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The Worst Christmas Ever
Yes, that is a 9. Yes, I love this game. This here is my opinion on the tiny, short horror-RPG called Parasite Eve, released in 1998 by none other than Square. While most reviewers gave it just a little above average, this reviewer happens to actually love the game. So, I thought it might be interesting to hear an opinion from a true fan of the series. Here goes.
Being very original, Parasite Eve's battle system differ a lot from other RPGs even today. You control only one character (the gorgeous police officer Aya Brea) from the beginning, and it will stay that way through the entire game. While in battle, Aya can move around freely, and so can the enemy. However, Aya cannot perform any kind of actions except moving around until a certain meter called the 'AT Bar' is filled. When the meter is filled, Aya can either use an item, perform an attack or use her Parasite Energy (spells, sort of). When selecting commands and performing attacks, the enemies cannot move at all until the command is executed. The same goes for Aya when the enemy is having a turn. Another unique thing that makes battles a little harder is the sphere that shows up around her when Aya is about to attack. Aya can only attack enemies that are within the sphere, and the range of the sphere can only be increased by upgrading the range of the weapon you are using. When a battle has ended, you will receive experience points, just as in most other RPGs, and Ayas level will sooner or later rise. When leveling up, she will gain not only HP and BP (Bonus Points, will be explained later), but also additional Parasite Energies. This is pretty much basic, all of it, but battles are very enjoyable and entertaining as they are in real-time with lots of enemies at the same time. What also should be mentioned, is that things such as abnormal statuses are a pain in Parasite Eve, since it is in real-time. For example, Slow might be the worst thing an enemy can cast on you, since you'll have no chance at all to dodge any of the upcoming attacks. Stuff like this provides at least some sort of strategy to the battles in this game, especially on some of the dangerous bosses later on.
Unfortunately, Parasite Eve has a quite undetailed and dull interface. There isn't much to talk about either, as there are only like three or four menus in total, and almost no sub-menus at all. It's quite well organized though, and nothing is hard to figure out without a manual. At first, there's the ordinary status, item, parasite energy (magic, or whatever you want to compare it with), weapon, armor etc, and then there's the new part: Tune Up. Here you can not only check what kind of weapon and armor you have equipped, but also upgrade them. On your weapon, you can upgrade the attack power, the range, the ammount of bullets you can fire in one round, and add additional effects to your weapon (such as poison attack etc). The same goes for the armor, where you can upgrade defense power, defense against parasite energy, critical (prevents critical hits from enemies) and additional effects (such as more space in the inventory, certain status resists etc). The more tools you find throughout the game, the more stuff you can add to your armors and weapons. And the more BP (Bonus Points) you receive from battles, the more you can upgrade your stats on your weapons and armors. For those of you who played Vagrant Story before this game, will notice that some of the parts in VS were taken right out of this title, especially in battle. One of the things about the overall system that has been a quite common complaint though, is the way Aya runs. Let's put it this way... walking in Parasite Eve is similar to standing still. You wouldn't walk in this game even if you were paid to do it. While running, Ayas speed is still incredibly slow, similar to the walking-speed of most other RPGs. Luckily, most areas are short and easy to navigate through, so you should get over the running-problem pretty soon.
Square translations have more or less always been good, and there really is no problem with Parasite Eve either. While there aren't that much dialogue in the game (since it's so short), there is but one place in the game that I really reacted on. There is a scene when Maeda (a scientist from Japan) comes to New York just when the chaos have started. He doesn't speak english that good, so he tries some japanese with the police officers he meets... and those japanese phrases that were spoken in that scene are so weird and meaningless that I just can't understand the point of it at all. Anyway, other than that there isn't much problem with the localization at all.
Composer Yoko Shimomua created the music for this fantastic title, and it might just be the very best of her work. Most of the tunes in Parasite Eve are fast techno-like beats with fitting melodies. One might think that this is far away from the average RPG-style, but it fits perfectly into the setting of this game. The game takes place in modern time, in New York to be exact. You are a police officer, a rookie; Aya Brea. When Aya was a child, her mother Mariko and her sister Maya died in a car accident. Aya was also in the car, but survived with only a scratch on her left eye. Since this, Aya has lived a lonely life, always wanting to become a police officer. At the age of 21, she moved to New York after she finished her training. Soon after, it all starts.
The game starts on Christmas Eve. Just that single thing provides even more emotions to the storyline. What could possibly happen on christmas eve, when everyone are supposed to be happy? On this day, Aya visits the opera, with a date (damn it..). There is a great show, and the main focus is on the singer Melissa. Suddenly, in the middle of the show, the people in the audience start taking fire! Within seconds, the hall is filled with chaos... and the only ones that seem to be ok, are Aya and Melissa. This is the start of a short but very exciting and different adventure, filled with some of the most disgusting things ever to be seen in a RPG. The plot is perhaps much deeper than a lot of people think, as they only play the game for fun (hey, no wrong in that either). A lot of questions are taken up as you play the game. They actually make you think quite a lot, about humanity, meaning of life, what we really are etc.
Parasite Eve might just be the one RPG with most stomach-turners ever released on the playstation, and that goes both for the background of the plot, and the FMV work. There are several disgusting FMVs of creatures transforming etc. In-game, the game looks good as well. While there are no dungeons and such, Aya only runs around within the city, and the details here are great. While the enemies are a little too few, and the Chrysler Building way too monotonous (it looks exactly the same throughout almost the entire building), the visuals in Parasite Eve are, in the end, more than just average.
Another thing that was taken from this game into Vagrant Story was the way of handling equipment after a game was cleared. While no keys and such are kept when finishing off a game of Parasite Eve, all weapons and armor are kept, so that you can upgrade them even more in the next round. This is also needed if you want to finish off the Chrysler Building, which is a major side quest that can be accessed just before finishing the game. Although you probably need to finish the game at least two times before entering this gigantic building, because it's no cake-walk on the later floors. If you manage to finish this side quest though, you will be rewarded with a second ending, so it might be worth a try if you're curious. Other than the Chrysler Building, Parasite Eve can be easily finished within 6-12 Hours, and most parts of the game are of no trouble at all. Only a few of the bosses later in the game might give you a hard time.
Now, I know that a lot of people probably think that it is very overrated, giving this game 9 out of 10. That's almost the highest score a game can get, meaning it probably is one of the best. But there are so many parts in this game that really captured me.. the music, the plot, and most importantly the actual feeling the game gave me. I can't help it, I have to give it such a high score. We all have our own opinions.
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