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Review of Iron Gaia by Legion

Reviewed by Ii Shenron

Plot: ( 20 points )

You're subject designate ID#798462138069001, or as you discover, Armand Carter, and you've woken up aboard a broken down ship floating in space run by an insane computer. With all kinds of who knows what running amok. Of course, you don't know much else about yourself or why you were in stasis on this ship.

Thumbs up for:

Overdone amnesia angle aside, after a VERY shaky start, the story unfolds quite nicely as Carter learns more about the nature of the Iron Gaia. Thumbs down for:

Thumbs down for:

The opening is pure chaos and will lose a lot of players right at the beginning. Afterward, there are a few events which are unexplained or otherwise just don't fit; but the latter is nit-picking to a certain degree.

Note: Iron Gaia has multiple endings; the first ending is pretty lame; it seems you have to play through on hard mode to get the good ending.

Total points: 12.

Characterization/Dialogue: ( 20 points )

The characterization in this game is like graphing the equation y = -(X-t/2)^2, where t is the total length of Iron Gaia. Translated into English, this means that the characterization is a mess early, is pretty good in the middle of the game, and goes back down toward the end.

Thumbs up for:

For a game that is basically a big dungeon crawl, cutscenes were fairly well integrated into the action, and I got to know Carter and the other denizens of the ship quite well.

Thumbs down for:

The edges of the parabola. I don't want to harp too much on the nature of the beginning of the game, so I'll move to late in the game. It seems later in the game, Legion focused more on creating nifty skills and minigames, and the characterization became quite inconsistent. While some of it could be attributed to Carter's returning memory, the resulting character still doesn't seem quite to fit. And toward the end, the Celestials' actions and character just seem to go off in another direction.

Total points: 12.

Graphics: ( 10 points )

Legion's gone all out to tell us that graphics are NOT his strong suit, which is something I can sympathize with. Guess what? He's right ...

Thumbs up for:

"RTP future" sets were used decently for the most part. And there were attempts in various spots to do some neat things.

Thumbs down for:

Just about every rip was used in a very peculiar manner. ( Not to be insulting or anything, but using ABL for a map-making reference is probably not a good move; somehow I suspect that's what happened here ... )

Where Iron Gaia just falls apart graphically, though, is the use of sprites and facesets. Iron Gaia freely mixes different sprite and faceset styles. (*Yawn*, big deal, lots of games do that *yawn*) However, Iron Gaia takes the additional step of mixing these different sprite and faceset styles for the SAME CHARACTERS. Each major character has about 6-7 different faces and a couple of the Celestials alternate between RTP and REFMAP versions of themselves.

Total points: 3.

Music: ( 10 points )

Iron Gaia features a mix of heavy metal midis, game midis, midis from movies, etc. along with a couple of .wavs.

Thumbs up for:

Most of the midis in the game are dark, creepy, and foreboding, and combined with the use of sound effects in the right spots, really do a good job of setting the mood for the game.

Thumbs down for:

Some of the .wavs were of poor quality, especially toward the end. Also, there was just a bit too much FF music for comfort.

Total points: 6.

Gameplay: ( 10 points )

Iron Gaia doesn't have any overriding super-systems of note: however, those of you who like advanced coding probably won't be disappointed ... if you play long enough.

Thumbs up for:

The improvement in Legion's coding ability is dramatic as you play through Iron Gaia. Slowly but surely, you're treated to a number of strange but nifty skills and minigames which aren't super but get the job done.

Thumbs down for:

The game balance is a bit screwy. At first, random encounters are difficult, and you'll have to power level to survive the early stages of the game. However, late in the game, even though the enemies get tougher, you get some pretty insane skills which make random encounters minor nuisances. However, the bosses will get even more difficult ( and cheap ). Many of them, especially late in the game, simply have far too much HP and their HPs should be reduced by 50% in a lot of cases. This is a common problem in many Rm2k games.

Of note: The rules for saving in Iron Gaia change by the dungeon. Be careful and save when you can.

Also of note: Using tricks outside of Rm2k code to "protect" your game such as making all of the folders hidden is lame and counterproductive; for one thing, it made it harder to identify and correct some of the bugs and balance problems I ran into, such as:

Bug: Many of the "suicide attacks" aren't. They simply reduce your HP to 1.

Bug: I should be able to use Xenos' RAGE in any battle, not just designated boss battles. Also, the one time it "didn't work", it kicked in later on in a boss battle when I didn't want to use it. :)

FATAL BUG: Cannot open file DC-merc,future

FATAL BUG: In the blast furnace, I got stuck against the wall in the 2nd row from the left near the start and was unable to move the hero.

Total points: 4.

Fun Factor:( 25 points )

If the characterization is a parabola, this is a sine wave. Sometimes it was loads of fun, and other times I was fuming on IRC to anyone who'd hear me. But I managed to get through, which is something that doesn't happen often these days. Overall, I'd say it was a good experience.

Total points: 14.

Intangibles: ( 5 points )

Iron Gaia seems like a game that may have been dropped and picked back up several times before it was finished, as the flow is sometimes a bit jerky. That being said, very few games in this community make it to completion, and Iron Gaia deserves credit for that. Legion's improvement is also quite clear as you play through the game and I'm sure we can expect great things from him in his next project.

However, though this is not entirely Legion's fault, I do have to say that the beta-testers did a poor job with this game. There's simply no way errors such as the faceset and sprite errors should not have been reported.

Total points: 3.

Overall: 54/100

Overall, Iron Gaia is above average, and in this day where all of the emphasis is on ABSes, cheesy stock lighting effects, and the like, a good "old-school" Rm2k game is a nice change of pace. If you can get past the graphical failings of the game, and can survive the introduction, then Iron Gaia will give you a few hours of good gaming.

Reviewed Games:
Ara Fell
Iron Gaia
Legend of the Philosopher's Stone
Love and War
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