Review by FRIEDSTRUCK
"With Names Like (Chris) Amon, Chad (Fox), (Tony) Pike, and Guy (Lafleur), You'd Think This Was a Sports Game..."
(My tag line by the way, has athletes from four sports, just in case its a bit hard to follow)
Back around the end of 2010, when I was slowly but surely picking up all of the RPGs that were on sale at my Game Centre, I had left one 'til last, that game being Albert Odyssey: The Legend of Eldean... But alas when I went to purchase it in March of this year, it was gone! Thus, when I came back from Italy in July, I decided that I needed something that I could conceivably finish before school started (and I finished it two days ago), and finally picked up Albert Odyssey from ebay. What a great purchase! Anything Working Designs attaches it name to is superb, and Albert Odyssey is no exception; the characters are great and memorable, the translation is perfect and hilarious, and the edits and additions to the music and sound by Bill King are just great; there is nothing that is a clear cut weakness in Albert Odyssey, and game play will tell you more.
Game play: 9/10
Your standard RPG fare of traversing the map, talking with NPCs, and duking it out against monsters, Albert Odyssey is nothing you have not seen before. The game perfectly blends all of the standard codes and conventions of the RPG, and the game is far from weak in doing so. One nice touch (due to Working Designs possibly?) is the fact that instead of experience in battles being shared by the entire party as part of a whole (100 exp divided by 5 = 25 exp points per party member), the experience gained in battle is shared by the entire party completely as the raw total (100 to each). This makes for less of a hassle when levelling up, and vastly reduces the tediousness of grinding. When battling, a little bit of challenge is taken away when Gryzz joins your party, as he has abilities that make him the go-to guy in your party. Sadly, like many RPGs, there are save points, and you cannot save wherever you wish, which sadly hinders the game play slightly. Otherwise, with nothing to detract from the game play in a major way, Albert Odyssey shines, as well as the story.
Albert Odyssey is a two part story, that has related, but much different events that occur in both stories. The game begins with a baby, Pike, and his parents, attempting to flee their burning village that is overrun with monsters. With Pike's father, is a seemingly enchanted short sword named Cirrus, that can speak, and tries to will Pike's father to fight back. After Pike's father is killed along with his mother, a Harpy named Laia descends from above, discovers the still alive Pike (and Cirrus), and takes him with her back to the land of the Harpies (Harpy Forest). From here, you take control of Pike in his quest to, well, cannot say! The second part of the story is related to the first part of the story, though involves new characters, and a new arc that the first did not contain. Great stuff here indeed, and graphics are next.
Now don't get me wrong; the town graphics are remarkably detailed, as well as the characters and battles, but what the hell happened to the over world map?! This is quite possibly the worst post 16-bit over world map in video game history (possibly!). Anyways, the characters are small 2D characters, though they are a bit larger than most 2D characters (akin to the size of the characters in Magic Knight Rayearth), and they look great! Highly detailed for their size, colorful, and with charm, the characters stand out along with the towns. The towns are just breathtaking at how big and detailed everything is, from the buildings to the cobblestone streets, to gates and walls, everything is just wow! If the map were even halfway decent, graphics could have been a whole different story... Sounds are up.
Between the brilliant sounds here and there, along with the phenomenal musical score, composed by Naoki Kodaka, the sounds in Albert Odyssey are nearly perfect. One glaring omission, that is hard to imagine, is the lack of in-game speech from characters; only a few characters speak, and even when they do, it is never more than one or two lines for the entire game. The battle sounds are just your normal swipes, groans, grunts, and thwacks, etc., however they do a good job. The real highlight in the sounds department, is the music. Some compositions just blow you away, while other are merely very good, though they are all memorable, catchy, and the majority of them fit the game perfectly, just like a glove. The final dungeon theme does not, however it is arguably the most enjoyable track of the game. Is Albert Odyssey a replay-able game though?
Replay ability: 8/10
No unlock-ables (another usual area that Working Designs sticks a bit of time into), no extra modes, and around 15-20 hours worth of game play with minimal grinding on your first go; nothing bad in the slightest! Grinding is necessary in Albert Odyssey, though grind-a-thons in the vein of Vay on the Sega CD, or even extended grinding sessions such as the ones in the Lunar games, or Grandia II, are not present. This is a good thing!
Buy or rent?
If you have to opportunity to rent, give it a shot; if you like it, buy it! Be warned though, like all Working Designs games, Albert Odyssey will set you back a hefty penny!
There are not enough good things I can say about Albert Odyssey, and very few bad ones (yet again, THAT MAP!); the game is just a solid, solid game, that delivers everywhere; from the great, simplistic game play, to the great (non-map) graphics, and phenomenal soundtrack, this is one game that every Saturn fan should own! Games that break the fourth wall and make you laugh are also special games, and again, no doubt the work of Working Designs; everything they touch turns into gold, or gets turned into BETTER gold; Albert Odyssey is a winner! "Valerian: And you shall meet the same end as your vaunted predecessor... its predestined, child. Leos: Our answer was the same because we both shared the love for humanity! Valerian: And of course, my interest in humans is strictly dietary. Its sad, but true."
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/11
Game Release: Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean (US, 07/31/97)
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