Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
Another import from our friends at Rising Star. I really wanted to like this game because it looks great, the voice acting is terrific and the story is intriguing. Unfortunately it’s also more depressing than I thought it would be and the combat system is really really annoying and killed off what interest I had in continuing; especially once I got to the funfair.
The visuals are excellent and feature some rather creepy and inventive enemy designs and the controls in the exploration sections of the game work very well – even if the tone is a bit gloomy. Our hero is working his way through a dead world trying to find other people and has a companion at one point, but is then alone again too soon. The finding of memories infuses the game with a great deal of emotion, but they’re invariably stories of regret and sadness from people whose lives are coming to a premature end in some kind of massive catastrophe. I can deal with emotional content in my games, but I need an up-note somewhere, please.
I could have perservered through the depression, but for a pretty broken combat system. Enemy encounters provide some genuine frights given the use of the remote to announce their presence before they appear on-screen – I jumped more than once at the creepy sound of the “jellyfish spirits” or a growling dog; it’s even worse when it’s a new enemy you haven’t encountered before. Part of this dread is that you’ll then have to run away or try fighting.
The 3rd-person view is fine, but the lack of lock-on is problematic when the remote pointer is used for both camera movement and targeting enemies. It really would have been better to either use turn-based combat or change the camera angle and control method when going into battle rather than having players running around trying to line up with their quarry whilst getting hit by things they cannot see. Very frustrating and not very fun. Even worse is your weapons have a tendency to break at inopportune times (though be sure to keep them, because a broken bamboo sword is far better than an intact cat toy).
If you’re really into exploration-based action games and can perservere through the combat system you’ll probably get something out of it, just be sure to have a “happy break” between play sessions.
Mr. Do! (Virtual Console Arcade)
Hamster Co. keeps on delivering the off-beat classics of the early 80s – I love you guys! Mr. Do! is a game with a lot of appeal. Why a clown is digging through the ground and what fruit like cherries and mammoth apples are doing there is anyone’s guess, but it makes for a nice bit of fun aided by a memorable soundtrack that gets enhanced by musical notes that play when Mr. Do! gets some cherries.
This arcade conversion is quite good, though the default settings feature higher enemy difficulty than I prefer, offset by faster power-shot regeneration than I remember. Thankfully you can adjust the enemy difficulty, the power-shot regen and the frequency of the “Extra Monster” appearance independently to get the game to play just like you remember from the arcade (Namco, take note). Add in customisable controls (even if you only have buttons for power-shot and credits) and that’s pretty much all you need, right? Like other VC Arcade releases from Hamster this one is pre-formatted for widescreen displays in full 480p with built-in pillarboxing and looks fantastic on my 42″ plasma. If you have a Japanese Wii, then you’ll definitely want to pick it up.