Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean - Reader Retroview  

Not Quite at Homer’s Level
by JuMeSyn

Nothing special
~30 hours


Rating definitions 

   A Working Designs translation generally guarantees a high level of quality to an RPGamer. This certainly continues to apply in discussing Albert Odyssey’s Saturn entry. But the translation is of such a high quality as to elevate the game itself a bit higher than it could otherwise sustain. For Albert Odyssey is an unremarkable RPG in all aspects other than translation.

   Visuals in particular fail to display a leap in quality concurrent with being developed on the Saturn. This is explained via the knowledge that Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean was originally made for the SNES and subsequently redirected. Such knowledge helps to explain why Albert Odyssey would have looked astounding on the SNES but fails to impress on a more powerful system. Aside from a few later spell effects and the movement of the airship when it is acquired, nothing comes to mind that could not have been accomplished on SNES.

On behalf of rotary phones everywhere, I WILL break your cell phones! On behalf of rotary phones everywhere, I WILL break your cell phones!

   Music is another category entirely. Composer Naoki Kodaka has written some beautiful compositions that are granted real instruments for their playing in addition to the usual synthesizers, and the result for the player is some of the smoothest music of any RPG. Some of the music can be listened to directly from the disc with a CD player but most is encoded to be inaccessible without playing the game. Without a doubt the music is the standout feature when the translation is not factored in.

   Any Working Designs effort will be highly readable and absent Engrish that ‘graces’ so many other translations even today. This one is comparable only to Popful Mail in the sheer lack of seriousness and amusement that is put onscreen though, and since Popful Mail is much shorter than Albert Odyssey this title may put the greatest amount of successful comedy into an English RPG ever. Pike, the hero, is typically given the standard choice between two text options that graces many an RPG, but here at least one option generally forgoes any sense of propriety to offer humor above all else. Nailing down concrete examples may spoil the prospective player’s experience, but watch for the ‘Yo Momma’ joke scene and the guard who threatens to open a can of whup-ass. Also, NPCs are consistently amusing to speak with – Kia’s experience meeting up with her former preschool teacher being one that sticks in my memory.

   Aside from the constant interludes of humor, the story of Albert Odyssey is nothing out of the ordinary. Pike is orphaned at a young age and adopted by a friendly harpy named Laia (harpies being essentially humans with wings here) and lives happily until a nasty fellow named Belnard comes along to petrify Laia. Along with the talking sword that saved Pike from the forces leading to his being an orphan, he must seek out a cure for Laia. This will lead him to gain some allies and eventually discover the secret behind the sword’s speech. This main plot is actually rather short, and this is because upon victory over this scenario Pike & co. are summoned to deal with a new threat roughly a year later. For those concerned the seriousness of the threats in both cases might be given short shrift, towards the end of both halves the game does drop the ludicrous edge. Replay is warranted only to the player who wants to experience the humorous plot again. There are no side quests, and nothing else to incite a second playing.

In 2 seconds everyone will begin showing off their break-dancing ability. In 2 seconds everyone will begin showing off their break-dancing ability.

   Controls are standard to the point of being ingrained into every RPGamer’s mind. Turn-based combat with agility determining turn order, spells learned at level up, experience being obtained from battle, battle being random, new weapons and armor in just about every previously unvisited town. The challenge isn’t great, but towards the end it does warrant spending some time to build levels – some of the latest bosses pack a nasty punch that can flatten the unprepared party. No regular enemy in my memory posed a genuine threat. One annoyance is that every battle requires a load time to enter and exit, although Working Designs has reduced that load time from the original.

   It bears restating; Albert Odyssey is completely conventional with the translation factored out. If the prospective RPGamer wants to play the game more than reading amusing anecdotes of NPCs, the score should be reduced – probably to a 2.5 or 3. To an RPGamer with a funny bone that needs tickling, on the other hand, Albert Odyssey is the strongest choice available.

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