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Elemental Gimmick Gear - Review

By Jeff Davis, RPGamer Writer


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6.5
   Gameplay 7.5
   Music 7
   Originality 7
   Plot 6
   Replay Value 5
   Sound 6.5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Hard
   Time to Complete

12-20 hours

 
Overall
6.5
Criteria

EGG
EGG  

   One would think that the post-32-bit era of RPG gaming would usher an RPG wherein games fashion themselves in stunning graphics, gameplay that treads uncharted waters or stories that capture the imagination -- for better or worse Elemental Gimmick Gear defies this convention. Instead EGG goes back to the old tried and true approach of good graphics, good gameplay, and good music. Do these characteristics guarantee a good game? Well, not exactly.

    The game's model follows that of a typical 2D-Overhead Adventure/RPG resembling the earlier Zeldas. Focusing more on adventure than rpg, the game treats gamers to a unique experience that is so rarely found in today's all out 3D landscape.

    The story unfolds as a group of workers excavate a robot known as Elemental Gimmick Gear or EGG within an ancient ruin. Enclosed within the robot they find a pilot, the main character, who they name the Sleeper. All attempts to awaken the man fail. At the same time scientists study, then replicate the EGG, which then becomes transportation and fighting mechanisms. As the Sleeper continues his seemingly eternal slumber the world begins to evolve with this new found tool . Eventually time progress and one day a group of EGGs explore the ruins wherein they accidentally hit a switch that triggers a world wide apocalypse of sorts. The dome-shaped structure erupts with life and spreads its Tentacles across the world. It then encloses itself in a thick fog hence the people started to call the structure 'Fogna'. The game then begins as you are thrust into the role of the Sleeper, who when awaken is given the name Leon. Due to his timeless slumber he awakens to an amnestic episode, knowing nothing of his identity or his past. Selen, the scientist who cared for him during his sleep suggests that he take his robot and travel to Fogna, the place where he was unearthed. EGG's story is competent enough for the genre as it takes a number of twists and turns to the end, but not enough to be one of endearment after the game is turned off. The main flaw is that the game tries to fall back on a weak and holey storyline. It clearly should have been more carefully developed. For example, in the beginning after you get back from the first mission, Selen is captured. She was not developed enough, despite being a significant character in the game. So early in the game it left me asking "Who's Selen?" -- "What's going on?" -- and more so "Who cares?" There is no sense of urgency in the storyline to propel you to play for curiosity's sake -- a flaw that might turn away a gamer or two.


Boss Battle
Boss Battle  

    Vatical, the North American publisher of the game did at best, a sub-mediocre translation on the game. The game is froth with minor grammatical errors and sentences that make you go "huh?" The voice acting while not overly bad gives a sense of awkwardness. The mistakes continue as the story was the one to receive the most substantial mutilation in the translation department. It has a number of holes and in general can sometimes leave the player without a continuously connected sense of the plotline's progression. Luckily for the player, due to its nature of being an Adventure/RPG there is very little dependence on character interaction or dialogue -- in that regard it isn't as bleak as it appears.

    Visually EGG is not what one would expect from a game on the dreamcast system. While not out-of-this-world graphically it can be breathtaking in terms of the mix of rendered backgrounds and to characters that exude an anime feel. Its strength is in the array of lush color and level of detail; from the undulating transparencies of water, to the intricacies of background detail, to the geometric patters of floors or even to the amazing light and shadow work. It can look impressive, but conversely the game gives off a perception of flatness. Boss battles are presented in first generation-ish 3D. This comes as a disappointment as the dreamcast should be able to do far better than what was presented.

    Sound and Music aren't fancy affairs in this game. Its music ends up as standard RPG fare and completely forgettable beyond the in-game experience. To its credit the music exhibits a unique characteristic in style and instrumentation not found in other soundtracks. It gives off a sense of ambiance rather than an accompaniment and in some instances provides a perfect fit to the game's feel.


Outside
Outside  

    Everything aside pitfalls or otherwise, EGG's gameplay shines through as the strength of the entire package. The player is given a variety of controls in the attack department. The main attack options include; a short punch (the primary attack), holding down the punch button to fire your retractable arm for either long range attacks or to use as a grappling hook, and a spinning attack. As you progress through the game you will obtain the ability to cast spells like fireball, ice beam, earthquake and plasma beam. There are a number of special items that the player will obtain as well that expands on the gameplay system, like the ability to carry blocks or find life containers. EGG undoubtedly employs a system that is very reminiscent to the older incarnations of the Zelda games. All the battle mechanics are also true to form in the 3D Boss battles as it is in the standard overhead view. One problem in the system that is often encountered is getting hit innumerable times due to the delay between punches. Often you punch and the enemy is sometimes fast enough to hit you before you are able to throw the next punch. Instead punches should be able to be performed in faster succession. Needless to say there are frustrating moments. Though it does its job competently enough, the caveat of the battle department is that it still is much too simplistic for the sophisticated gamer.


Town
Town  

    Instead of finding an engrossingly huge overworld to explore you are given a somewhat limited world that has two menial towns. It is a disappointment that there is very little overworld to transverse as much of the game's exploration takes place in several huge interconnected dungeons. In these dungeons puzzles abound -- to the point of drudgery at times. To the game's credit some of the puzzles laid throughout the game are rather ingenious. Developers spent every last ounce of creativity in the design of these puzzles. Unlike the old days of the only push and pull blocks or levers, EGG uses a more proactive approach as it requires the gamer to use every item, spell or special move at your disposal in order to get through the puzzles. The game forces you to also use dexterity, speed and total control. For example, in some instances, you must hit a switch and use your spin move and to the most perfect of control maneuver through several doors that shut in a given time limit. One tiny mistake in the direction of your movement and it's back to square one of the puzzle. What could hurt the game is the level of difficulty as this is one of the more challenging games I've played in recent memory. Puzzles or the length of the game can soon wear out its welcome and can feel more laborious rather than a form of entertainment. If you don't like back and forth exploration and figuring out puzzles, beware.

    Still when all is said and done Elemental Gimmick Gear is a game that doesn't suffer from any major flaw. Instead, the chief attack that could be lodged against it is of the confluence of minor things that keep this game from being great. The casual gamer probably won't find much intrigue with this game, thus I can only recommend renting it first.. However those seeking an Adventure/RPG experience for the Dreamcast or any system for that matter may find a veritable diamond in the rough.
 

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