Beautiful art, not very interesting level design or gameplay. Dialogue is at times humorous but other times feels like something rushed out for its children audience? Still, with the fan translation it's worth checking out for its creative spaces and where it's willing to send its protagonist!
Wait a minute... I made this game! How about that.
I haven't replayed this for some years, but I love its minimalism as well as how stripped back all the song instrumentation is. There's a 'novel-esque' negative space to how the game lets the player piece together what they're exploring. I don't think that was 100% intentional, but it's an effect I'd like to explore more...
The way the postgame blends into the main game is still eerie how memorable it's been, even moreso given that it was kind of added in over a few weeks near the end of development.
The puzzles and combat are kind of ho-hum, but I think are engaging enough to do the trick in terms of balancing out the more quiet, free exploring of the non-dungeon areas. At least I had the sense to not include block pushing puzzles! I feel like Anodyne still has a good direction in terms of its dungeon design, and I think the levels are creative. I've secretly been hoping to see another weird Zelda-like at some point. I like the genre.
Marina and I talk about how we sort of got 'lucky' making this with the limitations it had - the game being tile-based, and gameplay being a minimal version of Link's Awakening - meant it was relatively easy for us to put together.
Hey, I made this game... nice...
...It's been a long time since I played it, actually. The way it pivots from a traditional, straightforward adventure, to small 2D worlds that defy expectations of the opening hours, to thought-provoking revelations of Nova and bizarre turns in the Outer Sands! Is pretty unique to think about. Actually I learned a lot from playing this game too, since I didn't write most of the script.
My only nitpick would be that there should have been 3 NPCs in Cenote, not 4! I think that part of the game goes on a little too long.
I blogged about this here:
A really dreamy, unique dungeon crawler, with peculiar NPCs strewn throughout its depths. The battle system is confusing, and I remember the inventory system feeling a bit punishing. I didn't get too far but maybe one day I'd pick it up again.
The game doesn't really let you get a sense of 'where you are' in the universe, and I love that feeling of being deattached from a tangible reality.
One of my clearest, earliest memories was playing the Metaknight game around its release before my family made a cross-country move in 1996. It's interesting to see this came out in September of that year, so I can almost pin the month we moved despite forgetting otherwise.
Modern Kirby feels a bit perfunctory to me, drawn out. I like how short and sweet each game in Super Star is, the different textures they give while borrowing from the same mechanical set.
My favorite is Great Cave Offensive... just a cute adventure into some really bizarre spaces (the caves leading to the castle, which connects to outer space, and this fantasy-feeling kingdom is a poetically beautiful set of levels). That the game lets you openly explore them, letting the spaces breathe, no map to guide you, feels pretty miraculous.
That and the game is full of genius music! The goa trance-inspired Cocoa Cave is a favorite.
In recent years I forget I made this. What a bizarre space to return to... part visual novel, part extremely sloooow 3D adventure, this was me testing the waters for a 3D game!
I find its spatial composition, lighting, minimal textures to still be stunning, even if they're a bit primitive in terms of technical artistry. I was really (and still am) into photography theory around that time, so I like to think some of that showed...
I still think the messages of the game's story resonate with me in terms of approaching being Asian in the USA. The idea that Chicago is entombed in this game is also a bit eerie for me, since I don't live there anymore.
True, the movement in the game sucks and the writing could be stronger, but hey!
This review contains spoilers
One of our more somber games... the ending is still pretty grim but I think it was the right choice.
I love the meanderingness of the game, walking to a quiet town, exploring some strange structure, then doing it all over again. In some ways it's our "platformer JRPG"...
Features a few of my favorite songs I've written. Karst Pass and Dreamdram Canyon Power Plant feel conjured by some dreamy power I wonder if I can still recapture...
If I have any complaint, I think the game does run on too long, the power plant levels, while interesting in the moment, do lack an overall sense of pacing and drag a bit. The development cycle was loooong and our tools not great, so I think that's why it has the sense of needing to be edited better. (And that's why there's that whole huge weird postgame of unused old areas, sitting under the surface...)
This review contains spoilers
A few questionable sex scenes aside, this game's atmosphere (the PC-98 version) is spooky, a disturbing depiction of the time loop trope, and one of the most interesting visual novels I've played. Goes to typical ridiculous SF climaxes, but kind of works emotionally? idk. done by a brilliant and small team.
Pretty remarkable battle system. I think it could be balanced/more interesting but not sure how. Maybe riku's mode will be more interesting?
Dungeons a bit repetitive, normal battles are boring, but the bosses can be interesting at times. Disney story is terrible (retreads of KH1, whose disney arcs were already... bad), but I enjoy the overarching Organization plot.
If I were to redesign this game I would scrap half of the disney dungeons, keep the weird ones, make their stories weirder instead of retreads, and focus more on bosses by reducing the dungeon sizes. Grinding for map cards to get through dungeons was...bad!
The game shines during boss battles, and that's where the interesting narrative meat is, too. I think the battle system could use two improvemets:
- Remove dodge roll
- Remove JUmp
- Replace L+R sleight input with B (or A, I forget, whichever was jump)
Dodge Roll and Jump are vestigial and ported over pointlessly from KH1. In CoM they only serve to muddy the already difficult battle system and make it easy to mess up execution, which makes boss battles borderline impossible. If the bosses were redesigned around you only being able to walk around, it'd be more interesting to play as you could reasonably move, shuffle cards, build sleights.
Still an overall interesting combat system. Wish more games were weird like this!