By Video_Game_King 18 Comments
Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Cobi's Journey
(It's been a while, Dragon Warrior Monsters.) Last I saw you was back when I merely thought I was writing a billion words about games. It was Caravan Heart, and you....sucked harder than a black hole named Brain Lord. That probably explains why I refused to look at you for over two years, instead getting my Mon RPG fix from Persona and.....more Persona. But we reunite again, and I gotta say...you're alright.
Except in the story department. Now I know you haven't always been known for your compelling tales, Dragon Warrior Monsters (your older brother, on the other hand...), but come on. This just can't pass. I mean, it's so formulaic. First, Cobi goes to an alternate dimension to solve its problems. Then he gets some random object as a reward, uses it to plug up the GreatLog (because it's sinking, something islands can do), only to discover it won't work as a plug, but works well as a plot device. Repeat for a few worlds until you get sick of it and decide to end things for no adequate reason. Although to be fair to you, that's only looking at the big picture. Zoom in, and things look much better, even though no picture in the world works that way. You do, though. You populate yourself with stories of people overcoming some seriously messed up stuff, like a low-fi version of Dragon Quest IX. Always welcome. True, your obsession with demons is a tad worrying (leave it to the Megami Tenseis), but whatever. I'll take what I can get.
And with you, that's a lot. Now that's not always a bad thing, what with the various worlds to explore and tourneys and monsters to beat up. Real staying power, that. But then we get to your monster breeding, and I start getting scared. Not because you seriously considered making a gorilla fuck an apple....OK, not just because you seriously considered making a gorilla fuck an apple, but because there's sooo much to keep track of. So many stats and breeds and abilities and meta-game. Do you even realize who's supposed to be playing this game? Kids. Kids play you. Now they can put up with your ridiculously saccharine atmosphere and skeletal game mechanics. These are all things you do incredibly well. But the breeding? That's gonna scare those little guys away. Hell, I'm 375 years old, and even I was intimidated by your Moreau-esque horrors.
But, as always, I persevered, because there's something rewarding to gaming your breeding system. Yea, you take a while to get there, but when I got there, you made me feel totally unstoppable. Probably because I was. What was up with that? I mean, I love how you allowed me to set fire to every monster in sight, but why did Nap Attack destroy every single mid-game boss? And then the bosses after that take twelve hours to defeat. It's like you couldn't decide what exactly your difficulty should be. Still, though, you're a pretty cool game, Cobi's Journey. You got some neat systems in place and enough distractions in case I get bored with your bestiality. Yea, you're indecisive as all hell, but you could always be worse. At least you're not Caravan Heart.
- What's with your story, bro?
- You're pretty much Persona for kids. Yay.
- Except you're somehow more arcane than Persona was. What?
OK, just one more Persona 4 video after this, and it's Fire Emblem for months on end.
(What is this game doing here?) I thought I'd already established that I just don't seem to like survival horror as a whole. Not many of them are scary in the first place, and with that gone, you're often left with a really bad adventure game with clunky combat on the side. Now this would be the time where I'd transition into the specifics of what I don't like about Sweet Home, but....well, I just did, didn't I? Just add some RPG elements, and you have the blog in a nutshell.
Although funnily enough, one of those RPG elements missing is the story. OK, so there is a story, but there isn't a lot of it, despite the amount of work it puts into it. Five blank slates who seem to be people are heading into a haunted house to retrieve some frescoes for reasons I can't really remember. Unfortunately, they all get trapped within five seconds of entering the house, so obviously, the most logical action is to rid the house of its evil curse. What is that curse? Well, I'm not going to spoil that (I've learned my lesson), and while it involves a lot of genuinely interesting ghost story material, most of that comes toward the end of the game, more still in the form of optional content. A lot of that content isn't even necessary (they're usually hints to puzzles you could solve half the time), so there's a good chance you're not gonna get a lot of the story this game throws your way. A shame, too, because, again, that story's got some decent, ludicrously graphic horror shit going on.
Odd, then, that I'm about to say that this game isn't scary. This game isn't scary. This game is trying hard to be scary, what with the story and the thudding sounds it calls music, but Clock Tower this is not. Why is that? Well, I could be a lazy butthole and write it off as this being an NES game that interprets a rejected Oompa Loompa design as a doll (are bad Willy Wonka references my new running gag?), but there's more to it than that. Specifically, this game is uneventful. Here's how your typical Sweet Home experience: you walk around the mansion....and walk...and walk....and HOLY SHIT, A CHAIR! IT'S A JUMP SCARE, BUT WHATEVER, IT WORKS FINE! At least when you're in the (thankfully brief, and not in an insulting manner) moment. Because the scare goes away once that chair decides to hit you, and you only take a paltry three points of damage from it. Even at the absolute beginning, this is not a lot of damage.
Hold on. What's this about RPG element whatevers? Well, turns out that not only were these elements the main gameplay mechanic in Sweet Home, but they're also kind of what's wrong with it. See, it can't decide whether it wants to be an adventure-type game or an RPG, and both aspects suffer a bit as a result. There's not a lot to the battle system, which is to say that there isn't anything to the battle system. Your only two options are to attack or to run if attacking nets you perma-death. I know that sounds tense, but given the general ease with which you can run away from most enemies, it's just kind of annoying. Same goes for curses and poison and whatever else the RPG system brings to the table. Add in a level-up system that makes you nigh invulnerable as the game goes on (although one party at a time, because there's never any reason to bring only two people into battle), and it's hard to find this game frightening on any level.
So by now, I'd write it off as your typical bad survival horror game, but there's an...anomaly....regarding this game. It must be going for some type of meta-fear, because while the actual horror elements are not horrific themselves, the puzzle elements are executed rather well. What the what? How is that even possible? Well, there are boring reasons behind this, like a decent level of challenge and clear (ish) direction, but who cares about that shit? You want more compelling reasons, and more compelling reasons I have. OK, a reason, but still: the teamwork. Each character has a specific purpose, like curing status ailments or opening doors. Now that doesn't sound impressive, but it leads to some OK puzzles and, more importantly, forces your party to stay together at all times in order to advance. You know, like they were trying to outlive some type of terror, or something similar. It'd be enough to develop a secondary emotional connection to the characters if they had any character in the first place.....That's a compliment, not a complaint.
In fact, my only complaint about these portions of the game are managing it all. I'd call them minor, but that makes me feel like I'm suffering Stockholm syndrome with this game. Anywho, playing this game is inevitably going to be cumbersome, partly because the menus are all poorly designed. Fine, everything's only a couple options away, but there are just so many options that are so necessary all the time. It could all be quicker, especially the items. Fuck, you guys. Doing anything with the items is a pain. You'd think that you pick up an item simply by pressing A in front of it, but it's never that simple. No, you're going to navigate about nine menus to pick up those matches, because that's what horror is. Same goes for the weapons, only a bit more confusing at first. I like that the game is long, but not when most of that time comes from navigating menus half the time! Even outside the menus, things don't work well. Each character only has enough room for two items, meaning the game becomes an interactive episode of Hoarders about twelve minutes in. Hope you like backtracking, because that's what this game will become! Nothing but backtracking and random encounters! The hallmarks of a great game...and Sweet Home, I guess.
- There isn't a lot of story, but what's there is decent, to say the least.
- Wait, a horror-themed RPG with a simplistic battle system? That sounds familiar.
- General gameplay puzzles succeeding despite a clunky system, though, is all on Sweet Home.
- So I guess what I'm saying is that it's Resident Evil 0.