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Walking along the beach

  • EnderX
  • 08/11/2012 11:36 PM
I've decided that, because I'm unfamiliar with the engine, any VX or Ace games I review I won't be scoring on, period. Take my comments for what they're worth to you, and I hope you find them helpful.

Decided to play this for the NaGaDeMO bonus sequence. Thought it looked like it might be interesting.

There are two main points to dealing with graphics in a video game: One, they should be reasonable (as opposed to eye-watering combinations of color and pattern) and two, they should be consistent. That is, graphics of the same type (multiple chipsets, for example) should be in the same style, and sets of graphics, such as character{Charaset, Face, Battler} should have a clear and noticeable relation to one another.

I've never used RMVX, let alone Ace. The graphics appeared to be pure RTP, but I can't say for certain that they were. This applies to all graphics across the board. On the plus side, this does mean that everything was wonderfully matched in terms of internal cohesion, both by character and by type.

A video game can be well-designed, and the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but without sound, it will seem dull and lifeless. There are two kinds of sound; point-in-time (aka 'sound effects') and constant (aka 'background music').

Sound was...forgettable. Effectively, nothing that stood out either way as impressive or awful. Given that the graphics were RTP, I'm betting the sound was as well.

Map Layout:
Some games don't need map design. Pong, for example. But for most games, especially VRPGS, maps are critical. They don't just show the world, they are the world, and should be treated accordingly.

Map layout was pretty good for the most part. You had only a short area to deal with - a small island consisting of a normal town, a sort-of-town in the base of a tower, the tower itself, a crypt, and a volcano. None of the maps were impassible, although there are a few areas where it's difficult to realize where you need to go next, as the path simply wanders straight to the edge of the screen without a clear marker. This goes double for areas, such as the first town, where a large portion of the edge of the screen is walkable, but only one or two tiles will actually carry you to the next map.

What's going on? How much do we see, how much do we learn?

Slimes have invaded the village. A group of traveling bounty hunters, heading for the Tower of Yarg, stop long enough to help out. Things kind of spin on from there, in a semi-natural way. After each area except the slime invasion, someone else comes running in to advance the story, but the progression of it feels logical in light of what happens between these events.

What are video game characters? Are they simply collections of pixels and statements, or are they people, with real personalities?

Not much in the way of characterization, although 'group-ization' does exist. We're presented with a bit of a handle on the party as a whole, although not much on any individual character, and the same goes for the slimes, who show up multiple times during the game.

How well was the game designed? Do things interact nicely, or is the player likely to throw down their keyboard in disgust?

With one exception, the game is actually pretty easy. Items are cheap (as in, ~5-10$ for healing items), equipment's not that expensive, and the monsters are pretty free with how much cash they leave behind. With a bit of grinding, plus one world-map treasure chest, I was able to completely outfit my team and stockpile 99 of the basic healing items before heading out on the second quest. It's also free with the Exp; it only took me about an hour to reach the final boss, by which time I was level thirty-something.

That one exception mentioned above? The final boss itself. Your best normal skill (which only one character has) will end up doing about 500 points of damage to it...the best the other characters can normally do are ~200 (two characters) and about 20 (last character, and no, that's not a typo - best use for him in this battle is as a vending machine). I admit the final boss of a game should be the hardest mandatory enemy, but between this one's absurd HP (other bosses went down within three-four turns; this one took almost a half-hour to defeat), the fact that it couldn't do truly excessive damage to me (most powerful attack took out less than half the HP from the weakest character (health and defense wise)), and the fact that it apparently studied at the 'Chaos School for Applied Medical Studies' (healing skill for about 5500HP, can be used twice in the same turn), I don't think 'hard' is the correct word for it. No individual portion of the battle was difficult, but a final boss should feel like a battle of attrition because of the damage it's doing, not because it can, apparently on a whim, erase the last 5-10 turns worth of damage you were capable of dealing to it.

Take a break from the action. Why not try a refreshing minigame while you wait?

There were no minigames in this short project.

Custom Systems:
What kind of custom systems are there? And how well designed are they?

The only thing I saw that might be a custom system (remember, I don't know VX or Ace systems) was a secondary MP setup. Called TP, it looked to be loosely based on the IP system from the Lufia games - you gained a few TP each time you acted and each time you took damage. This only really came into play in the final battle, as most other battles were finished before gaining enough TP for any of the skills that used it. It's an interesting idea, but the main effect of the TP system was to render some of the better moves the characters could make useless for a while. Considering that this includes the only real damage-dealing ability the vending machine character had against the final boss (did damage about equal to the -average- output of the other two low-count, usable approximately once every twenty turns), I hope that you can see why I might sound a bit bitter about this...

Bug Count:
How well fumigated was the game? Are the bugs mostly dead, or are there still plenty of them crawling around to make problems for the player?

Pretty well fumigated. There were a couple of spelling errors, but that's about it...unless you want to qualify the balancing issue(s) on the final boss as a design bug.

Replay value:
Is the game worth replaying? Are there places of non-linear decisions that invite a 'what if I did it this way?' mentality?

Hyper-linear; good for a single playthrough, but that's about it.

A decent game for burning off an hour or so on a rainy afternoon.