Review by Joe the Destroyer
"Building robots without any basic engineering skills. Oh yeah!"
No one had ever even heard of it! Those who had claimed it to be ''too quirky.'' What did I care about quirk? I own quirky games, watch quirky movies... Bah, I myself am quite a quirk at times. Like any game out there, I gave this a shot. I found out Die Hard Game Club (R.I.P.) had one of these stocked at a good price for used. It even had an instruction book an the original charts with it, too! I tried the game out there at Die Hard, and it was then that I practically begged them to give it to me. Since I didn't get much more than $5-10 a week at the time, I had to put the game on lay away (they had one of the best lay away systems anywhere in Spokane and they didn't charge $60 for a used game like Trade-a-Game). After hard weeks of pushing the lawnmower and doing other basic work around the house, I finally scrounged up enough one day to go pick the game up. How psyched I was when I finally got home. It had everything most everyone else didn't want in an RPG: Humor, a goofy main character, a silly plot... Needless to say, if you're looking for another RPG with a General Hospital storyline, go pick up Final Fantasy 6 or Star Ocean: The Second Story. If not, then game on!
Enix... What Were You Smoking?
Enix delivers an RPG that wasn't quite an epic, but then again, it wasn't quite Brain Lord, either (blech!). In this game, you play as the son of an inventor who is caught up in a scheme formulated by an ''elite'' group of... strange... robot... alien... things called Hackers. The Hackers are after a stone called the Tetron. As our fearless hero advances, more revelations are made. The story does have some nice twists in it as well. May not be a very serious storyline, but it was played out well enough.
The premise behind this game was the ability to create your party of robots as the game advances, giving you up to three robots to create. You can customize these robots and give them some nice character traits by messing around with their stats. So, if you want party that has a balanced character, an all out powerful one, and a speedy or more defensive one, you can make it so. Customizing goes beyond the stats as well. You can give your robots various different equipment like an other characters in an RPG. The only difference is that here you can choose from so many different types of weapons. Sure, you have the basic swords, axes, hammers, punch-type weapons... You know, the usual stock. Then you have some more creative weapons such as different kids of missiles and guns. You can equip one item per hand, meaning you an have a weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, or even have two weapons in either hand. Let's not forget that which can be attached to your back; The various missile weapons and such.
What's not to love about the customization factors in this game? I like how it was set up for you to give different robots different characteristics as you see fit, or just have a small party of robots that are all the same.
The battle system is unique in its own way, although it may remind you of Lunar. You can only have one robot on the screen at one time and can switch them in and out at any time. The screen is set up like your basic FF6 or Lunar screen where you have the open battle field and a scenic background of sorts. On the battle field are various enemies and capsule. When your turn comes, you may move your robot to a specific area, given that you have a high enough move ability to get there (move ability is usually determined by the type of boots your robot wears). When you get into a proper position, you may execute an attack against an enemy. Bear in mind that there are both short range and long range attacks in this game. You can also attack a capsule, although the results may vary. You could get some goodies from a capsule, or the damned thing could blow up in your face. You have certain amount of time to open the capsules or they'll burst.
Your robots may not be able to use items themselves, but you can from off in the distance. By using different items, you can repair your robot or damage the enemy, all depending on what you decide to use. If all three of your robots are destroyed, then it's game over.
Another great feature this game has is programs. You can program specific actions into your robot for battle. So, if you want your robot to hit someone with their right hand weapon, the their left twice, you can program it and then have it executed during battle. You can only place a certain number of actions per program, but I still found them quite useful in the game, particularly having a program in which my robot attacks three times in a row. Assuming all attacks hit the enemy, are done from behind, and is a critical hit, you can do lots of damage to your opponent, especially bosses.
Probably one of the most innovative ideas given to this game is the ability to create your items by combining anything that you might find to be junk or even just straight out creating. You see, in the R&D room where you build your robots, there is a feature that also allows you to build your own weapons, items, and even invent some event items that are necessary for completing the game. To invent new items, you can find ideas for them inside books scattered throughout the game called Inventor's Helper.
Dialogue Flahs... er um... Flaws
One downside I found to this game was dialogue flaws. Often times, it can be quite confusing to hear a line that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. A good example of this is just before you fight Blackmore. He say, ''Hey kid! Want to get revenge on Blackmore?'' At first, it didn't make much sense to me, but after thinking about it, I found it to be a probable translation error that probably should've read something like, ''So, you wish to defeat me,'' rather than talking in third person. I've noticed some other basic grammatical errors throughout the game, but that's the one that really sticks in my mind.
Enix has done some stunning graphics again. The tones and colors blend beautifully to give you a strong, environmental sense. Everything had just the right graphical setting. Forests seem to have a rather lush appeal. The haunted house seemed gloomy and spooky. Even the mines had a dungy and musty feel. I also found the character designs to be well done as well. They may not be as good as Illusion of Gaia, but they are certainly nice. The main character looks funny, but the detail put into him certainly shows nicely as with every other character in the game. The award for most interesting design... Well, that's a tie between Blackmore and Meta Crab. Having a Jack-O-Lantern or a crab for your head must be rough...
The music sounds quite strange at points, but still manages to capture the basic atmosphere put up in the game. A good example of the strange sounds would have to be the regular battle music. It just sounds way to vibrant and obnoxious. Then, you have the sinister music. As the name implies, it sounds quite sinister at times and a bit spooky as well. Musics placed in different areas also capture the feel of the area. The islands have that nice islander sound and the town seems to capture the element of a small and peaceful, yet active community. The sound effects are also well done. The explosions are some of the best I've heard on a 16-bit game, for example. As for other sound effects, they very much fit their given areas of use.
It's queer (as in strange, not the ''other use''), it's heart-warming, and it's a gem. Enix scores themselves a fine RPG to add to their many. This may not be another Dragon Warrior, but it is certainly good enough. I feel this game to be just a bit underrated, although I can see why many didn't like this. It seems to me that most RPG's which tend not to dwell in sobriety get picked apart. Sure, there are RPG's with humor like Lunar, but those still seem to maintain an all around sober feel. This one was made outright silly and that's what to expect from it. I didn't expect a huge, tear-jerky storyline even before I played the game. I honestly didn't know what to expect. Personally, I think the unique battle system, the weapons-base, the ability to personalize your robots, and the invention system were all great elements that kept me playing this game. I've played it through several times and have enjoyed it each time. It's well worthy of the Enix name- Good job, guys!
Graphics: Beautifully put together 9/10
Sounds: A bit strange a times, but also well done 8/10
Controls: Good response and minor complexities. The best part is you can play this game with one hand! 10/10
Plot/Storyline: Has some good twists, maybe not a major drama, but certainly befitting of the game 8/10
Gameplay: Fun, but can get tedious when you need to beef up your robots for a boss battle. 8/10
All Together: 8/10
*Great battle system
*Loads of weapons
*Music helped build atmosphere
*Superlative control capability
*Can get tedious
Hardcore RPG'ers should at very least try it to see if they can stomach it. Highly not recommended for those who do not like RPG's.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/01, Updated 11/25/01
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