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Memoria vs. Pepsi Ranger
Memoria
Royal
Download: 1.61 MB
V.S.
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 3 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    The story of Memoria begins with a history of war spanning between two tribes and their decendants. Throughout the generations, battles would be fought, blood would be spilled, villages pillaged, and then the next day would come. Essentially, the whole region never caught a The story of Memoria begins with a history of war spanning between two tribes and their decendants. Throughout the generations, battles would be fought, blood would be spilled, villages pillaged, and then the next day would come. Essentially, the whole region never caught a break. That is until the present. This brings the story to Leonard Shaw, a young kid with a knighted father, who has the popularity of a rock star, and the skills of the major players of Arthurian legend. Leonard, who loves his dad, and probably wants to be just like him when he grows up, is sent on an errand to pick up his dad's electric sword, so that he can use it for the tournament. Being the obedient, mostly honest kid that he is, he takes the ridiculous amount of money his father gives him and takes a trip to the Marketplace to pick up this amazing sword. Of course, almost immediately after he picks up the sword, he is tempted to use it on the local bully because what kid wouldn't be? After teaching the bully a lesson, he gives his father the sword, and goes to the training ground to watch him fight with it. Thus ends day one, and more or less ends Chapter one. From there, Leonard is woken up in the middle of the night by a mysterious thing of some sort, which turns out to be the catalyst for the rest of the story. After Leonard comes face to face with this thing, and discovers an awful occurrence, his world turns upside down, and seven years of bitterness follows. The game resumes with Leonard as a young adult who is as nuts in battle as his father was, but is now forced to face his old haunt from childhood. What happens from there just gets totally weird, but no doubt intriguing.

This game has been around for awhile, and I believe it's been reviewed once or twice before, so I don't really know what I can add to it. However, I do know that the earlier versions did not have plotscripting, so I'll begin the "critiquing" part of the review with that. The plotscripting in my opinon is simple for the most part, serving as an aid to move the player from one scene to another, without having to direct the character there manually. The use of plotscripting in this way makes the game better because it gives the player a chance to savor the drama of the story by watching it unfold, instead of losing the moment to thoughts of wondering where the player is supposed to go next to make the story unfold. Even though it probably shortens the game a few minutes, it makes it a lot easier to play. The only place that the plotscripting fails is the weird pauses that require a random key press to advance, when there really isn't any hint that a pressed key is necessary. There is also the NPC control problem that keeps a character in pace mode, even though he should be completely handled by the script. In other words, when a character's response is to back up in fright, he decides to advance forward again if he hits the far back point before the player finishes reading his dialogue. This can be fixed easily just by checking for continuity. I noticed that it happens in several places, and even though it doesn't really affect game play, it's still kind of weird to watch. I also think the game's end-of-scenario pacing is made awkward by slow characters who are scripted to walk along the edge of the screen (which is filled by few to many other NPCs), and makes it hard for the player to even notice what they're doing until a half-minute into the script. Again, these flaws can be fixed just by checking for continuity. Otherwise, the scripting helps the game out a lot.

Okay, normally I would devote this paragraph to all the things that didn't work in the game, but seeing as how I already mixed the good and the bad points of the plotscripting in the previous paragraph, I'll go ahead and mix the good and bad about the parts that have always existed in this game (graphics,music,etc.). Basically, this is the paragraph that everyone's read before in other Memoria reviews. I'll start with the graphics. In my opinion, Royal could probably get a job doing graphics for a professional game company. Only a very small handful of OHR games stand up to this kind of graphics quality. Anyone who has played it knows that they are of the highest quality. I don't know if it requires several hours or several minutes to create a character drawing so perfectly drawn, but the time involved is a great payoff. The backgrounds look like they were produced from a full day's worth of work, which the very thought bothers me because that would sound like a chore to those who either hate to draw, or just can't draw. The author gets high marks for that point alone. The only BIG problem I have with the graphics is the layout of scenes, most particularly the indoor set of the first town. As perfectly drawn as each room is, it takes away from the atmosphere when the player can see the interior of a house from across the street. Even though this would take a lot of work to fix, the benefits would be really good. All that needs to be done (assuming that it's this simple for every game), is to have a screen's worth of black space between each interior. Some of the later areas (the Lavia Castle in particular) seems to do this a lot better, but the first town is next to irritating in handling room spacing. An update begs for this fix (even if it has to wait until the final update). My other game complaint comes with the dialogue. Now, I don't know what the limitations of the OHR was back when this game was first made, but I know the engine can handle over 32,000 text boxes now, so spacing dialogue should not be a problem. I would beg the author to do this, as the dialogue practically runs into itself, and can be a potential labor to read. I think what is there is pretty good, but five different lines of dialogue sharing one text box, with no spacing in between, makes it tough to read. In fact, it is for this reason that it took me at least three false starts before I could finally force myself to play this game. I will admit that the first time I stopped, it was because something in the game kept me from advancing any further, (I think it was trying to pick up the sword in the marketplace, which by the way is a nice tribute to Chrono Trigger's Millenial Fair), but that was on an older version, and probably just because I did something wrong. Since then, I just couldn't get past the initial request to pick up the sword because the crammed dialogue annoyed me so badly that I kept hitting "Quit" within five minutes and told myself I'll try again later. Well, the game was worth the early toil, but I'd rather there be no toil at all. Other than those two "small" things, this game is really good. The story is a very well-written version of the same old stuff, which makes it kind of not the same old stuff. I was a bit surprised at how short it was (just a little over an hour), but it kept me eager for an update. I also enjoyed the small stabs at character humor that shows up in a few places. The two that I found most humorous were the walkabout graphics of Niccolo (as a ten year-old) and his flailing arms, which is amazingly recreated in his seventeen year-old counterpart in the last scene when Leonard and Niccolo are running from impending doom; and the whole character of Billy, the momma's boy bully who still wants to pick a fight with Leonard, even when Leonard is rushing to stop evil. I hope the update will have a lot more of this kind of stuff. Another plus in the game is the very clever use of battles as a story device. From the folly of bad choices, to discovering the truth behind his battle with someone he loves, the battles show that a story can still be told, even if there is no battlescripting. Of course, for some reason, I feel like this has been said before somewhere else, but even if it has, I'll say it too. It's just that worth it. This game is definitely going in the right direction.
Final Scores
Graphics: 9.5/10.0
The graphics are beyond amazing. The details are rendered painstakingly, the backgrounds are virtually intimidating to those who still draw with Microsoft Paint, and the characters have the best expressions on any OHR game that I have in my library (which I don't have a lot, but it's still the best of the ones I do). The poor scene layout of the first town's indoor set is the only thing keeping this game from getting a perfect ten. Great job.
Storyline: 8/10.0
In a world that only has seven possible storylines, which I can't remember them all, but know the damsel-in-distress story is one of them, this game uses the battle between good and evil storyline very well. Even though it begins as a simple story about a kid, who is as innocent and dopey as many other RPG heroes at level zero, it escalates into one of the weirdest turns of events that I've seen so far on the OHR, and leaves a decent cliffhanger at the end to keep the player interested. I really hope the continuation of the story lives up to what it's already set up.
Gameplay: 9/10.0
The game is structured for both actual gameplay, and story-driven cut-scenes. What it pulls off is well-balanced, and keeps the player questioning what's next. The battles are especially clever in that no single battle is particularly easy. Just when the character manages to gain some strength and defense, a stronger enemy comes out of the woodworks to rock Leonard's world even more. The only points that fail in the gameplay is the low attention given to some of the plotscripts. Otherwise, the gameplay is solid.
Music: 8.5/10.0
I'm sure the music is all ripped, given the fact that the credits say so, and that no one can mistake that same old popular Chrono Trigger song \"Time Circuits,\" which the author used for his title screen. I really don't know all the games that got ripped for this soundtrack, but the author's choices are perfect for the mood, so ripped or not, the music is good. There is one battle track that is original, although I'm not sure which one it is. Whichever one it is, all the battle music worked well too, so good job to the composer.
Overall Grade: A
Final Thoughts
    For those who can get past the atrocious misuse of dialogue boxes, this game is very much worth playing and keeping. Everything about it is next to perfect, and an update should be the only option for its future. Great game. Most people know this already, but for those who have never given it a chance, give it one now. Go ahead, you know you want to.  



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