We're gonna need a bigger boat...
gaming industry sure loves breaking things down into genres. Game X is a First-person
Shooter, or an Action/Adventure, or a Racing/RTS or even a Space Simulation/MMORPG.
It all gets quite confusing. And despite hybrid genre types, a number of games
are left out.
Well, I propose that we introduce a new genre altogether to
cover these black sheep. For the new name, I nominate WWTS, or What
Were They Smokings. These are the games that have you scratching your
head before you even open the box, defying categorization because they are so
conceptually retarded/brilliant/odd. And they often sound neat on paper, provided
you are using ZigZags.
some examples? How about this? Or maybe
this? Smoke some of this,
then take a shot of this, then use
this one as a chaser. I tend
to gravitate towards games that sound ridiculous - five years of Tomb Raider
clones will do that to a guy.
So without hesitation, I strapped on a tank
and dove into Everblue 2, a scuba-diving role-playing game and a sequel
to a game I have never heard of before. Yep, a scuba-diving RPG. My guess
is that the developers at Arika were smoking apple tobacco mixed with black tar
The game starts off where the first Everblue (which was never
released in the States) left off. You're Leo, an expert diver who has recently
shipwrecked on the island of Valencia. You're a bit disoriented, but eventually
figure out that the town is crazy about diving. How fitting. Your goal is to get
off the island, so you hook up with a local girl and get acquainted with the townsfolk,
which then somehow leads to copious amounts of scuba-diving.
is essentially a very bare-bones RPG. You don't even have an actual avatar. Rather,
you navigate through the few screens that make up the island in classic adventure
game fashion by using a little hand pointer to talk to people and get from one
area to another. It's odd, old-fashioned and somewhat depressing.
odder is the 'action' element of the game - the scuba-diving part. An enormous,
wide-open sea surrounds the island, so you hop into a boat, pick a spot and go
The diving mainly amounts to item collection. You can equip a few
different 'elements' to your little multi-sonar device; one might search for metal,
or wood, or clay, etc. You swim around sending out little 'ping' pulses from the
sonar, then hunting down items scattered under the sea.
Though the ocean itself
is three-dimensional, you move on a 2D plane, meaning you cannot freely ascend
or descend at all. You simply glide along beeping your sonar. You have a little
gauge on the left side of the screen to indicate depth, which is really the main
way you'll know you're in deeper water. You don't even need to 'swim' back up
to the surface; just select 'Ascend' from the sub menu and you're back in town.
changes when you find a downed vessel to search. There are six in the game located
all over the big world map. Once you enter a ship, things get very, very different.
You suddenly have free movement, which is a bit disorienting, made even more so
by the fact that suddenly it's all very dark. You have a flashlight, at least,
which you end up waving all over the place as you careen through creepy corridors
searching out items and whatnot. You can also get lost in some of the larger ships
and cannot magically ascend like in the main sea.
At these times, Everblue
2 takes on almost a survival-horror feel. There's really no music when you're
underwater, which leaves your heavy breathing as the soundtrack. The draw distance
isn't terrific, so you wind up awkwardly swimming through very dark water in atmospheric
sunken vessels just waiting for a Megalodon
to slam into your face.
This just makes a weird game weirder, though, since
the rest of it is a family game. There are no weapons or combat at all. The ocean
is filled with life, and while most are harmless, some are not. If you stumble
upon a Great White shark (and you probably will) you have to swim away (which
you will not do successfully). It's irritating. How about a non-lethal electric
shark prod? Or a bottle of Fish-Off?
A net, maybe?
Most of the game is spent bouncing back and forth between the
one town and the big ocean. You scavenge some goods, go back to town to appraise
and sell them, rest up to refill your health and air meters, then it's back to
the sea for more scavenging. It's quite monotonous and the lack of any combat
or strategy leads to a generally dull experience.
Some quirky little RPG bits
do spice it up, however. You'll quickly gain a camera, which can be used to take
pictures of stuff underwater, Pokemon
Snap style. Two simple mini-games also help break up the flow.
isn't great. The town of Valencia looks terrible, with these lame pre-rendered
backgrounds and poorly animated people to talk to. Things get better in the water,
as some of the fish look pretty realistic (while others, such as the big Mola
fish, look pretty Atari 2600). Again, exploring the sunken ships is really where
the game finds its stride, featuring neat little bubbles and particles that illuminate
when your flashlight passes over them. Maybe the whole game should have been in
There is no speech in the game, which might be a blessing since
the story and plot are so lame. The music can get grating, but hey, it's a strange
Japanese RPG....what did you expect?
As the first official WWTS game I've
had the pleasure to review, Everblue 2 does a nice job of being strange.
Unfortunately, it does a poor job of being fun. Though it's got some very interesting
tense underwater moments, most of the game is too shallow to warrant a dip.