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Time Flies vs. Aethereal
Time Flies So THAT's what Black Mages wear under their pointy hats...
Fortis
Download: 579 KB
V.S.
Aethereal
Play Time: 2 hours and 0 minutes
Review # 5 for Aethereal So THAT's what Black Mages wear under their pointy hats...
Them's Fightin' Words
    Whoever coined the phrase "time flies when you're having fun" must have been able to see into the future, to the time period when PK-Fortis would release the second version of his OHR game, Time Flies. The first version was released several years ago and was met with praise, but it had some obvious problems (the worst of them all being the typical OHR curse of typical gameplay). Now, PK has gone and revamped almost everything, resulting in one of the best OHR experiences I've had. Read on to see why I love this game.
Graphics
    The first version of Time Flies had above-average graphics (for OHR). This version has magnificent graphics. All the sprites share PK's great cartoony style, and the color selection is excellent. The only flaw I can see in the graphics is that there is an occasional issue of blending with maptiles and the maptiles themselves don't have a very consistent style (then again, most OHR games don't have a consistent maptile style). I think this game is beautiful enough to sell, although the only people who would probably give it a shot are the old-school lovers (like me). Special mention goes to the way the scripting is integrated into the graphics, such as a hero getting cut off partly when entering water and monsters that move on the map (some have their own unique map animations, like the "Trap" enemies). Oh, and the bromide is pretty well drawn, too ;)
 
Storyline
    The storyline shares the time-traveling aspect with Chrono Trigger, but the rest bears no resemblance to Chrono Trigger in any way. You are basically Zack, a boy who has a love for swords and has been trained in the art of magic by a mysterious man named Kiamo. During a battle against Kiamo and his brainwashed (?) friend Kento, he is thrown into a time hole which spits him out into the past. From there, he eventually makes it back to the future and tries to get back home. A few interesting things happen at his home, and the demo ends shortly thereafter.

Everything is well developed, ESPECIALLY the city of Gerad, which has its own written language. Impressive. By the way, this written language, so far, is not the failure that Al Bhed in FFX was. It doesn't just rearrange letters. It uses unique symbols. Also, most of the NPCs are well done, with each having a distinct personality (my favorites being the ones who want to hit on Ceris and the kid in the past who needs ritalin). I can't wait to see where this story goes, as the demo ends with a cliffhanger of sorts (involving the Zack - Kento - Kiamo relationship).
 
Gameplay
    Mad props go to PK for not making this the 5000th sequel of "Hammer the Spacebar RPG". Overall, the gameplay was pretty good - there were interesting things to do, a sidequest or two, enemies that are fun to fight, and the Monster Guild thingy (I forgot the exact name) that lets you shop in dungeons. Whee.
 
  Battle
    All I can say here is "Great usage of the bitsets". PK has gone in and made the different enemy types make a huge difference in battle. For example, the "Kree" enemy (basically a flying bat) has the "Flying" bitset on. If you try to attack it with Zack's sword, well, it's going to miss. And it will always miss. Why? Duh, because it's flying. Another example is with the "Slime" enemy. If you try to shoot it with Tim's gun, wouldn't the bullet just bounce off its gelatinous body? Oh yes. Also, Zack's sword doesn't cut through it very well. What do you do? Why, you use your magic! It is these little things that make a BIG difference. The biggest difference I can see is the Kraken boss. If those bitsets had not been used, that fight would have been extremely easy. With those bitsets on, it is tough, because you can't use the regular attacks from Zack or Ceris, because their weapons are short-range. There is also excellent usage of varying attacks, such as Tim's Castor Shell attack and Ceris' Botany abilities.
 
  Map Design
    Well, the dungeons could have been better (such as adding puzzles), but overall the design was pretty good. Towns were large and asymmetrical, and the beach map was nice. The castle had a nifty design, especially the "sliding wall door" in the escape scene. However, Gerad takes the cake for best map design (of course) with the merchant stands, docks, and oddly unique houses.
 
  Balance
    The enemies are balanced perfectly - not too hard (unless you never level up), not too easy (unless you level up too much), and the bitsets are set so that the enemies match your party (for example, you won't encounter enemies that have Flying without Tim). The detours to treasure on maps aren't too long (always a good thing), and the sidequests aren't impossibly hard. Yippy.
 
Music
    Yay! Time Flies has original music. This is always a plus. However, it's *good* original music! It sounds like the music in a professional game (no, seriously), and considering a good part of it was composed by Jazz Man, it should. There was another person involved in making the music as well. Jazz Man and Mister Unknown, my praises go to you. My praises go to PK for putting the music in the right places.
 
Enjoyment
    You will enjoy Time Flies. Yes, you will. No, I'm not saying you will because you might, I'm saying you will because I shall force you to. Okay, not really. But Time Flies is one of the best OHR games I've ever played, and a great RPG in general. Few will not enjoy it, and anyone who hates RPGs will not enjoy it. But then again, anyone who hates RPGs shouldn't even be playing Time Flies.
 
Final Blows
    Overall, Time Flies is definitely worth the two or so hours it takes to play through. There is a myriad of interesting things to do and the gameplay doesn't make you fall asleep at the keyboard with your hand holding down the spacebar. Additionally, there are extras (ala Lunar). I'm not sure if the download here has the extras (there was a post on the boards about it being a "Collector's Edition"), but if they aren't, get them from someone. They include a map, the soundtrack in MIDI format, author's notes, and wallpaper.

If you are in any way a fan of RPGs, you should download and play Time Flies. You will not be disappointed.
Damn that hammer. Ceris was originally designed to use a bow, by the way.

Damn that hammer. Ceris was originally designed to use a bow, by the way.
Final Scores
Graphics: 9/10.0
Outstanding. This is probably the strongest area of the game, although all the areas are quite strong. PK could probably get a job as a professional graphics designer for the GBA or something.
Storyline: 7.5/10.0
At first the story screams "Chrono Trigger". But after playing for a while, you'll realize it is quite different from Chrono Trigger and fun in its own way. A tad bit more story would have been nice, though (such as backstory on Kiamo training Zack and Kento).
Gameplay: 7.5/10.0
Impressive usage of bitsets and abilities. This is one of the ones where you won't fall asleep. There are even sidequests!
Music: 8/10.0
Excellent original compositions which are also placed well. I daresay this is professional quality music, even if it is in BAM. The music sounds even better in MIDI, though. :P
Enjoyment: 8/10.0
There was a lot to do and it didn't get boring. If I don't run away from battles because I'm sick of them, then you know I'm enjoying it. I can only hope you will too, and I'm pretty sure you will.
Overall Grade: A-
Final Thoughts
    Excellent job. There are a couple of problems here and there, but nothing that isn't easily fixed. If you like RPGs, you will like this.  


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