Review by WhiteID

Reviewed: 03/19/03 | Updated: 03/19/03

The little game that could...but didn't

Back in '99, the Dreamcast was the big kahuna of videogame systems. It was like the XBOX of today, with it's 128 bits, high quality sound, the works. This system is still considered outstanding by today’s standards. But, there was one thing the system needed in its early years, a good RPG. At launch time there wasn't many games of this sort for the system. Fans turned to Evolution for this need. it was the only RPG game they could reach out to, so they did so. There was only one problem...it was a dungeon crawl. Not only that, but it was a randomly generated dungeon crawl. Most experienced gamers would say that these two words together usually mean horror. Evolution was relatively good for it's type, but it was not enough to save it from mediorocity.

Evolution does not fail to supply in the graphics category. It shows off the first generation Dreamcast power quite well. A smooth frame rate is displayed throughout the entire game, even through the rather complicated attacks. There is no slowdown at all, this is not hard to accomplish in an RPG, but it is still something to commend for. The attacks and items show off a good amount of special effects, such as Mag’s Mach Fist. However, one of the problems in this category is the blurry texture. When viewed up close, the graphics look somewhat pixilated. However, this is not too much of a problem, considering the overall look of the game.

One of the best parts of the game is the character design. Mag is a bit of a overdone character, but his original weapon and clothes make up for this fact. Gre, Mag’s loyal butler, is a pretty cool and original design itself. You can’t go wrong with a rifle-wielding butler. Chain’s constant temper tantrums are very amusing, she’s always getting mad for being mistakes for a boy. Also, Pepper is one cool chick, with her shades and waist-anchored cannon. But probably the best design in the game is the unbelievably cute Linear. Her clothes and mood practically scream adorable.

The music is very typical fare for an RPG of this type. The battle theme is heroic and uplifting, the dungeon theme is slow and mysterious, nothing unexpected. While it delivers, it accomplished nothing that special. Every tune seems like it is borrowed from another RPG. The sound effects a very crisp and clear, and fit the game rather well. However, there are a bit of a minimal amount of effects. The annoying voice of Mag can get on your nerves rather easily.

The presentation of the whole package is very nice. The box art seems to jump out of the case. Plus, being the first RPG for the Dreamcast, the desire to buy the game was just skyrocketing. The game had a lot of good features going for it, and not to mention a great graphics engine.

Now, you might be wondering at this point, “Why did this idiot give it a five out of ten? All he has to say is positive things”. Well…you may not be wrong about the idiot part, but you are wrong about the all-positive things part.

The game really had a lot going for it, it would have been great, if it didn’t have on thing.

Randomly generated dungeons.

For those who don’t know, random dungeons are pretty much just mazes. There is nothing special about them, nothing inventive, nothing that makes you think. The only thinking you will be doing in these dungeons are:

“Right…left….left…right…right…dammit!…back….left….right….forward…dammit!”

Throughout the whole game, you basically go floor-to-floor, facing maze after maze. If the dungeons were not randomly generated, the score would of rose at least 3 points. However, the good battle system somewhat softens this blow. The battles are pretty inventive, and have a lot to do with the position of your character. However, monster designs are very uninspired. A rat...a bug…another bug…how original.

The story is also very bland. The main character, Mag Launcher, is a treasure hunter that has a huge debt to pay off. His friend and partner, Linear, is always accompanying him on his adventure. However, when a man sends a letter to Mag saying he wants to see Linear, things all change. The story has one or two uninventive twists, nothing very satisfying.

Overall, Evolution had a lot to accomplish, but it only accomplished half of these goals. A great battle system, inspired characters, nice graphics…but it was all killed by those STUPID random dungeons. And so, I give a five out of ten to Evolution, the little game that could, but didn’t.

If you like Evolution, you would probably like:
Grandia Xtreme, probably the best dungeon crawler in the genre.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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