Game Review - by Jean-Paul Gagnon
At first I couldn't stand this game and could hardly force myself to play it. The character designs were too simplistic, and the dialogue was mind numbing. When I first stuck it in the dreamcast I saw something I hadn't seen since the NES, a complete graphical input breakup. Anyone who ever spent twenty minutes blowing on Double Dragon trying to get it to load knows exactly what I'm talking about. And this was on the Dreamcast! But I wanted to be fair so after a week or so I put it back in and got myself addicted for a while. It was so simplistic and mind-numbing that it was actually hypnotic enough to be addictive. But now I've broken the spell over my mind, something about not enough sleep I'd wager, so the game gets points for distracting me for a few days but for nothing else.
You play Mag Launcher, only son of the historic family of adventurers the Launchers, and it kind of goes downhill from there. All the characters are named in some way or another after different types of weapons. Chain Gun, Gre Nade, Linear Cannon, and Pepper Box. Basically, civilization was at a high thousands of years ago and something catastrophic happened: very original. Now, society is back up to a point where it can appreciate the technology of the past, and someone has to go to the ruins to collect it. The main plot point of the game is that Mag's parents are missing and no one knows where they can be. Mag has to pay off the family debts by exploring ruins for the Society. (That's all they are called: "The Society.") There is a subplot about a perverse Prince of the local superpower wanting to move in on one of the underage companions of Mag, but other than that there isn't too much to hold the attention. While searching the ruins there is always the hope of finding something to upgrade your Cyframe, a kind of ancient weapon, or to find the ultimate Cyframe, the Evolutia, for which the game is named.
Your party consists of three characters: two characters that are always yours to command and a choice between three others who you meet in town and may ask to join you on a mission to the ruins. There is no penalty to not using certain characters, and in fact your skill levels will rise faster if you skip using a certain character for a few levels of a dungeon. You can alter the way your characters are arranged in battle and upgrade your Cyframe to have more and odder powers. You can save your game between levels of the dungeons but when you reload the game it erases the temporary files.
Somewhat repetitive and eventually rather boring, the game does have its high points. The battle engine, although not terribly innovative, does have some surprises such as being able to see the order of the characters and enemies fighting and being able to alter using items or special attacks. The magic system is treated somewhat oddly with ever regular attack building points towards the special healing or all enemy hitting combos. The main point of dissension I have with the gameplay is that while hypnotic, it doesn't grow towards anything. The same enemies you find on the first floor of the ruins are there on the bottom they are just a little higher in the Hit Point department. It's cool that the maps for each floor are randomly generated at the start of each level, but after running around for several hours straight with no kind of geography really distinguishing one floor from another it isn't all that great anymore.
A study in complex simplistically. The Dreamcast gives game designers the ability to create realistic environments and situations, and we end up with these cartoony anime rejects, both blocky and smooth, cute and annoying. If you are into big eyed little characters with odd repetitive moving styles than this is the game for you. However if you are looking for a little more depth in your game graphics I suggest going elsewhere.
Oh god! The songs in this game get annoying sooooo fast. I'm producing a headache just thinking about it. Reminiscent of days when the only way to make videogame music was with beeps and sine tones the music will stay in your head and make you start whistling it until your tongue bleeds. It isn't that the sound is bad but I wouldn't call it good either. It just is...
In all, this game was a mediocre effort. The back of the game says that it is the first RPG for the Dreamcast, and we know how they pulled that off. Quick and easy development leads to a game that would perhaps satisfy a young gamer. Call it baby's first RPG. All the main points are there. The charismatic male lead with a powerful weapon and mysterious destiny is present, as is the girl next door love interest, (who in this case lives with the lead.) In addition to those, the various and sundry other characters who can be found in almost any other game are present along with the sinister villain who really isn't that sinister or villainous at least as far into the game as I played. You might enjoy playing it for a few nights, but after that give the controller to your younger sister or baby brother and let them read messages like "Mokona Ampule you have picked up." It's enough to make your humble game reviewer scream.