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SummaryIt's The Circus Of The Climax Stars!
The GoodReleased in 2000, TimeStalkers, known as Climax Landers, in Japan, was one of the first RPGS to hit the Sega Dreamcast. From Climax, makers of Shining Force, Shining In The Darkness, and Landstalker, it has to be good right?
“The last time we met, I was but the learner. Now I am the master!”-Darth Vader-
This one of the first RPGS I played for the Dreamcast. It was also one of the first games I reviewed for….RPGFan. Ah yes, back then I was just ApprenticeMegid. At the time I really liked the game. Recently I found myself replaying it. Did I like it this time?
The plot is very original in TimeStalkers. It revolves around a hero Sword, being summoned to a strange new world. That is actually an amalgam of various different eras and places. And while Sword is a new character, many Climax stars make an appearance. Nigel, the Landstalker, and his pixie pal, Friday. Pyra, the fiery spell caster, from Shining In The Darkness. Lady, from the Japan only Ladystalker.(Sorry, but it is not a hentai game.-MM-) New characters include Rao, a beast man solider with a heart of gold. And, Marion, she is an automation, and an optional character.
And that just covers, the playable characters. Many other Climax characters make and appearance. Lady’s cook Cocks, and gardener, Yoshio also appear. Yogurt, form Shining Force, makes a cameo. And many others. Oddly there are no Dark Savior characters. I wonder why?
The game is very silly. Just like Ladystalker. Perhaps more so. All the NPCS are very colorful and have a great design. And often are very funny. The private eye, Howard, stands out in my mind. In his portrait he looks like character from a graphic novel. And when you talk to him he always tells you silly jokes, accompanied by a laugh track.(And there are tons of jokes, I never heard the same one twice. There is also the silly rabbit Noimen, who gives you optional quests. All and all they are all very silly inhabitants.
The dialog between the PC’s is funny too. Sword is a little prick, but he is funny, the way he talks to people. And how the good natured Rao, always has to be the barrier between the hot-headed Pyra, and the asshole Sword. The translation is impeccable. Newer gamers are probably, thinking big deal. But I say, yes it is a big deal, because I remember the old days of horrible translations, that even plagued some 32, and 64 bit games. But in TimeStalkers, it is clear, concise, and often laugh out loud funny.
TimeStalkers, is basically a dungeon crawler. Which is fine except for some of the dumb choices, Climax made. Like monster capturing for example. But more on this in the bad section. I will say, that considering that the dungeons are random, each time you enter. They look great and are varied. From the haunted, Phantom Zone. (No not from Superman, but that is a good guess.-MM-) To the decrepit inner city, Downtown dungeon.
For some reason instead of using, any of the five, other heroes, to fill out your adventuring party, you go alone, and can take two, of the monsters that you have captured. Like Pokemon from hell.(Oh wait, Pokemon is from hell.-MM-) You weaken a monster, then you capture in into a capsule. Then, after the dungeon, you can take it to the monster house. There, you, can graze, register, or release the monster. You can upgrade your monster house, to hold more. And while the monster capturing is done well, I can’t help but wonder why? Why use monsters instead of other heroes? You can also download your monster, to your VMU, and use it in mini-games.
Is that a VMU is your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
I think, that the mini-games, deserve a special mention here. Out of all the Dreamcast games, TimeStalkers, made the most use of the VMU, Virtual Memory Unit. The standard Dreamcast memory card, also doubled as a mini-game portable device. It has a mono-chromatic screen, and a D-Pad, and two face buttons. In TimeStalkers, you can buy and use various mini-games.
One is a monster training/fighting game. Another is rock, paper, scissors. And yet another is a mini-RPG. It is a first person dungeon crawl. And is surprisingly deep. The items and weapons, as well as gold, that you find can be used in the main game. But it is completely unnecessary. Some emulators even allow VMU functionality.
The graphics in TimeStalkers, are great for an early DC, game. Very well detailed, and very vibrant. The world actually seems to come to life. The spell effects look great, and the lighting effects, steal the show. And while it is no Shenmue, Grandia II, or Soul Caliber, it looks good just the same, and has aged well.
The music is great. As we have come to expect from Climax. Pyra and Rao’s theme, stick out in my mind in particular. The sound effects are good as well. From connecting with and enemy, spell sound effects, and the silly laugh track. Great stuff.
The BadWhy did they have monsters? This game would have been far more cool if you could have had, Sword, Nigel, and Pyra, in your party. Instead of just one of them and some dumbass monsters.
But what is far worse than the monster debacle. Is the leveling system. You level up during dungeons. By collecting EXP. But when you exit the dungeon you lose it all. And only retain your rank. Which is upgradeable. So your knew rank, may allow new spells, and higher HP and MP caps, but you must gain it all again and again. Why? Seriously, what the hell were they thinking?
This is a perfect example, of how Japs, have an odd sense of innovation. This game could have been great, if not for these huge problems.
And why no voice acting? That would have been sweet. If they did it well, anyhow.
Making money, is harder than it should be. You end up having to take side missions. Like defeating a certain number of monsters, or finding a certain item, etc. All this ends up doing is making the game longer than it needs to be. What should be a 20 hour dungeon crawl, becomes a 45-50 hour romp. Oy Vey!
Why did we get this instead of Landstalker II? It could have even used the same graphics engine. But been an action RPG, and played like Zelda 64. That would have been off the chain, but I digress.