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Review: Lost Valley
FIRST IMPRESSION: Not good. That Konamig logo doesn't say "Look! I'm a parody!", it says "I couldn't be arsed to create my own logo". My advice, ditch it. I'd rather see even just text saying "(c) 2003 blah blah".
INTRO MOVIE: Not too bad. A little background given. Sets the overall feel.
PRESENTATION AND GAMEPLAY: Pretty smooth. Somebody mentioned low no# of sprites make it seem like you were gliding. Well, sort of. Collision detection slightly iffy in the you're-actually-larger sense. Then, there's a delay after you swing your sword, and often you'll get hit during this delay because most monsters take more than one hit to kill. At the risk of making the hero look ridiculous I'd get rid of the delay; let him swing the sword as fast as a fan if the player wants. Delay = monsters get cheap hits in = players get annoyed. Oh yeah, you can't move either when you're swinging your sword. Might've made a big difference otherwise (ability to avoid cheap enemy hits while you were unable to move).
You can't window-ise the game (it's locked in fullscreen mode). Very annoying. Also, esc = instant quit, EXTREMELY annoying. No pause button; go into a menu first before alt-tabbing out. No menu access either, once you start the game, you go on or you quit. Sure, you could press that hotkey to change your input devices (mouse, joystick), but that doesn't count. I mean, where are the volume sliders? The sound toggle? The help->about boast box? The "really quit (Y/N)?" confirmation? The "fullscreen or window" choice? Jeez.
Another thing... who said "large variety of items!!!" should get kicked in the crotch. Immediately useful are only weapon, armor, and shield: those progress in a strictly linear fashion (i.e. if there's a better one, the previous ones are immediately useless -- and of course, you can only hold ONE type at a time... so for example if you buy a Silver Sword, you automatically lose your Wooden Sword). This is not variety: this is 8-bit rpg inventory management 101. The comparison to Castlevania (at least C:SoTN) is an INSULT. Maybe that reviewer meant the old Castlevania on the gameboy.
Other items are only there to unlock certain areas of the game. THEY ARE NOT OPTIONAL, period. Variety would be, for example, a sword with the same attack strength as the one you're using, but deals fire damage. In the same vein, elemental armor. Or perhaps a slightly weaker item, but it slowly heals you (1-4 hp/mp per screen). Or something that changes your sprite colour.
Those items all work "automatically", meaning once you find something, you can forget about them. They work magically, all you have to do is find them. This reduces inventory management to precisely ZERO. Everything is fire-and-forget. Sure it's less hassle than having to choose what to equip or not, but that's the point. Okay so maybe having to swap equip would be more annoying. I suppose in this type of game it works. My point is, the inventory management system ISN'T a system. It's just THERE. You don't even have to DO anything, just collect the stuff.
MAPPING: All well and good, but I'd prefer to have to location display permanent instead of optional. And make the font smaller. Of course, hunting down the old fool who keeps a particular portion of the map is an adventure in itself. I'd prefer it if the map would show which areas you'd already GONE THROUGH. I mean, you've gone there, wouldn't you KNOW to mark it on the map? How stupid can a hero be? Getting killed on your quest is one thing, but getting lost? When you can only move in cardinal directions? Give me a break.
GRAPHICS: I don't usually play non-commercial games, but I don't really care if gfx are "ripped" or not. Looks coherent, if a little retro-ish. Slightly drab.
SOUND: Very little sfx, I didn't notice.
MUSIC: Uninspiring. When compared to the length of the game, you'll soon get sick of the bgm.
LASTABILITY: Are you kidding me? Okay, put it this way. Most of the game you are either (1) on the overworld map, hunting down the next inventory item that will unlock a new area, or (2) inside a pretty linear dungeon hunting down the boss. It is almost impossible to get lost in the dungeons, which is good, but that's only because they aren't really that large, which is not-so-good. However, you can easily get frustrated on the overworld map because it is not that large so you get lost, but you have to backtrack a whole lot of times looking for what previously impassable area is now accessible.
Once you have finished this game, I do not think you'll say to yourself, "omfg that was brilliant! Let's do it again". No, I think are more likely to say to yourself, "omfg I finally finished. I'm not going to wander around that @$!*&^#% map again if I can help it." Face it folks, this is a one-way trip. There's NOTHING that warrants a second look: there are NO alternate ways to finishing things, except perhaps the order in which you do some subquests. Once you know what item unlocks which area and where, there is no more secret. That's it. Playing this through again will just be an exercise in pointless item collecting and level grinding.
OVERALL: I didn't say I hated the game. Obviously plenty of thought went into it. The map is pretty large. But other than that, I don't see why people are raving over it. The character-building stats are at a bare minimum, and so are the items. The only say you have in your character is WHEN (not if) to buy a new weapon/armor/shield, that's basically it. If you parked at a favourite spot and started chopping away, you would still level. Hell, I can use a keyboard macro program to do that for me.
The enemies are so-so, some of them look interesting but they really don't do much; a side-effect of having to respawn them each screen you go. They're just there to kick around for money and exp. Okay that's true for most if not all rpgs. But it's particularly tedious here.
CONCLUSION: A so-so game which, although a lot of thought went into the design, could use a lot of polishing in the execution. It will always be a "lite" game in my opinion. That was also why I bitched at the inability to window it... fangames shouldn't have the right to hog the entire friggin' desktop. That, plus the overall feeling of where-the-heck-do-I-go-now really drags the game down.
The useless fairy clues should go, too. Either give the player REAL CLUES (you can always charge money, duh), or give background story (no matter how cliche, a story is better than giving useless rumours or, worse, false clues).
Hmm, felt more like a critique to the designer than a review for players. Oh well.
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