Adventures in Anime
Finally, role-playing for the Dreamcast! With the absence of a RPG at launch,
hardcore fans of the genre have spent every waking moment praying to all that
is holy for the Dreamcast gods to give them an outlet for their role-playing needs.
After many sleepless days and nights, RPG gamers finally have Evolution:
The World of Sacred Device, the first Dreamcast RPG. Is this the answer
to your prayers,
or just an appetizer for what games may come? Read on...
As hero Mag Launcher, players adventure through the colorful world of Evolutia.
Mag's parents have disappeared while adventuring in the ruins (generally a bad
idea, by the way) and no one knows what has happened to them. One month later,
a strange and extremely cute girl (in a 'Hello Kitty' sort of way) shows up
on the doorstep of the Launcher mansion with a note from Mag's father saying,
"You must protect this girl, Linear, until I return." The story line of Evolution,
while initially simplistic, actually develops rather well. I'd love to say more,
but you'll have to find out for yourself. Just remember that it's not over 'til
The gameplay centers on Mag and Linear's adventures in the ruins. The traditional
RPG dungeon layout is here with a few unique elements added in. First off, Evolution
is set in the third person view, making it easier to navigate the ruins.
The layout of each level is randomly generated, making the ruins different
every time. This adds some zing to the replay value, though as a role-playing
game the replay is generally low.
The best feature of the game engine, without a doubt, is the 360 camera rotation.
No more running through the maze without a clue as to what's lurking behind
the corner. The high visibilty really helps in exploring, and actually seeing
the monsters gives you a chance to surprise your enemies, giving you an advantage
The battle system in Evolution is your standard turn-based fare. With
each turn, characters can attack, use items, guard, change formation, or even
execute special 'cyframe' skills. The concept of the cyframe is one of the coolest
ideas introduced by the development crew and definitely adds to the game play.
Basically, cyframes are super weapon systems that give their users special
powers. Different parts for cyframes can be found within the ruins providing
characters with a whole new set of powers. Cyframes parts can also be upgraded
presentation of Evolution is top notch. The character looks absolutely
perfect in all their cutesy anime glory. Battle motions are smooth and the special
cyframe skills look great. The environments and ruins are very detailed as well,
leading to a great visual experience overall.
The audio shines, too. Sound effects are done well and Ubi Soft didn't do
anything stupid like dub the original Japanese dialogue.
With all of these fine points, Evolution could have been one of the
most kickass RPG games that you've ever played. The story is original, the graphics
are great, the heroes are cool and the gameplay is clean. So it totally breaks
my heart to have to mention all of the game's unfortunate shortcomings.
First off, Evolution is a very circular game. Mag goes to the ruins.
Mag goes back home. Mag goes back to the ruins. Mag goes back home again. Good
grief. The repetition is enough to drive you totally insane. Other towns or
areas to explore would have made the game much more interesting and much less
RPG stands for Role Playing Game, but unfortunately Evolution's designers seemed to lose sight of this. With the exception of the heroine Linear, the characters in Evolution don't get a chance to develop. Gamers are supposed to play the role of Mag, but the character is so underdeveloped that it becomes just another cutesy anime face with nothing behind it. Sure, he wears Structure cargo pants and carries a gigantic mechanical hand that could beat the crap out of anybody, but who is he really?
Possibly Evolution's greatest offense is its utter simplicity. The enemies increase in level along with the main characters, so their abilities are always relatively the same. This way, no enemy is ever a pushover and with the exception of one boss, none of the enemies offer much of a challenge.
But despite all its faults, Evolution: World of Sacred Device is a
decent beginning to Dreamcast role-playing. It's just too bad that the game
wasn't raised to its full potential. Hopefully the sequel will be a bit more