The Review Thread

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Postby Xander77 » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:08 am

Cut and pasted from my LJ post - it also has a long rant about the Chzo mythology... but I'm not recommending most of it, while Nelly would probably appeal to most people who browse this forum:
Nelly Cootalot is a free game made with the AGS engine: http://new.bigbluecup.com/games.php?act ... ail&id=860

Nelly is… cute. Adorable. Huggable. Kawaii no dezu. ^_^. Seriously, best and most concise way to describe it.
I hope I'm neither misanthropically bitter enough to despise anything "cute", nor "aww" prone enough to let cuteness overshadow unfortunate plotting and design issues…

In any case. Nelly is contacted by the ghost of Bluebeard to help locate and rescue some cute birdies. All the action takes place on one Island, with approximately a dozen locations on it. You can't die, you can't get stuck enough to be forced to revert to a previous save. I was only stuck twice – having missed two separate obvious on-screen objects (a stairway and a pipe). Oh, and the somewhat out of place mechanical puzzle at the end. The humor is abundant, mostly based on dialogue, pirate-y references and light slapstick. It's also (you guessed it) very cute. The look of the game and the interface are quite professional. If you showed me the game and told me it was released commercially back in the 90's I would have no reason to disbelieve. In fact the initial "average" reviews have in fact treated it as a commercial game. In any case, I really couldn't recommend Nelly enough, if you have some interest in adventure games and cuteness.
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Postby Kane Magus » Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:27 pm

Yeah, Nelly Cootalot was pretty awesome. It had a sort of Monkey Island feel to it without seeming like a blatant Monkey Island rip-off.

I can't say I agree with your take on the Chzo Mythos games though (yeah, I read your LJ about them) because I found those to be pretty awesome as well, but... meh, to each his own I guess.

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Postby Xander77 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:46 pm

Well, No 3 is fairly awesome... I just don't get what's so neat about 1 and 2.
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Postby Xander77 » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:20 pm

BTW, question:
Did you find that the games had a certain sexist/chauvinistic/homophobic vibe? I did, but I only played the game after reading through the fullyramblomatic site, so I wasn't unbiased/objective.
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Postby Kane Magus » Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:07 pm

Sorry for taking so long to reply to this, but I somehow missed it until only just now.

Xander77 wrote:BTW, question:
Did you find that the games had a certain sexist/chauvinistic/homophobic vibe? I did, but I only played the game after reading through the fullyramblomatic site, so I wasn't unbiased/objective.

If it was there it didn't jump out at me as blatantly obvious or anything, but I wasn't actively looking for it either.

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Aquaria

Postby Kane Magus » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:12 pm

Aquaria.

I have heard this game described as Symphony of the Night meets Ecco the Dolphin. After playing it myself, I would have to say that this is a fairly succinct and accurate phrase to use when describing the game.

You play the game as Naija, a female, humanoid, mer-creature. You spend the entirety of the game exploring a huge ocean, consisting of a wide array of varied sub-areas, reminiscent of Ecco the Dolphin, ranging from tropical bays to kelp forests to icy arctic waters to underwater cities and more.

Along the way, you gain access to various forms which allow you to do things such as attack enemies, light up darkened areas, or turn into a tiny fish to access otherwise inaccessible areas, among other things. These forms, and additional powers that you pick up along the way, are accessed in Naija's normal form through the use of song. That is, you will learn various three or four note songs that allow you to do whatever you need to do. It is an interesting system and reminded me vaguely of Loom.

The game is beautiful, both visually and aurally. Awesome 2D sprite-based games like this are simply few and far between these days, which is a shame, and it's good to see Bit Blot keeping the tradition alive and well. The music is amazing, and the voice acting is quite good for the most part, particularly that of Naija herself.

The basic, mouse-only control scheme is pretty intuitive. She pretty much just goes wherever you point your mouse cursor. It can get slightly hairy at times in tight, narrow corridors due to Naija's ability to grab walls for wall-jumping purposes, but that's the only nitpick I had with the controls. In addition to the mouse scheme, there are other options available, such as WASD+mouse with hotkeys on the number keys for forms/powers, as well as support for gamepads.

Other interesting things of note include a cooking system that allows you to use various recipes that you find throughout the world (or create from trial-and-error tinkering) to combine ingredients you gain from enemies or various plants into powerful food items that can come in handy in a pinch. Also there are various treasures scattered around the oceans. These can either be new costumes for Naija, some of which have practical benefits gameplay-wise in addition to just looking cool, or decorations for Naija's home cave, again some of which have practical uses in addition to mere decoration. Also, there are four different pets that can be found in the game. These follow Naija around, though only one can be selected at a time, and each of them have their own uses. Lastly, there are three of Naija's memories that, once found, unlock a special ending (which is pretty much a teaser for the hopefully coming soon sequel to this game).

The game, of course, isn't completely flawless. While it didn't bother me personally since I'm used to it from Metroid/Castlevania, I've seen some complaining on the Aquaria forums about the use of a save-point system as opposed to a save-anywhere system, so there is that to take into consideration. Also, though there are the equivalent of portals between areas in the game in the form of Ancient Turtles that you find scattered around the world, navigation of point A to point B can get slightly tedious at times, particularly if you're backtracking. But then, this was again also true of the Metroid/Castlevania games as well, so it's more a mild knock, such as it is, against the genre in general than against Aquaria in particular. Lastly, some of the bosses can be crazy difficult, primarily in that a lot of them require special tricks to defeat beyond just shoot-them-until-they-die. While this is true more of the optional bosses (which is as it should be, in my opinion), even some of the bosses required to gain forms were pretty annoying at times, even if you did know what it took to beat them, and sometimes it's not entirely intuitive or obvious what it is that's expected to be done to kill them. *cough*Mithalas*cough* At least there are the forums to visit, if one becomes stuck, as I did a time or two.

In a nutshell, if you like the free exploration of games like Super Metroid and its successors or the recent Metroid-inspired Castlevania games, then I feel quite assured that you will also like this game as well. The full game costs $30 and is a 200 MB download, which can be acquired directly from Bit Blot's site. There is also a 60-ish MB demo available there, if you want to try it out before buying the full game, the save-games for which are compatible with the full game.

Oh, and though I haven't messed with it myself, the full game comes with a level editor.

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