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Walthros vs. Aethereal
Walthros Blue is in style, and it's not looking too hot here.
The Wobbler
Download: 45.84 MB
V.S.
Aethereal
Play Time: 15 hours and 0 minutes
Review # 1 for Aethereal Blue is in style, and it's not looking too hot here.
Them's Fightin' Words
    Before I begin this review, I'd like to ask you, the reader, a quantitative question. Get your fingers out and start counting. How many finished OHR games can you count? Yes, that's what I thought. Well, raise one more finger in favor of Walthros, by Paul Harrington Creations, which, after two years, has been finished, and sent into Operation: OHR to be reviewed in its final incarnation.

Don't take the last paragraph as sarcasm - because its not. I have eagerly been waiting for the past couple of years for this game to be finished, because ever since I have played the first demo of it, I have been nothing short of amazed (and I not only speak for myself, but many members of the community as well). Walthros has quite possibly the best story of any OHR game as well as other things that are quite rare in other games - character development, a clear plot, length, and other neat little things (did I mention its finished? :) I'm beginning to ramble a little bit, so I'd better get on with the review.
Graphics
    Well, for anyone who's played previous versions of Walthros, they will notice a lot has been changed when they hit that new game button and start playing. One of the more notable areas of change is the graphics. In its first few versions, Walthros had merely sub-par graphics with little shading. While some graphics (mostly hero graphics and a few maptiles) still aren't all that great, a lot of them have been improved by leaps and bounds (see: Beta City, any of the Rodentian cities, the shrines, and Mt. Permafrost). Hero Graphics remain essentially the same, with the definite exception of Sombra the cat, who looks plain cool :) I'd say that while the graphics are nothing spectacular or mind-blowing, they definitely get the job done and they did not alter my experience with the game in any way. For someone who looks at screenshots of this game and passes it off as a sub-par game, remember the saying "don't judge a book by its cover", or something like that.
 
Storyline
    The storyline is fantastic. While it might be a tad cliched in some areas (such as the appearance of crystals - Final Fantasy - but they serve a COMPLETELY different purpose as compared to other games using elemental crystals. It will probably surprise you if you don't see it coming) it is overall very, very well done. You will not find any generic fantasy RPG races in this game (orcs, elves, goblins, etc.) - everything is original from the Walthrosian Fish to the Fantastic Rabbit Spirit. Heck, even a cow is the guardian of the planet (you should know this if you've read the game's website, though). I really don't want to summarize the story for spoilers, but let's say it delivers well. It has the ever-classic mad scientist (I expected him to play a role in the end of the game...) and alternate dimensions, and super heroes. There are also a number of plot twists - a good example is whether Red City succeeded after the defeat of its tyrant or not (and you find out in the game's ending). Then, once you've reached your goal, the game throws a COMPLETE twist and changes everything. The end game villain is one you'd never expect, and so I don't want to repeat it here. Playing this game can give you some major lessons in story writing if that's one of your weaker points - or even if its one of your strongest. I know I learned some things from this game's story. If there is one flaw in the story, I'd say that the end is a tad rushed (mostly from the Rodentian Continent on), especially the ending. The ending was definitely good, in a Suikoden-esque style, but it just felt a little rushed.
 
Gameplay
    The gameplay in this game ranges from "good" to "okay". Dungeons are generally boring, if a little creative in detail and map design. A perfect example of this is the surprisingly short end dungeon - all it is is grey walls and a purple floor, and it ends pretty abruptly. Battles seem to be balanced decently, a definite improvement from previous versions of the game (I eagerly await a hardtype version of this game). The main draw here is the sidequests - this game has a lot of them. And if you want to be able to do well in later parts of the game, you'll NEED to do them. Many of them yield important and powerful items or new spells (summons for Bob, the Evil Laser spell for Gulob, spear skills for Salom, etc.). The variety of characters and abilities is pretty good. Need characters to fight a boss weak against water? A perfect team would be Bob, Blueberry, Super Walrus Man, and either Salom or Scottie. Weak against fire? Bring in Bob, Ketchup, Walrus, and Salom or Scottie. The possibilities are many.
 
  Battle
    The battle system is typical Final Fantasy, like most OHR games. I said more about it in the "Gameplay" segment, so refer to that.
 
  Map Design
    The maps in this game all share the same design for the most part - not a good thing. It makes the dungeons monotonous and the ones that don't have puzzles or something are usually boring after a while.
 
  Balance
    Balance is decent - at some points, the author had to scale back the difficulty of the game, but to be honest, I didn't mind. He promises to release a "hardtype" version at some point, which I eagerly await. I think most of the balance lies in the selectable parties - the large variety of characters allows for a near-completely customizable party suited for the challenges ahead. If you're going into an icy area, you should bring characters with fire attacks like Ketchup and Super Walrus Man, for example.
 
Music
    Music is nothing new to get excited about. A lot of tracks are reused from previous versions (dungeon themes, boss themes, etc. but then again what game doesn't use a track more than once?) and there are some new ones. The classical music does not bother me, but some of it just sounds ugh in bam format. I actually like classical music, and I felt the choices were decent, but not the best in some areas (like the overused boss theme and the battle theme - you should have kept snow flurries.bam for this).
 
Enjoyment
    I certainly enjoyed the game, even though at times the repetitive battles got a little annoying. The party customizability eased the slight pain I felt at times here.
 
Final Blows
    Another definite plus to Walthros is the ability of the author to locate and fix bugs - Walthros has had a number of them, and most of them are repaired well so that they don't make reappearances. Kudos to the author for taking the time to fix them.

I guess this is the concluding paragraph, and I must say that Walthros is definitely a gem of a game. It is one of the best OHR games ever created, and definitely one of the best RPGs I've ever played. Its long, too (by OHR standards) - at least ten hours if you take the time to do everything. If you have any love for RPGs at all, then you should download this game and play it. You will not be disappointed. Congratulations go to the author for such an incredible game - this ties with Time Flies as my favorite OHR game.
Remember, kids, flying dinosaurs who are in icy worlds always do best with a flaming sword!

Remember, kids, flying dinosaurs who are in icy worlds always do best with a flaming sword!
Final Scores
Graphics: 6.5/10.0
A good effort in some areas, while sub-par in other places. A remake of this game begs for an entire graphic overhaul. Still pretty nice, though.
Storyline: 10/10.0
A true story to the end, this one is something to remember.
Gameplay: 7.5/10.0
With all the sidequests and variety of things to do, the gameplay factor is pretty high. All I can say is that some battles are a little long and/or boring - but I didn't really have a problem with it.
Music: 7/10.0
Good choices, but some of the classical music just doesn't sound great in BAM format.
Enjoyment: 8/10.0
I enjoyed the game's story as well as the gameplay, simply because there was a lot you could do. The variety of characters also helped keep my attention.
Overall Grade: A+
Final Thoughts
    Congratulations, Paul Harrington. You've created a masterpiece. Continue making these great games.  


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