Sunday, November 28, 2010

[Review] Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage

Today I'm going to be reviewing Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage, an RPG for the Nintendo 64. I know what you're thinking. "Holy shit, N64 has an RPG?!" Sure does, and it's surprisingly good. It features 14 different characters, hours of gameplay, very in depth story line, a huge world to explore, fully customizable character development with few limitations, 3D strategic combat, and potentially insanely hard battles with PERMADEATH. So why the hell haven't you heard of this game? I don't know, it has one of the longest titles ever. But seriously, I can't really tell why this game isn't popular. Maybe because the first hour is boring and hard to figure out, I don't know. Let's get into it then. It's long so be prepared.

Storyline
I guess the first place to start is the storyline. You play as as orphan squire named Alaron. He lives in Gwerniya castle and since he has no parents, he was raised by the King. The game starts out with the king's servant looking for Alaron, but he's no where to be found. You soon find out that Alaron (you) rushed out into some woods to save a farmer from goblins. Alaron ends up not being able to save the farmer and winds up getting poisoned in the fight. He's rescued by a healer named Oriana, who is able to slow the poison but not remove it entirely. The poison will still slowly kill Alaron and the main quest of the game at this point becomes finding a cure.

After telling his story to the King, the King sends him out on his quest to find his cure. You're allowed to take three characters with you on your journey which include either Abrecan: Alaron's weapons trainer, Rheda: Alaron's magic trainer, Brenna: Alaron's thieving childhood friend, or Godric: The crazy alchemist. I personally leave Godric behind because he's batshit crazy. Anyways, you get your group together and you travel to a place the king believes might be able to help cure Alaron's poison. Along the way the storyline develops and leads you to finding out about Alaron's past, what his unique powers mean, why he keeps dreaming about The Chaos and why this spirit follows him around calling him "Rehtorb". Like anyone couldn't figure that out by reading it.

The main storyline is actually just half the story. If you really pay attention and read all the dialog, the game has tons of interesting history and backstories to it. None of them have anything to do with the storyline, but if you enjoy reading than it adds quiet a bit of depth to the game world.

Gameplay
Hmm where do I start here... The game is your basic 3D game when it comes to controls. You move around and interact with things, not much to say. There's no random battles. Enemies walk around on the map and combat starts when you run into them or when one sees you. You can avoid combat by running around enemies and hiding or by pressing Z and using stealth to sneak by them.

There aren't many random spawns in the game. When you're going along a path to a new area, you'll encounter a ton of difficult one time only groups, and very few easy random encounters. This makes going new places interesting, as the journey could take a few hours while you clear everything out. It makes it a struggle to get to new places, and really gives you a sense of making that "hard journey" to where ever you're going. This also makes going to places you've already been A LOT quicker, which is good because the map is freaking huge. The downside is there's no strong enemies to fight if you need to level up a bit.



The combat is pretty awesome, don't let the bland screenshot fool you. At the start of each character's turn you get a movement circle. You can move anywhere inside the circle as long as there aren't any obstacles or enemies in the way. The right bar shows all of your party member's HP and the left shows your enemies HP as well as how many reinforcements remaining. Only four enemies can be on the combat map at a time but up to 12 enemies can join a single battle. The battle ends either when you kill all the enemies, run away, or when Alaron dies. (In which case, it's game over.)

The battles can be extremely hard. Encounters with 10+ enemies that are at or above your level could very well take 20 minutes to finish. If you don't build your characters properly it can be even worse. (I'll get more into the character leveling below) Add in instant game over when Alaron dies and permadeath over everyone else and you can have some seriously frustrating battles. These aren't common but you run into a fair amount of them.

Character Development
Yes, this deserves it's own category because it is very in depth.

How it works is you get EXP for killing enemies and after a certain amount you level up. (duh) But then as it's main use, you then use your EXP to buy skills or raise stats. It's your choice what you raise and when, making this one of the most customizable designs I've seen. However, there are a few limitations that are character specific. For example, Abrecan can't use magic, only character with singing talent can learn the Troubadour (bard) skill, and characters can only learn spells that match their Aspect. That being said, Alaron can learn every skill in the game.


It's VERY important you have an idea on what you want your characters to be like and what roles you want them to fulfill when spending EXP. Slacking on important stats or buying too many skills can leave your characters weak and unable to beat the tougher enemies you'll face. For this reason, I'm going to talk a bit about what each stat does. Feel free to skip this, but I had to learn the hard way and their isn't much information out there on this game, so if you ever plan on playing this then this is for you.


Intelligence: Effects accuracy with ranged weapons and spell casting success.
Willpower: Determines magic resistance and the chance you resist harmful spells.
Dexterity: Overall accuracy and defense against melee attacks. Improves movement and how many actions you get per round. VERY IMPORTANT.
Endurance: Directly effects your HP.
Strength: Accuracy with melee weapons and raises damage dealt. Some weapons have strength requirements to use.
Stamina: Somewhat effects your HP. Stamina is used to cast spells and use skills.

When making characters, it is VERY important you start raising dexterity early. Everyone needs it. It makes your fighters be able to hit things and your healers move quicker. After that, ranged weapons get intelligence and strength, melee fighters get strength and casters get intelligence and stamina. Be sure to add in a blend of endurance and stamina for everyone after dex and the secondary stats are taken care of.  

There are way too many skills to choose to go into detail but luckily, picking the right skills isn't as important but does play a small role. The only ones that are required to stand a chance are the skills Warrior, Wizard, and the weapon skills such as Missile and Sword. After that, important ones to have are Healer, Alchemist, and Thief.

Graphics
Nothing that special here. Even by Nintendo 64 standards they aren't too impressive. Character models are too blocky and there's a lot of tearing in the landscape graphics. There's not much to say, just look for yourself.

On the plus side though, every weapon and shield has it's own unique model. Which is impressive because there are a lot of them.

Music
This is kind of hit or miss. How they implemented the music is interesting. Most of what you hear throughout the game will be ambient background effects. The only time music plays is in battles or in certain areas. The battle music doesn't stand out much. It's not like typical battle music, it mostly just serves to set the mood. It's kind of like the background music you'd hear in a movie when something dangerous is happening, it takes a passive role unlike games like Final Fantasy. The area music is also lacking, except for one case. There was this one cave I entered and this epicly creepy ass louder-than-normal music started playing. It definitely set the mood then, but it's a one time thing.

Overall
This game is amazing. It has a great storyline, it's fun, it's hard, and it has a great character leveling system. The graphics aren't great though and the music could be better. If you're looking for an old school RPG that puts a spin on classic turn based combat that you'll be playing for a while, then check this out. If you're looking for something graphically pleasing then you might want to pass on this one. And if you're looking for porn then you are seriously in the wrong place entirely.

If you read the whole thing, I hope you enjoyed it.

27 comments:

Eazy P said... [Reply]

I used to love this game

Ada said... [Reply]

It's sad that Minecraft has ruined my visual acuity to the point where I thought, "Hey, this game has nice graphics!"

...yeah.

Mr Bouchard said... [Reply]

Hahaha, minecraft is changing our way to see the world around us by lowering our expectations! But on-topic, this game was great. I used to have this game before I sold my first n64!

Das Auto! said... [Reply]

maybe i should dig out the old n64 lol. i didn't know about this game

The Game Store Guy said... [Reply]

I will be honest in saying that I don't think I ever heard of this title. It sounds very interesting and almost like a blending of Eternal Sonata and the Disgaea series. I wish I had the time to try this game ;_;

whatshouldibuytoday said... [Reply]

I wish I had an n64 back in the day... I missed some good games.

tigey said... [Reply]

Sounds like a good game with good story, but bad graphics.

hippilazma said... [Reply]

great review i love rpg title

Astra said... [Reply]

wow sounds great!

Zoy said... [Reply]

Never heard of this game before, though it seems like a fun little RPG to pass the time. Nice review

Sinisa said... [Reply]

nice...

SuciƓ Sanchez said... [Reply]

I'd never heard of it either. It looks like good old-school fun. (It sounds like a slimming drug.)

David Davidson said... [Reply]

Looks fun. Very thorough review

caretaker said... [Reply]

So true

Classically Trained Nub said... [Reply]

I was never a big fan of the N64 aside from a few specific games. I have never even heard of this one before, but I guess I should try and find a copy.

THE WAY OF THE LIVING DEAD said... [Reply]

followin your blog :)

check mine

Yakoi said... [Reply]

Great review, but I'll have to take your word on it, I am not really an old school RPG'r.

Lemmiwinks said... [Reply]

Awesome read!

rigor tortoise said... [Reply]

Sounds pretty badass, I might try it on an emu sooner or later.

erica said... [Reply]

I wish I played video games.

KillerKun said... [Reply]

How come I never heard of this game before?

Chuck McElroy IV said... [Reply]

This looks awesome! Any idea if it's available for download on the Wii?

Apps Master said... [Reply]

That's a great game, thanks for the review ;) !

Mister Sharaf said... [Reply]

followin your blog :)

enjoy, visit back

Oh oh! Banana! said... [Reply]

I had an N64 a little after launch, read gaming magazines and yet I have never heard of this game. I might have to give it a try, though.

wishbear said... [Reply]

Awesome blog and nice review! Thanks for the kind words :) Following!

Havzad said... [Reply]

hey man, stopped by this blog by sheer chance and , i gotta say, this is a pretty good review,in fact i was just about to open my project64 and play a while!! for those that dont know it got a lot of badd reviews (the average review was 4/10) which is why not alot of ppl know it.
but to me the games awesome and definitely deserves more then it got. anyways nice review, and not a bad blog, im out!

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