• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

a viable replacement for the soyuz rocket

  • mellytan
  • 09/03/2011 06:48 AM
  • 4319 views
I Mass the Effect: A Review of I Miss the Sunrise Episodes 0&1
In Four Acts





“The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.” - William Somerset Maugham

“The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity.” - Thomas Carlyle




Pre-Flight Information Brochure

This is a game.

It is not a VX game, nor is it an RM game, but a game.

Hold the iPhone, you cry as you Alt-tab from the window you were using to request a save game menu script on the Crankeye forums. This game was made in VX!! Of course it's a VX game!!!!!, you type with less proper punctuation and more profanity into the comment field.

Listen. Listen. Lay down your arms and hear what I have to say. This is my story.

This is a game. Presumably, like all games it began as a feeling, an idea, dreamed up by some Clark Kent game developer (aren't we all?) who went home after a long day at the Daily Bugle and transformed himself into a regular Derek Yu, ready make all his game making dreams come true. Donning his RPG Maker costume once again, he likely settled on RMVX as the means most suited to attain his goal. He installed the program, paid the toll, and created a new project, entering “Reconstruction Zero: I Miss the Sunrise” into the Title field.

But where IMTS diverged from your typical RM game is here: When Enterbrain and the internet offered Deltree premade graphics and sound and gameplay (hey man can you send me the srcripts u used thx) he politely declined them altogether, sat at his workbench, and set to work on putting together precisely the game he had envisioned—a mildly somber, sterile sci-fi saga, with graphics, audio, and gameplay to match.

In other words IMTS is not the patchwork of Yanfly melody scripts and RTP facesets that 99.8% of VX games basically are. It eschews the creative handouts that most RM developers (including yours truly) eagerly lap up, opting not to settle for being “a Sci-fi-themed VX game” but instead valiantly striving to be “a sci-fi RPG game that happens to have been developed in VX.” It goes all-out but doesn't cut any corners.

Wait, aren't there other games out there with all-original graphics and game features?, you type hurriedly as your frozen burrito defrosts in the background. Of course there are. But I've felt that a lot of these games lack a certain something. Maybe I'm just really picky, but is it too much to ask for more deep, atmospheric, well-rounded gaming experiences from the RM community?

(please don't answer that question, it is “rhetorical”)

Okay. In this review I might contradict myself, touting IMTS as a “game game” and then turning around and analyzing it as an “RM game.” Yeah I might go on about things in this game that people usually wouldn't talk about in a review of a non-RM game, like the “'custom' graphics” or “lack of Yanfly scripts” or “I hate VX RTP” but let me gloss over that like a fine coat of glossy Ferrari Rosso Corsa© red paint by telling you again why this is a standout “interactive experience created by a team of <4 homosapiens.”

IMTS is a game that delivers in nearly every respect. As if I haven't gone on long enough, let me get all of my subjective knee-jerk admiration for this game—and the Reconstruction series as a whole—out of the way before I get into the parts people actually care about. (To skip, locate your scroll bar and complete the following steps: 1. Right click and hold scroll bar 2. Move mouse down at a moderate speed until area of interest appears 3. Release right click.) While I'm at it, let's explore the background of this RM game series, too.

There is a distinct air of professionalism, class, panache that this game exudes. It has a lot of “heart.” It oozes delicious attention to detail, inside and out. IMTS even comes with a manual (.pdf, file format of kings) with a rockin layout, and lo it is snazzy and genuinely helpful. The developer's site for the game and its predecessor is impressive and appears to completely ignore the existence of its RMN page (more power to it).

In other words, while legions of 15-year-olds have slapped together logos in Photoshop, hastily typed up a README!!, got some ad-based web space on Angelfire and claimed to be their own self-staffed game “studio,” TildeOne—Detree's studio—really does come off as a professional entity that makes games fit for public consumption.

And unlike with those other “studios,” this meta-work it is not laughable but fitting, because the game is totally worthy of all of it.

*


So, this game, Reconstruction Zero: I Miss the Sunrise is basically a prequel to The Reconstruction, an RMXP game released a few years ago to slightly-above-average acclaim. In addition to taking place in the same universe (albeit with several thousand years in between the two series' settings), its spirit of originality, mission-based game flow, delightfully esoteric battle system and general polish have been passed on IMTS. In fact, it is said that The Reconstruction's ending is spoiled in the first few minutes of IMTS.

Yeah to tell the truth I only played a little of Zero after playing the first demo of IMTS so I don't know why I started off talking about it in the first place (why do I always get myself into these situations), but I think it's safe to say that IMTS is at once an intriguing departure from and great improvement over its predecessor.

Based on The Reconstruction's internet presence on RMN and RRR, it was fairly visible in its day, even finding itself featured on RMN. (Note how being featured on RMN is filed under “visibility” rather than “accomplishment.”) Yet the game doesn't seem to have garnered the customary RM community hullabaloo that generally accompanies an original and decent (or terrible) game. In fact, there is not much commentary on it at all, in the form of comments or reviews or forum posts.


“I have a question, citizens of RRR: Where are the comments for this fantastic game?”
- Sir Craze, on The Reconstruction (and The Problem with the RM Community)



You'll excuse my hypocrisy for focusing on a game's RMN subscriber/sycophantic comments/review number. But it really boggles my mind that this game was so thoroughly ignored. It seems to me that this lack of attention on the RM community's most prominent outlets speaks of lack of The Reconstruction's appeal to the core RM gamer.

Meanwhile, however, Deltree didn't seem to mind—or, at least, he didn't say anything about it. Whereas a dearth of comments/kudos/web groveling would have lead lesser men to assail RMN's front page with whiny blog posts about how it's not fair because I put so much time and effort into this but nobody's commenting so I guess it was all for nothing and I hate my life so goodbye cruel RMN I quit, there has been no such reaction to my knowledge from Deltree. Nope. What did he do instead?

He went and made a really awesome sequel.


Awaken New Pilot

Inadvertently similar in theme and feeling to Bioware's interstellar dating sim series of the decade, Mass Effect, IMTS is set in another universe but features all the soft science fiction staples you would expect, from comm relays to mysterious miracle polymers, and even awkward tentative interracial cooperation reminiscent of Final Fantasy 7 (or was that 9?(10?(Mystic Quest??))). In fact it's a futuristic setting so clean and airtight you could eat a space ration off of it. There have been a few RM games from the “VX era” that have tried to achieve such a sci-fi feel (Blood Machine and Discrepancy come to my mind), but in this homosapien's humble opinion, none have done it so thoroughly well as IMTS. (French RM2k game Omega Cerberus might be a contender for RM Sci-Fi Atmosphere Champ, however.)


left, fantasy mellytan sue; right, IRL mellytan


As a proponent of short intros, lover of in media res, and disliker of Xenosaga-status cutscenes, I must say that IMTS had me at Hello, Space Sailor. You create a pilot in one screen, picking the physical and personality traits of your new character who will awaken in the mercifully brief opening sequence and be your avatar, your Commander Shepard, your Chosen One etc etc.

As for what your choices actually affect: race and gender determine your battle stats (reaction time, AP, resistance, etc), while a simple but fairly interesting Personality Breakdown determines how your character will act and be perceived in conversations. Each trait is measured with your basic scrollbar spectrum between extremes, but what do you want? Bioware has made millions with this kind of thing.

Note the acronyms and numbers that assail you, and the lack of RPG class-defining traits. You will be seeing more of this soon.


de-gellin like a felon


Like all good (?) games featuring “science” or “fucking with nature,” the game officially opens in some sort of lab. A man with a fabulous pocketwatch-checking animation tells a woman who appears to be dressed to run a 50m dash that he has a good feeling about this one—meaning you. At that, floating in a tube wearing naught but your birthday suit, you awaken in a dark amnesiatic haze. (I never said IMTS was an obliteration of RPG cliches.) It seems you have been preserved ala Austin Powers and are being defrosted on High. Poked and prodded, you are eventually clothed and put on your feet. Marie, the hot dark-skinned chick (spoiler: she's feisty!!!!!) from before who is apparently in charge of your awakening asks you some rude questions that allude to your past, and lets you in on the basics.

You are Ros/John/Jane/ Ouranos, a replacement for “the last guy” who worked for Captain Sorensen of the USS Inquiry. Depending on your character's attitude (more on this interesting mechanic later), you are either antagonistic and demand some answers, or politely ask for an explanation of your current circumstances. Marie doesn't offer specifics either way, and just sends you off to find a doctor to check your vitals. After wandering around the massive Inquiry (which seems to be a space-refugee camp for Blue Jumpsuit People), getting your vitals checked by Dr. Rami Ransend (future party member and Cool Dude who uses a lot of contractions), meeting Tez (a softspoken weaponsfreak and a token minority of your party), it's off to the Briefing Room with you.

Here you meet the boss man himself, Captain Virgil Sorensen. He treats you with the first of his many sleek PowerPoint presentations, in which you learn of the events since your suspension. It seems that you were imprisoned for some unknown reason (probably got caught downloading Photoshop and an Radiohead album), but any record of your deeds, or of your captors' whereabouts for that matter, are now long gone.

And now, since he found you and woke you up, Sorensen expects you to help him out. With what? Cue dissolve slide transition.


“i wasn't explaining it to you... i was explaining it to
them” - the shredder, on exposition dialogue for the audience's sake


See, it seems that during your nap you missed out on this big cataclysmic event, known as The Shine, in which everything in space just kind of exploded (not literally!!!) for some reason. Now it's every sentient being for himself, with some just trying to pick up the pieces, and others who would take advantage of the situation.

This is where you come in. Your blood contains some kind of super Aryan proteins that other beings lack—in other words, you are The Chosen One—which is apparently why you were being preserved. Well, there were two others preserved with you, but they are now apparently out of commission. Or something. Golly, I hope whatever happened to them doesn't happen to you. Anyway, you're able to do superhuman stuff, so Sorensen and his team want you to help them in “peacekeeping” with “a little profit on the side.”


this is actually what i asked a red cross representative last week


In fact, the folks of the Inquiry want to gather funds, materials, and people of every galactic race to “rebuild, and return to order” by mopping up all the piracy and general douchebaggery that is concentrated around the destroyed hab rings in the galaxy. And since the Shine wiped out the big comm relays, apparently sending small fleets work best to do the job—a job you're offered with the title of Commander.

For reasons unbeknownst for now, you already know how to fly and command a fleet, and thanks to those superproteins of yours, with the right dose of drugs your perception and calculation times are “through the roof” (which turns out to be a great explanation of the battle system, as we'll see later), making you an expert tactician. (Kind of like how some people play frisbee golf better when they're high, I guess.) (As a side note I would really like to see this concept expanded upon—hopefully later in the story we'll learn more about these drugs.) You're given a pseudo-choice to accept their offer but I assume that it's no choice at all because we wouldn't have an adventure afoot then now would we.

With your decision, you're given your first mission—head to the Sikohlon Machinatorium, and complete a weapons transaction with the creepy weapons-happy Lacertian cult that lives there. Marie, Rami, and Tez are put under your command.


“how could YOU have pulled out the mana sword?” - a village elder, on Chosen Ones


The last slide disappears. End of presentation.

The lights go back on. You are cleared to disembark at any time.

And so Episode 0 of I Miss the Sunrise begins. From here, the meat of the game is cooked and ready for you to devour at your leisure. Before long you'll be exploring the ruins of space stations, saving whole colonies, and otherwise paving the way for the restoration of the universe and civil society, in addition to learn more about the Lessers, The Shine, and the other mysteries of IMTS' universe.

But for now you'd best head for the dock.

Adventure awaits.


Rich European Backpacker's Guide to the Galaxy

Blue. Gray. Black. White. Dark blue. Gunmetal gray. Abyss Black. Tom Cruise's Teeth White. Yes, the world of IMTS is not exactly a colorwheel of, well, colors. But what it lacks in variety it makes up with presentation—in spades.

Overall presentation is, in a (hyphenated) word, top-class. The interfaces are attractive and user-friendly, and everything comes together to give IMTS an original and true-to-character look. Its visual and audio elements culminate in an uncontaminated futuristic feel that I really do think it pulled off well. The graphics are all original, as is the excellent score. Everything works in concert, so to speak, to help you slip the surly bonds of RM and touch the face of Games.

Okay. I'm not a huge fan of the stiff-as-Cher's-face character sprites to tell the truth, or the portraits for that matter. But they are still more than serviceable (and certainly preferable to the usual VX RTP suspects). I mean it's easy to overlook minor foibles with all this greatness going on. Nobody riffs on Lachsen for the fugly Toriyama-esque portraits that taint Velsarbor, after all. (Note: Nobody should ever draw Toriyama-style, especially Akira Toriyama.) Maybe humans are just not Deltree's thing. In fact it seems he is better at crafting inanimate objects; the environs are great, and evoke an appropriately cold, sterile sci-fi atmosphere. Every detail, from the interfaces to the Inquiry herself, made me stop and think, “Wow, neato. This was really planned out and executed well.” Perhaps part of this was indeed because I was comparing it to other RM games, rather than to “games” in general; but I would say the visuals hold up on their own well enough—crafting a unique but not garish style seems to be something lost on both RM and commercial game designers alike, after all.


this spacecraft has rings enough to rival Elizabeth Taylor (RIP) (why do I keep inadvertently mentioning dead people)


True, there are only so many locations to be seen—given the setting, virtually all of them are some sort of space ship/station interior or another. But it's the details that offer some variety. Take the Inquiry, your crew's spacefaring Love Boat, for example. From the Cargo Bay to the Dispatch to the crew Commons, given its size and population, you really do get a sense that the Inquiry is a self-sustaining interstellar shelter for abandoned humanity (and assorted token aliens). Likewise, the junk ships and habitations you explore look similar but tend to have unique features that often even tie into gameplay.


a sticky on the RMN forums, circa 4000 A.D.


Those of us who become dwarfstarry-eyed at the thought of sailing a sea of stars will know what I mean when I talk about the wonderment of space travel. Even without the added excitement of the potential for harboring extraterrestrial life, the final frontier catches the imagination of most functioning homosapiens in our time more than ever not just because it's mysterious, quiet, the greener grass—but because ever since we started launching chimps (Apes, Orangutangs, Russians, Americans) up to meet it, it appears to almost be within our grasp.

Television, film, and literature are full of the dreams of would-be spacefarers, and the world of interactive entertainment is no different. At certain points, games like Freelancer and yes even Mass Effect manage to inspire this feeling, the feeling of ambition and desire to step out into that frontier that claws at your heart, the ache for a future that can never be within in our lifetime (but—O cruel fate!—perhaps sometime shortly after that (perhaps at the time that Walt Disney is set to defrost)). If you let it, IMTS might manage to evoke this in you as well.

(And man are those automatic spacedoor animations slick.)

This delightful illusion of spacegrandeur owes its thanks in large part to the exceedingly well-presented setting—of which the visuals are only the half of.

The original soundtrack is superb. The BGM lends itself extremely well to the game, and the tracks were all pleasant enough on their own that I found myself listening to them outside the game. "Beginning" evokes the interstellar spirit of the game (again, curiously similar to Mass Effect's), "Inquisition" captures the chill airtight interior of its namesake, the battle themes "Engagement" and "Engorging" are catchy enough, and "Arrangement" perfectly accompanies the pre-mission briefings. Other faves of mine are "Curiosity" and "Relaxation." (can you tell that i do not know a thing about how to describe musical compositions)

Also, where other RM games seem to have not benefited from any worldbuilding or forethought in general, IMTS gives an Elder Scrolls-esque attention to lore (the only thing commendable about Elder Scrolls games). “Unnecessary”? “Auxiliary”? Sure. So is storytelling and narratives in games, according to a lot of people. (When such people add me on Google+ I put them in my “fucking philistines” circle.)


translation: save y/n


But what a world of difference an immersive setting can make (punintended). Indie game community darling Iji (admittedly a personal favorite of mine as well) comes to mind; a game with great gameplay becomes a masterpiece with these narrative touches that draw the player deeper, deeper into the game world, and create the experiences we treasure the most. Again similar to Iji, while I wasn't immediately engrossed in the story, I found it intriguing enough (indeed thanks to the winning show-and-tell combo of ambience and well-written communiques scattered about) to care about the world it took place in as I progressed.

In other words it isn't the macro-level story elements (“save the human race and the universe”) that are great, it's the micro-level details that support it (“you're a super-Aryan unfrozen by this mysterious dude who wants you to be his main man in helping to restore the galaxy to order after a cataclysmic event”).


features: complex branching dialogue trees


As an extension of the presentation, the writing is exceptional. The TypeLog entries, narrative descriptions, and term explanations are all concise, well-worded, and don't make me want to pay for ESL classes for the developer. They draw you into the world, teaching you more and more about it. Dialogue is not as hot with the occasional awkward phrasing, but it's still above average, and seems to get better as the game gets along. The main characters are decently written and you get a tentative feel for them, even if what comes out of their mouths can be a little disconcerting for those who dig a snappy script. Meanwhile, NPCs, the typically ignored/abused stepchildren of RM games, stand out as well-written and informative without being too obviously there for exposition. Like, there's this one NPC named Chac, a legless Lacertian. You first find him sitting eerily in the corner of the crew commons. He won't talk to you, just ignores you. As the game progresses, you'll be able learn more about his condition, and even get a few words out of him. I don't know, I just thought he was an interesting NPC, with whom your relationship changes over the course of the game. (im tired and cant think of anything interesting to say, give me a break)

What's particularly impressive about the dialogue, though, is the fact that your character's dialogue differs subtly with his/her personality (which in turn depends on the “Mentality,” “Temperment,” and “Behavior” values you chose in the beginning). There are a lot of combinations that make for different character personalities. A “Dreamer” + “Fiery” + “Rulebreaker” might yield a belligerant and contrary jerk with no rhyme to his reason, while a “Machine-like” + “Stoic” + “Paragon” will be calm and cooperative for the greater good with no capacity for philosophical debate. I'm still not sure how much the dialogue differs between the many personality cocktails in between (in my playthroughs I chose extremes, ensuring that my pilot was generally either a total douche or a passive jellyfish). There is probably a pool of dialogue options for each situation that correspond to the personality types, so I guess at its core it's nothing revolutionary. Regardless, this system lends itself to a unique game narrative. To top it off, your dialogue choices actually matter. A lot of major scenes, and optional chat sessions in between missions, feature three choices in responses to other characters, which influence how they and nearby characters perceive you.

On that note, let us touch upon the “Personal Trust” system. Now now, that's enough scoffing, you'll catch cold. I know that the way character relationships are portrayed and “changed” in games that claim a certain depth of interactivity are subject to intense scrutiny. Many have decried “morality slider” of Bioware games and the like as an asinine attempt to represent decision making (“moral” or otherwise) in a game.

Personally, I am pretty tired of dialogue tree relationships. They make “cinematic” “experiences” like Mass Effect possess all the immersiveness of an ATM banking session. Choosing responses to juggle love points, strategically currying favor with a character to unfailingly get their “affection” for me “up”—it just strikes me as the “uncanny valley” of registering and tracking player choices and integrating them into the game narrative. As an example of what find I find to be a “good” way of representing this, I must again mention Iji, that gem of indie games which handles morality the best of all (fact) (spoilers if you have not played it): depending on your gameplay style, ie if you genocide all enemies or try to go through the entire game without killing anyone or something in between, the story and characters' opinions of you change. Now that is an interactive experience.

The consequence of the player's choices are little more conspicuous in IMTS, and it's still the same old system of +x/-y love points, but I like the way it's implemented. When you say something that other characters perceive as pleasing, their opinion of you gets better (graphically represented by little symbols that erupt from a character's head with a satisfying animation and accompanying blip). Say something that doesn't sit well with people who heard it and your popularity goes down.

(ok I guess that's not too different than Bioware games but listen at least IMTS doesn't claim to be a deep game with meaningful in-game relationships that really boil down to some variable in the game's code that is probably named “player_morgan_bonerpoints”)

Unfortunately I'm not sure how Trust will really affect character relationships in the grand scheme of things. But I guess that's more like real life anyway.


In Space, No One Can Hear You Recite Pi to the nth Digit




When Yuuji “Father of Mana” Hori designed Dragon Quest, he had to work with what he had—namely, less than 1MB of space, a d-pad, some buttons, and the 80s. This is why entire 40-hour “games” back then often revolved around menu surfing and blowing into the bottom of the game's cartridge.

~25 years later~

Welcome to the future stranger, here have a tall skinny frappuccino no cream.

Well, it seems that since we still haven't got those sensory VR suits and hologram domes we were been promised by the last century of soft science fiction, games are still constrained by modern technology—memory and processors and input/output. Players still use controllers and (for those who can swallow their dignity whole) motion-sensors to interact with the game world (ie surf menus for 40 hrs); and in the game world designers still tend to represent actions, occupations, whole lifetimes with clunky menus and horrendous GUIs. In other words, not much has changed in the last 30 years. (Hilariously, a lot of the mechanics that were invented in Hori's day are retained not because of persisting technical restrictions but because they are considered “classic.” (Game designers can't be bothered to make anything original.) We humans are a primitive species, indeed.)

So here we are, still playing the same games, rearranged and repackaged over and over.

And yet we still manage to have fun. Sometimes we even have—when the moon is full and stars align in the shape of Shigeru Miyamoto's goofy grinning visage—meaningful interactive experiences.

(incongruous segue)

What I'm trying to get at is that IMTS doesn't introduce anything wildly novel or significant to furthering games as a medium, but it does put many good things together very well.

While IMTS is technically a fairly linear mission-based game, you have a choice of what to do in between. You head to the Assembly for a PowerPoint briefing, do whatever you like, then head to the docks when you're ready for the next story mission. It is the time between missions and episodes that gives you such a feeling of exploration and choice that I must again make a comparison to Mass Effect's better qualities. Your goal is always the same, but you can get there whenever you want. It's this type of pseudo-freedom that makes some games a joy to play. In IMTS, once you've completed all the required story-based stuff in an episode, when you access a save module you will be asked if you wish to proceed to the next episode. Proceed, or remain and continue to do side-missions, experiment with different ship setups, or talk to your crew to learn more about them and gain (or lose) their trust and admiration.

(Here's a cool feature missing from a lot of games: You're only called out for “important missions” —meaning, they don't call you, the Chosen One of the Galaxy, out of your test tube to play fetch quests. You're there to do your job as an übermensch, nothing less. Games, be ambitious. (~Theodore Roosevelt))



IMTS' missions are perhaps the most original aspect of the game. You move your (customizable) fleets around a map's nodes, using CP (which stands for child porn ok idk who cares what acronyms stand for, not I) each move, and after you've spent a certain amount of them a “Turn” has passed. Accomplish you goal under the Par amount for goodies and Valor, IMTS' way of patting you on the head and increasing your in-game Top Gun appeal. Enemies lurk on certain nodes, and most nodes can be investigated for loot. New obstacles are introduced gradually; in later missions you will encounter nodes with environmental hazards and ambushes, which can negatively affect you if you engage in battle near them; and you may also be required to bring all fleets, not just your main, to the goal.

Here is where more of that sweet illusion of freedom, regardless of menu surfing and algorithms, that we cherish in games lies:

Once you get out to the field, it's all you. Want to investigate every node for loot? Go ahead. Want to explore those ruins on foot? Have fun. Want to zip to the goal and beat the Par turn score? Fore! And alternate objectives give you even more choices in how you finish a mission.

Your controller melts away, and the menus become extensions of your synapses. Welcome to Games.

Meanwhile:

Mission variance keeps this novel idea from getting too stale. In the first mission of Episode 0, it's your basic move around the map and defeat all the hostiles, collecting loot if it pleases you. The second mission, in Episode One, sees you saving a space habitat for homeless humans and aliens by making sure its hull integrity keeps above a certain percent, going around defeating the attacking enemies and deploying repairs to the Hab as you make your way to the goal. By now you may have even set up more than one fleet (party of characters), which you can switch between to cover more ground in a map.



Interestingly/inexplicably, during some missions you may be called to touch down on a location and hoof it through an enemyless dungeon (Alcatraz?) to grab something or otherwise accomplish a goal. Aside from them being an RPG heresy it admittedly feels a little strange wandering around these pseudodungeons when there are no battles to encounter. Kind of like when you watch CSI or Law and Order SVU or whatever crap then walk home at night, and you feel like covering your butt and scanning the bushes for attackers, when in reality there is no one there at all and your chances of being attacked are equal to that of winning the state lottery. Although each place to explore has goodies and unique puzzles and mechanisms to mess with, these areas do seem a little out of place, almost tacked-on.

Speaking of tacked-on—but in a good way like when you get a free soda with your popcorn (but I don't drink soda so I'd just give it to someone else anyway idk why I said that)—there is a lot of extra busywork to do outside the main quest. During your free time in between missions, you can dally all you like in optional those pseudodungeons that you can find by purchasing their coordinates and visiting their “Splice” in space. This is another unique but simple feature that adds to the game's appeal.


where it goes, nobody knows


The modest Deltree once called what he has released of his game “short,” but by the end of Chapter 1 I had clocked in about 6+ hrs of my life without even exploring all the extra Splices etc. And 6 hours of quality custom-everything game time with a variety of things to do is nothing to sneeze at in the world of games, RM-spawned or not.

Other delightful diversions to invest your valuable (?) time on earth include an achievements system and a fairly robust weapons-crafting system. And as a game truly after my own heart...you can rename your created weapons. You even get a “blueprint code” exported to a .txt file of your weapon that you can share with friends. Game developers, take note: This is another example of originality and fun implemented at a low cost.

I am also a sucker for certain methods of item procurement. ITMS hits all the right spots by having performance-based awards, in addition to random cargo popping up in the cargo bay, and searchable lockers in the Inquiry (though raiding these may hurt your personal trust with crewmembers, kind of like when you take an item from a party member in Dragon A—ok so that's like a Bioware game, too).




here is the code for my weapon, try it at home kids


That brings us to that sometimes obnoxious, sometimes reluctant, sometimes brilliant feat of human ingenuity showcase of any RM game: the “battle system.”

So, one of the reasons why your Inquiry pals want to put you at he helm of a fleet is because of your tactical abilities. Via some pseudo-medical-science vernacular, our character's übermensch proteins grant him/her a “tactical advantage” in battle. This basically amounts to a somewhat brilliant metaphysical excuse for the turn-based mechanics of ITMS' battle system: you're so far ahead of everyone else that you can take your time with your command decisions, planning tactical assaults and marinating a mean chicken adobo all before your foe can even act.

(Thus the game deserves another gold star for attempting to reconcile the archaic institution that is turn-based fighting with its game-world's metaphysics.)


an adult league dodgeball match at 24-Hour Fitness


What tends to throw people for a loop (and, I assume, scare off lesser men) upon first glance is the sheer number of stats and acronyms that assails a new player of IMTS. Admittedly I am at an advantage here since I am 2/10 Olympic God descendant from Zeus' cousin twice removed and thus immune to this kind of irrational reaction, and am in general a huge fan of pretentiously esoteric/incorrigible battlesystems ala Vagrant Story and the SaGa series (Kawazu is a great man, fuck you thanks). When I see something complex in a game I am intrigued, not repelled, which is likely why I was drawn to IMTS to begin with.

Let me just say to begin with that the battle system is both original and well-realized. Moreover, it is soon manageable; the learning curve is not as steep as it looks. And believe me when I say all the info and OCD color-coding is helpful, even necessary.



It's still basically Pokemon, if Pikachu had 3 HP bars (which were also his PP bars) that were only damaged by the three corresponding types of attacks, and equipment that decided his movelist and weaknesses. Your Hull, Systems, and Pilot—basically your “HP” (we upright apes cannot escape this primative convention apparently)—begin at 1000% and each are damaged only by attacks that target their type. And reducing any of these to 0% will reduce the ship to spacedust. Attacks are completely dependent on your equipment—there is no Attack or Autobattle here—and of course only damage Hull, Systems, or Pilot. If your attack is Super Effective (you used a weapon of the same type as the enemy's weakness) you can chain critical attacks for increased damage.

Armchair admirals, I hate to disappoint you, but this is no space naval combat sim. Battles play out like more like dodgeball meets tug of war (minus the awkward pause when there are only two people left to be picked for teams and they both wear glasses with that stupid-looking glasses drop guard). Your party takes turns with the enemy, dishing and taking it in phases. Enemy AI is fairly good in that it will target your weaknesses, and retreat to draw you forward. As in dodgeball, they tend to retreat to the back when they're weak and/or outnumbered. Your weapons have a limited range, though, and you can't cross the dividing line between you and your enemies—but you can move the line forward by increasing your “Zone of Control,” so that you can get at those stragglers hanging out in the back. Enemies, too, can increase their Zone of Control (hence the tug of war analogy).

A very cool part about the battle system is that it's not just Final Fantasy in Space with Spaceships; you can't really categorize the characters into “healers” or “tanks,” it's more like “guy who hits and runs” and “girl with the chem attack” and “guy with long range.” A pilot's base skills and weaknesses do factor in, but equipment is key. No, not equipment like “oh I need a sword that is +45 more attack to defeat the next boss” but rather “well for me to be able to even damage the enemy, this guy needs this weapon against Hull with longer range and Chemical properties, and this guy needs a Pilot weapon that is Electrical” etc etc.

A very uncool part about the battle system is the frequency of attacks missing. I didn't do any extensive empirical research on the matter so I'm not sure if I am completely making this up (I do that sometimes) but I felt like attacks missed more than they should have; attacks that supposedly had 70-80% accuracy (and sometimes even beyond that) seemed to miss their mark an awful lot . Maybe there is an element beyond a weapon's accuracy and the user's distance from the enemy that I did not pick up on and as a result am blaming the game for my own shortcomings, but otherwise this was the one big dent in the battlesystem's fender for me. (Of course I can't complain when the enemies miss a lot...)

People (ok like, 1) have called this game's difficulty “tough but fair” and I agree because half the time I was like “fuck yes that part I equipped came in handy, I'm so fucking clever” and the other half I was like “fuck i cant beat this boss! fuck there are no levels so i cant grind!! fuck im fucked!!” and had to reload and reconfigure my fleet. (Ok maybe I don't swear that much irl, im just trying to be hip and edgy ok.)

This is to say that IMTS' battles are about strategy in more ways than one. The first part of it has to do with what you equip; and the second is battle itself. Grinding can't help you now. But do not be afraid; for you do not need “levels” and “magic points” to have a battle system.

Meanwhile, back in 1985, Yuuji Hori feels his nose tingle, and looks outside his window. He smiles in the sunlit quiet.


Sunset Over VXdahl

And that, my friends, is IMTS. No RTP, no copy pasted scripts (afaik), no horrendous presentation foibles. Fun and original gameplay, great presentation, ample length. Few flaws. It doesn't even an abrasive developer. It's purely a good game by a model citizen of the RM community.

Yet IMTS seems to be faring just as poorly as its predecessor, if not worse. With very much playable and reasonably lengthy demos being available for download for several months, there is only very little hype or discussion about the game, and no reviews at all it only recently got its first review (wait this just in, here's another one!!). Again, perhaps this is because the game does not sit well with the core RM game player. Perhaps I'm crazy and it's not a good game after all.

Perhaps IMTS' freshness and unfamiliarity (no Bolt2?!?!?!?!) frightens the RM community, imprisoned in its syrupy sarcophagus of fangames and VX RTP faces and C:\Program Files\rpg2003\Project\Balmung_Cycle.

(DID YOU KNOW Ancient Pharaohs of RM were buried with the resource files of better games in their vast labyrinthine tombs, so that they could continue to make the mediocre versions of them over and over in the afterlife. DID YOU KNOW)


Would that we had more games like I Miss the Sunrise. Then maybe we'd become some kind of utopian bastion of creative camaraderie, a metaphysical “Gamestopia” (minus the Gamestop part). Maybe we'd have word peace and an end to child hunger. Maybe then we could evolve.


PARTING S H O T
In the sea of megapotions and autobattles there sails IMTS, windsurfing off the coast of some touristless island in its skintight wetsuit. Unbeknownst to the weekend masses crowding around the beach miserably, it is brilliant but lonely. Come sail away with me, IMTS. These philistines just don't understand you.



I Miss the Sunrise gets 4.5 player_morgan_bonerpoints out of 5









ABOUT THESE “REVIEWS”


So, I'd be telling a bald-eagle lie if I told you that I don't like numeric scores/ratings for games. I like numbers. I like quantifying things. I like being able to sort things in an ordered list descending, quickly comparing and contrasting. Long-running review factories like EGM and GameFan weaned me on floating-point measures of games' Graphics, Fun Factor, and appeal to Dan “Shoe” Hsu, as if games were in some kind of Cold War era Olympic competition that could only be judged accordingly by an “expert” panel of game industry “journalists” (featuring Sean Bettenhausen as the douchey Soviet judge nobody likes).

But it's in the spirit of game publications like Play (RIP 1999-2010) that I must go against my own nature and reject this system for one of an almost purely qualitative type, tacking on a “Parting Shot” in a ripoff-cum-homage to Play's reviews that expresses my sentiments in a pistachio-sized run-on sentence nutshell, hopefully before you hit the Back button in disgust.


THE RMN RATING – 4.5/5

...Yet for the sake of these games' promotion, I must decide on how many “stars” out of 5 that I will “award” them, as RMN is a “website”, a database of “games”, and things need to be “sortable” somehow. (...Right? Yeah...)

(Similarly, the lengthy preamble of my “VX games I don't hate” series of articles is only available on meridiandance.org, a place that welcomes such inane ramblings, or at least waits until I quit irc to tell me off.)

If I were to give IMTS a true, “objective” “rating” out of 5, at this stage in the game's development it would be something like a 3.9—which I consider to mean Solid, Very Good, Quite a Bit Above Average, Almost Four Out of Five. (And as you can tell from the gushing verbosity of this article, my subjective review in my Heart of Hearts is more like a 4.4, meaning I am buying this mousepad. (When I have $10 USD to spend on a mousepad.))

But, confound it! the RMN community sees fit to give certain (objectively speaking) mediocre games 3.5s (?!) and even 4.5s (?!?!?!), so I am forced to adjust my score accordingly to 4.5.

Take that, mediocre games. I hope you sink to page 2.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I like games. I don't really like making games but I'm making one anyway.

I really liked IMTS and after seeing how ignored unpopular it was relative to its greatness, I wrote this largely unedited mess of copypasted paragraphs containing bad dead celebrity jokes and other such potentially offensive statements. Its purpose is to entertain, and to get people to play this great game. Don't take it too seriously.

Thanks for reading.

S e e y o u s p a c e c o w b o y



Posts

Pages: 1
As I said on Meridian Dance, excellent review. It really is a pity that Deltree's incredible talent has gone so unnoticed. :(
This review reminds me a little of Actionbutton's--long, quirky, opinionated and really passionate. I think that's a good thing!Think rpgmaker.net could use more reviews like this.

Also, I totally agree with you about Delltree's games being horribly underrated. The Reconstruction was one of the most unique RPG Maker games of the past few years, and despite earning Featured Game it remains pretty obscure; it would be tragic if I Miss the Sunrise succumbs to the same fate. Then again, I guess that's just even more incentive for people in the know to revel in the fact that this game exists at all.
kentona
One of RMN's Top 10 Admins of all-time
20443
Oh, I've had my eye on this for a while now. I am just waiting for it to be completed!

"fight" the "oppressive" RMN "regime"! ~John Candy
chana
(Socrates would certainly not contadict me!)
1584
(Not to mention moam's Under_World4 which has gone TOTALLY un-noticed!!!)Sorry for the off topic, This game IS exceptionally good!
I henceforth agree with this review :) While I think The Reconstruction is good as well, it is nowhere near as good as IMTS, which, imo, is a massive improvement from The Reconstruction. Hope IMTS does get more reception when the full version is out :)

Btw, I'm enjoying it atm :)
thanks for reading, all
author=yamata no orochi
This review reminds me a little of Actionbutton's--long, quirky, opinionated and really passionate. I think that's a good thing!Think rpgmaker.net could use more reviews like this.


although I don't always agree with Tim Rogers and his cronies, I am indeed a big fan of Actionbutton and Insert Credit. I was probably trying to emulate their style, mainly for fun. just thank your lucky stars this review didn't end up as long as Rogers' 18,000-word FFXIII smackdown

author=kentona
Oh, I've had my eye on this for a while now. I am just waiting for it to be completed!

"fight" the "oppressive" RMN "regime"! ~John Candy


I'd recommend that you give at least Episode 0 a spin, if only to increase the userbase support of this series. and as IMTS is released in episodes, one of the main benefits of this kind of release schedule is that you can play as the episodes come out, and give feedback that can help make the next episodes even better!

also, no idea what you're getting on about mate! most of the general criticism in this piece is leveled at the rm community in general, myself included. The rest was just my frustration with the world, laid bare for your amusement/disdain.

As a side note, it seems that the link I had to the full version of this article, which includes an introduction to the 4-part series it leads, did not survive the publishing (perhaps I finally hit the word limit). If you like, you can find it here.
Gibmaker
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
9227
So many texts of words of good of happy.
Now that is one mighty fine review ! I'm sincerely happy that IMTS is thus brought under the spotlight it deserves (and, I hope, more efficaciously than by my own humble intervention)

Truly, this is the kind of rambling madness any game reviewer secretely aspires to, in the mysterious recesses of his lonely dysfunctional heart. The style that will make a point (and a lot of disgressions) while contriving to uncover the ultimate reward of internet journalism : the certainty that someone, somewhere, has lul'd.

Rest assured of your success, fellow mellytan, for it shall be known on this day that I did lul my pancreas off.
ty for your kind words hasvers, I enjoyed your review of IMTS as well. imts deserves all the praise it gets. and yes, i want it to be written on my gravestone that i broke hearts and detonated pancreases, so i suppose i am heading in the right direction.

as a side note, my spider senses alerted me to the fact that my red cross joke caption and an image were left out of this version of the review. i fixed it, everyone feel free to roll your eyes one more time
After spending over 25 hrs (before I even realized it) on this game, I'm glad I believed the hype. This is the best space RPG I've ever played (yes, better than any Star Ocean, Xenosaga, etc).

I fully agree with your review, mellytan. I loled at the way it was written, but it was effective in explaining your adventure throughout the game. I actually couldn't force myself to read it, until I finished my playthrough of IMTS.

I can't wait til this entire game is completed, but I'll just patiently wait for Episode 3 in the meantime.
This review is a work of art, melly. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I haven't even finished Reconstruction yet, and this was wondrous to read.
Beautiful review. IMTS is a FGG (fucking good game), btw.
I stopped playing on my xbox and started my laptop to enjoy this gem.
Yes, this is a FGG!
Pages: 1