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Lolsidothaldremobine vs. Pepsi Ranger
Download: 2.32 MB
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 15 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    The Universe, it seemed, had a bit of a problem. One would think that merely existing would've been enough to solve the problems of a universe that had nothing in it. Apparently, that wasn't so true. It seemed that merely existing was the reason why the Universe had such a problem to begin with. Since existing meant having various forms of life living in existence, then to expect the Universe to be without trouble was in itself a chaotic and foolish notion. And as the truth may or may not have been told, to have various forms of life in existence meant that some of those beings had to be stupid. This, naturally, was the cause for all the Universe's problems.

One may believe that a Universe filled with stupidity is okay in the long run because the laws of natural balance would claim that for every stupid creature that exists, another intelligent creature can be found close by to cancel out the blatant foolishness of the first. But in some cases, such a nullified balance can cause great peril for either the stupid creature or the intelligent one. Such was the case with the citizens of the planet Xagnorx.

Even though there were plenty of countries and continents on Xagnorx to make up a habitable world, one country stood out in particular to possess what the Universe would label as one of the exceptions to its First Law, which simply states that "People are Stupid." This special case country was aptly known to the world as Lolsidothaldremobine, which was a name derivative from its seven major provinces. These regions called Lolith, Sidan, Goeth, Aldatine, Remaar, Obst, and Kline, which all had names that failed my spellchecker, consisted of many brilliant souls who hardly had an ounce of creativity in their entire being. This of course was how the Universe justified their superior intellectual existence.

Since the Universe had a sick sense of humor, it decided that these intelligent people who thought naming their country after syllables from their province names, which the province names in turn did not have an explanation to their labels, but were probably the last names of their first governors, needed some seriously stupid neighbors to balance them out, or make them upset as the case may be. Therefore a new country of disgruntled postal workers popped in across the ocean. Now, the Lolsidothaldremobinians had some competition.

As a rule, the Lolsidothaldremobinians were a peaceful crowd of citizens who worked out a way to diminish their social problems, eliminate taxes, and silence the voices of annoying children's show mascots. Their universal intentions were to give peace to all their neighbors because they were just that friendly. The problem was that their communication skills were also uncreative, and to say anything to anyone would mean being incredibly vague to each other. For example, if they wanted to go to the local fast food hamburger place for dinner, they wouldn't say, "Hey, let's go to McDonald's for some grub." They'd say something like, "Let us go to the place where they sell that stuff that used to be alive, but now it's dead, and put in into our bodies somehow because the big glowing thing that warms us is going down." This of course would be a pain to analyze in a creative world, and the disgruntled postal workers discovered this when the Lolsidothaldremobinians tried to contact them. So, the postal workers declared war.

As mentioned before, the citizens of Lolsidothaldremobine were no dummies. They couldn't name a shoe if they saw it, but they did know how to counterattack the threat of war without so much as making a gun. And somehow, they averted the postal worker crisis effortlessly, but the postal workers would not take such a defeat so easily. Therefore they decided to attack with magic, rather than by force. Once again, the Lolsidothaldremobinians knew how to counter such a ridiculous attack, but they had no idea just how powerful the postal workers' stupidity really was. Because the postal workers miscalculated their attack, whether it was from the timing or the trajectory, the Lolsidothaldremobinians had no way of preparing their defenses the proper way. After all, if they were creative, they would've had alternative ways to deflect any attack at any time, but they weren't so they didn't. Therefore, the postal worker attack was a success for the most part, and the country of Lolsidothaldremobine was shattered into pieces, and each of the provinces were doomed to float alone in a dimensional void where everything looked like nothing.

Now this wasn't an entirely bad thing, since the Universe felt happy for dismissing one of its least favorite beings of existence, even though the consequences were that the postal workers ended up taking over Xagnorx. But, for the ex-Lolsidothaldremobinians, their alternate plain of existence messed them up so greatly that they could finally find ways to be creative, even though it meant having their superior intelligence waste away. Again, they were used to being smart, so such a change was not entirely welcome. They were also upset that all their friends and family who happened to be in other provinces at the time of the dimensional shift would not have a way to get back to them. But, they were not ready to panic since they believed that there was a way to reunite the country again. Of course, they knew that if they were going to do it, they would have to do it before they became one of the victims of the Universe's First Law. Again, this Law states that "People are Stupid." If they weren't, then we all would've remembered this Law the first time it was mentioned in this review.

This explanation is merely the introductory background to the real story that the game gives us. The real story is about a group of people who discover that the other provinces of Lolsidothaldremobine are floating in the same dimension as their small border town of Sundier. To act on the discovery, Yugen, the local scientist and researcher finds a way to transport the people of the town to the closest floating province, which happens to be the region of Aldatine. Of course, this isn't something he would just send the citizens of Sundier herding into. No, he needs to make sure that it can be done first. Thus he sends our hero Coris to pave the way for the others, and to find out if the leaders of Aldatine have any information to pass along from their end of the dimensional void.

As any good story would have it, such a journey is much easier said than done. Not to mention, no one ever claimed that Coris would have good news to report if the transition from one town to another could actually work. No one even promised that he'd get from one place to the other in one piece. All they said was that it was possible to travel from one province to another, as long as it was within a certain distance. And no one even claimed that the distance would be fixed. Yeah, all they promised was that Coris could safely enter the transporter. What happens after that...?

Oh well, this story is too good to ruin, so I'll go ahead and move into my critiquing mode.

I know I always start with the story elements of a game to kick off the official review, but since this one is special, I'm gonna save it for last. But, before I go any deeper with the other elements of the game, I want to begin by saying that this has been my favorite OHR game since I first played it at the beginning of the year. This alone should be enough to convince players that this game is worth the run. But if it's not, then I'll go ahead and explain why this is my favorite OHR game of all time.

Let's begin with the graphics. As usual, the quality of a game's graphics is mostly judged on taste and comparison, not by raw talent. What I consider to be good graphics may be what someone else considers a hack job. This game m ay surely look like a hack job compared to other high profile games, but I think that would be based solely on comparison and not by taste. Frankly, I like the graphics in this game. Even though the details are not terribly rich, especially when it comes to the indoor tilemaps, I think the dimensional angular feel of objects adds a slight degree of 3-D modeling to give the towns some depth. I'm not saying it's the geometrical masterpiece that a game like Grief may feature, but it has enough angles and textures to those angles to give the map some freedom of immersion. Obviously, some maps look better than others, and while the indoor areas (especially in the Sundier Border Town) lack the depth of scenery that could totally immerse a player into the game, the outdoor maps surely have a way to make up for the indoors' shortcomings. So, just like the citizens of the Universe, two polar opposites bring a manageable balance to the game's map graphics. I'm not sure I want there to be polar opposites since I know that there is room to give the indoor maps some additional detail, especially since each house is a map of its own, but I'm not totally disappointed because what I get is more than acceptable.

Another thing that adds to the quality of the map graphics is the fact that each region is so diverse. We start off in a small town that has American Northeastern looking houses (or so they look to me) and a huge temple that looks like it belongs in the Middle East. Very interesting mix. Then we have the traditional caverns, which are nicely drawn, but no one really cares about because it's just a cavern, even though they're still nicely drawn. Then we have an industrial waste plant, a town that has that modern American look, complete with cornfield and merchant park, another town that is made up of pyramids (okay...), and we're capped off with a forest maze that actually looks like a forest. It's almost reminiscent of the original Star Wars Trilogy, where the characters pretty much travel every possible landscape and back again, without ever leaving the area. Well, that is except for when they travel from one region to another. Hopefully you get the idea.

So, in short, even though the graphics don't match up to the quality of the handful of highly anticipated games that are due to come out sometime in the near future, and even though it's not even as good as the highest rated graphic games on O:OHR, the mix of landscapes and architecture truly stand out among the carbon cut-out towns of almost every other game out there. For that, I'll say that I am impressed.

And that's just the maps. There is also the issue of battle backgrounds to discuss. Simply put, they are different. While most games seem to produce "painted" backgrounds that range everywhere from the richness of PhotoShop, to the nastiness of MS Paint, to the perfect rip-off performance of RPG Maker's background graphics, this game sidesteps all of those overdone conventions for the sake of being unique. This game goes right to the 3-D modeling programs to construct backgrounds that enhance the game's pseudo-geometrical feel. And I use the term "pseudo" very loosely since this game is still characteristically a flat-mapped adventure. Granted, the 3-D backgrounds are just as lacking in details as the indoors of the Sundier Border Town, but just the very effort to make a substantial background with true dimensions is a step up from what we're used to. And that always adds a plus to a game's design.

And one might think that this game isn't capable of pulling off anymore graphical feats of accomplishment than what's already been mentioned. This, my friend, is not true. This game incorporates one more convention that is rarely used at best. And that is the use of "morphing" the screen to call up a battle. What? That's right, the traditional white screen fading into battle is replaced by a massive distortion of t he screen in a sort of whirlpool effect. Frankly, I think adding such a detail to an engine that does the same thing over and over for everything else is absolute genius. So, let me say it again, "This is my favorite OHR game of all time."

Bet you thought I couldn't keep the comments about graphics running for so long, did you? Guess what, I'm not done yet. Ha ha.

This game does have its shortcomings in the graphics range. As I said before, the map tiles are not top quality, but they are attractive. Of course, that discussion is over. The part where Lolsidothaldremobine fails graphically is the character walkabouts. Don't get me wrong, I don't think they're ugly. In fact, I appreciate the fact that they're all diversified as well. None of the characters in the first town look like another. The citizens of Jargenburg all have twins, but it's not that big of a deal. The reason why I don't really like these walkabouts, especially those of the heroes, is because each up and down step mirrors the other. This means that colors and shadows shift unnaturally, and it shows. There is also very little additional animation to add to the personality of the characters. Normally I might expect Coris's arms to move, or Letia's hair to blow around in the breeze, but this game doesn't offer such details. In short, these walkabouts are far blander than the game's uniqueness wants them to be. The Universe would be proud.

The other weakness falls against enemy graphics. Even though I find some of them nicely drawn, I think others are just plain tacky. The one that stands out to be the tackiest is the Evil Bunny, which can be found...never mind. These are only minor setbacks for an otherwise graphically creative game, so I wouldn't go around saying the graphics suck because that would just be false advertising.

Okay, that about ends my opinion of the graphics. Let us move onto gameplay, shall we?

One of the things that Lolsidothaldremobine prides itself on is the mini-games. Granted, I only remember there being two of them-one of which allows you to rescue other OHRers from the clutches of a twistedly sadistic teacher named Mr. Duggy, while doing what you can to protect yourself from his dreaded influence; and the other being a game that allows the player to catch fish with bombs. But they are both very cool indeed, and a welcome way to receive special items for the hero's quest. It's too bad that there aren't more mini-games because this one does them so well, but it's good to get what we can, and this game sure gives it well. I will admit that the classroom mini-game is near impossible to perfect, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it falls under the unique category, so it's still interesting to play it. Plus, it's fun to decide which veterans are worth rescuing, and which ones need to be abandoned to Duggy's fury. I honestly have nothing bad to say about them.

Another plus to the gameplay element is the intelligent map design. The forest of can-openers is very large with a lot of boat rides, and feels like it'll never end. So needless to say that when it does end, the player is very happy. Actually, I can see where that might be a bad thing too. It works for the most part. Save points are scattered in the right places. The bring-such-and-such-an-item-to-such-and-such-a-person puzzles are tricky, but they force the player to explore his surroundings, so it's a nice touch in the long run. But, beyond the well thought out dungeon and puzzle design, I'll have to say that my favorite element of gameplay and map design would be the intricate town of Jargenburg. The expansive detail that was put into this town is overwhelming to me (and I made the towns in Powerstick Man). It's got a lot of characters walking around a huge land area, which includes houses, cornfields, a peaceful looking park, and a nuclear power plant to name some things. And sure, that may not sound like much, but it's all laid out so architecturally efficient that I can't help but to say "nice job." And yes, this is one of my favorite towns in the entire OHR collection of towns. The only thing I regretted about it was that it only filled up one map. When I first walked around it, I thought for sure that it was going to have additional sectors to explore. Oh well. All in all, I'm mucho impressedo.

The place where the gameplay lacks is the battle structure. Even though I'm glad that I can see the enemies coming from a mile away instead of waiting for some random guy to stop my groove, I don't appreciate the low experience that enemies yield when I finally win. It shouldn't take ten battles to get the first level up. Okay, well that shouldn't make a difference because the enemies don't really hit that hard, right? Maybe so, but here's another problem. When I do finally level up, after several minutes of battling, I don't get my energy maxed out. In fact, I get very little of anything added to my health when I level up. So, needless to say, those health items that are few in numbers are very important to the player. Fortunately though, given the fact that enemies aren't random, the player doesn't have to worry too badly about running out before it's safe. I guess the question of whether this is good or bad is dependent on the player. I personally prefer the less stressful way, but that's just me.

Anyway, that about covers my thoughts on gameplay. Even though I don't really talk about music in my reviews, this particular one is special, so I'll mention briefly that the music works. What does that mean exactly? It's got some style to it. Essentially, it's upbeat, catchy, and probably sounds good in midi format. I don't like the title track too much, but because I like this game so much for everything else, the music sort of grew on me. Anyway, I don't like making a big deal about music, so I'll just leave it at that. It's quirky and half-original (composed by Radar), and much of it is placed well. Cool, huh?

All right, well that covers everything but the story line. And we all know how much I like talking about story lines. So, let's talk about the story from the moment Coris steps into our sights, and see if it's worth our time.

As I stated just seconds ago, Coris steps into our sights and mutters to himself to wait for some girl named Letia to meet him down by the town's entrance. Naturally, they don't want to meet outside the town's entrance because that would mean stepping off into a void, and nobody wants to do that. So, they meet inside the town and Letia lets him know that a little journey is in the planning stages. Coris, of course, thinks she's sucking down one too many bourbons when she tells him that the proposed journey is a trip to Aldatine, which happens to be somewhere across the void. What begins here is an adventure that goes way beyond the standard quest across the fields of gold. Rather, we have an adventure that asks the question, "Is it even possible to get there?" When we start with such a hook, we know that we're in for quite a ride.

And Lolsidothaldremobine delivers the punch quite smashingly. From the moment Coris enters the temple with the really long and unimportant name, to the point where the heroes realize that the demo is over, the plot twists the player around from one extreme to another, dips him in gasoline, and throws him into a bonfire. And when the game finally does end, the expected response is typically, "No, not now! Why, Matt? Why?" Yes, the plot is just that good.

But is the plot all the story has going for it? Nein. Let's not forget what brought the story to light in the first place. As we may recall from the introductory paragraphs about the game's introduction, the whole reason why Coris and friends couldn't just get up and walk to their neighboring provinces was be cause the disgruntled postal workers were stupid. What's that supposed to mean exactly? Essentially, this game prides itself on its offbeat humor. And the Celine Dion reference at the beginning is not the only thing that carries the game along its humor track. Frankly, I think the game's humor is intelligent, even though it does waste a few scenes through reference explanation. To be specific, I don't think it's that funny to call a killer bunny a rip-off when it's blatantly obvious that it's a rip-off. That's like a slow-witted person remaining dead silent until you tell him why the joke is funny, and then he laughs. And if the rip-off isn't obvious to someone, then that makes it even funnier because who is really expecting to meet up with a killer bunny? Anyway, I appreciate the offbeat sense of humor that this game uses, and it makes it that much more appealing.

The characters are not nearly as strong as the plot or the humor, but their casual attitude toward their highly unusual circumstances makes them a bit of a treat to follow. I especially appreciate their nonchalant manner in handling a subplot about the can-opener elemental, and its mystical ability to destroy boxes of cereal, or something outrageous like that. A callous attitude toward anything weird isn't as characteristically exciting as the thing that's weird, but it's still an interesting mix to introduce to a game. Now, this isn't to say that Coris and his companions are total zone-outs. They do have their moments of rip-roaring emotion. But the depth at which we feel that emotion is shallowed out by the callousness that we feel after spending three hours of game time with these heroes. Not to mention, this game isn't meant to be serious, and to take their emotions seriously would be like crying when Austin Powers cries. When and why would we do that? Anyway, I guess the characters could be viewed positively or negatively. What's it really matter?

But in truth, it really isn't the individual elements of plot, character, and humor that impress me about this game. Granted, I do like what they give, but I like this game's story a lot for its complexity within the entire package. In other words, I like the fact that it has so much background and plot detail to drive it forward, that when the characters do step on screen for the first time, we can't wait to see where they'll end up next. And this fact holds very true when we get to the end of the demo and realize that we only visited a part of one province, and still have six others to discover more about.

So, let's just say I was both satisfied by the cliffhanger, and disappointed that I didn't get to see what's next.

As far as the downsides of the story go, they're honestly not worth mentioning since everything is so intricately woven and successfully delivered. If I have to say anything at all, it would be simply that the spelling could've been better in various places. Do you hear my finger spinning around in circles yet? I really don't think the spelling is a big deal for a game that succeeds in everything else. I only think it's a big deal when everything else is atrocious. And this game is not atrocious. If there's anything else I can think of off the top of my head that could be better, it might be that some time references seem a bit inconsistent. While one person hasn't seen her husband in three years, another person hasn't seen a friend of his in two. And then I think Coris himself mentions that it's been at least five years since he was able to go anywhere. So the question I have for the author is just how long was it? Was it five years since the postal workers screwed up their calculations? Was it three? Do the characters even have a concept of time anymore? What's the deal here?

I really don't have any other problems with the story. Dialogue works most of the time, even though a few conversations seem either forced or careless (especially when Coris agrees to let Letia travel to Aldatine with him). The characters could use their nonchalant attitude more selectively, using it only as a means to drive the humor. The story itself could definitely benefit from getting finished, although I can see where this may require an obscenely lengthy waiting period. But I can say that the wait would be worth it if this kind of genius continues.

And I think that just about covers my thoughts about this game. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review (if you can remember back that far), this is my favorite OHR game of all time. That's why it was very important to me to get this last review in before my official retirement. I don't know if that means anything to anyone, but because it is at least one person's favorite, that would mean that it must be somewhat a remarkable achievement. If you're intimidated by great games for any reason, then this isn't a good choice for you. But if you're looking for games worth keeping in a collection, then I nominate this. It's not the best game for battling by any measure, but it has so much creativity employed into its structure that it should not be missed. Give it a run, you son-of-a-gun.

And now we're ready for the scores. But before I get to them, I just want to reiterate that this is my last Operation: OHR review for a very, very long time, if not for good. So, without running the risk of shedding a tear, which is not at all likely, but I'll say it anyway for the drama effect, I would like to say thank you to everyone who supported my efforts to help the community make better games. I'd also like to extend my thanks to all the reviewers who stepped in and took the burden of covering all unreviewed games off my shoulders when I first started out. For those of you still out there, I just want to say keep it up. You may have one less soldier clearing out your fields of criticism, but that just makes it more fun for you. Also, if you're reading this and you've never reviewed a game before, give it a shot. It'll totally change the way you look at game design. Not to mention, it'll serve as a helpful lesson in what to look for when making your own games. Finally, I want to thank Cody Watts and Tarot Master for having the patience to upload my lengthy comments from the very beginning to the very end. And I also want to thank all you community members who decided not to flame me for making you read so much about games that wouldn't take nearly as long to play as it took to read about them.

So, I hope I helped at least some of you become better game designers throughout these last eight months. Hopefully more of you will rise up out of the deep and help others improve throughout the coming near future as well. And I look forward to seeing what reviewer prodigies still await us. With that, I'll say let's end this once and for all.

Moment to record in history - August 21, 2001 3:39 AM, EST.
Final Scores
Graphics: 8.5/10.0
The part I always hated about scoring games was the fact that I always ended up repeating myself. How many different ways do I really need to say it? The graphics are good, okay? But, if I do need to reiterate my points, then I'll do it by saying this: The graphics make for a strong example of excellence. This is not as a result of the pixilation talents of the game's designer, and it's not because the characters have discernable body parts. This is a result of the creative approach to designing what could've been the same old thing. If that's not clear, then reread my comments about the graphics. They serve the game well.
Storyline: 9.5/10.0
Yeah, baby! Now we're dealing with some hot stuff. If you want a game with some amazing plot twists, pop this thing open. If you want a game with a unique take on adventure, step on up. If you like games that allow you to attack jars of pickles, then look no further. As a guy who looks at the story as being the most important element to an RPG, I'll have to say that this is one of my favorite examples to experience. I really shouldn't have to explain this any deeper. This game is awesome.
Gameplay: 9/10.0
We're beating a dead horse here, but since we're good at it, we may as well make sure it stays down. The gameplay suffers in the realm of experience building and leveling up, but the actual adventure and the creative mini-games more than make up for those minor hassles. And since enemies can be avoided, why should we really care if they're low yield creatures? As long as we can beat the boss, we're good to go, right? Besides, any game that gives us the opportunity to blow fish out of the water is my kind of game.
Music: 7.5/10.0
The music is very musical. What does that mean exactly? Well, it has meter to it. Its instruments are nicely chosen. Does it rock, though? No, not really. But this game doesn't have to survive off the Guns N' Roses mentality. It's got a healthy blend of quirkiness and heart-pounding opera to drive it. Although it's not my favorite collection of musical hits, I still agree that it's made up of high-end selections. Special kudos go to Radar for his contribution.
Overall Grade: A+
Final Thoughts
    What can I say? This game sucks. Wait. Who tricked me into saying that? Okay, let me restate my opinions in a different way. Does anybody remember the first time they saw Star Wars, the Matrix, or Raiders of the Lost Ark? What did you think about them? No, really, this is a serious question. What did you think about them? Mmm hmm, what's that? I see. Then what are you waiting for? The sequel? Yeah, well goodnight from Pepsi Ranger.  

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