Blue Angelo


Tobriand

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Introduction (or the bit you can skip if you want to)

If you've been paying any attention to the commercial GP32 gaming scene at all over the last few months, you'll have hear no end about just a few games - its not like there are that many commercial bitsies out for our favourite handheld. Wanna Be Wizard, now Lethe's translating it, is quite a hot topic, and Blood Cross looks to be superb as and when it finally arrives; Byalbaum (is that how its spelled?) do make some very nice stuff when they put their minds to it. Goddess Saga and Soul Stone might also ring a bell to some - sadly vanished, and unlikely ever to see the light of completion or release. However, the most recent one to kick up interest is probably Blue Angelo. For a long while it looked as though this game might not be released after all; I seem to remember it was originally scheduled for release at the same time as the Euro release - some time ago now. But it's finally made it. Now the question everyone's asking is easy: Is it worth my hard-earned cash?.

I picked up my copy of the game - finally - from the post-office this morning. Opening the package, I had my first surprise: the manual is in Engrish (and really bad engrish too, though not to the point of incomprehensibility). The game on the other hand has quite a lot more to it: and hopefully, this is what I'll be able to give you an idea of in this review.

Graphics

Graphically, Blue Angelo is, quite frankly, stunning. The game opens with a 4-plane parallax scrolling chamber in which your character's been sleeping for the last god knows how long. And it just gets better. Its like being hit with the water effects in Giana's Return all over again; the screenshots just don't do this game justice. Character motion is fluid, areas are varied, and whilst the graphical style doesn't have the atmostpheric creep to it that, say, Super Metroid does, the pastel shades do their job very very well, dragging any player hopelessly into the game instantly. Its the sort of thing a GBA owner could look at and feel envious.

As you can tell, I'm pretty impressed with this bit. If I had one quibble, it would be that platforms are sometimes a little hard to see against an over-active background, but really, this is a very minor issue. The game's graphics are indubitably its strongest point (though that's not to detract from gameplay; the graphics are just very very good).

Sound

The sound isn't quite on the same level as the graphical splendour you'll just have been hit with, but it is nonetheless extremely good. The tunes are memorable, but not annoying, and add a lot of the atmosphere that the use of pastel shades somewhat removes. Sound effects from monsters and attacks are also crisp and clear, lacking any of the crackle that earlier commercial endeavours had, and generally adding to the whole Blue Angelo experience.

However, there are odd problems with it, I must say. *Most* notably with the boss music - it just isn't that, well, menacing. I'll not forget when I reached the first boss in Sonic 1 (the megadrive version), and the simple Robotnic tune made the fact that this enemy was easy as pie to kill completely irrelevant; he was still scary as a small child's nightmare. Ok, it helped that at 6 you're fairly impressonable to that sort of thing, but nonetheless, I did find the accompaniment to the first boss to be decidedly lacking in menace and general boss-ness. Somehow that bit just ddin't quite make it.

In addition, it might be nice not to hear enemies that are right on the other side of an area until you're a little closer, but again, that's more of a quibble than a major criticism.

Overall the sound basically rocks - whether I'll still be saying that on Wednesday (or in 7 months afterwards when I next get to pick it up) I've not a clue, but it is good music, and it does typically add a lot to the game. Not perhaps a Mozart concerto, but certainly worthy of having the volume turned up a notch.

Gameplay

This section is a little hard in some ways to write, since there's very much two bits to the gameplay. One of them is splendid. The other is the main point that brings the game below perfection. Quite a way below considering how close the rest of it is.

Lets deal with the good points first - and its really the important one for most people. The game plays pretty quickly (nothing like as slowly as it seemed to in the promotional videos), and it is extremely satisfying to have as many attacks as you do - and you will find yourself using every one of them sooner or later. Hacking at demons is great fun, as is stabbing them, flurrying them, sliding through them and slicing their groins (if you look carfully you'll find the power very near the start ;) ). I haven't even got as far as special spells yet, and already I'm pleased, which is pretty good.

The combo system helps a lot too - just using the flurry attack becomes less the ideal thing to do if you're fighting a lot of creatures, since you want to get as many points on the combo meter as possible. Thus far, my highest is 8, which isn't much, but its certainly not bad, I think. And we haven't even mentioned the experience system. To be honest, I'm not quite sure whether more combos mean you get more experience from an enemy or not, but nonetheless, adding levels into a platform exploration game is a good idea wherever you're coming from. Potentially, the game could get a little unbalanced since levelling doesn't take very long at all, and enemies respawn the moment you leave an area, but I imagine that again will scale out over the course of the game.

And then of course, there is the fact that it is an exploration game. Which is also pretty awesome; there is a lot of world to explore, and secrets from the word go. Whilst not perhaps as stunning as the epic masterpiece that is Super Metroid in terms of being truly freeform; its fairly obvious where you're "supposed" to go next, but that said, I imagine it'll become equally necessary to return to areas later, as there are thing hidden in them that you might miss, or closed off pathways for the time being. So that's also a great thing about this game.

But, there are problems. Pretty big ones too, and they're almost all related to language. Now I, of course, am playing in English, so this may not apply to other languages at all. However, the english there is feels like a bad Babelfish translation - and seeing as though a fair part of the game is supposed to be RPG-based, that's a big issue: it's like having our very own Him saying "all your base are belong to us - ha ha ha". That's not to say the game is incomprehensible by a very long shot; the characters all make perfect sense. Its just that the grammar, word order, and tense are so messed up that its impossible to feel that they are any more than sprites on screen. Plays and films are often criticised for bad dialogue because the end result of it is that it is impossible for an audience to "suspend disbelief". If it were ever possible to suspend any disbelief in a world where humans fight demons every 30 years in pastel shades, the dialogue kills it for this game - which is a huge shame.

I suspect, though my French isn't good enough to be sure, that if one were to play it in French it would be much much much better, simply because Shibuya is based there, so that's likely what it was originally made in. But from my point of view - and any other English speaker's - this is a very big problem. And seeing as it does have a flavour of babelfish about it, I would really not want to play the game in Korean if I could speak it, since I imagine that has been butchered even worse. Phrases like "Two dominant species were mad the war since thousands of years, the humans and the demons" are the ones that do it.

Furthermore, little issues like not being able to outrun bats once they start to follow you since you're the same speed as they are get annoying after a while, and I really would like more emphasis on the benefits of levelling; there's a lot of stats in the status screen, and being an RPG freak myself, I want to be able to train my character to become specialised in running or hitting or magic by fiddling with settings there; as it is, he levels up, but whilst he hits harder, there's not quite the same sense of achievement that there sometimes can be when you achieve the much-sought-after Next Level in all the best RPGs. Essentially, its good, but it could be just that little bit better.

Also, having picked up my first power, I was left scrabbling for the manual a bit; powers you've attained are present in the menu, but it doesn't tell you how to use them, so you actually have to look at the manual whnever you get something new; a serious botch in my opinion when it would be simple enough to display a key combination underneath the power when in the menu. And with the manual so bad, this botch is emphasised quite a bit. Shouldn't be too much of an issue once you've gotten used to the powers and abilities, but I'd prefer the game to be self-contained if possible.

Finally, back to the boss-fight again - I'm sure the non-menacing music did not help, but the first boss was decidedly un-bosslike, moving mechanically and having projectiles that just vanished before they hit the ground. In my opinion, he also took a little long to kill, and the fight ended up getting just a little boring as a result, but that's on to minor-er quibbles for now, and could also be because I did my levelling up *after* the boss, not before.

--- EDIT ----
Just a brief note to say I've now fought several more "boss" characters (albeit with the music off - couldn't be bothered to get my headphones out), and I'm pleased to say that later ones are a lot nicer than the first; but the first boss is a little unpolisished.
---- /EDIT ----

Generally speaking, with the gameplay, exploring and actionning are pulled off by Shibuya extraordinarilly well, and the game is, most importantly, fun. Ok, you can't save whenever you want to as in an emulated game, but that doesn't detract from it except to remove some ability to pick-up-and-play for 2 minutes only. There's a few quibbles to have, depending on what annoys you, and the language issue seriously detracts from gameplay overall: just as you've gotten into it, someone speaks to you and any atmosphere there was vanishes, but generally the gameplay is good.

Conclusion

This game is among the best available, without any question whatsoever, for the non-korean speakers among us. The graphics are beautiful, the sound is perfectly good enough, and the action areas of gameplay is great fun. It does have some serious issues - and they really shouldn't have made it into the final product - which detract from it, but then so do all the commercial games in english, with the possible exceptions of Pinball Dreams, and Super Plusha. Whether it is worth your money is beyond question: definitely (unless it gets worse after 4 hours or so, of course). Whether it's worth the 59 euros you'll pay for it (after delivery charges)... well, probably it is, especially if you're a French speaker (probably), but seeing as I'm someone who buys games for £20 at tops usually, I'd prefer it to be a lot better polished before forking out as much as I did. However, it is certainly polished enough that I don't feel resentful about spending the full ammount. And of course, any of you with NG consoles will know that there are many worse games for Xbox, GC, or PS2 that cost at least as much new. If it had better dialogue though, I'd be pleased I had.

If I were to give a score to the game, it'd be around 8, which is a reflection on how well the game outside the dialogue is pulled off, but with a retranslation (maybe someone could offer....?) and a couple of polishes here and there, it could quite comfortably score as close to perfect as my mind permits.
 

nutribrain

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Very nice review and very detailed. I played the game yesterday for the first time and agree with your conclusion. Some points from me:

At least the german translation is as engrish as the english one. The language-select screen spells "Deutsh" instead of "Deutsch". Any when you play the game it goes on. But this is hundred times better than reading korean ;-)

The dizzy colors sometimes make you feel a little bit sick, but the (parralax-)scrolling is superb! I played the also newly received 'Wizard Slayer' right before I gave 'Blue Angelo' a try. You see the difference. 'Blue Angelo' looks and plays like a real game also found on other consoles and not like a silly homegrown Game like most commercial games for the GP32.

Buying this game is highly recommended!
 

GP40

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Aug 14, 2004
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Review is pretty much what I think. I'd probably give it 8-8.5.

I must say though, I liked the first boss the best visually :p
When I came up against Serburus I did notice that his heads disappeared when he blew downward flames :lol:

I thought the music was nicely polished, though, more ambient than atmospheric. The text does have quite a few spelling mistakes and wrong words, but I didn't find them too big a deal. It was easy to mentally correct them. Or perhaps its because I'm not a great speller myself ;)

The first pre-level stasis scene is pretty slick as is the rest of the graphics. With it being released on the gba soon, its nice to have a game on both systems, for comparision (http://media.gba.gamespy.com/media/702/702...mg_2581127.html - GBA Stasis :eek: :lol: )

I did find the bats bl**dy irritating as well. I found that I could out run them, but they normally only come down to your level if you stopped and let them attack your head :angry:

Another problem is the way that if you go to a save station, you must save the game to replensih your life force. That may affect the smc life.

Its a very big game as well. I have 3.50 hrs clocked up on the saved game and probably the same again in time when I died and started again. I'm only about 38% through the game. Then there is the two other charactors to play as when the first run through is completed, plus there are two finishes to see (dont know if that means 6 endings [being 3 characters available]).

The RPG aspect of the game probably may disappoint the genres fans. You collect loads of gear, but you only have three types of it. The stats, whilst they do beef you up to be able to tackle nastier enemies, dont really seem to make a big difference.

IMHO, its definately worth getting though. Its a long life, fun game and its the oppurtunity to get a boxed GP32 game :)

btw
Can someone 'invisible text' or pm me how the big head guy was designed to be killed, as I think its very likely that the way I killed him was a total fudge :lol:
 
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