Elemental Gimmick Gear - Reader Retroview  

E.G.G. Yourself On
by JuMeSyn

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~10 Hours
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   The Dreamcast's early RPG lineup manifestly failed to impress. This is not meant to be necessarily a detriment, more a recognition that any system's best does not appear until further into its lifespan. Elemental Gimmick Gear is a good example of this syndrome, perfectly acceptable as a tolerable action-RPG in the Legend of Zelda mode that does little truly outstanding. The game has enjoyable moments but will never be regarded as a classic.

   The story and setting do differentiate E.G.G. from the Legend of Zelda, though neither is nearly as developed as one might desire. Excavators unearth a man sleeping in a robot while exploring an old technological development. Unable to revive him, the man (dubbed the Sleeper) is given accommodations for the next hundred years. After that time has passed thieves attempting to garner something valuable from the technological development the Sleeper was located in manage to activate it, and the place (dubbed Fogna in reference to its shrouded location) sends out metallic tentacles that destroy and absorb all in their path. Several weeks later the Sleeper at last awakens, only to be experiencing amnesia (understandable when he has slept for roughly 5100 years). Fogna seems to hold the answers regarding his past, so the Sleeper boards his E.G.G. and explores.

Shove enough chili peppers into a robot and this is the result. Shove enough chili peppers into a robot and this is the result.

   The title of Elemental Gimmick Gear comes from the robot the Sleeper was found inside. Over the century he slept while being monitored, studies were undertaken of the robot and it was dubbed Elemental Gimmick Gear, with new models of this robot being made by modern humans. Why humankind chose to name this style of robot (which looks akin to a suit of armor with bowed legs) the E.G.G. is a baffling issue that the game entirely avoids.

   Visually E.G.G. does little that the Saturn could not have accomplished. Most of the game takes place with an overhead view similar to a Legend of Zelda title in 2D, and the images displayed do not strain the Dreamcast in any way. A few FMV sequences might have been harder to do on the Saturn, and boss battles do look different (more on that later) but none of the visual elements will make a player gasp in awe. The aural component is fairly good, with the music in particular being pleasantly melodic. The few instances of voice acting are decidedly mediocre however, with several odd gaffes as the text onscreen includes words omitted or slightly altered by the speaker. Strangely, only robots have voice acting in E.G.G.

   I have invoked 2D Legend of Zelda titles several times already, because the actual combat does look a fair amount like those games. E.G.G. wanders about the landscape engaging enemies onscreen and gaining money/elemental refills/EP refills from them. In the beginning E.G.G. has two methods of attack: a punch and a spin. The spin attack makes E.G.G. move faster but with the annoying side effect of behaving rather like a pinball (bouncing off of anything it bumps into) and the more annoying side effect of slowly draining EP (health). As the game progresses the player will discover new abilities, such as elemental attacks that also are a means to unblock passages, or the ability to pick up objects, or a grapple arm to cross gaps. The player will also gain Attack, Defense, and Mind capsules to increase all of these attributes (Mind being the limit on the amount of elemental usage) and EP increasing items. Gaining a new skill means heretofore inaccessible areas can be revisited with the high likelihood of their containing useful things.

Jungle love, it's drivin' me wild, its makin' me crazy! Jungle love, it's drivin' me wild, its makin' me crazy!

   What causes a problem in this fairly basic action-RPG formula is the control. E.G.G. is not unresponsive, but it is slower than many of its enemies. Many enemies must be struck to knock them out of a dangerous attack mode, but timing this can be aggravatingly difficult when the punch's range is limited and incorrectly timing the action leads to taking a hit. Enemies drop health refills, it is true, but the damage E.G.G. will be taking is often higher than refills can fix. The Game Over screen will be seen frequently by any player of this game, though the ability to continue repeatedly from the same screen ameliorates the frustration somewhat.

   Boss battles differ from the rest of the game. In an effort to display the Dreamcast's potential, the camera moves about from an overhead view to something much closer to the E.G.G. with the graphical style changing to a 3D type. Attacks do not change in the slightest (save for one unique fight near the end) but the irritating camera angles make aiming a chore for any distance attacks.

Giant metallic weed whacker needed  will pay premium. Giant metallic weed whacker needed will pay premium.

   Challenge is a mixed bag: while the player will die repeatedly in this game, the ability to continue from the same screen (not at full health) means that the cheapness of some enemies will not be overwhelming. The game is not very long and can probably be completed in 10 hours or less, though wandering around to find the correct path is often necessary. As to replay, though the story changes not in the slightest there are a couple of minigames. How worthwhile a player finds them is open to debate.

   Due mostly to the odd control ailments, Elemental Gimmick Gear can be a chore to play. It has some fun moments and is never terrible, but as action-RPGs go it fails to reach anywhere near the top level. The Dreamcast has much better to offer though it also has worse.

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