Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F104- Looking For Logic In Sloth

Man, what is it with Sloths and having bodily secrets? If anybody should be laying out all their cards, it's you, Sloths! Keeping secrets takes effort! Go be lazy and transparent like the rest of us, goo and armor monsters!


Quick Critique: Ys: Memories of Celceta

I'm a big fan of Ys as action-adventure title in the style of the original Zelda games, but I really just don't care about Adol as a main character. And unfortunately, Ys MoC relies heavily on you caring about Adol. The gameplay is really peppy but it's undercut by how bloated the game itself is. The environments are huge but there's nothing worthwhile to fill them. Enemies have tons of health but can typically be killed by just button mashing and don't require any strategy. There are frequent unskippable scenes, like pulling a lever then watching a switch move, that take several seconds and you have to do this repeatedly in a short time so you're staring at pointless animation you've seen several times and that does nothing for the game. It has a crafting system but gathering materials is boring (beating the same enemies over and over or whacking a harvest point like a rock or a plant) and the item trading system is unnecessarily complex. You have to use some materials to power up your equipment, but then sometimes you have to refine them into other materials or exchange them for other materials and juggle all that for an item you're probably going to just replace with a new weapon you buy in the next town. Crafting systems are rarely ever rewarding and frequently extremely tedious. I already found all this random bric-a-brac, just give me my better weapon without having to wade through a dozen menus spread across multiple townspeople. You can save anywhere so it makes for a nice handheld game and while it retains the series's feature that you can heal when you're safe in the sun, the healing doesn't scale or heal as a percentage. Since it heals as a flat number, you heal very quickly at the start of the game, but from the middle on, you're still healing at the same rate but now have ten times the health, so you basically just put the system down and come back a bit later to be at full health, which undercuts the idea of playing the game in quick bursts on the road. And the enemies take off about 1/6th of your health on every hit, so you're stopping to heal constantly. You enter boss rooms by collecting stone fragments and then there's a minigame to assemble the pieces using the touch screen, but the game shows you exactly where each piece goes and which way to twist it, so there's no reason to have this diversion outside of shoehorning in a touch screen gimmick. And it has an instant fail stealth section where you don't know what your goal actually is, so that's not fun.
Pretty much from the get go, the game sends you out into the world with a barely defined goal and not much of a purpose. After the intro, you basically just wander around a map until you happen to find the one pathway that isn't a dead-end and leads to progressing the story. This could take half an hour or several hours depending on how much you want to explore or scrounge for items and materials. You fairly quickly stop gaining experience in the game without any explanation. I had to look it up on message boards and the people said it meant that I was fighting monsters that were too weak, but I was actually advancing the story and fighting the strongest enemies the game thrown at me and I hadn't spent any time grinding levels. I can fully understand preventing me from getting experience from going back to the early parts of the game and trying to grind but I felt punished for just playing normally. Enemies also respawn every single time you change rooms, so you're fighting an infinite number of enemies that don't give you experience and dungeons are full of dead ends and mazes so you're fighting those same rooms of enemies over and over. It just makes everything feel pointless. Given the map size and lack of reason to fight enemies, it would have been nicer if the fast travel system was more user friendly. You can unlock warp spots on the map, but the spots have to be connected to a similar pillar, so just because you unlocked two spots doesn't mean you can jump between them. This means that if you want to travel between the towns, you wind up warping to one spot, then running through the map to the next warp, using that to jump to the end of its route, running to the next, and so on until you've passed through four or five warp routes to get to your town and have wasted several minutes on tedious backtracking. And at one point in the game, I went through all that only to be told that the character in the town that has been in the same damned building for the entire game had stepped out and I'd have to come back later. I understand the need to lock down some of the warp routes to cage the player in for some story segments or key moments, but just write a line about something interfering with the warps you don't want the player using during those moments and let them work freely when you're just off on your own not engaged in a story mission. Or at the very least, put a universal warp point in each of the towns that opens up after you first visit. That alone would have been an enormous improvement and more respectful of the player's time. You do EVENTUALLY get this power, but not until you're 12 or so hours into the game.
The dialogue tends to drag on. It has some humor, but there are parts where the game forces you to talk to every person in a town just because and none of them have anything interesting to say, it kills the momentum. I'm perfectly happy for story telling in games, but those section lasts at least half an hour if you aren't skipping dialogue and the story you get from these parts just isn't interesting due to how much filler there is and how over-written the game itself is. I just want my mission so I can advance. There are dialogue decisions you have to make as you play and I'm not sure if they influence the story, but the choices can be poorly worded. In one instance, you're chasing after an injured animal to help it and in some dialogue you have a choice of saying "Are you going to catch it" to your ally. I took this to mean "Can you catch up to it because this thing is running faster than us" but the game uses it as "Are you going to capture it" which is really mean in that situation so my ally got all pissy with me for saying that. There's a character identified as "Bearded Man" and he doesn't have a beard! He's also a horrible super anime cliche character so I hate him and everything about him. The names in Ys are either super lazy or ridiculous fantasy RPG nonsense. It's a series where the warring armies are the "Romuns" and "Africons", which somebody clearly spent all of five minutes coming up with, but then has names like Napishtim, Felghana, and Celceta. I'm skipping over the main story because the bad guy's plan is to destroy humanity BECAUSE. That's not me being snarky or anything, the game totally cops to the fact that bad guy has no motivation outside of just being a bad guy and destroying humanity is a bad guy thing to do. That's either cleverly meta or the dumbest thing ever. The 2D art is fantastic but it animates like Flash (nicely done Flash though) and the 3D art reminds me of a Dreamcast game (in a good way), so it's at least pleasant to look at while you slog through the forest.
Ys MoC isn't a bad game, just one with baffling design choices, no real purpose, an uninteresting story, and that doesn't respect the player's time. It's a game I forced myself to finish rather than one I played because I had fun, compared to Ys: The Ark of Napishtim which I adored and had to make myself stop playing so I could go do work.



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