The Wheel of Dubious RPGs Episode 013-014: Sudeki and GreedFall

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ArbitraryWater

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Edited By ArbitraryWater

Sudeki

If the 5/5 from Maxim and scantily-clad anime girl with large boobs front and center didn't give it away, this game might be more than a little thirsty.
If the 5/5 from Maxim and scantily-clad anime girl with large boobs front and center didn't give it away, this game might be more than a little thirsty.

Developer: Climax Studios

Release Date: July 20, 2004

Time Played: About 3 ½ hours

Dubiosity: 3 out of 5

Crimes this game is responsible for: Getting me to talk about Fate/Stay Night and other pervert anime on stream.

Would I play more? This game is too weird for me to say no

I know the premise of this entire feature is predicated on me playing weird, obscure, and qualitatively questionable RPGs, but even by those standards Sudeki is a weird one. It’s a pretty sterling example of a brief trend during the late 90s and early 00s, when Western developers were making Japanese-style RPGs in order to catch the wave of both the 90s anime boom and the massive popularity of Final Fantasy VII. As a late-model original Xbox game (published by Microsoft, no less) Sudeki feels like it comes right at the tail end of that period, but that doesn’t make it any less, uh, charming? Endearing? Listen, take one look at that art style and those character designs and tell me they don’t resemble those old “How to Draw Manga” books they sold at Scholastic Book Fairs (albeit way hornier.) You’re not going to confuse it with the actual anime-ass bullshit that was coming out on the PS2 around the same time, but there’s an earnest, almost innocent, attempt at evoking that Japanese inspiration without directly trying to copy it. It’s colorful and bright and I honestly am into it for as much as the game is also a bizarre mess.

Each character has a different way of traversing through the world. Elco literally just flies around in a Jetpack, which at one point led to me softlocking the game as I got stuck on geometry
Each character has a different way of traversing through the world. Elco literally just flies around in a Jetpack, which at one point led to me softlocking the game as I got stuck on geometry

For the longest time, the only things I knew about Sudeki were those aforementioned horny-as-hell female character designs and that Jeff Gerstmann has mentioned his wife being a fan. So imagine my surprise when I found out it was an action RPG with two styles of play, rather than having any sort of turn-based or ATB-inspired system. It feels like a preview of what to expect from a more console focused Wheel of Dubious RPGs vol 2 (which might actually happen) and a reminder of where video games were at in 2004. Do you like big, ugly UI elements meant for standard definition televisions? Boy, I sure do. Having spent the past few weeks with fairly broad, open-world games, being funneled back down to smaller, more linear corridors of simple polygons was also a refreshing change of pace, even if I'm not sure my experience was an entirely positive one. Memorable? Yes.

Main Shounen Swordtagonist Tal and Scantily Clad Claw Lady Buki operate like a fairly simplistic, slightly janky brawler, where you can rhythmically input different combinations of X and A to put out different basic attacks. Butt Princess Alish and Jetpack Scientist Elco, on the other hand are gun wizards and literally operate like first-person shooters. If you wanna live your life by awkwardly circle-strafing mobs of enemies and occasionally pressing Y to slow down time and unleash a special attack (it’s still an RPG, and it seems like you have some amount of options when speccing the four characters) it’s something you can do, which I recommend. By the end of my play-time I had only just assembled the full party, so I can’t speak to how Sudeki’s combat moves beyond the early hours. However, as a noted fan of Gun Wizards and a noted fan of Janky Nonsense, it had my attention. Not for being great, obviously not. 2004 is also the year that Devil May Cry 3 and Halo 2 came out, so I think I’m covered if I want actual good action games and shooters from that period.

I'd just like to thank whoever just stole these watermarked screenshots from Gamepro.com and uploaded them to the wiki 10+ years ago. Oh right, also you just DUMP MAGIC ON FOOLS.
I'd just like to thank whoever just stole these watermarked screenshots from Gamepro.com and uploaded them to the wiki 10+ years ago. Oh right, also you just DUMP MAGIC ON FOOLS.

Now, the other part of this game being weird as shit has a lot to do with everything else? The voice acting in Sudeki follows the Chrono Cross school of accents, with a lot of different vaguely-European voices coming out of various anime-looking dudes and ladies with no rhyme or reason to it. Consistent worldbuilding? PFFFFFT. I guess Elco’s accent is supposed to be Dutch? Anyway, I sure as hell couldn’t tell you what was happening in Sudeki’s story based on those first three and a half hours, other than “Something something invasion, something something crystals” and a vague summation of each character’s personality. (Shounen boy with daddy issues, spoiled princess, eccentric playboy scientist (?), and noble tribal warrior lady.) There’s just something about how slightly… off about the way it’s executed which makes me want to see more. There’s a certain level of pantomime going on here with the way Sudeki tries to deliberately replicate JRPG plot points that I find fascinating, especially in hard contrast to something like Dragon Quest XI, which I’ve been going through in a fairly staggered, meandering fashion.

Not that the writing itself is great or anything, but the rest of Sudeki is odd enough that it falls into the much vaunted “I’d consider doing something more with this” category alongside high quality games like Two Worlds and Rise of the Argonauts. This is NOT an endorsement of quality, before any of you jump out and purchase this for $5 on the next steam sale (once again, would like to genuinely apologize to the multiple people who played Rise of the Argonauts in the Year of Our Lord 2020 because of me.) It's more that I want to see more of this game because it’s weird and I’m a fundamentally broken person. Sudeki! Catch it again! Eventually!

GreedFall

Finally an RPG that allows me to fulfill my fantasy of pillaging and plundering the new world to cure a devastating worldwide plague... wait.
Finally an RPG that allows me to fulfill my fantasy of pillaging and plundering the new world to cure a devastating worldwide plague... wait.

Developer: Spiders

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Time Played: About 4 hours

Dubiosity: 2 out of 5

Tricone Hats: 5 out of 5

Would I play more? Given the broken curve I’m grading on here, the answer is “yes, I’m seriously considering giving this a full playthrough”

GreedFall seems… totally alright? Coming from the studio responsible for Dubious RPG Hall of Fame candidate and unintentional comedy masterpiece Bound by Flame, this is the highest of compliments I can manage. This is the first game from French RPG studio Spiders that seems like it has a genuine budget behind it, as opposed to a handful of euros and some earnest intentions. It made me realize they might actually be capable of making something too good to show up on a randomizer wheel of cursed RPGs created entirely to stave off Quarantine Madness, which is something I don’t think I would’ve ever said before this. It reminds me of The Surge being the follow-up to Lords of the Fallen, actually. Just pretend that The Surge 2 wasn’t apparently a pretty straight sidegrade, because I still have faith that Deck 13 will eventually make a solid souls-like, be it fantasy or sci-fi.

There aren't any great screenshots of this game in the wiki, but just imagine my suitably silly-looking De Sardet merc-ing like 5 dudes in 10 seconds with an Arquebus and then going back to discussing trading permits with the natives
There aren't any great screenshots of this game in the wiki, but just imagine my suitably silly-looking De Sardet merc-ing like 5 dudes in 10 seconds with an Arquebus and then going back to discussing trading permits with the natives

As the newest game on The Wheel of Dubious RPGs at slightly less than a year old, GreedFall benefits from mostly resembling a modern video game. The voice acting is acceptable-to-good most of the time and it looks pretty good for a game of its budget even if you can sometimes see the limitations peeking through the cracks. As De Sardet, a fantasy ambassador/cop tasked with accompanying his/her dipshit cousin on a voyage to the new world, it cannot be faulted for lack of ambition. Oh, the combat seems awkward, (especially if you didn’t accidentally spec into the most overpowered “Gunquistador” path like I did) the skill tree seems limited, and I’m not entirely convinced the game’s slightly-too-wordy, on-the-nose writing will be able to handle the historically fraught, extremely messy subject of colonialism. It’s a game that has a lot to prove, and given the decidedly “mixed” critical reception it’s gotten as well as the pedigree of its developer, I question whether it'll manage to nail everything it sets out to do. Hey, it's still EuroJank, right? What's the point of games like this, if to not always mildly disappoint such grand ambitions?

However, I had a pretty alright time, mostly bereft of irony, and my handful of hours with the game made me want to see more. There’s definitely a place for these sorts of “AA” budget games out there, and in another very real sense Greedfall is filling that medium-complexity RPG void that Bioware has left vacant for the last six years. I can’t speak to how De Sardet and his/her ramshackle party of miscreants will navigate the terrifying turns and twists of “Colonial Government Bureaucracy” (side note: a surprising number of quests I’ve undertaken thus far have been the video game equivalent of filing paperwork, which I appreciate for their audacity if nothing else) in the long run, but for the moment I think GreedFall is on my radar.

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Risen and Betrayal in AntaraThe Bard's Tale (2004) and Stonekeep
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SethMode

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#1  Edited By SethMode

I really can't say anything more other than Sudeki looks fucking nuts.

As for Greedfall, it is a totally competent game that I ended up falling off of for whatever reason. It scratched a lot of Eurojank itches for me, but in some ways it felt almost *too* middle of the road in every respect. Nothing is really great, nothing is really bad, and so many of the mechanics are so run-of-the-mill for the genre, I just didn't really have much incentive to continue. It's still installed on my Xbox tough...maybe I'll give it another go sometime.

As for next...holy shit 2004 Bard's Tale. Younger, college shithead me thought it was so clever and sarcastic, and then I gave the "remake" a try (I put that in quotes because it looks terrible and feels terrible) and the only positive thing I recall about this game (the humor) is...woof.

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Genessee

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Oh god, Neo The Bard's Tale. I played that outta my backlog last year. WOOF.

For your own sake, think of your health!

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Relkin

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Said it during one of the Greedfall streams, but I'm convinced Spiders will eventually put out some genuinely good games...someday; no caveats required. The apparent jump in quality from their last batch (BbF/Technomancer) to this game seems pretty significant.

And Sudeki...well, I'll probably have to play that myself at some point; I'll also have to scrub my memory of the premises of a few different animes I would have rather not learned of.

Question: Was this blogs-worth of games the...best(?) experience you've had thus far with the wheel?

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BaneFireLord

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Keep meaning to try Greedfall. If nothing else, Spiders has a lot of ambition and variety in their premises and their next game definitely looks to be continuing that trend (French Revolution but also robots!). I'll take "oh jeez we've probably bitten off more than we can chew with this really complex and easy to fuck up subject matter but we're gonna try our best!" over anodyne high fantasy any day.

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ArbitraryWater

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#5  Edited By ArbitraryWater
@sethmode said:

I really can't say anything more other than Sudeki looks fucking nuts.

As for Greedfall, it is a totally competent game that I ended up falling off of for whatever reason. It scratched a lot of Eurojank itches for me, but in some ways it felt almost *too* middle of the road in every respect. Nothing is really great, nothing is really bad, and so many of the mechanics are so run-of-the-mill for the genre, I just didn't really have much incentive to continue. It's still installed on my Xbox tough...maybe I'll give it another go sometime.

As for next...holy shit 2004 Bard's Tale. Younger, college shithead me thought it was so clever and sarcastic, and then I gave the "remake" a try (I put that in quotes because it looks terrible and feels terrible) and the only positive thing I recall about this game (the humor) is...woof.

That's definitely a sentiment I've heard about GreedFall before, and it's funny to think that a Eurojank game might be too competent for its own good.

Genuinely baffled that they remastered The Bard's Tale in the first place, but at the very least that version runs well on Windows 10, which allowed me to play it in the first place. Joyous!

@genessee said:

Oh god, Neo The Bard's Tale. I played that outta my backlog last year. WOOF.

For your own sake, think of your health!

I already did a stream and I think it might be one of the more boring games I've played on this feature. Like, beyond the various B-level gags about "lol RPGs and video game mechanics am I right?" and Cary Elwes doing this weird cockney accent, it mostly just raises to the level of "mildly unfunny, mechanically questionable hack-n-slash." It's not even as cringe-worthy as I was expecting, just sort of dull and a little upsetting in regards to the talent wasted. It was one of the last things Tony Jay was attached to before he passed away!

Needless to say, the section on it for next week's blog is gonna be a short one. It was definitely a "one and done" sort of stream, and I wonder if that will also be the case for Stonekeep, which was the next thing that was rolled up.

@relkin said:

Said it during one of the Greedfall streams, but I'm convinced Spiders will eventually put out some genuinely good games...someday; no caveats required. The apparent jump in quality from their last batch (BbF/Technomancer) to this game seems pretty significant.

And Sudeki...well, I'll probably have to play that myself at some point; I'll also have to scrub my memory of the premises of a few different animes I would have rather not learned of.

Question: Was this blogs-worth of games the...best(?) experience you've had thus far with the wheel?

I'm very sorry about the anime talk, and I will ensure there will be significantly less talk of pervert anime on stream... right up until I end up playing another game that resembles pervert anime and ZombiePie has another flashback to that titty-stealing samurai show. I promise you, and everyone else, right now: I will never play any of the Neptunia games or anything from Idea Factory/Compile Heart for this feature. The world of Dubious RPGs is far too big and vast for me to want to spend any time and/or money on basic-ass otaku pandering trash. I'm at least sophisticated enough that if I'm gonna go for trash, it'll be something genuinely way more problematic and stupid, like Conception.

This is probably the best duo of games I've written about together thus far, especially when you consider that Wizards and Warriors was more of a "here's a weird, heavily flawed game I like that I just want to show off" pick, rather than a "haha wow why is this in my Steam library" pick.

@banefirelord said:

Keep meaning to try Greedfall. If nothing else, Spiders has a lot of ambition and variety in their premises and their next game definitely looks to be continuing that trend (French Revolution but also robots!). I'll take "oh jeez we've probably bitten off more than we can chew with this really complex and easy to fuck up subject matter but we're gonna try our best!" over anodyne high fantasy any day.

It's absolutely something that seems like the perfect GamePass game, should it ever get on that service. Though, it's also consistently cheap enough on sale these days that it seems like you could get it for less than $20 if you looked in the right places. I think I've already gotten my money's worth thus far, even if it might just be a reflection of how this feature has ruined my ability to perceive quality.

Yeah, while I have a pretty high tolerance for generic or borderline-generic high fantasy, the idea of "Hey let's see how this French development studio tries to handle Fantasy Colonialism" is something I'm far more curious about. It's a topic that's been handled tactfully in something like Pillars of Eternity II, but I think I'd be equally entertained to see GreedFall completely miss the landing.

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BaneFireLord

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@arbitrarywater: Part of the reason I haven't plonked down the $30 yet is I'm convinced it has to come to GamePass eventually. I've been burned two months in a row now by games I picked up on sale only for them to immediately come to GP so I'm sticking to my guns this time, dammit.

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ValorianEndymion

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For a while I was sort interested in Greedfall when I first heard about, but it didn´t catch me, maybe was something in the visual and design (even your stream I had this impression, that the game suffer from every color pushed toward brown or orange, and while it set in a slight different period, it didn't appear to fully take advantage of that to set outfits and visual, like Granado Espada (aka Sword of the New World), or at least that the impression screenshots I first saw give me) or the plot, but it is good to hear it a fairly decent rpg.

Oh no, when I first saw you got Bard Tales (2004) I had a second of confusion and though it was Bard´s Tale IV, but then it dawned on me. Good Luck! But if you want some palette cleaner, the remake of the original games is pretty good!

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sparky_buzzsaw

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I wish I'd watched your Sudeki stream. That game, along with Wild ARMs 3, was one of the big tentpoles for bargain bins in the early 2000s, and I think I avoided it solely for that awful reason. It looked very generic, but I never gave it a fair shake.

Greedfall looks good. Need to look up some gameplay vids to see if it would be visually accessible for me, which is sadly why I miss out on 90% of PC RPGs these days, but maybe it could work with a magnifier for text.

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ArbitraryWater

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@valorianendymion:To be fair, The Bard's Tale IV is also a mediocre enough game that I'd probably consider it for this feature. I sure did play like... ten hours of it last year before going "nah I'm good." Only so much time can be spent on block pushing puzzles and "decent but unspectacular" combat before you wonder what you're doing with your life. That extends to people like me, who are far too stubborn to ever use their built-in "hey dingus, we'll solve the puzzle for you" song they added in the Director's Cut.

The original games seem solid for what they are; I'm just a little too spoiled and inpatient to want to engage with the kind of grindy, punishing dungeon crawling they represent.

I wish I'd watched your Sudeki stream. That game, along with Wild ARMs 3, was one of the big tentpoles for bargain bins in the early 2000s, and I think I avoided it solely for that awful reason. It looked very generic, but I never gave it a fair shake.

Greedfall looks good. Need to look up some gameplay vids to see if it would be visually accessible for me, which is sadly why I miss out on 90% of PC RPGs these days, but maybe it could work with a magnifier for text.

I believe you still have a day or two if you'd like to check out the Twitch archive of my Sudeki streams and another week to check out my GreedFall stuff before they disappear into the aether. I can't claim to know if they're a good viewing experience divorced from watching them live, admittedly, but they're there if you want to watch. I do feel a little guilty about not recording or archiving any of this stuff in a more permanent fashion, but for now I'm fine with letting that stuff go. Might change my mind if I ever decide to get a little more serious with my goofy internet streams, but "becoming a successful Twitch Streamer and Youtuber" is pretty far down the contingency list of life plans at the moment.

GreedFall seems fine, but I feel like I need to once again reiterate that no one should consider me saying "Haha wow this game is less of a flaming trash fire than I was expecting" as a ringing endorsement to purchase (even if this might be one of the handful of games I'd want to play on my own time.) Hell, Wasteland 3 comes out like, tomorrow, it's getting surprisingly good reviews, and it's even going to be on GamePass. You deserve better!

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Charongreed

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I ended up really liking Greedfall, bought it full price and didn't regret it for a second. I was tired of the combat at the end, but that was better than being tired of the combat 2/3 of the way through Technomancer. It is definitely a very wordy game, but they lean less on the colonialism angle and more on the 'noble savage' trope, which on paper sucks but they created a protagonist that gets to straddle the line between both worlds effectively (yo that thing on your face that no one mentions is a thing). I also very rarely get to see people of Spain-ass Spanish descent like myself represented as anything but evil, so I was a little biased in my excitement for it, and then I also liked (most of) Technomancer, so I guess take my endorsement with a grain of salt. Bound By Flame is a trash fire though, I didn't even find it funny in a terrible way.

Climax has a long history of at least good controlling games under their belt (before and after Sudeki) so it doesn't surprise me that its better than it looks, but boy does it look bad.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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@arbitrarywater: You know me and quirky almost-good games. Generally at least gotta give them a look.

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Genessee

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#12  Edited By Genessee

@genessee said:

Oh god, Neo The Bard's Tale. I played that outta my backlog last year. WOOF.

For your own sake, think of your health!

I already did a stream and I think it might be one of the more boring games I've played on this feature. Like, beyond the various B-level gags about "lol RPGs and video game mechanics am I right?" and Cary Elwes doing this weird cockney accent, it mostly just raises to the level of "mildly unfunny, mechanically questionable hack-n-slash." It's not even as cringe-worthy as I was expecting, just sort of dull and a little upsetting in regards to the talent wasted. It was one of the last things Tony Jay was attached to before he passed away!

Needless to say, the section on it for next week's blog is gonna be a short one. It was definitely a "one and done" sort of stream, and I wonder if that will also be the case for Stonekeep, which was the next thing that was rolled up.

Another from my backlog run last year, lol.

"Hey y'all! We got CDs and voice actors like in Wing Commander But an RPG!" lol

But that may be more me having VERY high standards for my Crawlers.

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@sethmode: I’ve not played a remake of the PS2 Bard’s Tale, but in the PS2 version, the actual gameplay for me was great. It got rid of the annoying things (auto sold off old armor/weapons when you got better ones). Basically, a fun simple “save the world” D&D type game.. despite it being exactly what it made fun of. I wish there were tons more games like this, even without the humor part of it.

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Greedfall is now on Game Pass, and my brother has played it and said it's not bad, so I'm planning on trying it out.

I saw you playing Matt Rorie's Alpha Protocol on stream the other day but wasn't able to watch, I just gotta say, if you speak ill of that game, we will have words.

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ArbitraryWater

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Greedfall is now on Game Pass, and my brother has played it and said it's not bad, so I'm planning on trying it out.

I saw you playing Matt Rorie's Alpha Protocol on stream the other day but wasn't able to watch, I just gotta say, if you speak ill of that game, we will have words.

Free on GamePass or PS+ is the most acceptable price for Greedfall, all things considered.

So uh, when was the last time you played Alpha Protocol? :))))

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SethMode

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@mattack: this was such a crazy weird necro and reply, but I respect it.

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BladeOfCreation

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#17  Edited By BladeOfCreation

@arbitrarywater: Probably 2011ish?

Any game that lets you put a bullet in the head of a corrupt defense contractor/war profiteer is a gem in my book.

Man, I did not realize this was a necro thread. Haha.