Wii Review Round-Up 38

Alien Syndrome

I bought this upon the recommendation of a Nintendo Life forumite with the intention of reviewing it. I was curious about the game because it didn’t sound like it could be as bad as reviews made out, but after wasting a few hours with it I just couldn’t face it any more, so this is as close to a full review as I want to get.

It’s an action-RPG styled much like Marvel Ultimate Alliance: isometric 3rd-person perspective in 3D with 1-4 players. You can choose one of several classes and the other players can jump in or out between sessions, which is quite flexible. The story takes place 100 years after the events of the arcade game and the “Alien Syndrome” defeated therein has returned to threaten humanity, you need to save the day, blah blah blah. That part is fine and so are the controls (mostly), with the Nunchuk used for movement and the Remote pointer to aim ranged weapons – much like Dracula: Undead Awakening. Melee attacks aren’t quite as clever because the pointer isn’t used to aim, which is a bit confusing when you need to transition to hand-to-hand attacks after running out of ammo.

The main problem with Alien Syndrome isn’t the controls or really the fact that you have millions of stats and skills and can build armour and weapons that seem to change every five minutes, but rather the combination of character management complexity with levels that are incredibly long. I played for over three hours and I was still in the first of 15 different ships! Seriously, how many of the same five kinds of aliens can I kill over and over again (the manual claims there are over 100, so I guess counting the electrical and radioactive variants that might mean there’s two unique ones in each ship)? They just keep spawning and eventually you’ll be running past them just to get to the next objective.

The grinding is such a slog that I cannot imagine spending dozens of hours seeing it through to the end. Sure you get a lot of “bang” for your buck, but when the gameplay feels this tedious, something is wrong and Totally Games (developer) or Sega (publisher) really should have noticed this in playtesting.

The capper is that the original game isn’t included which really pisses me off. What the hell is the point of using a classic license like that and then not including the game it came from? It’s not like it’s a space or a technology issue – you’re emulating one frickin’ 15KB ROM here. I really like Alien Syndrome (hopefully Sega will put it on the VCA in Japan soon) so that would have been enough for me to keep the game on the shelf, but as it stands I’ll probably trade it in for a pound, which is worth my time and sanity.

Endless Ocean 2

Well, the first one seemed like a snoozefest, but despite adding more structure the sequel just isn’t grabbing me. Looking for Atlantis or whatever and swimming with the fish just isn’t making me come back for more. If I could have done what I would do in real life and zoom in to look for invertebrate life I probably would have been more interested in it, but it’s more macro than micro and a bit too open for my tastes. If you like exploring and noodling about then this is almost certainly worth your time and it does sport some amazing renders of sea life, but that’s not really why I play games.