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Written by  :  Unicorn Lynx (181682)
Written on  :  Feb 28, 2005
Platform  :  SEGA CD
Rating  :  2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars2.83 Stars

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Playing Schubert helps me focus when I stare at butt cheeks

The Good

The Space Adventure is an adaptation of a popular manga that chronicles the cheesy and over-the-top adventures of a Han Solo-like worker turned intergalactic hero.

Unlike your usual Japanese adventure, where you keep staring at still screens during the entire game, there are many animated scenes here. Of course, they look quite primitive by today's standards, but they are nevertheless animations, which looked quite good when the game was released. Every movement (like space ships flying, Cobra riding his bike, and so on) is presented as a movement; during every action scene the characters move around. Doesn't sound like much, but it makes quite a difference when you want to be immersed in such a game. The Space Adventure comes closer to the sensation of watching anime than many other games of that type.

There is also some camera work worth mentioning. Although some of those "tricks" tend to repeat themselves, they remain pretty effective. No matter how many times we saw the close-up on Cobra's blue eyes or the gradual view of a barely dressed sexy girl, they still impress us. The developers certainly weren't stingy with pictures.

In many adventures you get is a text description of what you are looking at when you choose the "look" command. In The Space Adventure you get a different picture almost every time you look at something. If Cobra says "the bird is really huge", you actually get to see how huge the bird is. You really see how the space ship lands on a planet, even if this is shown through a series of still pictures, without animation.

The music is pretty forgettable (except Schubert and Chopin, of course), but the digital sound effects are really well-done. Whether the sound of the wind in front of the monastery, the water dripping in the underground caverns, or the menacing, "glassy" movement of Crystal Boy - everything enhances the atmosphere.

The game features plenty of diverse locations, some of which are quite unusual and original. Imagine a space ship landing on the back of a giant bird, only to discover a quiet medieval monastery there. You never spend too much time in one location, you stay there just long enough to explore it a bit, and then the game takes you to another one. Cemetery in the middle of a forest, mysterious temple ruins, desert, a typical modern city with bars and shops - the variety of locations certainly helps to sustain the player's interest.

The Bad

The writing balances between "it's so bad that it's good" and... well, simply bad. The plot is simplistic, the characters lack any psychological background, action sequences are way over-the-top, the barely dressed girls are ridiculous, and Cobra's indestructible coolness and his collection of "wise-ass" remarks would make MacGyver blush.

But I certainly wouldn't mind that too much if the game had anything to offer gameplay-wise. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We keep hearing the expression "brainless action", but "brainless adventure" is in many ways worse. The Space Adventure has the same gameplay as in most other Japanese games of the kind: scroll through menu commands several times, and the game will do the rest for you. Total lack of challenge pretty much makes it a manga or anime episode disguised as a game.

Sure, lack of gameplay is the Achilles heel of all Japanese adventures; but at least games like Snatcher knew that and inserted a few puzzles and shooting sequence to disperse the boredom. The Space Adventure does nothing of the kind, which is particularly aggravating, since the game is full of action scenes, but you never get to participate in them. You can only choose an action from a menu, which is not at all the same. In the last part of the game there are also some ridiculous turn-based battles that drag themselves unnecessarily and become tedious very quickly.

The translation is pretty bad, there are even some spelling errors. One thing I really dislike is how game translators tend to be so negligent in their work. It irritates me they often don't bother to do any research in doubtful cases. For example, in the Pyramid there is a lithograph of an ancient hero who defeated the Gorgon. They translated the hero's name as "Perusia", clearly simply re-writing the Japanese syllables in Latin letters. The Greek myth of the hero Perseus defeating the Gorgon Medusa is too well-known: the mistake is embarrassing. Ignorance is no excuse for unprofessional translating.

The Bottom Line

The Space Adventure is not as bad as it looks. The story has its moments, and the whole thing can become as enigmatically entertaining as watching an episode of a cheesy adolescent TV series on a rainy day. But when the peak of the gameplay experience becomes playing Chopin's and Schubert's pieces on the space ship piano, you begin to realize you might have better things to do.