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Tilde and the Mask of :P vs. Aethereal
Tilde and the Mask of :P Those text box colors should be shot. What is an Ilf, anyway?
Download: 1.22 MB
Play Time: 0 hours and 30 minutes
Review # 2 for Aethereal Those text box colors should be shot. What is an Ilf, anyway?
Them's Fightin' Words
    It was a little over one year ago when Rinku announced his Christmas Contest 2001 game, Tilde and the Mask of :P. It wasn't released in time for the contest, but Rinku planned to put it up so people could play it anyway. For reasons which mystify me, he never did. Now, one year later from the date in which he said he would make it available, it finally is here in the form of a (seemingly) short demo. What is there, though, is pretty nice.
    The graphics were the first thing that impressed me about Tilde. Rinku and Harlock have abandoned the default OHRRPGCE master palette in favor of a beautiful pastel palette. The graphics are very nicely done, detailed, and of course, Christmasy. Tilde's battle graphic is cute in the weirdest way and the Mask of :P looks exactly how it sounds like it looks. My main issue with the choice of colors is that the menus and font are both very bright, making the textboxes hard to read sometimes (the menus aren't hard to read because they, um, flash). Hats off to Rinku and Harlock for making what appeared to be a script that changes Tilde's colors based on his armor...either that or he just changed colors at random times for no reason. The script, while a great idea, is BUGGY. Putting on or taking off the Mask of :P always reverted Tilde from the green colors of the armor you get to his default red and green until I fought a battle. That kind of made me feel like I was controlling two people (and technically I was...more on that later) and I never knew which Tilde would show up. The battle backdrops are gorgeous. Rinku and Harlock created an interesting style of backdrop where there is a white scroll at the top where the HP meter and name appear (the wait meter is turned off) and the battle action is in the middle, with the edges of the "backdrop-of-the-actual-area" fading out to white (you'd have to see a screenshot to know what I meant by that last segment :P). Attacks are the best I've ever seen on the OHRRPGCE - you've probably seen some of them from screenshots of First Fifth (or, Tilde) and know Rinku's prowess in this area. The animation is nice and the maptiles are also pretty. Cutscenes have close-up pictures of the various characters which are funny to look at and have a "cute" anime style to them. Oh, and Santa has red demonic eyes. I'm adding points for that right there :)
    There isn't much story yet, so I'll just explain what happens. Basically, Tilde is an "Ilf" (from what I gather, a type of Elf that makes toys) who is making an unauthorized toy. He gets scolded by Eleven (the head Elf) and Santa. Did I mention Santa is basically Rinku with demonic eyes, a beard, and his trademark red suit? Umm...yeah. Anyway, after Santa talks with Tilde, all the Ilfs are shown taking a test. Tilde does fine, but his friend Cilde fails (pretty much all the Elves/Ilves in this game have names rhyming with "Tilde") and is sent into the spider pit. Tilde is pissed off about that, but while walking around, he finds a mysterious mask with a :P on it. Tilde puts it on, and looks at himself in the mirror - only to find he is invisible (enter Lord of the Rings music). He decides that with this he can try to enter the spider pit and rescue Cilde. So he goes in, fights some oversized spiders, and finds Cilde dead. Poor Cilde. Tilde eventually finds an exit and...I couldn't do anything after that. I appeared back somewhere in Santa's Workshop (which is huge, by the way) and couldn't move at all from my position. If I missed something...then I missed something, but I was stuck there and forced to quit. I didn't even get a "demo over" message. Blah.
    Overall, gameplay was...interesting. Its typical Rinku and Harlock with unique attacks, abilities, and systems. The only thing you do besides watch the story is run around in the Spider pit and square off against varying breeds of Spiders, find two nifty Summon spells, and then fight a big-ass group of "Spider Darks" (complete with that great Memoria boss music) and...that's where you get stuck. Rinku and Harlock did a neat job integrating the Mask of :P directly into the gameplay (more on this in the battle section). Putting it on changes you and makes the screen slightly brighter (ugh). Something about the Mask that I'm not sure was intended was that Tilde and Tilde and the Mask of :P (what you change to when you put on the Mask) have separate levels. Meaning, if Tilde and the Mask of :P reaches level 2, when you change back to Tilde he will be level 1. Is this intended? I think its an interesting idea as it further represents how the Mask increases your powers (again, that belongs in the battle section). But anyway...on to each separate segment…
    Okay, Battles are very interesting. Before I go talk about the battles themselves though, I want to find out which of those two (Rinku and Harlock) decided to put the encounter rate absurdly high. A battle every step does not a lot of gameplay make. A foolish choice, as eventually I got so frustrated with it that I just ran from every fight. But aside from that, battles are well done. After all, that's pretty much all you do. You can't go into this game and just start mashing the spacebar like most OHRRPGCE games. Oh no. If you do that, you will almost surely die. Every type of Spider in the dungeon has a "Slow" spell, and they use it often enough that eventually you will be too slow to fight back (Tilde having an attack accuracy of 75% doesn't help either). This holds especially true with the very first fight involving two Spiders and a Spider Dark (whom I refer to as the King of Spiders because...he kind of is :P). Anyway, I walk into the spider pit all happy like and run into an unavoidable fight made up of the enemies above. I just attacked, attacked, attacked. Well, "slow" went one spider, "smash" went the other spider, and "laugh" went the king. I did manage to eventually take down the brown spiders, but by that time I was so slow that it literally took 15-20 seconds to get an attack. Needless to say, I died eventually. Then I learned how to use Tilde's attacks. Tilde has two summon attacks, his Mask ability (which I didn't use often because you get a lot of healing items after winning that first fight), and an ability called "Rally", which is certainly the best of the special abilities - it raises Tilde's Attack and Speed. With that I killed off the Spiders. So you see, its not about hammering the spacebar as you yawn, and this is a good thing. I also like how Rinku integrated the Mask into battles - getting into a fight while you're wearing the mask takes away your summon abilities and the unused spell slots, leaving attacking, Rallying, and Masking (?) as your only abilities, in exchange for slightly better stats. Once you learn how to effectively use Rally, the rest of the game becomes too easy - even the fight with four (!) Spider Darks was very easy by just using Rally about every other turn...eventually I got powerful enough where I didn't need to bother "healing my speed" because I killed a Spider in one hit. I've also heard from Rinku that when you have more than one party member, the additional party members always attack whoever Tilde attacks (using "set target" bitsets). An interesting battle idea, that is, but unfortunately I did not get to see it in action for lack of more party members.
  Map Design
    Map Design isn't too bad. The main issue I have with the map design is that the Spider Pit is very monotonous - there isn't a large variety of varying tiles here. There are *some* differences, which is nice (like holes in the floor), but more variety could have been used here. The addition of "hidden passages" is a plus (and you'll need them to get out of the Spider Pit), and the Workshop has wonderfully designed and detailed maps. Oh, I forgot to mention the "graphical area display". When you enter the Spider Pit, it is accompanied by a full-screen picture with a stylish name graphic. It kind of reminds me of Final Fantasy 9. That's a plus.
    Balance is a mixed bag...early on, the game's balanced toward the hard side, but it is done flawlessly. That's early on. Later on, the battles become a little too easy because once you've gained a few levels, battles come down to: Rally -> Hammer Spacebar (until you win). The two "boss" fights in the game are done well, but again, with effective use of Rally, they're not too hard. It also helps that after the first fight, you find Cilde's skeleton and get armor and fifty healing items from it which heal 10-15 HP (by the end of the demo, I had almost 30 HP). Tilde only gets more powerful with the Mask (which I left on for the most part). So, while balance was flawless early on, later on it starts to show a few flaws (solely because of the power of Rally).
    The music was very appropriate. It, Christmasy. That always works on a game for a Christmas Contest. Yup. The battle theme is the only piece of music I didn't like - its too repetitive (it goes like this: DUNANANANANANANANA DUNANANANANANANA DUNANANANANANANANA DUNANANANANANANA) (each of those at a slightly different pitch, then repeating). The boss music was that great music from when you fight the two-headed turtle in Memoria, and props go to Rinku for adding that to the last boss fight (I am a great fan of that piece).
    The game definitely kept my attention the whole way through. The high encounter rate eventually got to the point where I started holding down ESC (I felt powerful enough anyway) and the battles at the end got too easy, but with fun graphics, wacky summons, and the theme of Christmas, you really can't go wrong. I can't see someone not enjoying this.
Final Blows
    Was Tilde and the Mask of :P worth the over-one-year wait? would have been more worth it had this not been a 30 minute demo, but for what Rinku has shown us, it is probably worth it. I highly suggest downloading this and giving it a go, especially if you feel the need for Christmas a few months early. Also, play it to see an Ilf.
Yes it is, dear Santa. Now, about that supercomputer I wanted...

Yes it is, dear Santa. Now, about that supercomputer I wanted...
Final Scores
Graphics: 1/10.0
All the graphics are above-average and the palette is well-selected, although the textboxes are sometimes hard on the eyes.
Storyline: 1/10.0
While there isn't much story yet, the action of the \"story\" is zany and very fun to read/watch.
Gameplay: 1/10.0
Battles are flawless early on, then become too easy. Also, the encounter rate is far too high. Everything else is top-notch though. Integrating the Mask of :P directly into the gameplay is a great idea.
Music: 1/10.0
The music is well selected and has the Christmas feel to it. The only issue I have here is the battle hurts my head!
Enjoyment: 1/10.0
Fun until the end, this one grabbed my attention from the minute I started playing it. The only issue is that the absurd number of battles eventually gets on your nerves. Fortunately, the Spider Pit (the dungeon of the game) isn't very long.
Overall Grade: B
Final Thoughts
    A good game that is worth the year wait. Play it and relive the past Christmas.  

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