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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! In March?

  • Oblic
  • 03/13/2012 09:59 PM
  • 1502 views
Disclaimer

Okay, considering I said I would review these games, and since I already reviewed the third one first, it seems they will be reviewed in reverse order. This isn’t really a bad thing, but I feel like I will look more and more dickish as each one comes out. This is due to the increase in refinement in the maker’s skill over time. So, I suppose that these reviews won’t be entirely objective, considering the fact that I will be sizing them up against one another. I will try my best to still score them as though I never played the other two. What I am really trying to say here is even though the games do get considerably better as time goes on, each one is still worth playing.

So, enough of my blabbering… ON WITH THE REVIEW!

Story:

There is really no story to speak of this time around. This game is much truer to the term “Pac-Man clone” than its successor. The only thing that comes close is the written tutorial, which explains thusly: You are a chocobo. You collect crystals. Avoid baddies. Collect power coins to temporarily be able to kill baddies. Baddies respawn here. Avoid traps. Traps can only be avoided. Collect all crystals to win levels. Obtain other collectables to gain other characters and levels.

So, yea… if you are looking for a grand epic, you’re in the wrong place.

Music/Sound:

I now realize that there are three distinct categories of sources: RTP sources (those that come with RPG Maker), borrowed sources (those that come from commercial or other already existing media), and custom sources (those that are created by the maker or other party specifically for the game in which it is being used). I have in the past equated borrowed sources to custom sources. Although they are both (at least IMHO) much better than most of the RTP sources, they are not the same.

Anyway, this game mostly uses borrowed music and sound, with a sprinkling of RTP. Most of the music comes from classic Nintendo titles (various Donkey Kong Country titles and I think a couple are taken from one of the Banjo Kazooie games), while the rest are festively Christmassy! The classic Pac-Man level intro music is looped in one level, which becomes quite grating, coupled with the classic “wakka wakka” of that little glutton, but it’s pretty easy to turn the sound off, so I will let those little drawbacks slide.

Most of the sound effects are well used and also come from various game titles, which I won’t attempt to list. All the level titles are again narrated before you start, as well as a few other encouraging phrases (other than the “Oh no!” when you get caught). Even though the phrases are short, they are quite quaint and add to the immersiveness of the game.

Graphics:

Similarly to this games successor, a lot of sprite work went into this game. Some sprites are taken from some popular SNES titles, but they make good enemies and obstacles. The three playable characters are to my knowledge custom made, or they are at least touched up to add the very appropriate red caps!

The mapping of each level is again varied and pleasing to the eye, though there is a lot of white, due to the snow. Most of the title sets are RTP, but nothing seems out of place. Even though some levels do not entirely align themselves with the Christmas theme, they at least impart a wintery tone. Some levels feature wandering characters in unreachable places adding to the liveliness of each area. There was clearly a lot of thought put into each map, making for a much more enjoyable experience.


Hello cute little singing penguins!


Although there is clearly less polish applied to this title than its successor, there are very few flaws that can be picked out.

Gameplay:

This game greatly hinges on its gameplay, considering it is based on a game that had nothing else to support itself (namely Pac-Man). Luckily, these hinges are quite sturdy and do not fail under scrutiny. As I mentioned in my Chocobo Panic: Space (CPS) review, the concept of Pac-Man never held my attention for more than a few minutes. Although the concept was sound, “running” around samey layouts, collecting the same specks of whatever that little yellow weirdo ate over and over again is only appealing when the alternative is dealing with other 80’s fads. Point being, I’m not a fan of Pac-Man, at least not to a degree to which I would play for hours. Yet, when you tweak the tiniest of things (like sound and graphics, as mentioned before), a similar game seems leagues better!

One thing I should mention is that as these games progressed (going from the original Chocobo Panic to CPS), they get considerably more reasonable in terms of difficulty. I completed both CPS and this rendition, but it took a considerably larger amount of patience and time to finish the Christmas version. This is mostly due to a difference in the AI and the design of the levels. CPS had much more intricate levels with a wider variety of enemies and traps, all of which could be traversed and conquered with enough practice. But, CP X-mas poses a greater difficulty with fewer enemies and traps that get faster and “smarter” as you increase the difficulty rating. Also, rather than having a different area available to each difficulty, the same level is played, only with more enemies and traps, that are usually faster than those of a lower difficulty. I wouldn’t consider this “bad” design. Lazy, but not bad. Considering it was made in a matter of weeks, I can understand.

Another reason for the difference in difficulty is due to the camouflage-like effect that arises from the overuse of white enemies against a snowy background. Whether or not this was intended, I’m not sure. Trying to outrun penguins while hunting down those last few crystals can cause considerable tunnel-vision, leaving you flattened by a near invisible snowball that was just around a corner. THE CUTEST ENEMIES ARE USUALLY THE MOST EVIL AND CUNNING!


Not all of the penguins are nice... especially the ones in league with the snowballs!


Aside from the difficulty difference, many of the elements used in this game are renewed in CPS. First, the power coins still grant you a few moments of reprieve from the preying enemies and allow you to kill them to boot, at least temporarily. Beware of the difference between an enemy and a trap, though because making this mistake can cause unintentional suicide! This temporary power boost comes with a timer to let you know how much longer you can stomp those pesky penguins. There is still a counter in the top left corner, letting you know how many crystals you have left to collect, making the larger maps a bit less frustrating. A “new” feature that makes the game a bit more interesting after you finish all of the levels is a score. You get one point for each collected crystal and five for each killed enemy. Although this adds nothing more than bragging rights, it makes stomping your enemies a bit sweeter.

There are also a few collectables that allow the player to unlock the last two levels. Every once in a while, you will find a little scampering Santa hat, which will unlock the next character (there are only two). Once you find the first hat, the new character can collect an egg in each level, as long as you are on the medium difficulty. The third character will make presents appear while on the hard difficulty. These collectables are hidden both out in the open in the easier levels to hidden in places that don’t exist unless you are playing as the required character. Keep an eye out for strange tiles and other anomalies! Once ten eggs and presents are collected, the 11th and 12th levels are opened, respectively. These levels are a bit more difficult than the others, so be prepared for a challenge!

This and that:

-Similar to Pac-Man, there are several places that allow you to wrap around the levels and other pseudo teleports that help you escape your enemies. Make use of these!

-Don’t let the low completion percentage fool you; there may be more than meets the eye!

-There are a few places where enemies can attack you (by touch) where I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be able to (on a ledge, through a wall, etc.). Be wary of this!

-It is very easy to corner yourself on the harder levels due to very fast enemies, but this can also be used to corral the enemies in a tight spot, allowing you to wander most of the level freely.

-I really enjoy the sound test! I actually let it sit on the Donkey Kong Country song that is used in the vine areas play over and over while I typed most of this!

Overall:

Like I said at the beginning of the review, it’s difficult to give this game a truly fair shake considering I played CPS, which very easily exceeds the aspects of this game. But, I hunkered down and forced myself to finish this one all the way through so I could try to judge this game on its own merits. Plus, the game is actually very entertaining, even when it pales in comparison to its successor; I sunk quite a few hours trying to collect the last few stars to fill out the grid.

Even though I’m sure this game isn’t for everyone, you should give it a shot. You’ll know pretty quickly if you enjoy it, and can turn your back on it if you don’t, without losing tons of time. That being said, I think this game deserves a score of…

3.5/5

There is definitely room for some improvement, but I’m sure you could sink hours into it without even realizing it!

Now I just have to wait for the last (first) game to hit RMN…

Posts

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Thank you for this review.
It's really interesting to read it reverse to the publish order of the games.
It clearly points out all the things, that I wanted to make better in the prequel, like those enemies attacking from a higher ground layer or the overall difficulty, which was said to be too high in this version.
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
No problem! Again, I'd be willing to review the first one as well.

The difficulty was manageable, but Chocobo Panic Space was by far more reasonable. Plus, the original Chocobo Panic is FAR harder... I have yet to beat it, but think I have completed enough of it to give a fair review.

Also, I plan on doing a let's play/let's try of this game and CPS!
I'll post part 1 this weekend. And I'm prepared to read a destroying review of it XD.

If you do a let's play, send me a message, I will link to it in the game profile.
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