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Fantasy Realms III vs. Aethereal
Fantasy Realms III Holy crap! An
Download: 166 KB
Play Time: 0 hours and 20 minutes
Review # 10 for Aethereal Holy crap! An "End Demo" message! You don't see those any day!
Them's Fightin' Words
    In an utter burst of randomness and desire to review some game, I used a dice-roller to roll a many-sided die, and the result landed on this little game. I yanked it off the Game List and started playing, and my immediate first impression was, "It's not bad, but it could use some work". And to be honest, that statement pretty much describes that game, although my opinion of it slowly dropped as I continued to play. With a bit of work this game could become a pretty good OHR game, but as it stands, it's not really worth a look at.
    The graphics are pretty blah. They're not bad, but they're definitely below average. The biggest problem is that they tend to lack some shading, instead having the look of a bastardized cartoony-style (an outline with a solid color filled in). The character and NPC sprites have almost no shading and have rather iffy colors which don't blend well and are often a bit too bright. The turtles (Tumans) look decent, though. The enemies are a mixed bag - some, like the wolves, look okay, but the others aren't very good because they're so flat-looking. The maptiles look like they were drawn by about twenty different people, but most of them are at least better than the sprites and such. The battle backgrounds (or, rather, background) aren't very good - it looks like it was made in Paintbrush in about five minutes with liberal use of the airbrush tool. The attacks aren't anything special, mostly because there are only like two in the entire game. Overall, the graphics are one of the weakest parts of this game, and it shows.  
    Another case of a game with no direction and no story. Perhaps it's because all these demos are so short - I don't think twenty minutes of frustration and boredom qualifies as a demo. It's more like an alpha or beta testing version. Anyway, there isn't much in the way of story, as very little is explained - you are given vague instructions on what to do at the opening of the game, and that's it. Stuff happens for no real reason or out of sheer luck. According to the dialogue, I was supposed to go east, but that way was blocked off, and I needed to get permission from the mayor to go through. I searched the (rather large) town for the mayor and could not find him, so I tried the west exit of town instead, which brought me to a forested area. After trudging through this place, I randomly came upon a house that had some guy who spouted nonsense. I then returned to the town only to find the guard gone. That guy that coughed up pointless jabber was the mayor? I never even realized that. After that, I found a fork with a tree blocking the south path, so I naturally took the other way, north. I found some random guy standing near a crater with a giant sphere in it. He walked off-screen, and then I returned to town only to find the tree had randomly been cut down. What? Anyway, TalTup the Tuman joined me for absolutely no reason, and the demo ended there. Hey, at least the game had an end demo message! The NPCs were actually a bit better than the usual banal stuff you see, although none of the things they had to say were *too* interesting. At least it wasn't the same old crap over again. Le sigh.  
    This part of the game is always the same. The gameplay in this game is yawn-inducing. The battles are cookie-cutter and are of the type "hold-down-space", which leads to groans from me and a slap on the head as to why I bothered playing and reviewing this. The battles are WAY too frequent, although, in a nod (or maybe not) to Pokemon, enemies only show up in thick grass. At least there was one block-moving puzzle in the game, although it was an extremely easy puzzle. However, I thought the gameplay in this game was too typical and annoying to make it worth playing.  
    Boring and slow. The hero starts off with low speed, has only one special attack (of course, I didn't really levelbust), and basically all you have to do is hold space and heal once in a blue moon. I did find it interesting that occasionally an enemy would show up and help me fight, although this was never explained, and so I was left wondering what the point was (besides making the battles easier). At least there was a fairly good variety of formation sets, although it was still pointless as all the battles were identical. After the first forest area, I just ran from every battle as I started getting irritated with them. No, really.  
  Map Design
    This is a plus. Well, sort of. The town actually has pretty good design (albeit the graphics), as it is large and not just a big box. There is a second town, but I only got to explore about the first half of it due to the fact that you simply cannot explore the second half unless you want a death wish. The first forested area was okay - at the very least, it wasn't a predefined path for you to follow. There were lots of openings that all generally led in the same direction, but at least it wasn't all "Oh, follow this little 3-tile-wide path I have marked for you and placed walls around!". The second area wasn't as good about this, but I digress. The crater looked pretty good, although it made something in me scream "Dragon Ball Z!" (see screenshot). One thing I really liked was the fact that the author put apples in the trees that you can go ahead and grab (they heal you). However, in the second forested area, all the apples used the same NPC, so once you grab one, they're all history (one wonders if he playtested this...probably not). This was actually one of the better parts of the game, to be honest.  
    As far as the puzzles and walking around go, there isn't any real balance except for the fact that the puzzle is way too easy. The battles are too slow, but at least the enemies put up a decent fight. The lack of variety of what you can do really hurt, though. Also, all the enemies basically do the same thing: hit you. Whoopee.  
    The huge majority of the music is from the free stuff included with the editor, which we all know and love (or are tired of hearing, especially when it's not placed well). The placing of the music isn't actually that great, and the battle music is pretty irritating as it's just repeating the same instrument at first, and it's pitched too high. Not too long into the game I saved and turned it off, switched on Winamp, and started the game up without loading VDMS. Ah, how I love you, VDMS.  
    I didn't find it particularly fun. This is the area that really needs some work, along with the storyline. The game needs to be more interesting, and it needs to have something that draws me in, not something that makes me go "Oh, this is boring...", which is exactly what this game did. The battles were boring and too frequent in the grass, and walking around without being able to do anything else isn't my idea of fun.  
Final Blows
    Overall, this game isn't horrible, but it does need some serious work. It has a few good things in it, but the minuses outweigh the pluses here. I can't justify downloading it and spending twenty precious minutes playing through it. Those twenty minutes could be used to do something a lot more productive and less-boring. If it gets updated, I may check out the update to see if anything has changed, but for now, I'm just going to let it stew in my OHRRPGCE folder along with the rest of the games that aren't worth a look.
*enter Dragon Ball Z music*

*enter Dragon Ball Z music*
Final Scores
Graphics: 4/10.0
A mixed bag, but for the most part these need work. They're not horrible, just not great. The map design adds some big points here, though.
Storyline: 1.5/10.0
It doesn't exist, and it seriously needs one. "It's only a demo" isn't an excuse, either.
Gameplay: 2/10.0
Boring, repetitive, and overly frequent battles make up the bulk of this. The puzzle was a nice touch, as well as collecting apples from trees, so I'll give it a point or so for that.
Music: 2.5/10.0
All it is is the music included with the editor coupled with one annoying battle theme. C'mon, you can do better than this.
Enjoyment: 1.5/10.0
I can't say I enjoyed it, although the crater scene forced a chuckle out of me.
Overall Grade: D-
Final Thoughts
    Could be good with some work, but without that work it's not worth anything. Don't bother right now.  

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