Category Archives: Mixed

Ar-Puh-Guh! Review (1.3 Beta)

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Meowskivich’s Ar-Puh-Guh is a game that I really didn’t know what to expect going into it. Having never played it before, all I could go off was the screenshots and reviews I had seen before. Neither form of media really seemed to praise the game, unfortunately, but I always do my best to formulate my own opinions on games that may even be unpopular with most people. In the case of Ar-Puh-Guh, I was pleasantly surprised at many aspects of the game while feeling a bit let down by others.

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Ar-Puh-Guh uses a class-based hero system, and allows you to pick one of them in the beginning. I initially picked the Berserker, but then decided to go with the Warrior shortly after that (more on that later). After class selection, you are pushed into a tutorial map, so to speak, that gives you a general idea of how the game works. I thought the pacing and the explanation of the different elements present were well done.

I do wish that there was a little better explanation on the different types of equipment and items though, because you will often find yourself buying stuff just to see what it does (and many times it not being worth the money). Ar-Puh-Guh features a plethora of different items and equipment, so the issue with not knowing what some things do can be a tad annoying. The author did include an item list with the game, but it doesn’t begin to list everything currently available to you.

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You get the gist of the story during the tutorial dungeon, though it seems to be put on a halt after you leave that area. It seems that there is more open ended-ness to the game at this point rather than a specific objective to tackle. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt a bit incomplete in its current form. In some ways it feels like your main goal will be to tackle dungeons, defeat its boss and gather loot. The tutorial dungeon gives you somewhat of a different idea of how things are going to go though. Either way, it seems too early to tell exactly which way the story will go. It leaves a little bit to be desired in its current form, though.

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The combat is somewhat of a mixed bag. I liked the idea of the resting system, which basically forces you to “rest” in combat in order to continue using abilities. Almost every ability costs EP or SP, and the only way to recover EP is by an inn, consumables, or by using the rest command during a fight. While the system itself isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, it is definitely a nice change of pace from traditional button-spam JRPGs. I do think that there are improvements to be made to this system though. I believe that the author upped the speed of battles slightly already, but I think that it still needs a bit more oomph to be acceptable. The average speed of heroes seem to hover around 12 or 13, unless they use heavy weapons and armor, which can drop it down to 7 or less. In theory, the tradeoff of heavy defense at the cost of speed is a sound idea, but all it really does is drag out fights longer than they should really go.

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I only tried four of the nine classes available in the game, but many of them seem underpowered and/or broken. The most questionable class by far is the Berserker. The author claims that it is for advanced users only, but I’m not sure that I’d put it that way. It plays much like the Zerker class you find in many Final Fantasy titles, but has one glaring problem. His abilities use SP rather than EP, and you do not gain SP from resting (even though the Berserker has the “rest” command, which seems pointless if none of his abilities (thus far) benefit from it). In other words, it’s near impossible to start as this class because you have to go back to an inn after every battle or two to get your SP back. I don’t find anything “advanced” in this style of gameplay. Instead, I find it pretty annoying to have to do that just to play the class properly. Perhaps the Berserker gets more oomph later on in the game, but currently he is pretty terrible. At the very least, I would suggest that the author tweak the “rest” command to allot for SP-based abilities (if that’s even possible).

The healer class is pretty bad too. Even if you have the best INT-enhacing gear, his healing ability is less than stellar. With consumables generally being cheap, it leaves no real point to have the healer class when his healing is worse or barely on par with a freaking $1 apple you can eat. I would suggest buffing his healing abilities, and maybe including a heal-all spell at some point too.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Warrior destroys everything. His Whirlwind ability can wreck most things in one hit. With his ability to wear heavy weapons and armor, he’s impervious to most damage (at the cost of reduced speed, of course). I imagine that a group of Warriors could probably steamroll anything in the game with ease. I like the idea of choice with how you build your team, but each offering should stand out from others. I wouldn’t recommend offering a multitude of class options just for the  sake of it. All of them need to work properly for it to be a viable feature.

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Ar-Puh-Guh, so far, seems like a very lighthearted game, with dry humor that reminds me a bit of Earthbound. I don’t feel like the author tries hard to be funny, he is just being himself. I tend to respond to this sort of humor, so I really enjoyed it. The graphics also add to the Earthbound-ish feel. The author has designed some really strange inhabitants of this world, and all of them have a unique feel to them. While the graphics themselves are nothing amazing, the distinction of the author’s style is prevalent throughout the game. I also enjoyed the music and found it very fitting to the feel of Ar-Puh-Guh’s world.

There were a few bugs present in the current form of the game. For example, I don’t believe that the bestiary worked properly. Even though you could “learn” entries, I could never find a way to pull the bestiary up itself. There was also one bounty or hunt that I could not turn in for reward. With the game being in “beta” stages I guess that is okay, though labeling a game as “in a certain stage” doesn’t make up for neglect either.

After playing most games, I usually have no problem reflecting on my overall feel for it. In the case of Ar-Puh-Guh, I’m a bit torn on how to “grade” it, so to speak. There are many things I really enjoyed, but a handful of things that left a little to be desired. I think with proper care, this could become a pretty cool OHRRPGCE title. It is definitely my favorite game from Meowskivich thus far, and am looking forward to what he comes up with it in the future. I just hope that some things I’ve mentioned are implemented before the next release.

standing

Doom: Evil Unleashed Review #3

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Doom: Evil Unleashed is a game that I’ve been following for several years now. Each time the author releases an update, I make a point to check out the changes made and the additions added to it. This will be my third review of D:EU, and because of that I will primarily be focusing on the changes, additions, and issues that arise while playing this release. If you’d like a detailed history of my thoughts regarding D:EU, then feel free to check out the first two reviews of it here.

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The latest version of D:EU has received some improved graphics, among other things. I really liked the new title screen and thought it was a huge improvement over its predecessor.  The author added some shadow effects to most maps, which also made a world of a difference. Various sprites have underwent some minor improvements, though many remain untouched from the previous installment.

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The menu UI and leveling system have received major upgrades. The main menu shows up on a handheld device, which is a nice touch. Heroes no longer receive automatic stat increases from a level up. Instead, you have complete control over the allocation of stat points. While neither the menu UI nor the stat allocation is anything groundbreaking, it does break the traditional mold of most OHRRPGCE games.

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The same type of system has been implemented for abilities as well. When you level up, you have a choice of multiple “skill trees” which will reward you with certain abilities depending on your choices. I really enjoyed being able to choose my own path when it came to character progression.

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I wish I could say that everything in this update is awesome, but unfortunately there are many problems present in D:EU. Some of these problems I believe could possibly be game-breaking. I will admit that I did not make it to “the end” of the demo, if there is actually a tangible end to it. For starters, I would have never been able to leave the first area of the game if it weren’t for the debugging keys. There is one door towards the end of that area that traps you in an inescapable wall if you enter it. Although I’m thankful for the debugging keys, I would have rather not used them to progress. I also was never able to find a way to legitimately bring the final door down to fully escape from the first area. I literally walked around for at least an hour trying to find a way to unlock the door but I could never find anything. It’s possible that I missed something along the way, but I have a feeling it could possibly be a bug.

While I enjoyed the skill tree and stat allocation, neither are very good at explaining your options. As I was building my characters, I was confused as to whether Strength increased melee only, or if it also affected firearms. There are also “light arms” and “heavy arms” stat choices, but which firearms fit into what category?

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The skill trees are even more confusing. There are 12 different trees to choose from, which is great if you know what each one offers. D:EU does not give you any sort of clue what the individual trees entail, which leads to a disappointing guessing game in the end. To make matters worse, there does not appear to be a way to “respec” if you screw up. That feature wouldn’t even be needed if there was at least a little explanation as to what each stat/skill category offered your characters.

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Probably the most disappointing part of the leveling system is the fact that it does not factor in multi-level encounters. After I defeated a boss, one party member gained one level while the other gained two. The only hero that I was able to grow with stat/skill points was the one that leveled once. This means that the hero that leveled twice did not receive any benefit from their level ups. I don’t think it is a matter of leveling twice in one battle, but rather having two heroes level in the same battle. Either way, it is an issue that I would definitely fix as soon as possible.

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D:EU still has that “adventure-style” feel to it. The maps are still large and offer plenty of variety.  It is obvious that the author put a lot of effort into making each area’s layout different, but that could  create a slight problem for some players. Because some areas are so big and so varied, you can get lost easily. Outside of the first few events, it is not very clear what you are supposed to do.  If you are a casual player, you may give up pretty early. However, those that are fond of old-school (point and click) adventure games may enjoy this kind of challenge.

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Outside of that, there are still numerous (albeit small) issues riddled throughout D:EU. In the intro, when the scientist leaves the card game, his body never really “exits” the map. There’s also a demon that can be seen outside of the walls at the same time that doesn’t appear to serve any special purpose. Several text boxes are cut short because of poor box positioning. There are a few pieces of equipment that appear to not give you any sort of stat bonuses, yet cost money to purchase at the shop. There are a couple of skill trees that throw a script error if you try to spend points in them, and there are even a couple of rifle ammo boxes that will give you unlimited ammo. While the combat seems to have improved some, there is still a serious issue with melee weapons being way more powerful than their ammo-using counterparts (at least later in the game, when you have access to the chainsaw).

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I think the changes to D:EU are great, though it’s hard to get a real feel for the game because of all of the issues present. I hope that the author continues working on this game, because I’d love to see it finished some day. I do hope that these issues are addressed before the next release though. Some may argue that D:EU is a beta version, and I can understand that. But calling something “beta” doesn’t excuse blatant oversight of issues that could have easily been remedied before release.

In all honesty, I would probably give this game my lowest rating if it weren’t for two factors. First, it is possible that I may have just been to stupid to move the game forward legitimately. If that’s the case and I’m just an idiot, then the game would deserve a slight better rating. Second, Doom was such a huge part of my life as a kid in the early 90s, and I like what the author is doing here. It just needs some more care to really be a great OHRRPGCE title.

standing

 

Final Fantasy H – Hardtype Review

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Fenrir Lunaris’ Final Fantasy H is one of few games from the OHRRPGCE library that does not require an introduction. Even if you are a newcomer to the community, you’ve most likely heard of this game. Upon release in late 2001, FFH became one of the most popular OHR games, and with it,  brought many new users to the community. Since then, FFH and FFH-Hardtype have raked in thousands upon thousands of downloads. I doubt very few games outside of maybe Wandering Hamster and the Ends of the Earth series have surpassed it in terms of exposure.

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Despite having been in the community since 99/00, I never played this game back in its hey day. I decided this week to sit down and sink my teeth into what many people regard as an OHRRPGCE classic.

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For those that don’t know, Final Fantasy H is a remake of the original NES title, Final Fantasy. If you are familiar at all with the plot of the original, then you’ll be happy to know that much of it has remained intact in FFH. The Light Warriors still have their ultimate quest, but Fenrir also added numerous elements in an attempt to add more flair to the exisiting storyline. While the idea behind this is sound, I don’t believe that it was ultimately achieved in FFH. I found the additional story-based content to be a bit lackluster and the new cast to be a little on the dull side.

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While Fenrir may be somewhat responsible for that, I think that the style of game plays a huge factor as well. I’ve never attempted to remake a classic game myself, but I can imagine that adding anything new to the game (specifically story-wise) could be a bit of a challenge. Most people playing the remake will be familiar enough with the original to know when something seems out of place. Unfortunately, the added story content was just not interesting enough for me to care. I also felt that Seraph was way too similar to Sephiroth (his character design, him being in a crater towards the end, etc), though perhaps that was intended.

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The dialogue is interesting because, while being well written most of the time, it suffers from many spelling mistakes. Fenrir does a pretty good job of adding some dry humor here and there, but it’s never enough to make up for the issues at hand. It’s just unfortunate that there are so many obvious spelling mistakes that could have been easily fixed before release. To make things even more strange, the bulk of these issues appear in the first few hours of the game rather than towards the end (where rushed content can tend to be a commonplace). Either way, it was a bit of an disheartening for me to see so many easily correctable spelling errors.

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It’s no surprise to most that Fenrir is capable of producing some of the best graphics in the OHRRPGCE community. This game was released back in his “early days”, but you can still pick up on his unique artistic style that shines even today. The handful of original graphics scattered across the game are pretty good, though they can’t begin to compete with Fenrir’s newest stuff. That’s not to put down the original artwork at all, considering this game was released YEARS before Vikings of Midgard was even a thing.

Going into Final Fantasy H for the first time, I assumed that it would have primarily original graphics. I was hoping to see Fenrir create the Final Fantasy world from his own perspective (graphic-wise). Unfortunately, I was  wrong about that…

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I would say that at least 50% of the graphics are ripped from various Final Fantasy games. I really have a problem with this, because when I play a remake of something I expect to see the same game but in a “different light”, so to speak. Any time Square Enix/Squaresoft has ported their games to another system, they have almost always made changes to the gameplay and/or the graphics. While they have been know to do exact ports too, I don’t find it as common as them changing up the formula just a bit.

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My point is that I would have MUCH rather seen Fenrir do all of his own graphics, even if they weren’t as good as some of the more recent ports of the commercial game.  In my opinion, a fresh perspective on an age-old game, no matter the quality, is a lot more enticing than seeing the same assets from previous games brought back in the exact same form. I do commend Fenrir for doing an excellent job on handling the ripped graphics though, as they are by far the best rip job I have ever seen in an OHRRPGCE game. Many OHR games that feature ripped graphics are genuinely hard to look at, but it’s obvious that he put much effort into making them look as nice as possible.

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Because I like my games on the more difficult side, I decided to play FFH – Hardtype as opposed to the original “normal” version. The author’s description of FFH-H states that it is the same game as FFH, but more difficult (duh). If that is truly the case, then I would really hate to play FFH-Normal, because FFH-H was almost too easy…

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My team consisted of a Black Mage, White Mage, Monk, and a Fighter. I’m going to assume that some team builds will have an easier or more difficult time depending on what you choose, but my group blasted through pretty much everything with minimal effort. The game honestly did not get difficult at all until the last few hours, where things could prove to be dangerous if you weren’t careful. When it comes to the difficulty curve in FFH, it actually somewhat mirrors Fenrir’s other game, Vikings of Midgard. I distinctly remember blasting through that game with no problems until a handful of bosses towards the end. You would think that playing a “hardtype” game would offer a constant stream of challenge, but FFH-H did not achieve that at all.

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On top of that, there are various balancing issues throughout the game. Early on, melee-oriented characters tend to have a huge advantage over casters. Even though casters can perform multiple spells before having to replenish mana (unlike the original game), they have very little access to magic-power increasing equipment until later on in the game. This makes many of their early abilities a bit useless until you start picking up more caster-oriented gear later on down the road. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Cleric’s Harm spell should have been scaled down just a bit. The description says that it lightly damages the undead, but it essentially one shots any normal enemy it hits. I was also a bit confused by this spell because it worked on non-undead enemies even though the description says it does not. I’m assuming that this is a bug, and if so, would have been an easy one to spot before release. Even though Harm can obliterate almost any random enemy, things are still too easy overall even without using it.

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Final Fantasy H does do some things right, though I feel like it takes one step forward while taking two steps back most of the time. It is obvious that Fenrir devoted a lot of time to the development of this game, but it is only apparent in certain aspects rather than through the entirety of the game. I still recommend playing Final Fantasy H at least once, though I can’t guarantee exactly what you will be able to take from the experience in the end.

standing

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Review:Revenge of Ranche

Revenge of Ranche is a game that you probably have never heard of before. I’m pretty sure I found this game on the old Hamster Republic Gamelist, though I can’t seem to find it on there now. I’m always extremely interested in checking out games that people make who don’t frequent the forums. The author of this game didn’t upload it to the usual places and opted to only have it available from his website (and possibly, the old HR gamelist at some point).

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Upon further investigation, I discovered that the author did make a few posts on the Castle Paradox forums in early 2013. He asked for help with a couple of problems and also briefly mentioned his game, Revenge of Ranche. From what I gather he is an aspiring game developer and this is his very first OHRRPGCE project. While RoR is only in demo stages, it is still quite lengthy, giving you at least 2-3 hours of gameplay before it ends.

ranche (14)RoR is definitely one of the better newbie games I have played in a long time. It manages to do a lot of things pretty well though it still needs work in a lot of areas to truly shine. If this were a complete game I’d probably give it a harder time, but given that it is a demo I will be more lenient in my observations (and the fact that it is the guy’s first OHRRPGCE game).

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Enough with the preface, let’s get on with the meat of the review. Revenge of Ranche is, surprisingly, not about a spiteful jar of Hidden Valley. Instead, it stars a teenager named Omar, who essentially has a falling out with his father, which ultimately leads to his father’s disappearance and Omar moving to the LaFlora Islands to stay with his Grandpa. That’s when things get weird and you discover that the move may be the key to unlocking Omar’s past, among other things.

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The story as it stands is just “decent”. There’s nothing amazing about it, but it appears to follow a fairly clear direction. I will admit that some of the dialogue is a bit awkward and some places suffer from some continuity issues, but it does appear to have some form of basic structure to it. I absolutely despise the fact that almost every dialogue outside of general npc talk is scripted. In other words, you cannot advance text boxes at your own pace. I think this is a good approach to have in some situations, but certainly not for every event. It will a little annoying if someone said something like “Hi!”, and I couldn’t advance the text box early. Instead I had to wait several seconds before the box would advance itself. Also, I have no idea at this point what the game has to do with revenge, but perhaps that is to be highlighted in future versions.

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The graphics are not too bad, especially for a new OHRRPGCE user. There’s plenty of things that could use some work of course, but it’s obvious that the author uses a distinct, consistent style throughout the game. Most importantly, all of the graphics appear to be completely original. It will take time and practice to improve upon what is here, but it can be done. Though some enemies suffered from palette swaps, there was a surprising amount of variation in enemy graphics. Although not groundbreaking by any means, many of these sprites made use of ground shadows. The heroes did not use shadows at all, however, which was kind of weird given that most enemies had them already.

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I only had two real issues with the graphics, one of them being building exterior maptiles. Almost all of the buildings suffered from extremely odd layouts that caused the hero to only enter a portion of a door rather than in the center. This is an easy fix and I’m really surprised that the author continued to let this happen throughout the game. It almost reminded me of some of the odd town map designs in Fat Frog RPG. Either way, I hope that this is fixed in future versions.

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I appreciate the Earthbound-like cartoony graphics and the fact that they are all original, but Masami’s walkabout has to go. Magically, her hair is twice the size in her walkabouts than it is in her battle graphics. When she walks north and south, it’s like she has two massive hair-slinkies instead of actual hair. Brian’s north and south graphics are also strange in this way, though not quite as severe. The Earthbound-ish exaggerated extremities are great, but a few of them need work.

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Ranche’s combat houses the game’s strongest AND weakest points. How is that possible, you might say? I like the combat because there are several bosses that actually pose a decent challenge even if you level up some before facing them (the boss in the fire cavern comes to mind). A couple of the bosses simply cannot be beat by mashing buttons alone and require certain abilities and counters to overcome. This is a huge plus in my books. Although most random battles were fairly simple, the generic enemies still had a fairly wide range of abilities they could use. Not fighting a bunch of random enemies that share one attack was quite refreshing in my eyes.

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So what could be wrong with the combat then? Simply put, Ranche has some of the SLOWEST battles I’ve ever seen. The heroes start out with a speed of 5, and appear to only reach 7 or 8 before the demo is over. This is a huge turnoff to me, and I’m sure it will be for the majority of other players. If you are going to have battles that slow you might as well transition into turn-based combat, which might not be a bad idea at all at this point.

The musical selection appeared to be placed well, and I was surprised that there were several tracks I had never heard of before (but really liked). Despite being arranged well, the author used way too many well known tracks and sound effects for my tastes. Ranche has a strong Earthbound feel to it, which I do like, but I don’t like when a game uses multiple commercial tracks AND sound effects from a single, well known source. Some of the weapon designs were obviously ripped from Earthbound as well.

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When you make a game resemble another well known commercial game too strongly, it takes a lot of fun out of the experience (and the originality of your game). If I wanted to play Earthbound, I would play it. Say what you will about ripped music, but I’ve always believed that if you are going to do it to choose the tracks wisely. For example, a bad choice would be considered Ranche’s overworld theme, which is none other than Final Fantasy IV’s world map track. Outside of the Earthbound ties being way too strong in some places and the Final Fantasy themes, I enjoyed the sound fairly well. I do suggest that the author change out a few of the tracks and sound effects in the completed version, however.

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Despite the flaws, I did enjoy most of the content thus far. Unfortunately I was forced to end the game early from what appears to be a game breaking bug. According to the hint file bundled with the game, I had a decent bit more of content to see but was unable to figure out a way to progress. After searching for a good while for a solution, my only conclusion is that the game still has some issues to work out. The game-ending bug wasn’t the only issue either, because it was pretty obvious that I was able to visit certain areas before I actually should have been able to (the Midi Range and Fire Cavern before talking to Xi comes to mind).

With that being said, Revenge of Ranche is just a demo, but I do like the direction it is going. I think we could potentially have a great game on our hands in time. I look forward to future versions of this game!

standing

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Review:Fat Frog RPG

(This is an extremely old review and will eventually be completely re-written and use a much better format)

Fat Frog RPG. I guess you could call it my “bridge” to the OHR community. I found it on AOL downloads way back in ’99 or ’00. It was the first OHRRPGCE game I ever played, and I even paid $8 for the full version eventually.

Looking back now, was it really worth the measly eight bucks?

The graphics are…strange. The maps are a mixture of top-down, isometric, and two dimensional perspectives. There isn’t any sort of pattern, so it often looks weird when you enter an isometric building and it has a bird’s eye interior view. The grid is visible in most places, and besides the same two tables in each house there really isn’t much of a variety in props.

Battle graphics are not so great, but have potential. Several of the enemy sprites have a good foundation, but are just not fleshed out enough. If Kumkwat Software would have focused a little more time on shading the sprites rather than using one color, they would have been much better.

The frogs and toads have been arguing over the control of their island for 30 years. Recently, it has broke out into an all-out war. You play as Herman, who is an unlikely hero for the frogs that must deliver a mysterious coin to a town far away.

That is pretty much all that is revealed. I like the fact that it is a somewhat cliche story given from an amphibian’s perspective, but there just not enough “meat” to it. At least, there isn’t enough to get a good taste of it from the demo.

There is basically no character development. You find that Herman is off work today. You meet a really fat frog named Virhilio and save him from toads, which in turn makes him join your quest. You meet two other heros shortly after that for no great purpose. Blah.

I thought it was funny how they sometimes left whole words out of text boxes, leaving you to wonder what they really wanted to say.

In the demo, there is not much you can do besides kill stuff, buy stuff, and progress to the next area.

Battles can be a bit difficult, especially boss battles. Regardless, it requires you to do some grinding, but it never gets to the point that it is really bad.

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Maps are somewhat short and to the point. There’s typically only one direction you can go, and it often is clear where what direction that is.

Money is scarce, and there is only a limited supply of restorative items. Again, battles are challenging, but not impossible.

The music, especially the original pieces, were good and placed well. I really liked the overworld theme.

Fight, progress, fight, progress. End of demo.

I paid $8 to get the full version. Why?

I…I really don’t know…

There really isn’t much to say about this game. It isn’t that bad, but it’s not that great either. Especially for the amount of downloads the game received (according the Kumkwat, 100,000 on download.com alone), I hoped it would be a little better.
I love when author’s leave you guessing. This time, they left out an entire word!

I love when author’s leave you guessing. This time, they left out an entire word!

Regardless of how I look back on this, I will always respect Fat Frog RPG. In the end, if it wasn’t for Kumkwat Software, I may have never stumbled upon the OHRRPGCE.

standing

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Review:Ends of the Earth

(This is an extremely old review and will eventually be completely re-written and use a much better format)

Remember growing up as a child and listening to your parent’s or grandparents tell old stories? Regardless of whether they were true or not, you probably enjoyed them. That is how this game opens up. It gives you the impression of a great story someone would tell you as a kid. It really grabs your attention…

Some of the graphics are great, while others seem to have been neglected. Most of the enemies are well drawn, and the battle backdrops look fantastic for the most part. Each hero has their distinct looks and are colored well, although some could’ve used a little more shading. The enemies are the same; most look sweet, although towards the end of the game it seems that they lost some taste.

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Some of the maptiles look great, but others look like they were “rushed” into the game. It’s kind of a shame to see this when the game looks great and then you are hit with some pretty bad tiles. The walkabouts could’ve used some more work as well.
You play as a centaur who decides one day that he wants to find other members of his race/ ends up saving the world.

That’s pretty much the story. Yeah, it is pretty cliche, but the author does a decent job of making you grabbing you at the beginning of the game. I was pretty stoked, but soon I felt that the story was dragging on and then it is over pretty much out of nowhere.

Until the minotaur joins you, you will pretty much die from any random fight. After you and him gain a few levels and spells, and you defeat the first boss, the challenge comes to an end. Most enemy attacks hit you for minimal damage. I went through the entire Summoner Castle without needing a single heal. The Ram’s Spirit fight was a bit of a challenge until you destroy his blade, but then its cake after that. Final Boss is a joke. Plain and simple.

Don’t play this game and expect many secrets or multiple paths to take. It is about as linear as you can get.

If the simplicity of battles wasn’t enough, money is too easy to come by, gear upgrades make you too powerful, and spells pretty much dominate every fight. You have enough MP to keep nukes going all day as well.

The music is where the game truly shines. Every piece seemed to fit perfect, and from what I can understand it’s all original work. What makes me mad is why the author had all of that original music and used ONE pre-bundled BAM piece in the intro. ONE!! That is the only thing that is stopping me from giving a perfect score for the music.

I somewhat enjoyed playing this game. Once again, what started out as a interesting yet challenging game turned into a walk in the park in the end. Don’t come in to this game expecting to enjoy a solid game. It will keep you occupied for maybe 30 minutes, but you won’t want to play it much after that due to extreme balance issues.
I had high hopes for this game. I had read many good things about this before I started my journey. Despite its many flaws and the feeling that half the game was rushed, I still had a good time with it. However, it definitely did not feel like it took me to the Ends of the Earth.

standing

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Review:Doom: Evil Unleashed (Version 2)

Doom: Evil Unleashed is an ongoing project that I first reviewed back in Issue 52. While I loved the idea of the game before, I didn’t think that it was executed well. Having said that, the author has made a ton of changes to the game since my last review. It is safe to say that this version is a huge improvement over the previous demo, but is still not free of bugs (some that are even game-breaking).

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In the previous release, it was obvious that many things graphically had been ripped from the original DOOM. This time around, the author has made an effort to make some original artwork and most of it looks acceptable. While there are still many graphics that have been ripped, some that didn’t look so hot before have undergone palette makeovers and look much better than before. One unique feature present in this release is the classic DOOM soldier portrait, which works a lot like it did in the original game. When you are wounded, the icon will be wounded, etc.

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Although I think it is a nice touch and feeds some player’s nostalgia reserves, it doesn’t seem to always work quite right. I can’t remember exactly what the issue was, but I do remember the portrait not always updating to the latest health conditions. This isn’t a huge issue, but I thought it should be noted nonetheless. The map design itself has also received a huge overhaul and is not near as barren as before. The maps are still pretty big, which may turn off people with little to no patience. Since most maps have been changed from big, open areas to areas with winding corridors, they are much easier to digest now despite still being a bit large.

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The only real beef I have with the map design is that sometimes it is difficult to tell whether objects on the map are items or just props. However, this does give you that urge to search each and every little thing on the map in hopes of scoring more spoils. Speaking of spoils, some loot is obtained automatically by stepping on the graphic while others must be picked up manually. Again, this isn’t a huge deal, but having it two different ways didn’t seem natural. I would suggest making all of the map loot obtainable either by walking over it, or by picking it up with the enter key. That is just my opinion though, and it may not bother others as much as it did to me.

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The story for the most part has remained intact, but the game does start out a little different than before. In addition, some other scripted events happen along the way which didn’t before. I feel like these new changes and additions really help solidify what the game is actually about. I felt like this version played a lot like old-school adventure games that I enjoyed as a kid. Although the story is more clear this time around, it’s still not always apparent exactly what you need to do or where you need to go.

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But this is a good thing, and in turn it forces you to explore the maps for elements that will help you progress further into the game. Many times you will come across doors that are locked or other impassable areas which require a switch to be thrown or a key in-hand to proceed. Although it isn’t groundbreaking stuff, it still does a great job of giving you stuff to do and is a good improvement over the content of the previous release.

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Battles have been improved slightly as well. Guns now take ammunition, which makes them a little more valuable though I think some more balancing needs to be done to make them worthwhile. Besides a few circumstances, melee weapons tend to be king over even the most powerful weapons; and they don’t take any ammunition! I was a little disappointed that battles were still button-mashing fests, but the changes made are still an improvement nonetheless.

With all of these great updates, I was shocked when I came across one bug in particular. It seems as if the Cyberdemon’s stunning ability can stun you for up to 400+ seconds. Not 5, not 10, but 400+. If he locks down even one of your characters for that long, you are toast. Luckily this is an easy fix, but I’m very surprised that it was not caught before release. While you are fixing that bug, you may want to check later enemies that stun as well. I think that they have the same issue as the Cyberdemon.

I found a few other minor bugs along the way. The medikit only gives +25 health instead of +100 like it says it should. The invisible npc that warns you before you fight the Cyberdemon never goes away when it probably should after you beat him. I also had a hard time hearing some of the later songs in the game. Though I was playing on a laptop and did not have headphones on, they seemed to be way more quiet than earlier songs. The sound effects are still pretty rad if you ask me though.

Overall, I am extremely impressed at the improvements that have been made to this game. While it is not completely free of issues, it is still a step in the right direction. I really enjoyed playing it this time; at least until I had to cheat to get past the 400+ second Cyberdemon stun. Once these minor bugs are fixed, I think we have a title that is well on its way to becoming a solid edition to the OHRRPGCE library.

standing

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Review:Doom: Evil Unleashed (Version 1)

As a kid of the late 80s/ early 90s, I’ve always been a huge fan of games like Wolfenstein 3D and especially DOOM. Making a rendition on the OHRRPGCE in RPG format sounds pretty cool, though past experience tells me not to get my hopes up too high (Doom RPG for iPhone, anyone?).

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Doom RPG for the OHRRPGCE follows closely to the story of the original game released by id Software in 1993. You take form of a space marine named Flynn, who is assigned to Phobos (which is considered to be a pretty dull station with no real activity). You and your team are shipped out, and before you know it all hell breaks loose; literally.

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If you remember the original game, this is the part when you run around and start killing demons and blowing stuff up; which is pretty fun. The OHRRPGCE version, not so much; in fact it is kind of a chore to play after about five minutes. Although it is nice to see familiar enemies such as the Imp and Baron of Hell, both the player characters and the enemies have no options other than a standard attack; making it pretty uneventful.

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Battles are extremely easy and the only difference between regular enemies and bosses are a boost in strength and a crap ton of health. When you first see a Baron of Hell in the original game, you have to use a little bit of strategy to defeat him or he will rip you apart. All he has in the OHRRPGCE rendition is a bunch of health; making the fight last way too long and just boring. I think that increasing the difficulty and adding some more abilities (in turn adding a bit more strategy) would go a long way in the battle mechanics of this game.

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In addition, I think some work needs to be done on the maps themselves. Some of them are pretty big and essentially barren. Perhaps they are big to compensate for more content updates. The sad truth is that right now it is kind of disheartening to walk around a big map to find nothing but incomplete sections. Running around shooting stuff blindly in the original game works, but it is just not enough here.

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The majority of the graphics were ripped from the original game itself. Even though I don’t agree with the idea of ripping graphics, it could work okay if the author takes a bit more time to get the coloring/shading right. Importing the graphics and picking colors that will “just do” won’t be enough unfortunately. Ripped or not, they look kinda bad in their current form. I challenge the author to implement more of his own graphics and slowly replace the ripped ones. Who knows, we all may like those better than the original graphics (plus you made more of an effort to make the game YOUR game!).

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My favorite part of this rendition is the sound. The majority of it stays true to the original game; even down to sound effects. It’s pretty nice killing one of the demons and it be accompanied by the classic death sounds from the original game. There were a few other tracks used that were not associated with the Doom series but seemed to fit pretty well nonetheless.

Just like the iPhone version, I was not throughly impressed by Doom RPG for the OHRRPGCE. Perhaps my expectations are just too high considering I’m a huge fan of the original series. On the other hand, being a fan I’d love to see the idea behind this really come to fruition though changes will need to be made for that to happen.

faceplant

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Review:Legend of the Omni-Sphere

I was surprised when I saw that Legend of the Omni-Sphere needed a review, considering it was released back in late 2009. Games usually don’t sit on the “need review” rack for too awful long. After playing the short, 15-minute demo I can see why people may have decided not to review it for so long.

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The graphics look pretty solid overall, and the animations are well done. Amongst the goodness though, two things still stuck out at me. There is not near enough variety in enemy battle sprites. Most of them are just palette swapped copies that get pretty boring fast. Another thing I noticed, and forgive me if I’m wrong, but I could not help but think I’ve seen some of the graphics before in a different game. Perhaps some are ripped, but maybe not; regardless of who did them they look good to me. The graphics are by far Omni-sphere’s strong point, so be prepared because everything goes sharply downhill from here.

The plot is not very engaging besides the short opening sequence. Townspeople don’t have anything important to say. Some take a stab at some light jokes, but it doesn’t work out too well. The plot on paper seems serious yet it’s not handled that way in the dialogue. The characters are not fleshed out at all, and the author may argue this is due to the game being 15 minutes long. In my opinion, if you don’t give your audience something about the character to care about early on, why should they care an hour, two hours down the road? The idea is to grab the player’s attention at the beginning so they want to play more, and Omni-sphere does not do that at all. In fact, after hearing the music alone you may want to spontaneously combust.

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When it comes to OHRRPGCE games I’ve always been one to think that using too many popular tunes from any game (especially the Final Fantasy series) can take away from your game as a whole. Every track but ONE in Omni-sphere is from a Final Fantasy game (the world map music is from Breath of Fire 3), and I’m sorry but that is extremely distracting to me. The intro sequence with the armies fighting each other is kind of cool, but I had a hard time taking it seriously due to FF4’s Red Wings tune being played in the background. If I wanted to hear a Final Fantasy soundtrack, I’d play one of their games; not an OHRRPGCE game that is trying way too hard to be a copy it.

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Speaking of copying, there was another thing that turned me off pretty early into the game. Chris, the main hero, falls into a hole at the very beginning of the game and discovers the Omni-sphere cave, very much in the fashion of Final Fantasy 3 DS and the Wind Cave (even down to the same music!). Having something so similar to a popular commercial game right at the beginning is not likely to make people want to play it (unless it is a remake of course, but that’s not the case here).

What Omni-sphere needs is a heavy dose of originality and definitely a new soundtrack. It’s okay to be cliche, heck, pretty much any JRPG nowadays is a copy of something that has been done before. Again, the difference is how you go about delivering it that is the key to success. I think Earthbound is a good example of a story that is unoriginal but is delivered in a way that is extremely satisfying. That’s not to say that you should make a modern RPG, but you understand the point I’m trying to make by now.

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Rearrange the soundtrack and throw in some of your own ideas and events into the story and I guarantee that both you and your player base will appreciate the game much more. Otherwise, Omni-sphere seems like a cheap knock-off of a Final Fantasy game that is in dire need of some creativity.

standing

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Review:Dr. Coffin’s Cursed Maze

It’s not very often these days to see a new OHRRPGCE user publish a game; one that is complete at that. It’s even more rare to see such a game that is halfway decent or has some potential. Dr. Coffin’s Cursed Maze is such a game, and some people may even enjoy it as is. As it stands though, I feel that some changes could be made to make Coffin accessible and enjoyable to a much wider range of individuals.

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You die and are expecting a sweet afterlife. Instead, you wake up in a hellish labyrinth somewhere between life and your eternal resting point. You can vaguely recall a “thing” haunting your thoughts by the name of Dr. Coffin. Not having any other leads to your tragic destination, you decide to search for this “Dr. Coffin” in hopes of answers and ultimately freeing your soul. I’ll go ahead and say that the best thing about Coffin in my opinion is the atmosphere. It’s not scary or even really suspensful, but it is definitely unsettling. The author relies heavily on scenery descriptions and dialogue to set the mood of Coffin. In addition, Willy did not use any sound effects or music. Although this may turn off some individuals, I think it worked in his favor. It helps add to the unsettling atmosphere already orchestrated by the dialogue for sure. Honestly looking back at it, I think too much or the wrong kind of music/sound effects could have made the game overly cheesy, so kudos on not having any in the first place!

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It’s very apparent that Coffin could very well be Willy’s first stab at pixel art. With that being said though, in some ways his work is better than the stuff in many newbie games I’ve seen over the years. It is definitely better than seeing ripped graphics from Vikings of Midgard like some new games seem to use. Regardless, we all have to start somewhere, and it seems the author put forth a decent effort; and that’s all you can ask for with a new OHRRPGCE user. The only thing I’ll pick on a bit graphic-wise is the hero’s graphics. I’m thinking he was supposed to be human once but he looks more like a gorilla. The frantic monkey ground-pounding victory dance he/she/it uses doesn’t help that either.

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If you couldn’t guess by the looks already, Coffin is a dungeon crawler. There are multiple paths to take, and there is potential hidden items and equipment in seemingly empty corridors. Battles are encountered in traditional JRPG format, but otherwise you will be crawling through the maze, searching for clues while trying to survive at the same time. While playing through Coffin I couldn’t help but think Castle of the Winds (due to the dungeon-crawling style) meets Déjà vu/Shadowgate (because of the nicely written dialogue and area descriptions), but that’s probably just me!

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Coffin’s biggest flaw by far is the high and seemingly random spikes of difficulty as you progress through the game. The beginning area of the maze is balanced pretty well outside the first boss encounter. It took me several tries to down him due to being one-shotted. I eventually was lucky enough to take the boss down, and it gave me a key to open a door on the other side of the maze. Once you unlock the door, you start getting one-shotted again. After dying and going back to this same place multiple times and failing, I decided to go around the opposite way of the door to see if I had any luck (ie. the northwest corner of the map).

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Battles were definitely easier in this area, but you eventually run into the same problem again the further you come to the northeast corner. Because you cannot run from battles and you have to start near the beginning of the maze every time you croak, it gets really frustrating after a while. Yes, there are restorative items that can be purchased, but they can prove to be quite expensive especially if you do not seek out treasure that could be tucked away in some of the maze’s corridors. To make matters worse, you will probably rely on some items to restore your vitals while treasure hunting. If you come up empty handed, you just wasted a lot of time and valuable resources on nothing at all.
Personally, I see nothing fun in spending 10 minutes getting to a certain part of the map to be one shotted in a random encounter thus having to start all over again. I’m not even sure that grinding would help too much. The grandaddy of OHRRPGCE grinding games, Fantasy Under A Blue Moon X, at least gave you a sense of accomplishment for grinding to get past tough areas. I just don’t see that happening here. The problem with grinding in Coffin is that you would have to stay right next to the “Star Coffin”, which acts as a saving spot and a regeneration area. Unfortunately, that means you’d be stuck to fighting an endless amount of weak enemies just to progress further.

I think Willy did a decent job overall for his first published game but at this point I can only suggest Coffin to those who enjoy frustration. I’m hoping that this game sees some of the suggestions I have made in future updates. I really think it would make it appeal more to the masses rather than just the hardcore.

standing