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Walthros vs. Rinku
Walthros A summon spell and a weird battle background.
The Wobbler
Download: 45.84 MB
V.S.
Rinku
Play Time: 8 hours and 00 minutes
Review # 1 for Rinku A summon spell and a weird battle background.
Them's Fightin' Words
    It has several things to recommend it: it's one of the few finished Ohrrpgce games (and probably the best of those that are finished), one of the longest (8 hours for me, with only half the side-quests finished) and its own walkthrough*** on its site*** (so you don't get stuck, which might happen without it); it uses music from Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Handel, and Liszt, as well as a few made just for this game; it has one of the most original worlds in an Ohrrpgce game (complete with history timeline); it has a large and diverse cast of characters, with fairly good character design (all the characters are animal-like in the Charbile-esque way, the TMNT-esque way, not the naturalistic way); and it has a competently written, and at times very well written, story.

The game itself is huge for an Ohrrpgce game, although small compared to console-style RPGs: it is around 10 hours long for most players (I play faster than average because I've played hundreds of Ohrrpgce games). And, it's complete! It has an ending, it's all play-tested, and it's not going to be updated (except maybe for bugfixes), so unlike most Ohrrpgce games it won't make your play-through obsolete in a few months. You won't get stuck half way through the game, because there it has its own 40-page guide, written by the author, in case you need it. The number of locations is staggering: there are 12 chapters, some with more than one town and exploration area. There is a huge world, an airship-type vehicle, a base to reorganize your numerous allies, and lots of secret options.
Graphics
    The graphics of Walthros are horrendous (its author says the graphics are "unique and fresh", but I just can't buy that -- the graphics may have had a lot of *work* put into them, but that doesn't mean they are pretty or distinct). The character design is great, but the NPC graphics (the best aspect of the graphics) are still one of those "good in plan but not in execution" things.  
Storyline
    The world of Walthros is greatly imaginative. Unfortunately, like most imaginative worlds, it wasn't created with a specific theme, so the creations of it appear a bit haphazard, without an organizing principle besides the general idea of animality and the eternal recurrance idea also seen in the Ancient Greeks and Nietzsche. But it is still imaginative, and worth living in, temporarily, for the 10 hours or so that you will live in it. So I'd say it's at an equal level with most mediocre to good fantasy-world creators (examples: J.R.R. Tolkein, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Dr. Suess, William Goldman, Frank Baum, Isaac Asimov, Fred SaberHagen, Stephen King), but it's not in the first-class of imaginativity and artistry as far as fantasy-worlds are concerned (examples: Peter Beagle, Stephen R. Donaldson, Orson Scott Card, C.S. Lewis, George Orwell). So if you liked at least one of the authors in the first of those groups, you'll probably like this imaginative world to some extent.

The characters of Walthros are basically part of the imaginative world, with the exception of Bob Surlaw, the older Surlaw, Super Walrus Man, Dinosaur Triple, Woo, and the Blue Spirit. But everyone else is either part of the the fantasy setting or plays too minor a role to be of note. The other playable characters are usually of the representational class: there is a seal that represents the Walthrosian seals, there is a worm that represents the Dunzian Worms, there are five mice that represent the Rodentian Mice, and so on. There is no villian of the game besides the Blue Spirit.

Bob Surlaw is the main character, a fish (boo!), not a teenager (yay!), uses swords (boo!), and is a summoner (yay!). He's the new incarnation of the older Surlaw, who created all life on the planet (yay!) and split his soul into 5 pieces altruistically (boo!). Super Walrus Man fights for Justice (yay!), is a genetic experiment created for war who overcomes this (yay!), is slightly crazy (boo!), but is overall the most noble character (yay!). Dinosaur Triple is made up of Dinosaur Giant (yay!), Dinosaur Super (boo!), and Dinosaur Micro (yay!), each of which has their own individuality, but together operate as an interesting group, with each compensating for the weaknessess of the others. Woo is deceitful (boo!), wants to be a singer (yay!), and is knowledgeable about the world (yay!) through some unknown mystic means (boo!). The Blue Spirit is the only really good villian in the game besides Dr. Mu (the cliche Dr. Lugae-style mad scientist).

The story itself, apart from world and characters, has high, medium, and low points. Its defense of rationality in the form of a conversation between Dinosaur Super and Dinosaur Giant was beautiful. It had a genius trick convincing you it deleted your .sav files, which even fooled me and my 5 years of experience with the Ohrrpgce for a second. And last and best, after a long line of gradual transigent Kiekgaardian-Wittgensteinian insertations which appeared throughout the game in increading numbers, it has a nice refutation of existentialism near the end (I'll leave Surlaw's actual refutation out so as not to ruin the ending) which was for me the high point of the game (and it actually came at the climax of the game, you don't see that happening every day).

The medium points were a few things that are unrelated to the story and just placed in haphazardly, however: an attack on industrialization, an attack on on corporations, . While these arguments have validity, they were too unattached to the rest of the story to be integrated with it without the feeling of crumpled rinkles.

It also has a few serious errors, which give the story a few cracks, foremost among them is dualism. This dualism is seen again in several dozen places in the game, and almost forms one of the backbones of the story. That's no excuse, however -- dualism is evil wherever it rears, whether in Walthros, in P latonism, in Christianity, or in Final Fantasy 7 and 10, and we fight it here as everywhere. A second serious error, also seen in several places throughout the game, is an attack on selfishness and arrogance. Of course, where you see dualism you also usually (but happily not always) see altruism, so it didn't surprise me. And aside from those more evil flaws, there are also one or two spelling mistakes in the game -- I don't mean typos, I mean words that are consistently misspelled the same way over and over. Spelling a word wrong once is okay, I can filter that out, but seeing it 5 or 6 times being misspelled the same way is annoying, and weakens the suspention of disbelief necessary to enjoy a fantasy world. And it did have one bug that let you bypass a particular boss.

While the writing quality is literate, it is slightly unpolished. There are a few times when cliché leaps with teeth out from cliché-land (or wherever it is they live). Some of these cliches are just stumbling imps, but a few of them are hostile monsters which travel in predatory flocks. I just chalk that up to the current philosophical void, so I don't really hate things like this conversation between Woo and Super Walrus Man as much as I would in a human qua human world. I shall proclaim that the artistic apptitude of the dialogue writing is unstable, but shows rough promise.
 
Gameplay
    I found myself playing this game in the same way I played the Playstation game Kartia: I couldn't stand the battles, and got through them as quick as possible, but I always looked forward to the next story-scene. This is not a good thing for a professional game to do, and I'm not saying that the story "makes up" for the lack of gameplay. But I am saying that if you are going to play Walthros, you're going to look forward to progressing the story more than you do to the battles. The author explicitly said that he made this game "To tell a story, and to express my strange, twisted mind." He didn't make the game to make a game, he made the game to tell a story. This isn't exactly rational (he could have put it in comic or book format, or even Ohrrpgce format without a gameplay system), but understand that this was the focus when making it, to tell a story, not to make a game. This is an older paradigm, and the newer one of making games for the sake of the game instead of for the sake of the story is very rarely seen (I can think of only three Ohrrpgce game authors, myself, Moogle1 and Cube, who actually make the game for the sake of the game, rather than for the sake of the story). The bottom line is: if you are going to tell a story in game format, make sure the game is worth playing. Otherwise it's the equivalent of putting prizes in cereal boxes when you don't like the cereal and are just buying and eating the tasteless the cereal for the prize inside.

In other words, the gameplay was bad, but it can be ignored if you just keep your eye on the story. Much like the gameplay of Final Fantasy 8.
 
  Battle
    Shoddy; its battle gameplay, while balanced, is stale and unoriginal. There are literally thousands of RPGs out there which have battles, enemies, spells, etc., more interesting than this game's.  
  Map Design
    It doesn't have map design per se, calling these maps have bad map design is like saying a game with stickfigures has bad character design.  
  Balance
    Fair enough. I didn't die, I didn't win too easily, but it wasn't exciting. In other words, it was balanced, but the thing that was balanced is something so easy to balance that balance isn't really much of achievement.  
Music
    The music of Walthros is selected well but translated into BAM format badly (with what seems like no instrument adjustment or time spent in the conversion). But the conversion is only half the problem, the other half is the battle music, or should I say, "music". Like most amateur music, it's discordant and grating on the ears. If I could change *one* thing about this game, like one wish on a magic lamp, it would be to change the battle music. I'm sure it deters more players than any other single element of the game.  
Enjoyment
    Gameplaywise, I liked the idea of selecting your parties from a huge crowd, and splitting your party up so that every character is useful. Storywise was where the main enjoyment came from, though, the enjoyment was the enjoyment of looking forward to the next plot development.  
Final Blows
    Despite dualism, altruism, spelling, and inconsequential and ad hoc additions, at certain moments, and other moments, and yet more moments, the author (Paul Harrington) shines brilliant flashes in your eye -- like a kid with a flashlight pointed at you, trying to get you to look away from what you are doing and up at more interesting things -- the flashlight in these moments having a brightness unequaled to any other flashlight on the Ohrrpgce thus far.

[This review is an adaption from a review in Reasonably Septaweekly]
Super Walrus Man's FF6-esque intro screen.

Super Walrus Man's FF6-esque intro screen.
Final Scores
Graphics: 3/10.0
It would have been nice if a real visual artist had worked on the game.
Storyline: 8/10.0
Greatly done.
Gameplay: 2.5/10.0
This wasn't focused on.
Music: 3/10.0
At least it didn't break copyright.
Enjoyment: 6/10.0
I enjoyed it: I'd play a sequel of it, if one were made. No, Walthros Mercenaries doesn't count.
Overall Grade: C+
Final Thoughts
    To me, any game that has at least one good point, something of value, something that it does better than other games, is worth playing -- no matter how many flaws, it if has that one thing of value, it's worth it. And Walthros has several things that make it worth it.  


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