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Time Stalkers - Retroview

Time Compression Twisted To A New End

By: Desh


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 10
   Plot 6
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

20-30 hours

 
Overall
5
Criteria

Title Screen

   When I first started Time Stalkers, I was entranced. Not only were the graphics stunning (for its time), and the music very atmospheric and real, but the beginning sequence and intro to the game are more than enough to suck you in and keep you - for awhile, that is. While many of the ideas in Time Stalkers were fresh and original, by the time I had finished I had a feeling of "Yes, it's finally over."

   The battle system takes one step back and two steps forward. First, your party of three (a main character and two captured monsters) fight on four squares against one to four parties of monsters. You enter commands for all of your members, and watch it from there, reminiscent of the very early Final Fantasies. However, while command entering is done at your own pace, the attacks, magic, and sequencing that follows is quick, realistic, and nearly flawless.

   The mechanics of this game are very simple to understand, as a lengthy tutorial at the beginning ensures. In this sectioned world, there are six main characters, although only one can enter a dungeon at a time. That character can release two previously captured monsters and use them in their party. A map in the dungeon is available in three forms: full (at least what you've discovered), small local, and none at all. Outside of dungeons the world is very easy to get through, although some load times leave something to be desired (*clock tower*).

   Throughout the game, music accompanies you in many different forms. Every character has there own music, each dungeon has its dark, somber drone, and small scenes have very effective music. While all the music is good, however, I can't for the life of me recall a single song - they just aren't memorable enough or enjoyable enough to. The sound effects, as well, just don't cut it in my mind (try it - you'll see what I mean).


Becoming a Stalker...
Becoming a Stalker... 

   As the first RPG to be released on the Dreamcast, it certainly brought about many changes. Wow, it really did. The story itself was one that caught my eye in the beginning (but started to wear on my nerves by the end). Questing, while not truly original, was still done in a fresh new way (and keeps you sane). There's very little in this game that isn't original in some way.

   Now, as I said before, the storyline caught my eye early on in the game. However, after getting a few of the main characters, it started to go sour. Not only are the characters very transparent, so to say, but they are very predictible and often annoying. While getting close to the end, I had gotten so annoyed at it that I didn't return to the game for a month, and then I just did questing and minigames.


Hey you!  Wake up!
Hey you! Wake up! 

   The many characters that you meet in this odd world are what make this game more enjoyable. For instance, the local "mafia" is always fun to poke Lady with. The people in the Japanese suburbs (can you call it a suburbs anymore?) develop too, becoming more and more dependent on their TV's and such (which is hilarious). It is these NPC's that get all the development, which is funny, but in a way, sad. I felt nothing for the main characters.

   This game just looks pretty. Even after seeing some of the movies in FFX, this game just looks... pretty. The world is very vibrant and colorful. The only problems with it are these: 1) Sometimes, in battle, the camera angle will be absolutely disgusting, and finding your enemy becomes rather difficult, depending only on status information given. And 2) the dungeon map occasionally matches the dungeon's coloring. Oops. Did you REALLY want to know where you're going? Oh well. Worse things in games have happened.


Lady dispenses some justice.
Lady dispenses some justice. 

   Difficulty is rather varying. The dungeons are all randomly produced, but, as common sense would have it, later dungeons ARE a bit harder than earlier ones. So, the last dungeon could be as easy as two dungeons before, or it can starve you to death (which it did to me very often). So, you just have to play it as it lies.

   The replay value on this game is phenominal. Absolutely amazing. Spectacular. Pick a great, positive adjective, and it fits. There are so many minigames and goals to play around with: capturing every monster, rare item collecting, questing, you name it. The only reason that I did not give this a perfect ten was because, personally, I didn't want to have to sit through the story again and watch the NPC's go through all the same transformations. Sorry. Other than that, though, it's extremely addictive. It is also because of these reasons that I put no upward limit to the time, because this game can last you a good, long time. I just couldn't stand it for much more than thirty hours, though.

   Overall, this game was a great, original achievement. There are a plethora (great word, huh?) of different things you can get enraptured in. However, I gave this game a relatively low score because I just didn't enjoy it at the end. Somehow, somewhere, the game just lost my interest and respect. However, you don't have to believe me fully on this - try it out yourself while the Dreamcast is still out there.





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