Review by Lunatic Zero
"An average rpg with an excellent translation!"
This game is a fine example of Working Designs taking a extremely flawed rpg and turn it into something worth playing, good even. Legend of Eldean is a gaiden (side-story) to the original Albert Odyssey srpgs for the super famicom which were never released stateside, and there are a couple of minor references to the previous games. Anyway, in typical rpg fashion, the game takes place thousands of years later so who cares? Also, unlike it?s predecessors, Legend of Eldean is as traditional as rpgs get.
The story revolves around a young boy named Pike, the mute hero, who was orphaned when his village was attacked. He escaped the fate of his parents when he was rescued by a harpy named Laia and raised in the harpy forest. One day when Pike is out on an adventure to the well to fetch some water with his talking sword, Cirrus, he witnesses the theft of the village?s ?power crystal? by a wyvern-riding madman called Belnard. Laia attempts to rescue Pike and is turned to stone. Pike then sets out on a quest to cure Laia? along the way he learns about the Eldean clan and the past of his talking sword, and inevitably becomes the savior of the world in the process? He'll be joined by a perky young songstress, a humble martial arts priestess, a knight of the dragon tribe, and an ultra flamboyant and sarcastic birdman (he's my favorite! ^_^). And that?s only in the first half of the game... Pike eventually learns that there is much more going on than an ancient family feud and the story of the Eldean clan is eventually tied in with the legend of Albert.
The story line is actually pretty good and thanks to the typically excellent Working Designs translation, the characters are full of life and the script is funny. I was laughing out loud a couple of times. I think they almost over-did it with the humor, though, as there are some parts when a character will spout some poopy line or pop culture reference in the middle of an otherwise dramatic scene. I love Working Designs? translations, but I think they need to work on knowing when jokes are appropriate and when they aren?t. One thing I would have liked to know is how Pike?s father ever came into possession of Cirrus to begin with? but unfortunately, you never find out.
I heard that this game was originally intended for release on super famicom, which makes sense because most of the in-game graphics look like a 16-bit title, albiet a gorgeous one. The game is all 2D overhead except for the battles which take place from a side view. The locals and sprites are all quite colorful, and in battle there is a lot of animation for every character. The over world map is polygonal and isn?t particularly impressive, but it looks nice with the clouds overhead? it gets the job done. In any case, if you liked the graphics in Tales of Phantasia, or Star Ocean, you?ll like the graphics here.
The music in the game is very good, although none of the individual tunes are particularly memorable, it is an overall good soundtrack. Actually, a couple stand outs would have to be the game?s main theme/field music and Cirrus? theme. The quality of the synthesized instruments is great, reproducing violins, flutes, and clarinets that sound awfully life-like. As far as voices go, there are none, except for the original Japanese battle cries and some brief speech parts in the beginning of the game (Lunar fans should recognize one of the voices).
The part of the game that is the major problem is the encounter rate. First of all, you are attacked just way too much! Working Designs did us a favor and reduced the loading times (which were up to 10 seconds in the Japanese version!) and encounter rate, but it is still pretty bad. There is also a pretty noticeable ?pause? right when you get into a battle, before it actually starts. Seasoned rpg vets know how frustrating it is when you can?t walk more than 10 steps without getting into another battle. Another problem is that battles can be a tad slow, because of all the animation. Stick with it, and you?ll get used to it in time? but it?s still a bit of a pain in the arse.
The battles are pretty typical for an rpg. Up to five characters pummel the enemy in standard turn-based fashion. My only gripe is that most of the spells in the game are almost useless and aside from attacking and healing when you need to? there isn?t a whole lot of variation in the gameplay. It?s a fairly easy game too (the only part that gave me a lot of difficulty was near the end when you have to fight four hard bosses in four separate towers) and a little short, and once you reach the end? there aren?t a whole lot of secrets to uncover.
Even with it?s flaws, Albert Odyssey is still a pretty good rpg. It is? a lot better than the original Japanese release and we have WD to thank for that. Fans of Working Designs games (like me!) should love it and anyone looking for a good english rpg for your Saturn? it is a good buy, and it probably won?t cost you an arm and a leg so it?s worth it. If you?re a casual gamer or just plain tired of traditional rpgs of this kind, stay away. In the end, I enjoyed the game a lot? mainly because of the story and the pretty 2d graphics. All the same, I?m looking forward to the Arc the Lad Collection? can?t wait to see what they?ve got planned after that.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/21/01, Updated 03/28/02
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