I would liken the Orphen PlayStation 2 game to this item that can be collected throughout the course of the game…
…but let’s face it– that would be entirely too easy. I gave it another chance since I finally have a platform for capturing video. To review, Orphen is a dippy anime-based game with an odd action-RPG style of gameplay which likely serves to underscore my inexperience in the role playing game genre since the original Final Fantasy game on the 8-bit NES.
First of all, the game thrusts you into the middle of an anime tale with established characters and no introduction; viewer is assumed to understand all backstory. The title character and his two young charges are walking through a seaside town and meet up with 2 little thieves that they apparently know. For reasons that are somewhat unclear, the 5 board a ship that immediately strays off course and hits rough waters. All of the passengers are suddenly obsessed with “getting out”, though what that entails is never really discussed.
Eventually, some interactive action occurs. Orphen squares off with a giant crab monster and takes turns exchanging fireballs. Do you remember when Ken and Ryu used to announce every fireball they launched in Street Figher II? “Hadouken!”. This is a tad more annoying since every move is announced, not just special moves. “The Hand of Pyro!” “The Bite of Lightning!” “The Shield of Immunity!”
Since I captured all this footage for screenshots that I would hate to delete right away, drink in this gameplay sample in all of its YouTube-quality glory:
Orphen faces off with the giant crab who, when almost defeated, turns into many little crabs. Fortunately, by that time, I had remembered that I could summon one powerful attack to dispatch them all. After the attack, Orphen is seen gaining a new spell.
I can already tell this business of collecting screenshots from console games is going to hurt. This is because I have to experience the game at least twice. The process is to play the game for whatever length of time, capturing footage on my computer. Then, I get to watch the game again to capture the actual screenshots. And in some cases, I have already been exposed to the wretchedness months before, as in my inaugural PlayStation 2 gaming session.
So I delved into Evergrace once more. For some reason, I really do want to like this game. But the screeching opening music insists on scratching at my delicate ears. This time, the story didn’t grate on me like it did last time. I admit, it was starting to draw me in, just a little, at least until I saw the name of the land where the adventure begins for one of our protagonists:
I was willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt in the hope that perhaps Toledo has some mythical, mystical meaning. Wikipedia says no dice, that the Ohio town is the most prominent use.
The last time I played Evergrace, I could not figure out how to arm my hero– all I could do was punch for offense which seemed to only irritate monsters. The first time I replayed, I still couldn’t find an offensive tool. It wasn’t until I reviewed the captured game footage that I noticed that the game was trying to drop subtle hints about weapon possibilities during the opening exposition with a character named Krisalis.
Wait… in the background there: see it? Could it be? A sword!
A notable facet of this game is that it features perhaps the creepiest old man in the history of video gaming:
His name is Morpheus and he bobs his head and rubs the top of his staff in rhythm with his excited speech.
Now that I actually figured out how to effectively fight enemies in this game, I actually feel some motivation to play it. Unfortunately, such motivation is dashed by the delayed response when I play through my video capture bridge. Common problem, but I must keep it in mind when evaluating console game quality.
The Sony PlayStation 2 is nearly 7 years old. Yet today was the first time I actually sat down and played an actual PS2 game. I got this PS2 unit some months ago, mostly for DVD playback. I have tried out a few PlayStation 1 titles on it. But I also have 3 PS2 games laying around.
The first one is called Evergrace, from the confusingly named FromSoftware. Apparently, this was a PS2 launch title. I purchased it while procuring a bunch of other cheap, old games from an eBay seller. Even though it was already in MobyGames (sans screenshots), it was cheap and in new condition, and I thought it might be nice to try a real PS2 game, and an RPG at that. I was disappointed. First, I tried to dutifully digest the manual before delving in since RPGs can be complicated. I have to pinch myself to keep from falling asleep since the manual goes into so much storyline. I skim the section on the controls and figure that they’ll make more sense in context, so I fire the game up. The first order of business is to check my speakers to see if anything is wrong. Nope– the music really is that cacophonic. Then the game assaults me with the same storyline I didn’t care about from the manual.
Eventually, the game gets rolling and you essentially have 2 characters to choose from — a guy and a girl — who will follow different paths in the game. Evergrace bills itself as an action RPG with an emphasis on equipment. I guess I’m supposed to kill creatures, get currency, exchange it for goods, and kill more creatures. I found the store, found out I was broke, went outside and tried to kill something, and learned that I was fairly ineffective in this task when using only my bare hands. I got bored of this quickly though I tried to give the game a fair shake. I even went back to the insomnia-curing manual a few times but couldn’t maintain the motivation.
The next title, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery, was also a launch title. I’m beginning to think that early adopters were awfully forgiving. I know these kind of graphics reigned supreme at one point but they seem fairly ho-hum these days. There is also the fact that for the past 7 years, I have largely been examining magazine and internet screenshots of PS2 games rather than seeing the actual games in action, which tends to elicit a far different reaction.
Anyway, Orphen– I had never looked too carefully at the literature for this one. I had always assumed it was an action game where the hero fired magic bullets. While that’s part of it, the game turns out to be of the genre action-RPG. RPGs really left me behind somewhere along the line. Mostly, I am used to the classic NES turn-based stylings of the original Final Fantasy game, the Ultima: Exodus port, and the classic Dragon Warrior series. The principle action in Orphen consists of encounters where characters square off with a number of enemies and quickly attack using offensive magic spells or magic weapons, or parry attacks with a magic shield. It’s RPG-ish, in a fast-paced way.
There is also some kind of storyline tying this all together. Based on the opening scenes, it was pretty obvious that Orphen must be based on an anime series, and sure enough. I’m not especially fond of anime to begin with and this game’s characters seem to embody much of what I despise. Still, I gave it the old college try. It’s a tad slow-going as you walk a few meters, run into a pre-scripted story advancement sequence, walk a few more meters, get more story, an enemy encounter, and then repeat. Apparently, that’s the whole game. The game’s copy lists as one of its key features “51 action-packed, event-based encounters.” I got through 5, maybe 6 of them, depending on how score is kept.
Finally, I decided to actually play a dreaded sports game– NHL Hitz 20-02. Generally, if I wind up with a sports game in my collection, it’s because A) it was dirt cheap, and B) because I wanted to study its multimedia files. This game served its purpose to that latter end. But how does the game play? The Hitz series is apparently a totally X-treme hockey experience based on licensed NHL teams. “No rules” is the overriding theme. The game assaults your auditory senses with Limp Bizkit in the opening FMV. Then there is quite a variety of activities available. Not only actual hockey, but violent minigames, such as body checking a number of players within a set time limit.
When I finally set up a screen capture process for my PS2 and Saturn games, at least I will know exactly what to capture for these 3 titles and be done with them.