by Sammy Studios
a videogame player first, and a videogame reviewer second, I usually
approach games with a good sense of confidence. By confidence I mean
unwrapping the shrink wrap, popping in the game, and getting ready to
give the game a medieval makeover. Who bothers to read instructions
nowadays? I took the same approach to Sammy Studios newest release,
Galerians: Ash. I had played the original PlayStation game, Galerians,
when it was released and felt even more confident knowing I had
personally experienced the first part of the story. Once the FMV
introduction ended, I was ready to kick some butt and take some names.
Ten minutes after playing Galerians: Ash, I ran straight for the
Ash begins with the notion that the player already understands every
aspect of the game. The story begins where the first Galerians left off.
So once the introduction FMV ends, the player is expected to know what
Nalcon, D-Felon, and Appolinar are. The player is expected to know that
after a certain amount of damage is taken and an amount of psychic
abilities is used, Rion will "short" and become temporarily invincible
while his life is slowly drained, and that the only way to cure Rion of
it is to use a Delmetor. Or the fact that the player is expected to know
attacking an enemy from behind results in twice the damage. Galerians:
Ash does not contain any training at all, and injects the player
straight into the game at the first opportunity, expecting a new player
to have fully understood every aspect of the instruction booklet.
Galerians storyline that the player is thrust into revolves around a
futuristic theme, similar to themes in the anime Akira, and the movie
The Matrix. The story begins in the year 2522, where Michaelangelo City
is governed and managed by a self-aware computer named Dorothy.
Realizing her power, she rebels against the human race by genetically
creating human/psychic hybrids called Galerians. The only ones who could
stop the Galerians and Dorothy lie in the hands of a boy named Rion and
a girl name Lilia, who have the virus program that must be downloaded
into Dorothys system. Six years after the defeat of Dorothy, the last
remaining Galerians are threatening Michaelangelo City once again, and
its up to Rion to stop them.
discovered in the first Galerians, Rion has psychic abilities as well.
This is Rions form of attack, by harnessing his psychic powers into a
physical manifestation. So anyone looking for a fast-paced,
adrenaline-packed, gun-totting, sword-slashing action game should turn
away now. In fact, if youre looking for a fun, enjoyable time, you
should also turn away now. While using psychic abilities as your weapon
is a unique idea, it is poorly executed.
begins with three different psychic attacks: Nalcon, which is a
projectile, Red, which sets enemies on fire, and D-Felon, which tosses
enemies into the air. The only way to effectively dispose of the enemies
is a charged attack, which requires the player to hold the Square button
for a few seconds. Herein lies the problem. While charging the attack,
moving Rion is restricted. This means hes open to a barrage of
attacking enemies. Unless of course, Rion runs away, thereby resetting
his attack charge gauge. So a typical fight would consist of running far
away from the enemies, charging an attack, releasing the attack, and
then running away again. Oh joy.
all this running away the player will be doing, a lot of space to run
around in would be helpful. This is one aspect Galerians: Ash manages to
do successfully. So successfully, that the rooms are huge, but also
barren. Theyre devoid of any activity or life. The design aspect that
was put into this game is both disappointing and unimpressive. Even the
items that the player can interact with are typically non-interactive.
What this means is that the player can find out what the object is, but
is usually unable to do anything with it. For example, theres a design
of a giant face on the wall, and if the player inspects it, the message,
"You see a giant face," will appear. Well thats nice. I didnt know I
was looking at a giant face. Whod have guessed?
example in the lack of creativity and depth is clearly apparent in the
beginning of the game. The first puzzle that the player will encounter
requires Rion to run through highlighted areas of the floor that
alternate places with each pass. Toward the end of the puzzle, Rion will
have to run from one end of the empty, spacious room to the other side
multiple times. How this equals a fun experience is beyond me.
put though, Galerians: Ash itself becomes a puzzle of a game. The game
strays away from "I should do this and that," gameplay, and becomes more
of a, "What am I supposed to do?" confusion. What the gameplay amounts
to is the typical searching for a key, and running back to open a
keyhole. Except in Ash, not only is the key difficult to find, the
keyhole is just as difficult as well. Most times, discovering the key is
an accident, and even then, thats the easy part. Figuring out where to
use the item or who to speak to remains a mystery, so inevitably,
retracing every interactive object happens frequently, which might or
might not be so strenuous since there are only so few objects the player
can really interact with. Add in the fact that the player will encounter
the same common enemies that continuously respawn, and run through the
same spacious, empty rooms, calculates into a gameplay that gets boring
the reason why these rooms look huge is because the player gets to see
so many angles of it. And while this sounds like a compliment, its not.
This is to note the chaotic camera problems in Galerians: Ash, which
admittedly tend to plague most games. In Galerians: Ash, the camera is
unfortunately never where you want it to be, and since it is automatic,
the player has no control over it. The camera system is a standard
third-person view camera, and for the most part, it does such a poor job
of focusing on where you want it to that it becomes the biggest enemy.
This becomes glaringly apparent during battles, when the player has to
constantly move to dodge attacks, and the camera steps in with a quick
angle change that chooses to focus on what the player is running
towards, rather than the hordes of enemies running behind him. There is
an option to lock onto the enemies, but not only is this even more
disorienting, the range of speed and movement is severely restricted.
whats left to drive a person to play this game? Well, its not its
combat system, artistic design, camera system, or its lost-and-found
gameplay. The reason I continued through the game was its storyline. I
wanted to find out what happens to Rion, Lilia, and the Last Galerians.
And depending on how one looks at it, the eight hours it typically takes
to finish this game could be considered short, or simply eight hours of
torture. Also to note, the English dubbing is by far one of the most
meager attempts in gaming history. Not only is the translation poor, and
the speech not matching any movement of their lips, the enunciation is
so lackluster and banal that if the gameplay doesnt lull the player to
sleep, the conversations almost surely will.
it comes down to it, I wouldnt exactly call it Galerians: Trash, but it
takes a high threshold of pain and tolerance to have the patience to
venture forward in the game. The Galerians series definitely has the
potential, but it might be a while until its reached. And frankly, with
other great games on the market, the Galerians series has a lot of
catching up to do. My best recommendation is if youve played the first
Galerians and loved it, or my review still hasnt frightened you enough
to stay away with a five-foot pole, Id suggest renting it first. Oh,
and make sure you ask for the instruction booklet.
Colin K. Yu (02/16/2003)
Unique idea; game comes with an instruction booklet.