Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “rpg”

Final Fantasy Origins Part 1(Target or Walmart)


The Final Fantasy games are some of the most profitable video games you can find. Years ago, Square Enix remade the very first two games of the series for the Playstation. One considered a remake in both Japan and America and the other released for the very first time in the latter.

Final Fantasy

Since time began, four orbs controlled the elements of fire, water, wind and earth. Now, those orbs fell to the power of darkness. Only four warriors of light, each carrying a crystal, can restore power to the orbs and banish darkness once and for all.

That’s right, the very first game of a plot driven series has little to none of what made the series great in the first place. You never find out anything about the warriors you control, such as how they met or how they came across the crystals in the first place. Every town you drop in has just as much amount of plot and character development. The webcomic, 8-bit Theater, spoofs the very flaws you find in this game. I can’t really fault the writer for that, since everyone involved thought this would be their final game (hence why they called it Final Fantasy).

What the game lacks in story it more than makes up for in gameplay. In the beginning, you name four characters and choose a class for each one. Choose wisely, because, until you get class changes, you’re stuck with these four characters for the rest of the game. You travel the overworld map fighting battles to gain experience points. You also go through dungeons to bring power to the orbs and collect quest items. During your journey, you can visit towns to upgrade your equipment, purchase spells for your mages and resurrect dead characters. In this game, the only way for resurrection is either life spells or visiting the temple and paying the person to revive them. You can also rest at the inn and save your game. The only other saves you can do are memo saves, which is more of a safety mechanism than anything else.

This game is simplistic yet addictive. I give it 6 out of 10; a mediocre plot with fun game play.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Gamestop Store)


Ganon’s back and this time his targets are the descendents of the seven sages. In order to stop him, Link has to travel to the Sacred Realm. Can Link save two worlds from the evil Ganon?

This game introduced me to the Zelda franchise. It also started a trend among the Zelda games, gather a few items, plot twist and then gather another set of items. Since this was the third game, Zelda doesn’t really do anything more special than push objects out of the way. As I said earlier, you have to save the descendants of the seven sages and guess what gender they all are. Ganon trapped each one of them in a crystal and, since this is before the Zelda games would have a day to night cycle, it only takes one day to free them. Still, I do wonder how they’re going to the bathroom if they’re inside a crystal. On second thought, I’d rather not think about it. When you rescue the maidens, each one tells you about the story of Ganon and the seven sages, something you can explore more thoroughly in Ocarina of Time. Another thing I don’t get is why Ganon’s magic would change the fairy into an overweight woman. Wouldn’t an evil man want a harem of gorgeous women or men (whatever suits his fancy)? The only way this would make sense is if Ganon has a fat fetish.

The game play is as fun as ever. You walk around the map destroying enemies for items. Then you enter various dungeons and defeat the bosses in order to collect quest items. You can visit various places in the over world to get upgrades and collect heart pieces. When you’ve collected all necessary quest items, you can take on Ganon.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 7 out of 10; the start of the games taking on a darker tone.

Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy (Bigfishgames.com)


When Mel discovered her magic powers, she hid in the village of Harakauna. Unfortunately, the darklings discover her whereabouts and try to bring her to Underfall. At the same time, a representative of Veldarah Academy wants to recruit her in order to help her train her magic. Will Mel choose the path of light or the path of darkness?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are a few spoilers in this review. I will hand one thing to the Aveyond staff. Instead of giving Mel powers and forgetting about it, like they did with Fox on Gargoyles, they actually make it the plot point. Unfortunately, when they get to the schooling part, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They rush right through it in order to get to the plot rather than combining both story elements. There’s also a scene where trouble happens at Shadwood Academy.

Unfortunately, no one believes Mel when she says that it’s because of her. Mel thinks that Edward would believe her, which is an odd conclusion to come to considering that Edward’s never believed her about anything. Considering how often the crazy stuff she says comes true, you think he’d learn by now. Instead, Edward dismisses her entirely and Mel holds the idiot ball. For those of you who don’t know, the idiot ball is when a character performs an uncharacteristic act of sheer stupidity in order to drive the plot. In this one, Mel gets a note from a stranger telling her to come alone to a cabin and, instead of informing her professors about it, she goes alone to meet the person. Someone who grew up on the streets ought to know better. Though I do appreciate that, when Mel’s in trouble, she tries to find a way out of there instead of waiting for the others to rescue her. For the rest of the game, you take on the role of Stella and I’ve noticed that when she gets an item and has to put it in a slot, she says, “I wonder,” while Mel has to have someone explain to her what to do. Te’ijal and Galahad have returned for the final game and, later on, we get an argument from them that looks like something that came out of Twilight. Oh, and you notice that when Te’ijal’s in control, she only makes decisions that make her happy while when Galahad’s in control, he tries to compromise for both of them? I’m going to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more about the characters than it is an issue of gender. Oh, and remember when Lydia stole the throne from Edward? The Aveyond staff wrapped up that problem as an afterthought rather than making it important to the plot. In the ending, you get to pick a bride for Edward. The canon option makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. When Mel tells Edward there’s trouble, he instantly dismisses her. When Stella tells Edward there’s trouble, he runs off to stop it. On the other hand, Edward has spent the whole game being irritated with Stella and worried nonstop about Mel. Add to that the fact that Edward marrying Mel in The Lost Orb is the canon beginning, it becomes even more baffling that Stella is the canon choice. Considering how many pairings have gone against the fan preference, I wonder if, at this point, the Aveyond staff loves to screw with their fan base.

The game play is, once again, your typical RPG. You travel the world battling monsters to raise your levels.

You can purchase items in towns and talk to NPCs to receive side quests. If you’re having trouble, visit the goodie caves to give yourself an advantage. The only difference this game has is that, not only can Stella learn spells by equipping weapons and leveling up, Edward can power up his sword by using sword stations.

This game is addictive but the plot could use some work. I give it 6 out of 10; a bad conclusion to Aveyond 3.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb (Bigfishgames.com)

Just when Mel thought she’d seen the last of the orbs, a mysterious woman named Nox tells her about the Orb of Death. Now she and her friends must destroy the lost orb before anyone of evil intent can get their hands on it.

The beginning of the game depends entirely on whom you had Edward propose to in the last one. Either way, Lydia tricks Edward into marrying her by locking the intended bride in the dungeon and disguising herself as said bride. While it’s not hard to believe that Lydia would desire the throne, some of her actions don’t match with her personality in the previous game. For instance, in Gates of Night, she tries to save Stella and sees the mission to the end. You can argue that all of this was a ruse to make Edward like her, but Lydia is also an accomplished mage. If she was only after the throne, couldn’t she have just cast a love spell? She can easily buy a love potion and spike Edward’s drink with it. Not to mention that amulet Lydia found in Gates of Night that she uses to make Edward buy her dresses, she could use that to make Edward marry her and become her slave. Speaking of love potions, the game once again romanticizes them. There’s this one scene where you create a love potion and Spook (a recently introduced character) and Edward fight over who gets to use it on Mel. Since I always thought of love potion as a date rape drug, this didn’t sit well with me. Later on, you find out Spook’s intentions, so the game could have easily just had Spook try to use the love potion while Edward tries to stop him. Edward and Spook also act incredibly obnoxious and neither one of them thinks to ask Mel what she wants. Did I mention that Edward will be fighting Spook for Mel’s affections even if you had him marry someone else? Oh, and for future reference, if you ever ask someone about their past and they say that their story will bore you, that’s usually code for “don’t trust me; I’m up to no good.” I’m also wondering why a village that shuts itself off from the rest of the world would have an MME system (mirror transportation) and signs pointing how to get there. Another problem I had was interests and prejudices that seem to come out of nowhere. For those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in what I say next. Ulf (the orc traveling with you) wants to stay in Harakauna to become an alchemist. Now I can believe that he’d want to stay in a village full of talking animals and shape shifters that makes him feel welcome, but he has shown as much interest in alchemy beforehand as Lana Lang from Smallville did in art before applying to an art school in Paris, which is absolutely none. At the end of the game, Mel unlocks her magical abilities. Now I can believe that Mel’s abilities remained dormant because she’s had good luck relying on her mind all her life like Fox from Gargoyles. The only difference is that Fox actually demonstrated her intelligence while Mel has to have her hand held every step of the way. Oh, and did you know that Mel hates magic? Neither did I. She’s been around magic users and held them no ill regards and now that she has magic herself, she develops a prejudice for it for no reason whatsoever other than the writer needed to add unnecessary conflict to the story. Other than all that, the plot is actually quite interesting. The new characters are entertaining and I found the insane Empress of Eldrion to be hilarious.

The game play is very addictive. You travel a 2-d map collecting treasure, potion ingredients and fighting monsters.  The last one will help you gain levels to make the characters stronger. You can visit towns to purchase supplies, check your mail and teach Mel a new skill at the town’s agency. In this game, the training actually has something to do with the skill you’re learning. You can also complete side quests in addition with the main quest for 100% completion. During the game, you will have opportunities to either increase Mel’s attraction to Spook or decrease it. If you’re tired of having to move around so much, use the Magical Mirror Express, or MME, to travel between towns faster. You can also stop by hidden goodie caves to make the game easier.

This game is addictive and entertaining. I give it 7 out of 10; the game play makes up for the many problems with the story.

Aveyond: Gates of Night (Amaranthgames.com)

After the wicked witch, Heptitus, stole the first quarter key, Mel and the others regroup at Thais.  Now they need to get what they lost and find a ship to complete their mission.

This game is a continuation of Lord of Twilight.  In my review of that game, I neglected to discuss the plot.  One thing Aveyond fans will appreciate is that Te’ijal and Galahad, two optional fans from the first game, are now a couple of the main characters.  It’s Te’ijal’s brother, Gyendal, who is the main villain and they are the ones that save Mel.  The first game did have a few problems, such as rushing through Mel’s schooling to get to the main plot.  Gyendal also had no true motivation and is only evil for the sake of being evil.  It also has some good points.  Remember in my review of Aveyond 1 when I said that I found Galahad’s noble prejudice annoying?  Well, in this game, he’s miserable as a vampire and feels great anger for his wife, Te’ijal, yet he will still help her in her quest to stop Gyendal’s plan to take over the world.  Speaking of Gyendal, his plan doesn’t make sense to me.  Gyendal is a vampire, like his sister, and wants to rule the Overworld.  The problem is humans are their dinner and it seems like vampires would want them in abundance to quench their thirsts.  If they ruled the overworld, that food source would quickly diminish.  Te’ijal must see this and, like Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has no desire to lose her endless supply of happy meals.  Galahad, unlike Te’ijal, has no desire to drink from a human and still maintains his appearance from the first game.

As I said earlier, this game is a continuation of Lord of Twilight.  New characters join the group, such as Lydia who hopes to become Prince Edward’s bride.  Speaking of Edward, he has to get married by the end of Gates of Night and can choose between three women, Mel, Stella and Lydia.  If he doesn’t pick any of them, his parents choose for him and let me say that their selection is hilarious but wouldn’t have been the slightest bit funny if the genders were reversed.  In the next game, there will be girls that have no love interest whatsoever but it seems like, in this series, only the guys have options about who to marry while the girls only have one fixed option and this isn’t the first time this has shown up.  In Ahriman’s Prophecy, Devin could choose between Talia and Alicia.  Another problem I have is Lydia’s character.  We see her true motivation for marrying Edward in the next game but Lydia’s actions don’t match up.  For one thing, when she locates an amulet that can hypnotize Edward, she only uses it to buy more dresses for herself.  If the throne was Lydia’s goal, why didn’t she just use the amulet to make Edward propose to her?  In another scene, she saves Stella’s life for no reason that I can comprehend.  There’s also the issue of Mel’s informed ability.  We’re told that she is a clever thief yet, in the first game, Edward has to tell her that he’s the Prince of Thais after many months of her living there and hanging out with him.  The only time we see her being clever is in the Orc Kingdom and the citizens are so incredibly stupid that they could fall for the look behind you trick.  In Venwood, when trying to access the water tower, it’s Lydia who figures out that the controls to activate it are rusted.  Mel’s informed ability is truly highlighted in the fourth game but I’ll talk about that when I get to it.

The game play in this one is exactly the same as the last.  You travel the world to complete the main quest while completing various side quests along the way.  You encounter various monsters that you can fight to make your characters stronger.  In this game, you can finally get a ship and a compass to teleport you straight to your ship’s location.  You can’t join a guild but you can visit each one.  You can also locate various agencies in order to teach Mel new skills, though what she does and the skill she learns doesn’t really match up.  For example, in Venwood she has to catch five butterflies in order to learn the Orc language.  How butterflies and Orcs go together, I have no idea.  You can also collect attraction points between Edward and the girl you want him to marry.  When you have the minimum number of points, you can have Edward propose to the desired girl.  Lydia requires zero, Stella requires four and Mel requires all seven.  As I said earlier, you can purchase gowns for Lydia but only one in each shop.  If you want to buy them all, you’ll have to use the golden amulet.  You can also buy weapons and armor for your characters and purchase spellbooks for Lydia.

This game is addictive but not without problems.  I give it 7 out of 10; a brilliant continuation of Lord of Twilight.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Part 3: Gameboy Color Version (Amazon.com)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 4fa6c9aecdc388ed13e69a71

After the PC version, I concentrated on this one next.  Unlike the other games, this one focuses more on the story from the book.  It also has an RPG aspect that makes it unique.

Since I’m very picky about research (except when it comes to school work), I read the first Harry Potter book and viewed the first movie again.  I have to admit that, compared to the later ones, this one isn’t quite as great but it’s still enjoyable.  Still, what is it about these books that make them so popular?  Maybe it’s because, as Bobby Bacala (The Sopranos) says, “it gives the other kids, the 98 pound weakling, some hope.”  It might also be because, unlike other books targeted to children, Harry Potter is not so condescending.  In many books that are aimed towards children, when the main character broke a rule no matter how minor, they were automatically caught and punished for it.  This method was a way to manipulate children into being obedient robots.  In these books, sometimes Harry is rewarded for breaking rules or he’s punished.  Sometimes, he doesn’t get caught at all.  However, it might be because books in the UK aren’t as condescending as books in the US.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

As I said, this game is the most loyal to the book with a few differences.  For one thing, it’s Hermione who tells Harry about Snape instead of Percy, which makes absolutely no sense considering that Hermione knows as much about the teachers as Harry does while Percy’s been there for five years.  Some scenes follow the book exactly and yet seem out of place, such as McGonagall showing up out of nowhere to take twenty points from Slytherin and Draco not even objecting to that whatsoever.  Sometimes it gets the characters wrong, such as having Draco give Harry a prize for beating him when Draco is a sore loser.  Another thing is that makes this game notable is that it’s the only one to have you attend History of Magic.  Don’t worry, all you do is get sent to Diagon Alley to retrieve a card.

The game play is RPG like which separates it from the other ones in the series.  You run into magic clouds and get into a battle with various monsters.  The more experience points you gain, the more you level up.  If you use a spell enough times you can also have it upgraded.  Oh, and you can collect wizard cards and card combinations you can use to aid you in battle. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 4fa6c9aecdc388ed13e69a79

To me, this seems out of place because RPG elements don’t really suit Harry Potter.  I prefer learning spells in classes and going through the obstacle courses in other games because it feels more like you’re in a magical school.  Did I mention that this is the only game where Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw could win the House Cup rather than automatically losing to Slytherin if you don’t have enough points?

This game is loyal but out of place.  I give it 3 out of 10; it’s unique but not in a good way.

Final Fantasy VII (Amazon.com)

When Cloud Strife returns to Midgar, Avalanche pays him to help them destroy a MAKO reactor built by a company called Shinra.  Unfortunately, Cloud’s past is starting to catch up with him.  Can Avalanche save the Planet from Shinra and help Cloud face the demons from his past?

First things first, for those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in this review.  I finally beat this game and it only took me years, literally.  When I was younger, I had a short attention span and I had a tendency to start the game over when it became too difficult.  The only reason I returned to it is because I wanted to start the whole Kingdom Hearts series from scratch so I decided to watch the Disney movies and play the Final Fantasy games associated with each one.  At first, I was just going through the scenes I’ve watched over a hundred times when I was a kid and just completing it for the sake of Kingdom Hearts.  Then I got to one powerful scene and I was immediately hooked.

When we first play the game, we’re introduced to Cloud, the man who helps commit an act of terrorism for money.  At first, he seems like the kind of guy we imagine ourselves to be, an ex-member of an elite army and a no-nonsense type of guy who can wield a huge sword without breaking a sweat. 

Then we continue playing and we discover that Cloud can be summed up in one word, failure.  When he was a kid, he bragged about how he was going to be in SOLDIER and instead was turned down because his body didn’t react well to the process.  Not only that, but he’s also a clone that the scientists of Shinra labeled as a failure.  While this might make Cloud out to be a liar, he actually believed everything he said.  What happened was that the cloning process went wrong and his memories were fused with Zack’s, a man who is everything Cloud wanted to be.  Even when Cloud and Zack escape, the Shinra guards only kill the latter and leave the former alive because he’s not important.  To me, when Cloud started to question his views of reality, that was when I started playing the game not as research for Kingdom Hearts but just to see what would happen later on.  Cloud went from being the person we want to be to the one that we actually are.  That doesn’t mean that Cloud isn’t a heroic character because in the end he decides that none of that matters and continues to lead the group on the quest.

Two other characters are Tifa and Aeris, both possible love interests for Cloud.  Tifa is the bartender with a skill for martial arts and an optimistic attitude yet has trouble admitting her feelings for Cloud.  Aeris is the flirtatious flower girl with a strong spirit and the last surviving member of a race called The Ancients.  When I was a kid, I was constantly getting into fights with a friend on Quizilla about who was better between Aeris and Tifa.  She argued Aeris because she’s strong-willed and determined to beat Sephiroth.  I argued Tifa because she can kick the bad guys’ asses.  I also hated that the childhood friend was ignored while the new girl came out of nowhere.  Now that I play the game, I see that it wasn’t that Cloud didn’t notice Tifa, he just wasn’t sure she liked him while Aeris he was absolutely sure about.  Not to mention that while Tifa might know martial arts, she has a seriously co-dependent personality regarding Cloud.  She wants him to live up to a promise he made years ago and is more concerned about his well-being than she is about the group.  While Aeris does like Cloud, she puts the regard of The Planet above him and is willing to put her life on the line to save it.  Though her death wasn’t very powerful for me because I had a habit of looking ahead to see spoilers and I knew it was coming. 

Plus, I never really got past Disc 1 when I was a kid.

I’ve mentioned Avalanche destroying MAKO reactors that Shinra creates but I haven’t really explained why.  According to Barrett, their leader, MAKO is the energy used by Shinra and it’s killing The Planet.  So his group blows them up to save it.  This is an act of environmental terrorism and the game admits this in the form of Cait Sith, who calls Barrett out on this at the end of the game.  It turns out Barrett’s reasons were solely for revenge and saying that he’s saving The Planet was his way of justifying all the innocent lives he’s taken.

Speaking of Cait Sith, when he first appeared I’ll admit that I didn’t really like him.  I thought the whole concept of a robotic cat on a stuffed moogle while the owner is safely at Shinra Headquarters was absolutely ridiculous.  They even got to the scene where he has to recite the spell to turn the Ancient’s Temple into Black Materia and everyone acts like it’s some heroic sacrifice while all that’s getting crushed is a glorified cell phone that could easily be replaced.  It wasn’t until he calls Barrett out on his terrorism that I actually started to see Cait Sith as part of the cast.

Another character I thought was ridiculous at first was Red XIII, though he didn’t take as long to grow on me.  When we’re introduced to him, he’s a big four-legged cat and one of the Shinra scientist’s, Hojo’s, project.  At first, he seems like something to show how sick Hojo is by trying to force Red XIII and Aeris to mate on the grounds that they are both endangered species.  At first, they only show Aeris’s disgust but when Red XIII knocks Hojo out, he’s just as much of a victim because he doesn’t like humanoid species, well not in that way.  Then we go to his hometown and discover the origin of his species.  So I didn’t really think of him as a talking animal as much as I did an alien race.

Just like in every Final Fantasy game since the second one, this one also has an appearance by the famous Cid.  Only in this one, he’s a playable character with his own hopes and dreams.  He wants to go into space and his dream was destroyed by Shinra.  He blames a worker of his for destroying his dream due to the fact that she stayed behind to continue the repairs.  It’s not until near the end that he has to acknowledge that she was right.

In addition to these characters, you can also unlock two secret ones named Yuffie and Vincent.  The former being a materia hunting ninja and the latter being a former member of Shinra.  Both of them come with side quests that help you discover more about their pasts.

Of course, no story is complete without a great villain and this one is no exception. 

The main one is not Shinra but a former member of SOLDIER named Sephiroth.  At first, he seems like the standard villain but as you get deeper and deeper into the game you realize that he is another experiment of Hojo’s gone wrong.  When he learned the truth behind his origins, he hates Shinra and the rest of The Planet.  Some of Sephiroth’s appeal is that he has a long black cape and comes with his own theme song.

The game play is every bit as amazing as the story.  You travel throughout the world going to various locations in order to complete the game.  During this, you unlock random battles with a system where you can attack when the bar for each character fills up. 

You can equip your characters with the best weapons and armor available for them and can also fill the slots on your equipment with materia.  Materia is an item that gives you special abilities for each character, such as magic and summoning spells.  As you complete each battle, you can level up your characters.  There is another bar for each character that fills up depending on how much damage you take.  When the bar’s full, you can use a special attack that allows you to make your battles easier.  You can also visit towns in order to buy items, equipment and materia to suit your needs.  Oh, and you can also rest up at an inn and save your game at the world map and at a save point.  Also, the game is so long that they had to separate it into three discs.

As I said earlier, this game does come with side quests.  Some help you delve further into the story, others allow you to obtain the most powerful limit breaks for your characters and the rest are just there for bragging rights.  Two of my favorite side quests are the chocobo breeding and the battle square.  At first, I wasn’t going to participate in the latter but I decided to get Cloud’s final limit break, which I’m glad I did. 

The chocobo one I just like because of my fondness for animals and having something that could travel anywhere with no limits whatsoever seemed pretty cool.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10; an oldie but goodie.

Aveyond 3: Lord of Twilight (Amaranthgames.com)

When Mel is hired to steal an orb, she thinks it’s just going to be an easy job for pay.  If only she knew what she was getting into.

The plot of this one is more like a prologue than an actual chapter.  You get to know the characters, find out the evil plan of the villain and begin collecting items to try to stop him.  There are a few side quests, but you don’t get to complete some of them until the next game.

The game play is the same as the last two with a couple of exceptions.  You can activate a system that allows you to travel through various locations.  You can also level up your characters without having to add them to the active party.  Oh, and when you search the corpse of an enemy after you kill it, it disappears.

This game is short but exciting.  I give it 7 out of 10; a good start to the third game in the series.

Aveyond 2 (Amaranthgames.com)

When a young elf named Iya is captured by the Snow Queen, it’s up to her friend Ean to come to the rescue.  Can they stop the Snow Queen from turning the world into ice?

Despite what it sounds like, rescuing Iya is only the beginning of the game.  Plus, it’s Iya discovering her magic that allows them to escape in the first place.  The rest of the story is about restoring Iya to normal and defeating the Snow Queen.  Another thing is that the two elves live in a place cut off from the rest of the world called the Vale.  Unlike in other stories, where the main character dreams of leaving their small town to explore the rest of the world, Ean and Iya are perfectly happy in the Vale.  If it weren’t for the Snow Queen, they would have stayed there.  Emma and Rye are the ones that want to leave their home and dream of something greater.  Yes, there are other characters besides Ean and Iya and, like the last game, you can marry various characters.  Ean has to buy things for Iya or have spells cast on the both of them.  Emma has to win or lose a tournament while making a bet with Rye.  Ava can either marry Gavin or teach Nicholas humility depending on which one you’d rather have in your party.  If you want both, go to Amaranth Games and check out the goodies they have for this one.  Oh, and you can also choose between three endings, even though one of them doesn’t actually have an ending.

Unlike the last game where they had a tendency to force pairings, this one actually manages to give them chemistry with the exception of one.  Ean and Iya have been friends for years and there are hints throughout the story that they care for each other a great deal.  Emma and Rye are both commoners who want more from life than what they have.  They also have a competitive streak that causes them to insult each other and place a bet when Emma signs up for a tournament regarding servitude.  To me, this pairing is the most believable because of their natures.  My only problem is that Rye says that Emma’s not like other girls who are boring and sappy.  I get that there probably weren’t many deep women in Rye’s farming village, but he also travels with Iya and Ava.  Ava is a no nonsense pirate who shouldn’t be messed with and while Iya is more girly than the other two, she knows where her priorities lie.  One example is that when Iya and Ean are fleeing from the Snow Queen, though Iya loves her Snow Princess gown, she knows that it’s hard to travel in and that there’s no room for it in her pack so she throws it away.  This is a breath of fresh air from Cassandra Claire’s Draco Trilogy where even when the women were in a life-threatening situation, the minute they got a new dress that was their number one priority.  As I said earlier, Ava has two paths she can take.  Truth is, I didn’t find her relationship with Gavin believable.  During the game, he makes advances that she is constantly rejecting and then he makes an offer out of nowhere that makes her like him.  She refuses, but I wonder if he knew she was going to turn him down.  I also love Nicholas’s storyline where he is rude and conceited yet he sees the consequences of his actions with the help of Ava.  Like Lars, he sees the error of his ways and learns humility.  Unlike Lars, we are not meant to take the writer’s word for it and actually witness his transformation.  His relationship with Ava is far more believable than her marriage to Gavin but I don’t think Nicholas is a better match for her.  Ava and Nicholas’s relationship seems more like an older sibling teaching her younger brother how to behave than that of boyfriend and girlfriend.

The game play is like the last one where you travel the world fighting monsters and leveling up your characters.  You can also partake in events that give certain characters attraction points and buy a farm that can be your party’s headquarters.  If you want an easy play through, you can find several goodie caves throughout the game.  You can also sign Iya up for one of four guilds and get a new outfit based on which one of them you choose.

This game is addictive and has more of a storyline.  I give it 8 out of 10; a superior sequel to the last game.

Aveyond (Amaranthgames.com)

A young girl named Rhen is captured from her home and sent into slavery in a far away land.  Fortunately for her, she has the power to draw magic from swords and is sent to the academy to learn how to use it.  Now she has to stop an evil sorcerer from destroying the world.

I know, this sounds like the plot of Ahriman’s Prophecy with the words changed.  That game is actually a prequel to this one.  While this game does more than the previous one does with the side characters, they all remain the same until the end of the game.  The only exception is Lars who somehow stops acting like a royal brat and gains humility with no explanation of how this drastic change occurred in the first place.  I guess you could say that Dameon also changes but even that literally has to be forced by magic. 

The pairings are another issue I have due to the fact that every one of them seems forced, some of them quite literally.  Rhen’s relationship with Dameon seem to have come from nowhere.  They immediately take a liking to each other and he changes his mind about some of his beliefs just from a few words from her, something his own mother couldn’t accomplish.  You might expect me to talk about how I prefer Lars and Rhen as a pairing, like many other fans do but I’m sort of on the fence about that one.  Rhen was a slave to Lars’ mother and spent years under his abuse.  In the beginning, he didn’t seem to care if he accidentally killed her.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could ever hook up with a guy that I associate the worst years of my life with.  On the other hand, if done correctly, it would have been an interesting story arc to see them struggle with feelings for each other while remembering their history together.  Elini and Pirate John is another pairing I have an issue with because the former pours love potion all over the latter.  I always felt that love potion was a form of rape because you’re forcing someone else to have feelings for you instead of respecting their decisions.  What I liked about Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that such magic was not portrayed in a favorable light.  Te’ijal and Galahad are also forced but how they end up married is believable and in character, so I will applaud the writers for that.

Speaking of Galahad, he was the character that I found most irritating.  He didn’t believe in magic despite all the evidence around him that it exists in this universe.  He also tags along with Rhen in the belief that a young woman needs a man to protect her despite all evidence that Rhen can protect herself just fine.  Though I did like that when Galahad makes the offer, Rhen is understandably insulted by this but agrees to take him along because his skills would benefit the group as a whole.

Rhen herself is not a believable protagonist.  She has no clue what country she’s in and has to be told where to go.  At the end, you can choose what path she takes and every single one of them seems forced.  If the intention was to give her very little personality so the audience can pretend to be her during the game, it would have been better to use her as a silent protagonist like Link from Legend of Zelda.

The game play is different from the last one in that when you touch a monster, you enter a battle screen. 

You can also change party members as you see fit.  Unfortunately, there’s no escape option so you need to save often.  Sometimes you come across save crystals which I don’t really see the point of having seeing as how you can save the game by going to the main menu.  You can go wherever you want on the world map and enter various cities and wilderness areas.  If you do a thorough search, you can find two goodies, one that can warp you to different locations and another that can give you huge amounts of gold.  You can also find various treasure chests and loot the corpses for more items and gold.  During the game, you’ll also have a choice between four guilds for Lars to join.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10; it makes up for its lack of characterization by its fun game play.

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