Review by Vyse_skies
Reviewed: 03/30/09 | Updated: 08/31/09
Just your staple RPG, but very addictive and unusually mood pleasing.
I used to be the type of RPG fan that would pick up any RPG, even if Id never heard of it before, just because it was an RPG. I was a big fan of cute visuals, funky battle themes and of course, anything that was turn-based. On a trip to Gamestation one day, I saw Evolution brand new for cheap. I checked the back, saw that it was turn based and brought it. I had no idea what it was or if it were any good. I guess you could say I was being spontaneous, I had nothing in mind and when I saw this, I guess I just went for it.
The story in Evolution follows Mag Launcher, a budding adventurer- and son of famous adventurer Asroc Launcher- and a mysterious girl named Linear Cannon who arrived at Mag's house with a letter from his father one day asking for him to take good care of her. Mag and Linear excavate ruins while trying to find the ultimate Cyframe in existence, Evolutia. While it doesn't hold the same effect as some other RPGs, Evo does a fair job of what it has to work with. The storyline is enjoyable and very easy to follow and best of all, it isn't boring.
Evolution's gameplay is as simple and basic it can get in an RPG. Essentially the battles are turn based. The battle scene is set out in rows of three and characters, out of a possible party of 3 stand on each of these rows. Each row is made up of three blocks, a front- where you'll deal more damage, but also leave yourself more exposed and will take more damage. The middle row/block is kind of middle ground and the back row; you'll deal less damage and take less damage. Enemies also have the same rows and depending on which row you are in and the rows they are in can affect who can attack whom. A back row can only attack a front row. A front row can attack all.
Boss fights can be interesting when they incorporate moves that use these rows to good use. One bosses move will suck back row characters forward, when characters are in the front row it will use its most powerful move. This neat little gimmick is only used in the boss battles, but it's a pretty darn neat addition and made the boss battles much more than just the typical mundane attack and heal strategy most RPGs required you to do.
Another interesting gimmick that works very well is that of Cyframes. Mag Launcher, Chain Gun and Pepper Box all use Cyframes. Cyframes are complex machinery that can do tremendous damage. Mags for example is in the form of a massive fist that he uses to smash his opponents to smithereens. Throughout the random dungeons the game you will encounter numerous monsters. Defeating said monsters Mag and co will gain experience, levels and be given TP, Evolutions equivalence to skill points. You can used TP to add a new attack to your Cyframe or character, the more enemies you defeat the more TP you'll get.
Every dungeon has a select number of floors, and enemies get stronger with each and every floor and provide more of a challenge for players. Enemies roam the dungeons freely and that is a big relief as I think random battle would have destroyed Evolution. Battles can occur in three stages. Normal confrontation is when you and the enemy meet face to face. Pre-emptive strike is when you sneaky approach an enemy from behind. Finally there is the surprise attack (which is very nasty if your levels are poor) where the enemy manages to touch you from behind. I liked the way they did this because it gives the player more incentive to be careful when around monsters. I also liked how it allowed the player to avoid monsters altogether if they should wish to do so.
As each dungeon is random, so is their design and layout, now while each floor may not look particularly special it does have its fair share of surprises. Expect hidden traps, monsters rooms, and plenty of item chests to find. The whole point of Evolution is to pay off the Launcher families debt while following the storyline, by collecting and selling artifacts you find in these dungeons. That is not all you will find, expect to find powerful items, weapons, upgrades, new Cyframe parts, armour and accessories.
Evolution is a cute game. Monster look cute and although a lot of them look similar, there are plenty different specimens to battle against. Mag Launcher as the lead is an extremely likable character. He looks cute with is over-sized head, has a sense of humour- especially when arguing with Gre, his butler and Eugene the main antagonist to the game, is caring- especially for his best friend Linear, looks cool and has an ultra cool weapon in the form of a giant glove. Mag was a character bigger than Evolution and could have been placed in a much better RPG. Though Evo is a great game, it doesn't do Mag any justice.
Random dungeons are as bland as can be. The birds eye view helps though as you're not close up on the designs and walls. The problem with random dungeons is that they don't stick to any particular design and so you can end up with a completely weird outline. Either this can be be seen as a fault through lazy creation, or it can be seen as a genius idea. However, are random dungeons really the way they should have gone?
I loved the music in Evolution. It got me moving. There are about 6 battle themes over all. One for a normal encounter- a great theme. Surprise attack- A nasty, scary theme. Pre-emptive Strike- My favourite, its an upbeat tune full of life and energy and literally thrusts you into the heart of the battle. You want to attack, dance and make a mockery of the enemy. Then you have numerous boss battle themes, which all suit the game well. The town theme is a little nauseating and after hearing it for a while, you'll just ignore it then cherish it, but the dungeon themes are epic. They channel off this mystic type of vibrancy that allows you to drift. It kind of feels like when you watch waves crash on the rocks, at night while at a beach resort, the wind blowing through your hair. It makes you happy to be alive and free.
Evolutions characters are endearing. Each character is unique and play their parts well. Mag as the adventurer who loves excavating ruins and following his own heart. Chain is Mags rival who secretly admires him. Linear is that quiet, vulnerable girl Mag just has to protect. Gre, the butler who complains and tries to protect the wayward Mag and Pepper, a sexy adventurer from another city. Evolution is great in most parts, but there's that special zing thats missing.
Evolution is strange. Its just a simple RPG, but it has such an amazingly fun battle system. The mixture of item collecting and dungeon crawling works exceptionally well. I actually enjoyed grinding to level 100 and collecting items to pay off the massive $80000 debt you have right from the start of the game. Evo is cute, fun, light-hearted and easy to get into and follow, but the worst thing (and not in a bad way) is that Evolution is incredibly addictive. Evo isn't an epic, lavish, over the top masterpiece like Skies of Arcadia or Final Fantasy, but it provides the gamer with everything an Rpg of its kind should. Evolution could have been a classic if it had a little more meat on its bones, but because it's so much fun, Evo manages to hold its worthy place in my collection to this present day.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Evolution: The World of Sacred Device (EU, 06/09/00)
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