feeling of satisfaction in avoiding the traps to begin with.

Glitches and designer oversights are moderate in this game. The screen-to-screen teleports are sometimes difficult to find, as they are often slapped against one of three empty edges of a map with little marking. An easterly teleport will often give way to a different direction, which as a little annoying. Some of the traps deal no damage upon collision, and a few enemies have strange movement patterns (I.E. fixed graphics).

I could get into an entire thesis on why the execution of this battle system does nothing for me; i.e. that it takes the reward out of using skills and strategy, that it makes exploring pointless, etc. I understand that Catmitts prefers straightforward, attack-only games, and I also understand that much of this was a parody of RPG Maker games in general. However, the score must reflect my own enjoyment, and I was quite underwhelmed by the fighting and the rather uninspired level design. 2 out of 5.

Conclusion

I hope I didn't seem overly harsh on this game. I truly enjoyed the graphics and even liked the parody aspects, but the gameplay wasn't exactly fun. The game IS short, and I think that helps mask some of the flaws regarding the skills and battles. There are definitely worse ways to spend an hour of your afternoon. My final verdict is a 3 out of 5: above average.

The Breakdown
Graphics: 4.5/5
Audio: 3/5
Story: 3.5/5
Gameplay: 2/5
Overall: 3.25/5

Posts

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Thanks for the review! It's really not a parody at all apart from like a couple of lines and the forest castle cutscene or whatever. I wouldn't even call it a comedy as opposed to a lighthearted adventure game but thats just me I guess. The final section was based on a line from Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities" as well as being a joke about the RM chipset system.


SPOLOIR PSOIRLE SOILEPR
Moon was actually kind of an exaggerated parody of my own gamemaking ideas in that she's someone who'd rather live in a horrible grotesque mspaint bloodworld than sit through the same boring "polished" graphics leading to entropy etc. It's kind of facetious because it turns out your goal is to turn the world back into another generic rtp game.


Most of the songs sound straight out of Woodstock, or at the very least modern interpretations of that entire movement.

It was actually all 70s british electronica iirc (fuck woodstock). The only actual psychedelic track in the game is the battle victory / game over theme which was taken from 7&7 Is by Love.
Moon was actually kind of an exaggerated parody of my own gamemaking ideas in that she's someone who'd rather live in a horrible grotesque mspaint bloodworld than sit through the same boring "polished" graphics leading to entropy etc. It's kind of facetious because it turns out your goal is to turn the world back into another generic rtp game.


I would have to agree with moon then.

About the battles, I honestly don't care for them. The last thing I look for in an RPG is a fun battle system, the first thing I look for is story and graphics and charm. I quite liked FF7, and this game I suppose, because every battle ends lightning fast and you can get back to the interactive movie you were watching.
I would honestly be happy even if an RPG did all the battles for you and just told you how much XP and everything you got out of it. (Like in earthbound, when you attacked a mob way lower level than you).
My favorite inclusion of battles is probably Mystic Quest, where mobs disappeared after you killed them. Every mob actually feeling like it meant something, instead of feeling like you're chipping away at an infinite wall with a rusty spoon.

It did kind of annoy me that the edge of the map was visible and not blocked off, but that's a minor beef.
If you're not playing a game for the gameplay then you're kinda doing it wrong. If all you want is the story then read a book or watch a movie...

After reading the comments on this review, I get the feeling that this game might've been better as a web-comic or flash video or something... but if this "parody of RPGMaker" idea is true (I'd have to play the game to form an opinion on that) then maybe making it with RPGMaker was the only viable option.
yes, yes, how dare I enjoy games the way I want to.
It was made in RPG Maker because the most interesting thing about electronic games is not whatever boring calculator/boardgame shit passes for gameplay but the ability to make and explore a space which is experienced in a completely different way than in other media, which leads to differences in pacing and structure etc.
Sounds like you'd enjoy the game more if it was a movie, so why not just watch a movie? It's pretty basic logic. Enjoy games however you want, I'm just trying to save you some hassle.
post=205440
It was made in RPG Maker because the most interesting thing about electronic games is not whatever boring calculator/boardgame shit passes for gameplay but the ability to make and explore a space which is experienced in a completely different way than in other media, which leads to differences in pacing and structure etc.

Exploration is part of the gameplay...

I wasn't trying to imply that battles = all gameplay.
was gonna edit my post, but catmitts knows what's up and said it for me.\
here i'll edit this one: I never said that I didn't value exploration or anything, just that I don't value "fun" battles.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18257
This argument is interesting because someone (Shinan?) linked an article recently claiming that story and gameplay are the same thing. Unfortunately, I don't remember many of the specifics and my google searches have not turned up anything, but one of the basic components of the argument was that the very act of putting you, the player, at the center of the action, was integral to the experience because it makes it personal. These are things happening to you, drawing you into the experience in a way other media don't. The experience could not simply be replicated by watching the same events unfold passively in a book or in a film.

In other words, a story in a game isn't experienced the same way as a story in a book or a movie, it's different. I have also enjoyed games for the narratives, and so have many other people, so I don't think saying story isn't a valid reason to play a game holds any weight. Everyone likes different things!

In regards to this review, I mostly agree with it, I thought the music was pretty awesome, though!
post=205442
post=205440
It was made in RPG Maker because the most interesting thing about electronic games is not whatever boring calculator/boardgame shit passes for gameplay but the ability to make and explore a space which is experienced in a completely different way than in other media, which leads to differences in pacing and structure etc.
Exploration is part of the gameplay...

I wasn't trying to imply that battles = all gameplay.


JRPGs, which is what a lot of RPGs on here are based after, tend to focus on story over game play. The same could be said about adventure games of the past and present. And don't get me started on Metal Gear Solid.
I never said that I didn't value exploration or anything, just that I don't value "fun" battles.

Your post made it sound like you'd rather have the computer play the game for you ("I would honestly be happy even if an RPG did all the battles for you") so that you could basically 'skip' to the cutscenes without having to deal with the stuff in between; in that particular case you might as well be watching a movie.

post=205446
In other words, a story in a game isn't experienced the same way as a story in a book or a movie, it's different.

True. But if you disregard the elements that seperate a game from a book/movie (like battles in an RPG) as unimportant or irrelevant then you might as well be reading a book or watching a movie.

EDIT:

...tend to focus on story over game play

And that's why most of the games here suck.
I don't agree AT ALL with this "it's better to read a book than play a game with easy battles". Soli already threw some arguments. But I think this is a pretty dumb idea. It's like saying it would be better to play a dice game then an RPG with shitty graphics.

About the review... well, it seems to me like Deckiller didn't like this game so much, but still tried to be as positive as possible because he was afraid Space Funeral fans would bash him. As much as I like this game, I can see why someone wouldn't, and I wouldn't hate him for that.

I won't say "Deckiller didn't get this game", but he probably didn't get the same insights as I did at least, which I can tell when he says things like "Space Funeral is a random game". Space Funeral is all but a random game. And it's not a parody/comedy game like Chrono Trigger. I see it as a solid game with a solid story and a message behind it... maybe a critic, whatever, but not a parody.

About the gameplay... I wouldn't call it mediocre, because the battle system would actually be very interesting and well thought-out IF NOT for being easy... which is something VERY EASILY FIXABLE with just raising a few numbers. There are a lot of other things that could go wrong with battles, being easy is just one of them, and it's the only problem I see in this game.
post=205478
About the review... well, it seems to me like Deckiller didn't like this game so much, but still tried to be as positive as possible because he was afraid Space Funeral fans would bash him. As much as I like this game, I can see why someone wouldn't, and I wouldn't hate him for that.

I honestly think any rating from a .5 to a 5 would be completely appropriate for this game.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
post=205440
It was made in RPG Maker because the most interesting thing about electronic games is not whatever boring calculator/boardgame shit passes for gameplay but the ability to make and explore a space which is experienced in a completely different way than in other media, which leads to differences in pacing and structure etc.


Even though this is obviously targeted at me, I agree with it.
I don't agree AT ALL with this "it's better to read a book than play a game with easy battles"

Good job that's not what I am saying, then.
post=205659
Even though this is obviously targeted at me, I agree with it.


It wasn't targeted at anyone! aaaa why cant you guys make topics about this stuff so i can argue without sounding like i am "pulling a max mcgee" (sorry max mcgee!!)
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13865
...the terminology is hilariously close to the jargon I shit out, then.
I thought this game was compelling. The entire setting was intrinsically moving, far more so that I can usually find with any flavor of traditional RPG fare.

It also featured one of the most intelligently implemented ideas for a game I've ever played. What that idea was cannot be precisely quantified - you're talking philosophy of the mind type of stuff - and I think it's funny that there's some attempt to fit it all into the realm of RPG tropes here. That said, in some ways I think the game failed to deliver; the postmortem imagery and repetitions of "it's too late for you" never turned into anything important, for instance, and definitely the battles felt like an afterthought. The whole theme of sadness and death wasn't really developed, and I think the part at the end where it all came together was very rushed. I think it would have been cooler if the undoing of Moon's madness was a perfect arrangement of chaotic happenstance rather than a disembodied leg-creature's revenge quest... you know? Symmetry.

But then again, the blood wizard scene was probably the most intense thing I've ever seen in pixel form. Overall, I think the game did something and said something unusual and genuinely intriguing, even cerebral, which is really quite an accomplishment. Thanks for the game.
I like your thoughts on this game, jimbo, But

post=jimbo
you're talking philosophy of the mind type of stuff - and I think it's funny that there's some attempt to fit it all into the realm of RPG tropes here. That said, in some ways I think the game failed to deliver;


It does seem like it fails to deliver if you have this kind of expectations from the game. There are certain moments and certain lines in the game that make it seem like it's talking about something really profound and brilliant. And I do believe that there's some brilliancy behind all this. But I don't think the game never meant to be that deep and philosophical. Because nothing is ever really developed. There are just these scattered moments of brief depth, and while they don't seem to lead to anything (other than the ending itself, which IS kinda deep in itself), they contribute to building the setting and "flavor" of the game. And I like it that way.
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