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Brick Road (48hr contest) vs. Aethereal
Brick Road (48hr contest) Chaos Nyte?
Download: 340 KB
Play Time: hours and 10 minutes
Review # 14 for Aethereal Chaos Nyte?
Them's Fightin' Words
    Chenzi hasn't made a game in quite some time. The last one I can remember was made two years ago in the (surprise) 48 hour contest. I don't recall very much about that game, which says it probably wasn't anything special. This game can be described pretty much the same way; it isn't anything particularly special, but it's certainly not bad. Sure, the battles are horribly unbalanced (to the point of being ridiculously easy), and there's not much to do other than walk around and fight battles, but the game's atmosphere is good and the story is well done.
    This is the strongest point of the game. The graphics of this game are great and the atmosphere they have is interesting. The maptiles are far and away the best part of the graphics. They are very cartoony and they blend really, really well together into screens. Yes, each screen is its own map with its own maptiles pieced together, very much like the prerendered backdrops seen in some Playstation RPGs. The level of detail in each map is incredible and leaves you wanting even more. The walkabouts are also pretty good, sporting well done shading and pretty good animation. The battle graphics are OK. The sprites have a few oddities (Dee's arms are too thin and she looks like she is having back trouble), but overall they're not bad. The attack graphics are OK except for the Vampire's, which looks like it was drawn in 5 seconds. The enemies are decent enough, but I can't see one of them (the Assassin) because Chenzi and Orion didn't position it properly. Oh well. Overall, this game's graphics are fantastic.  
    Based off The Wizard of Oz, the storyline is told quite well. Unfortunately, if you know The Wizard of Oz, you pretty much know the story. The characters that Dee finds along the way are the Zombie, who wants brains, the Vampire, who wants a human heart, and the Werewolf, who wants his curse lifted. The person who can supposedly do all this (as well as get Dee home) is the aptly-named ???. After finding him in Emerald City which is at the end of the golden brick road (heh), you have to go kill the Wicked Witch of the West, who is really pissed off at you because you accidentally killed her sister. After kicking her wicked butt, you win and the game goes through the ending. Hey, at least it ends! Actually the story is told pretty well. The only problem is that there are a number of noticable spelling errors. The characters definitely have some life to them. The Vampire is about to eat your heart until you convince him to find ???, the Zombie is about to take your brains until you convince it to find ???, etc. Not a bad job here.  
    Brick Road is so close to being good in this department. It's a case of "So close, but yet so far". If the battles were balanced, this part of the game would be worthy and would more than likely put this at the top of my list for the contest. Unfortunately, the lack of enemy balance totally destroys what could have otherwise been a good battle system. At least there is one puzzle - you have to navigate blindly through a forested area. It's a hard puzzle, but also a pretty senseless one as you can find your way through it if you keep mashing the keys (or if you use F11 ;).  
    Man, this is so close to being great. The fact that you are vastly more powerful than the enemies hurts the battles severely, though. Basically, each character has only one or two attacks, but they are all completely unique. Dee is the most generic, having a simple punch attack. The Zombie has a much stronger generic attack, but it hits a random target. The Vampire's generic attack stuns enemies. And the Werewolf...well, let's just say he's the most powerful character in the game, at least tenfold stronger than anyone else. The fact that each character has a unique ability could have been built around to make for challenging and interesting battles. Unfortunately, despite all this, the battles are so easy that holding space simply gets the job done. This is a real shame. :(  
  Map Design
    This is the other best part of the game. :) The maps are so perfectly pieced together. There's only one puzzle, but the rest of the maps pretty much make up for that. The blend is impeccable and the detail is so very good. Sure, the maps don't have much shading, but they don't need it here, as they look perfect without any shading (actually, I think that would have made them worse). If you're interested in the "2D prerendered backdrops" style, this and Requiem are two good games to study.  
    The game is way too easy, except for that annoying forest puzzle. Fortunately the encounter rate is about right. It's not too high, but it's not too low either. However, you'll still notice how ridiculously easy this game is. You know it's bad when you kill the final boss in two turns. :)  
    The music is ripped and is comprised of popular music and some songs from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Most of it converted to BAM well and it is all well-placed. Plus, it adds to the atmosphere. Keep your speakers up while playing this game. I just kind of wish Chenzi had picked from more sources.  
    The game kept my attention because of the atmosphere and the story. I can't say I enjoyed the gameplay, but I did like the story. Gameplay, however, is paramount in my opinion, so that does make this area's score come out slightly below normal. This score would have been increased by many points had the battles been balanced...  
Final Blows
    Overall, this isn't bad to play through once to see the awesome graphics and the good story, but you won't be remembering this game for its gameplay or anything. It's not anything special, but it kept my attention for one playthrough. I doubt I'll ever go through this game again, but the one goaround was worth the ten minutes. Of course, you'll definitely be playing it if you're voting in the contest...right? Anyway, this one's worth the download, but you won't be totally impressed except by the graphics.
I hope that isn't a subtle message. o_O

I hope that isn't a subtle message. o_O
Final Scores
Graphics: 7/10.0
Excellent! The atmosphere is good and the maptiles are superb. The only problem is the hero sprites are a little wonky.
Storyline: 5.5/10.0
The Wizard of Oz was translated well to the OHR. I kind of wish that Chenzi had implemented a few more originalities to the well-known structure of this story, but it's still well done.
Gameplay: 2/10.0
This part of the game would have been great had the battles been balanced. Unfortunately, they aren't, and so that detracts greatly from the gameplay.
Music: 5/10.0
Ripped and well placed. I would have liked it a bit more had more sources been used, but nonetheless, you don't need to turn your speakers off.
Enjoyment: 3/10.0
The story and graphics kept my attention. Unfortunately the battles didn't. That's why I won't play through it again.
Overall Grade: C-
Final Thoughts
    Wonderful graphics and good storytelling can only take a game so far. Fortunately for this game, they took it that far. Good for a single playthrough, but no more than that.  

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