June 11th, 2018: Space Pilgrim Episode I: Alpha Centauri
Posted by Gravecat at 4:53 pm.

Available On: RPG Maker (PC) (2015)
RPG Maker Version: RPG Maker VX Ace
Game Length: ~1 hour

 

Story, Setting & Characters — 6/10

The opening episode of Space Pilgrim starts off fairly simply — you play the part of Gail Pilgrim, the captain of the small transport starship Quicksilver. Initially being tasked to locate your passengers, things quickly and inevitably go very wrong. While there are a few unexpected twists here and there, the story is largely quite simple — albeit entertaining enough — and covers about an hour’s worth of gameplay.

Aside from your passengers — and the ornery ship’s cat — there are a few other characters you’ll encounter on this short adventure. While the writing is mildly humorous, the characters are fairly basic archetypes with little surprise or variation, and the setting — at least, what can be seen in the small amount of story offered in this first episode — seems to be entirely generic and fairly bland space sci-fi.

It’s an entertaining little romp, but don’t expect anything that’ll blow you out of the water.

 

Graphics, Look & Feel — 7/10

For an RPG Maker game, Space Pilgrim Episode I looks pretty fantastic — but given the engine’s significant limitations, that’s not really saying much when comparing it to other RPGs as a whole. I didn’t spot any RTP assets used at all here, the high-tech graphics are all pretty excellent and the game world is well-designed in general, albeit consisting of a number of very small, fairly dense rooms.

The user interface consists largely of an inventory (which allows for both using and combining items), a functional yet largely unnecessary journal and quest tracking system, and dialogue boxes when interacting with people and objects in the game world. The attention to detail is nice and the overall visual experience is a cut above many other RPG Maker games, yet still distinctly average when compared to the RPG genre as a whole.

 

Sound & Music — 6/10

There’s honestly very little to say in this category — the sound effects are competent and the music is entirely forgettable.

 

Content & Sidequests — 5/10

This is, unfortunately, one of the weakest points of the game — with no combat system, the game plays more like a point-and-click adventure than anything. The story and gameplay is extremely linear, with puzzles only having a single solution which must be solved in a specific order, and aside from examining random objects and chatting to NPCs, there’s nothing to actually do outside of following the short, linear story.

Fortunately, there’s enough of a sense of urgency to keep the story rolling and to keep the player motivated, though it’s easy to finish the entire game in an hour or less, so there isn’t a great deal of content in general to speak of. What little exists is entertaining and amusing enough, but I feel like slapping “Episode I” onto the name isn’t quite enough to justify such a short game experience.

 

Gameplay & Pacing — 7/10

The actual gameplay is fairly solid, albeit rather simple and completely linear, which almost makes this game more of a visual novel than an RPG. You are free to explore a number of (fairly small) areas, solving puzzles in order to achieve various goals and progress the story. This is generally done by either interacting with NPCs or computers, or by collecting, combining and using various items in a point-and-click-adventure style manner.

The (short) story is decently-told and there isn’t any unnecessary padding here — each objective is always fairly clear and reasonably within reach, with small portions of story exposition between some of the goals. The puzzles tend to be extremely easy and take very little effort to solve, however, especially as every item in the game tends to have one single purpose.

 

Overall Experience — 7/10

Space Pilgrim Episode I shows some promise and is an amusing little adventure to while away an hour, though its lack of length, depth, and complexity certainly mars the potential it could have had to be a much better game. The low price point is extremely reasonable (£0.99 on Steam) and it’s worth trying if you want something lightweight and fun to fill a little space in your day, but don’t expect anything too deep or original.

My biggest complaint is that, unlike other puzzle-adventure games, there’s never a situation where there are multiple puzzles which can be solved in any order. At any given time, there’s one single objective or puzzle to be solved, then once that’s done, it’s on to the next. This, combined with each item only having a single use, makes for a fairly bland experience.

 

January 6th, 2018: Ghost in a Bottle
Posted by Gravecat at 9:48 am.

Grave's RPG Reviews

  

Game Boy Advance · Master System · Nintendo 2DS/3DS · PC · PlayStation · PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4 · PlayStation Portable · PlayStation Vita · RPG Maker · SNES · Switch · Wii
WiiU · Xbox 360 · Xbox One

 

Ghost in a Bottle

Deciding it was time for another RPG Maker game review, I thought it could be fun to browse the list of games on rpgmaker.net, but set the sorting to random and pick the first item on the list. What could go wrong, I thought. It could be fun, I thought.

After all, it couldn’t be much worse than Eternal Destiny, right?

Well, as it turns out…

 

Essential Information

Available On: RPG Maker (PC) (2009)
Author: TFT
RPG Maker Version: RPG Maker 2000
Game Length: <1 hour
Download Link rpgmaker.net

 

Grave’s Thoughts

I knew this was going to be terrible from the screenshots alone, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the levels of sheer bizarre awfulness present in this mercifully short game. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the amount of effort that seems to have gone into making this strange joke of a game — while the music is blatantly stolen from other games (mostly in the form of bad MIDI files), and I can only assume the art is mostly lifted from other sources (aside from a few exceptions, such as a very poorly-drawn, human-sized penis), some amount of effort seems to have been put into the map construction and ‘cutscenes’.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking that Ghost in a Bottle is anything beyond an absolute train-wreck, however — the extremely short game (about half of which consists of scripted cutscenes) has a largely-incomprehensible plot, due in no small part to the plethora of what I can only assume are intentional spelling errors strewn across the bizarrely lengthy dialogue. Playing the role of a wheelchair-bound kid and apparent Ghostbuster-wannabe, you are thrust into a 4chan-esque convoluted mess of memes, in-jokes, and what can only be described as the worst Ghostbusters fanfiction ever written.

If this sounds even remotely interesting, like something you might want to download and try for yourself just for a laugh — trust me, it’s not. This hectic conglomeration of meme-like content seems to be trying its absolute best to be both offensive and amusing, and fails spectacularly on both counts. The combat system is random, poorly-cut-out JPEGs set to an awful MIDI mix of Butterfly, the questing is as complicated as talking to a few nonsensical NPCs and pressing a switch, and the whole thing looks like something that a 12-year-old probably thought was the height of hilarity and originality.

But hey, there’s a silver lining, at least: surely the next RPG Maker game I play can’t be any worse than this…

 

December 10th, 2017: Eternal Destiny
Posted by Gravecat at 11:37 pm.

Grave's RPG Reviews

  

Game Boy Advance · Master System · Nintendo 2DS/3DS · PC · PlayStation · PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4 · PlayStation Portable · PlayStation Vita · RPG Maker · SNES · Switch · Wii
WiiU · Xbox 360 · Xbox One

 

Eternal Destiny

I make bad decisions a lot in my life; I’ve electrocuted myself (unintentionally) at least once, almost blinded myself with battery acid (unintentionally), and then there was that one incident with the potato salad that still haunts me to this day. Among this series of bad decisions was a whimsical idea to include reviews of RPG Maker games to the site, since they are not only numerous and varied, but also very difficult to actually tell the wheat from the chaff without investing a great deal of time wading through bucketloads of the things.

Behold, your new hero: I stand ready to dig through the mountains of garbage, looking for the few diamonds hidden in the acres of rough. To begin with, I picked a game entirely at random with no real thought behind my decision, settling on Eternal Destiny.

 

Essential Information

Available On: RPG Maker (PC) (2011)
Author: Rose_Guardian
RPG Maker Version: RPG Maker VX Ace
Game Length: <1 hour
Download Link rpgmaker.net

 

Grave’s Thoughts

The regrets began almost immediately.

I’ll cover the good parts first: The game begins in a fairly dank and sinister-looking shrine, where our two heroes have been sent to investigate some strange goings-on. While the map design is fairly lackluster, the lighting effects are fairly attractive and add a nice, brooding atmosphere to the area. The combat system is mercifully revamped from the RPG Maker defaults, with a fairly pleasant though unremarkable side-view battle system. The character art, while not the best I’ve ever seen, at least seems to be original and an effort has been made, which is certainly welcome for an RPG Maker game. There’s also a quest system, including side-quests, which tracks the progress of quests in a novel and convenient way.

Okay, so that’s the good. And now… deep breath

I mentioned the dungeon layout was lackluster; while some effort was made for the initial (very small) dungeon, the rest of the game is far more lacking — the towns are about as awkwardly blocky and dull as one might expect from a zero-budget game, the forest area is several screens of what looks like grass with handfuls of bushes and small trees farted randomly onto them, and — perhaps the most egregious of all — it’s impossible to leave the weapon shop in the second town after entering, because there isn’t an exit door. Yep.

The writing is best described as poor, yet passable — the amount of spelling errors (including menu entries such as “wreapon”) is horrendous, the dialogue is awkwardly stilted and reads like a bad fanfiction, and the story — what little exists of it — is as thin and unremarkable as supermarket own-brand tissue paper, the entirety of which seems to boil down to being the errand boys for meaningless tasks issued by the queen.

The gameplay is a mixed bag — the side-view battle system is fairly competent, yet the battles themselves are all over the shop in terms of difficulty. The game actually offers a set of six difficulty options at the beginning — ranging from Very Easy to Very Hard, natch — and while this does affect the stats of enemies, the balance still seems far off. A couple of the boss fights were nigh-impossible on Normal, while even on Very Easy, many random-encounter enemies are damage sponges able to take almost as much abuse as I’m dishing out right now. Boss battles were a tedious slog and tended to end up being a case of the ‘swordmaster’ Sergal — sorry, Sengal — being the heal-bitch, while the warrior Balagan beats faces to a relentless pulp with his axe.

One major complaint I had — despite the game’s short length — is being railroaded with no free will. Upon arriving in the second town and asking around for Brueta Swamp, the game immediately kicks the player into a dialogue and boss battle with no warning. Once the battle is over, we’re suddenly pushed onto a ship and sent across the ocean to… well, to nothing, because that’s where the game ends. But it’d be nice to at least have the option to go back and hand in side-quests or get hopelessly trapped inside the weapon shop, rather than being forced to move on despite there being no real urgency in the story to justify such a rush.

Overall, I feel this is a game which could have potential, but the seemingly rushed approach, lack of proper testing, and generally sloppy construction drag it down pretty hard. Apparently, this ‘demo’ has been abandoned in favour of remaking the game in the newer RPG Maker MV, so perhaps some hope exists for its future.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.