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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
7.4
Visuals
6.5
Audio
9.0
Gameplay
7.5
Features
7.0
Replay
6.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
GameCube
PUBLISHER:
Ubisoft
DEVELOPER:
Sting
GENRE: RPG
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
December 03, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on January 20, 2003

Full Review: De-evolution Worlds? Ehhh, not exactly, surprisingly enough!


For the record, Evolution Worlds for the GameCube is a slightly improved melding of both Evolution RPGs (1998 & 2000) that debuted on the Sega Dreamcast. Both adventures have been integrated, improved upon, and adapted to flow as one cohesive experience. Furthermore, (and we are still on the record here) this game never poses as being anything but a family-friendly, entry-level RPG experience, and it pulls it off better than most. It remains wholly charming without ever turning into saccharine or insulting the user. With that said, Evolution Worlds has aged surprisingly well. Mostly neglected on the DC, this RPG just might stand the chance of garnering the attention on the GameCube that it lacked on Sega's last system.

Evolution Worlds tells the quirky story of Mag Launcher, the boy-master of the declining Launcher family, in his personal quest to find his missing father and restore his family's wealth and prestige. This pretty much boils down to crawling through dungeons in order to excavate and seek treasures to sell. Joining him is his equally quirky but charming butler and the mysterious orphan girl, Linear Cannon. Linear appeared one day at Mag's door, shortly after his father disappeared on his final adventure. She carried a letter from Mag's father, instructing his son to take care of her. In the three years since then the quiet, introverted, and unbelievably adorable Linear became Mag's greatest companion. The game is populated with all kinds of ridiculous, yet charming characters and succeeds in telling its simple story surprisingly well, much like the original Grandia.

Part of what helps to keep the experience so light, fresh, and engaging is the graphical style that developer Sting implemented. The characters are depicted in a highly stylized anime format, complete with small bodies, large heads, humungous eyes, and exaggerated animations. The excellent facial expressions help to bring the characters to life in unexpected ways, though the over-the-top character designs do not hurt either. Though the backgrounds, in particular the dungeons, are as uninspired and repetitive as they were in the DC originals, the character models have been bumped up significantly. The result is simple though nice looking characters that look great in close up sequences and cutscenes.

Another new addition to the GameCube version of Evolution Worlds is full voice acting for every line of dialogue in the game, from the most important story sequences to the lowliest shopkeeper and NPC. Though the voice acting is not exactly magnificent, it suits the humor and writing quite well and still manages to surpass the quality of Final Fantasy X and the recent Grandia Xtreme! The game's greatest feature, no doubt, is its soundtrack. Not only does it mirror the light-hearted humor and quirkiness of the game's world, story, and characters, but it also features a handful of very distinct battle tracks. Face it, in an RPG that's essentially a random dungeon crawl, battle music is something you will be hearing a lot of and it is always pleasant when those songs never become grating after the hundredth time through them. The music also changes completely depending on if you manage to surprise your foes, or are in turn surprised by them. It will happen more often than you think, given the game's lack of random battles, and each of the different battle themes all manage to sound as appropriate as they are powerful.

For those uninitiated to the Evolution experience, it essentially is a simpler, easier, shorter, and less ambitious version of Grandia Xtreme that is available for the Playstation 2. The game's story manages to thrust you and up to two more companions into a situation that requires you to explore the world's many dungeons, all of which essentially contain three different elements: Foes, treasures, and traps. The dungeons themselves are randomly generated but seem to be a little bit illogical. All of the dungeons that are random are generated with the same basic formula including generically shaped rooms that are connected by branching or winding corridors and are pasted with endlessly repeating textures. Spicing things up are the treasures (mostly random), the enemies (based on your strength), and the traps (which can have good and ill effects).

Some might be happy to hear that there is no random combat, as clashing with a wandering monster will initiate the turn-based action. However, most enemies are ruled by the same basic lack of AI that makes it increasingly easy to either avoid them or score surprise attacks. Combat is a relatively generic turn-based affair, though the 3x3 grid does infuse the system with a welcome element of timing, positioning, and strategy. Characters and enemies take turns whacking at each other, using all sorts of attacks, skills, spells, and items in order to overcome their foes. While its nothing revolutionary, or even evolutionary (since Grandia Xtreme's system is both familiar and significantly more developed) there is an element of discovery and a measure of control over your characters' respective developments, which adds a satisfying level of management to the RPG experience.

Bottom Line
Evolution Worlds is not a bad game, and essentially getting two Dreamcast RPGs for the price of one in an improved form is never a bad bargain. The game has a true element of fun, satisfaction, and decent pacing. The combat and dungeon crawling may get tedious, but this is not a traditional RPG. It carries the same type of appeal in its storytelling as Pokemon, and in its execution as Grandia Xtreme. Whether that suits your or not, is for you to decide. At least it is worth a rental for RPG starved GameCube players.


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