Review by Truck_1_0_1_
Reviewed: 06/23/14 | Updated: 06/26/14
An Unknown and Underrated Masterpiece
The final game I chose to focus on, on my feature, was El Viento by early 90's Sega veterans, Wolf Team. While the development team had a bunch of great titles on the Sega CD, they also had this gem on the Genesis. El Viento is about a character from the Earnest Evans series (really, she is the protagonist of the series) named Annet, a sorceress from Peru. Her travels in El Viento take her all across the United States in 1928, where the game looks great, sounds better and where it platforms superbly; game play will tell you much more.
Game play: 9/10
The difficulty progression in El Viento is absolutely perfect, until the final level (more on this later). The controls are so on point and so effortless, its easier to pull off certain manoeuvres then it is to input the level skip code! El Viento plays just beautifully, with very well-placed upgrades, different magic to be used and Annet's trusty boomerang that always comes back to her. The level design is absolutely special though; Wolf Team must have spent hours upon hours designing the levels, as they are thought-provoking, cause you to strategize and will test your limits, without being impossible. The bosses are all varied and all require different methods to defeat them, which makes for a ton of variety, game play-wise. Now, about that final level; El Viento plays superbly throughout, with no hiccups, no errors or anything out of the ordinary, until the Empire State Building. Here, the game lags to death, enemies are constantly re-spawning and worst of all, the game glitches a lot of the time and these enemies (bats to be exact) can fly through walls, right at you. Now, these enemies are nearly impossible to kill unless you are half screen distance away from them because they fly basically as fast as you can run, in addition to the fact that they need to only hit you to cause damage, you have a frantic, lagging, mess of a level that kind of detracts. Still, the final level is beatable and is full of satisfaction when it is indeed beaten. Great stuff is to be found in game play, the same can be said for the story.
It is 1928, New York and a mafia boss is running amok, wanting to reawaken an ancient God named Hastur and Hastur is not a good God. Out to help him is a mysterious man named Henry and an equally mysterious sorceress named Restiana, who is in fact related to Annet in a far off way. As mentioned, to stop these three, Annet must traverse through the entire United States, culminating in a fierce battle atop the Empire State Building. The story is superb with many revelations and quirks that come to light throughout the game. The mafia boss's name was changed from the real-life Al Capone in Japan, to Vincent DeMarco in North America, though that is the only major change in the localized version. Much of the series has to do with Cthulu in terms of story, which makes for engaging and interesting plots. The graphics are interesting in El Viento as well, though they are not elite.
If there was more detail in the character models, the graphics for El Viento would easily be a ten, however Annet's faceless model and other drab-ish enemies cause the score to suffer. Too bad too, as the backgrounds are incredible, but special mention goes to the anime cut-scenes. Beautiful, stunning drawings of the characters holding conversations and while they are not animated, they are superb all the same. The enemies are massive and take up the majority of the screen, with a fair amount of detail put into them. Great stuff, but the sounds are even better.
The sound effects are great, if not a bit lacking (just the occasional bump and similar sounds for when an enemy is hit), though the real value for sounds is in the superb soundtrack. The tunes fit so well, sound so good and are great to play to, composer Motoi Sakuraba did a phenomenal job with creating the music in the game. Can one replay El Viento though?
Replay ability: 8/10
El Viento can easily be played for over an hour and you absolutely will not beat the game until subsequent plays. There are many levels, though no bonus levels or extras to be found in the game. Still, El Viento is a game that demands to be played.
Buy or rent?
After saying what I said above, this is an owning title 100%. It can fetch a pretty hefty price tag online however, thus make sure you are wise!
After playing El Viento, I really want to give Earnest Evans and Annet Futatabi a try, though I have read everywhere that Earnest Evans is far from a stellar title and Annet Futatabi is not compatible with North American Sega CDs, which has me out of luck. Still, this game is the poster child for unknown and underrated video games and everyone who is a plat-forming nut owes it to themselves to play this wonderful title. "???: Annet, you have survived!
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: El Viento (US, 12/31/91)
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