Sunday, February 2, 2014

Below the Cut: Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16)

I don't remember an axe (Source:
Neutopia - Rating(6 RPP)
1) 1 - Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 1 - Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 1 - Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 2 - Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 1 - Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 0 - Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

It's been a while since I've had to cut a game from the list. It would have been a few more games past now, but I ended up going through the website RPGamer to add more games to the main list. While the definition for RPG is a little more loose than I expected, it's makes for a good comparison of the different types of games that border the genre.

At best Neutopia is an attempt to improve upon The Legend of Zelda (although it doesn't quite score as well here). The main character comes upon a land where an evil force has captured a princess. In addition, 8 talismans were stolen and placed in 8 dungeons. Recover the talismans and save the princess.

Various items are discovered or bought, but nothing is sold. Equipment upgrades are found, as well as life upgrades after each boss and other hidden locations. A small assortment of items follows as much in the vein of Zelda: bombs, a bridge to cross gaps, an item to light dark rooms, and potions that restore life.

At worst Neutopia fails to implement an equally satisfying combat system, a world separated into four worlds with little reason, and a single main quest. Like Zelda there are no character levels, no character customization, and a decided lack of puzzles. The only improvement over the original Zelda are the 16-bit graphics, and an attempt at presenting an interactive world where no stone can be left unturned. There are NPCs that offer hints and clues that do well to keep the player from getting lost.

The game found enough success on the TurboGrafx-16 to get a sequel. While the majority of the game feels ripped directly from the first Zelda, a lack of similar titles for the system seems to have allowed it to flourish. I don't have much hope for the sequel making the cut either.

Ultima IV to start within the week. Very excited to begin that journey, but still a bit distracted with guest blogging Circuit's Edge over at the Adventure Gamer.