My review of Parallel Worlds

#1Amazing AmpharosPosted 5/9/2008 9:43:29 PM
For those of you who don't know, Parallel Worlds is a full length hack of The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past. It can easily be found on google, and I used version 1.1 off which I shall base this review. Before you play, you will need these things and information:

A good SNES emulator (I used ZSNES)
A ROM of The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past
The patch to turn said ROM into Parallel Worlds
Willingness to use save states frequently to overcome poor design moments
The Lost Woods combination: Right, Down, Up, Right, Down
Layer changing PAR codes: 7E00EE00/7E00EE01
Loads of patience
The hint to ABSOLUTELY not leave the first world without the Cane of Byrna

Some of those things are things you should not need to play a game, but let's continue. Parallel Worlds is obviously a great accomplishment as The Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past is a game with only a very limited editor available for it. Before I continue on in this review, I am going to say that it is incredibly impressive that Euclid and Seph were able to complete this great project. However, as impressive as the hack is and as solid as the lttp engine is, the game is riddled with design flaws that ultimately make it a questionable choice to play.

Graphic and musical presentation:

This was done exceedingly well. There was one new music track which is on par with the best tracks from the original, and the new graphics surrounding the "Dark World" were simply beautiful. Many areas such as the Ancient Ruins that just used lttp graphics managed to be breathtaking by using old tiles in creative ways. There were, however, large numbers of random graphic bugs. Sometimes a lifted pot would look like a stone from outdoors, and sometimes enemies would be very odd colors. These are all minor issues however; the game looks and sounds great.

Dungeon design:

This is really the game's big weak point. Some dungeons, such as Darunai's Caverns or Nayru's Bay, were mostly fun with only a few questionable design decisions. However, some others were just plain awful. The Guardhouse, which is the very first dungeon in the game, is a poorly done mess of unfair, overly drawn out enemy avoidance sequences and backtracking that manages to be incredibly tedious and not at all fun. Two of the later dungeons in the game, Impa's Ways and Nabooru's Hole, are just idiotic random guessing to find the right path. Neither has any real gameplay; they are just no fun at all. Even in the good dungeons, there are large numbers of poor decisions. The game is loaded with invisible obstacles, invisible paths, and unavoidable damage. Once the player obtains the Cane of Byrna and the Cane of Somaria, this is somewhat abated, but it never manages to be anything but obnoxious. "Puzzles" especially fall victim to this as the idea of a puzzle here is usually either randomly guessing at where to go or navigating invisible objects.

I should also point out the biggest flaw in dungeon design in the repetition element involved in the Parallel Tower. In order to get everything, the player is expected to climb this dungeon no fewer than four times. This is a very long and grueling dungeon with several areas that are very poorly thought out and executed. After the first trip, the player is only five rooms away from the object he must get on the second trip but is prevented from going there by a shutter. I highly suggest that anyone playing this game use the PAR codes provided with this review to bypass that shutter to make this far more playable. Likewise, I suggest using those codes again on the "third" trip when in the first world to escape the "optional hard puzzle" and continue the ascent; it's just not worth doubling the pain to avoid cheating.
#2Amazing Ampharos(Topic Creator)Posted 5/9/2008 9:43:59 PM
Combat design:

The combat in this game is, for the most part, very poorly done. The Guardhouse starts off lame as the player has almost no tools with which to defend himself, but as the game goes on, it gets worse. Boss and miniboss fights especially are frequently laid out in such a way so that avoiding damage is nearly (or completely) impossible, and real skill is often substituted by dumb luck in enemy movement patterns. Some of the boss fights are extremely buggy. The first Mothula fight is trivialized by his easily exploitable movement pattern in that room, the first Helmasaur King has buggy "clones" of him running around the room, and the Moldorm fight in Impa's Ways is so hillariously buggy that well over half the time it ends in the player being completely blocked from getting the crystal. Minor enemy combat is also frequently poorly though out. Sometimes the room configuration makes seeing a threat impossible before it is too late or avoiding a specific enemy pretty much impossible. Darkness, attacking floor tiles, and ice pervade the quest far more than they should, and it really impedes the gameplay. Regluar enemies are seldom even used in truly creative ways; most of the threats in the game come from various forms of spikes, lasers, and pits. Bosses too become stale. The Armos Knights, Moldorm, and Lanmolas appear over 10 times each while Trinexx and Agahnim 2 do not even appear at all, and Arrghus and Blind are given completely uninspired arenas that are just duplicates of the originals.

Broken item abuse ultimately becomes the order of the day. The Cane of Byrna can be obtained fairly early, and then it becomes an unstoppable tool of death in the "Dark World" once 1/4 magic and the Quake medallion are obtained. The game has a natural magic restoration system that makes magical items way more powerful than they were in the original game, and Quake speeds that up. This continues even while the Cane of Byrna is active so the player can pretty much just use it to win every challenge without trying. This also means that the Fire Rod and Ether can be used infinitely with no repercussions; what little threat the common monster might pose is wholly negated.

There are a few shining moments among these problems. The first Armos Knights fight in the first "pendant" dungeon is an excellently through out and fun challenge, and Draegor (the new Agahnim) manages to delicately balance the line between unfair and difficult in a pleasing way. Ganon himself is even made into a truly epic final boss. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between, and for most gamers, they will not be enough to sustain interest.
#3Amazing Ampharos(Topic Creator)Posted 5/9/2008 9:44:44 PM
Story:

This game has a unique story with a surprisingly dark tone; the maidens actually die, and the world that was to be the home of those without greed is a desolate wasteland. The speech with the Triforce at the end is very interesting though somewhat unfulfilling as it turns out that Ganon's grand plan was pretty much a waste of his time from the beginning. The story is structured in an even more loose way than the original which does reduce the epic feel, but it at least allows a sense of freedom that is unfortunately rare in games.

Other random issues:

The game has a few other design flaws that I could not mention elsewhere but cannot be excused:

Two items are permanently missable: Bombos and the Red Boomerang. If the player does not know ahead of time how to avoid this, natural play will cause them to be permanently missed.

There is a door in the room with the Blind fight that causes the game to crash when entered. This is totally unacceptable, and it's bewildering that this got past testing.

The Lost Woods, which are non-optional, have a solution not found anywhere in the game (the game even tells you this!). I'm not sure what made the designers think this was a good idea; it just causes needless frustration.

Bomb jumping is required at three different points in the game. This is a horrible idea as it forces the player to instantly fail to progress if he has insufficient bombs or health.

There are very few pots with useful contents relative to the original; it makes resource depletion more pressing than it should be.

The economy is very broken; the player is showered with more rupees than he could ever need.

Closing:

All in all, Parallel Worlds is a bold hack that shows a lot of great work and had a lot of great potential, but it just falls short. I can only recommend it to the most hardcore of lttp fans who want anything derived from lttp to play no matter how riddled with problems it is. I really wanted this game to be great, and I held out hope to very near the end that it would show some true quality, but it is just plain not a good game. With a heavy heart, I must give a firm recommendation to anyone interesting in this game to not play it. There's a lingering promise of a version 2.0; we can only hope that will fix these problems and make it a game that can stand proud next to the original.

Score: 4/10
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AAMS: 493 DP Pokemon rebalanced, 5 new Pokemon added
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#4Raging_RaikouPosted 5/9/2008 10:52:58 PM
1st of all i completely agree with just about everything u have said about the game. it was a very nice EFFORT by the designers, but it did fall short. i think they focussed on making it more hard than enjoyable, and a few bugs were not cleaned out either (such as the room behind blind). the 2nd dungeon (nayrus bay) was probably the best one in the game, as it wasnt really unfair in any way, and still offered a decent challenge in the armos knights.

now for a bit of my input:

id like to remind ppl that the levitation glitch works very well in places like the "optional hard puzzle" and impas ways. that glitch can be an alternative to using the PAR codes in SOME places, but to get to the top of the parallel tower without being driven insane the PAR codes are a good choice. also lets not forget that the levitation glitch can easily be used in any place where a bomb jump is needed! if u run out of bombs or life, please remember this is ur way out! i loved the fact the same glitches from lttp still worked in pw as it made things just a little less frustrating in a few occasions.

also AA did u know some of the "invisible" stuff can be seen by disabling 1 of the backgrounds (#2 i think)? i did this a lot in my playthough cuz i caught on to how exactly it worked, and realized early on in the game i could abuse that. most of the time it was just illusory graphics (such as fake spikes) but once the layer was disabled i could see the real deal. not sure if u knew that or not. but of course there are still places where this wont help u (im pretty sure it doesnt work for the nayru bay "invisible bridge" before the boss fight.

also as for the darkness problem, 1 of the background layers IS the darkness (i think #3 or 4) so u can just abuse turning that off and make things just a bit easier.

lastly i coulda swore i ran into a trinexx room while wandering in the EZ, i think it may have been an area that was removed from the normal game though cuz i couldnt find how to get there normally.
#5ChrisTurkPosted 5/10/2008 7:00:11 AM
Trinexx is in the second quest.

And I just want to say that you only have to go up the Tower twice, not four times.

I'll get into more once I get back from Atlanta.
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"The only thing that's been confirmed is that it's unfortunate your mother did not have any spare coat hangers."~ trancer1
#6Amazing Ampharos(Topic Creator)Posted 5/10/2008 1:18:56 PM
Twice is mandatory in general while four times is required if you want all the items from the tower. I shouldn't have to go through a huge dungeon again to get the second Mushroom or the Master Sword, and that's where I recommend the codes.
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AAMS: 493 DP Pokemon rebalanced, 5 new Pokemon added
http://z13.invisionfree.com/AA_Mod_Server_Forum/index.php
#7Raging_RaikouPosted 5/12/2008 3:15:46 PM
its nice to see this was brought back