Review by pepper2000

Reviewed: 04/12/01 | Updated: 04/12/01

A good game with serious flaws

Oh no! It appears as though the once-great treasure-hunting Launcher family has squandered its entirely fortune and gone into debt. It falls upon young Mag Launcher to set things right.

Accompanied by his faithful and mysterious female companion Linear, family butler Gre, and friends Chain and Pepper, Mag sets out to continue the family tradition of treasure hunting. Wouldn't you know it, but the spunky Mag's adventures would cross his path with the evil 8th Empire, bent on reviving the ancient power of Evolutia.

The storyline itself is that of a simple and light-hearted adventure. RPG enthusiasts will hopefully enjoy the cross of bright anime drawings and the Indiana Jones-style motif.

Unfortunately, the story of Evolution does not flow well. After fighting your way through several long dungeons, the plot finally intensifies and captures the player's interest. And then it ends. After a paltry 20 hours, too. Evolution would have made a great first half of an RPG.

Once you complete the game, you are given an additional side quest that consists of nothing more than fighting through dungeons and making money. Although it can round the total gameplay hours to a respectable amount, only a patient fan will actually go through the effort.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, there is nothing in Evolution the RPG veteran will find shocking. Your characters will gain levels after fighting enough battles. You also earn ability points which can be eventually cashed in for new abilities. Each character has a respectable set of abilities, and it is fun to work and uncover them.

Some characters (Mag, Chain, and Pepper) use ''Cyframes'' in battle. These unusual devices are constructed of various parts you find throughout the game, which either give you new abilities or increase stats. Cyframe management is an important, though fairly simple, part of the game.

Battles also work in a fairly ordinary fashion. Up to four enemies line up for what will resemble a standard turn-based battle. Once inside battle, there is nothing too shocking or unusual.

Evolution sports randomly generated dungeons as well. Almost the entire game will be spent fighting your way though one of five long dungeons. Enemies will be visible on the map, giving you the option to avoid them or try to sneak up on them. Treasure chests are littered about, and every dungeon concludes with a boss.

The greatest flaw with the game can be summarized as repetition. The last random dungeon (which is followed by a short, non-random, ''final dungeon'') consists of 20 floors, and it can take up to several hours to explore thoroughly. And you have to explore it thoroughly if you want any hope of being strong enough to challenge the boss. That means, for several hours, you will be exploring what appears to be the same halls over and over again, fighting the same enemies over and over again, getting the same treasure over and over again. Each battle can be reduced to a simple procedure of healing and attacking, or using a powerful ability to wipe out strong monsters. By the halfway point, you will start every level screaming, ''Please, not again!''

The other serious flaw with the gameplay relates to challenge. Following a simple procedure of fighting and thoroughly exploring dungeons, you should have no difficulty completing the game...or at least most of it. Then you will reach the fiendishly difficult final boss. It is only with a great stroke of luck that I was able to win that fight. And don't get any bright ideas about building up levels, for it becomes almost impossible once you reach the end. And even if you could, the boss builds up levels right along you.

With regard to graphics, Evolution has little to praise or complain about. The game is certainly up to early Dreamcast standards in the technical department. Dungeons will appear unfortunately bland due to the incessant repeating of no more than two small patterns. The visual effects of special abilities are also rather disappointing.

One of the strongest points of Evolution, as I see it, is the music. It is indeed a shame Evolution's fantastic soundtrack had to be contained within an otherwise somewhat bland game. The game features fast-paced, exciting battle themes along with soothing and incredible dungeon scores. Some of the other songs can range from dull to irritating, but the songs you hear most frequently are indeed some of the best a console's MIDI chip has to offer.

In conclusion, Evolution is a simple, fun, light-hearted game with some serious design flaws. If you are an RPG enthusiast, Evolution should provide a sufficient amount of entertainment for a few days/weeks. If you are unsure, I suggest saving your money for other, more worthwhile RPGs.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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