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Evolution Worlds

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  ESP / Sting
Publisher:  Ubi Soft
# of Players:  1
Genre:  RPG
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  4-5-03

Although it's received more RPGs already than the N64 ever did, as a whole the GameCube isn't a strong RPG system. Among the RPGs it has received, three of them are Dreamcast refugees: Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II, Skies of Arcadia Legends, and Evolution Worlds. Among these Evolution Worlds is easily the worst of the three.

Evolution Worlds is actually a combination of both Dreamcast Evolution titles into one complete package. The storyline is that thousands of years have passed since the demise of an ancient civilization, and that civilization left behind many advanced technologies. Fast forward to the present, and a group of adventures known as "Cyframe users" explore the ruins at the behest of the Society. One of these Cyframe users is Mag Launcher, a young adventurer who's attempting to become a revered adventure just like his parents were before they disappeared. Thus he sets out with Linear Cannon (a young girl complete with a "mysterious past") to find fame and fortune, as well as the ancient technology known as Evolutia. It sounds cliché, and it is.

Mag will meet many different characters throughout his quest, and almost all of them are cute, super-deformed, and one-dimensional. Gre Nade (starting to see the name pattern here?) serves as Mag's butler and surrogate father while his father is away. Chain Gun is Mag's primary rival and only daughter of the Gun clan, and also (predictably) has a crush on Mag. There are other primary characters as well, which can be classified as the sexy young woman, creepy Commandant, grim bandit boss, and mysterious spirit boy respectively. Character dialog is actually worse, with it being both uninspired and often times horribly translated. Take, for example, this gem offered up by an item salesman: "In the case of an item, effect is also displayed, please make it reference." Eh?

Basic gameplay boils down to this sequence: watch storyline sequence, upgrade and buy items, head out to next dungeon. The storyline sequences that get the player from dungeon crawl to dungeon crawl are pretty basic, and the towns (all two of them) are very basic and do not contain much more than the necessary shops and a couple of houses.

The storyline is really just a device to get the player to the next dungeon, and as a result the game relies very heavily on dungeon exploration and combat. Here is where it really fails. The combat is simple turn-based action, with a very minimal menu layout and uninspiring attack and magic. Each character has his/her own special attacks based on the type of Cyframe they use, and while they're unique they aren't really that special on the whole. Enemy monsters are for the most part boring and repetitive (the boss of the first dungeon is…A GIANT RAT), although a few of them are somewhat funny in their mannerisms and sound bytes. Perhaps worst of all, the dungeons themselves are boring. Other than a few scattered enemies, treasure, and traps there is NOTHING in the dungeon. Not only are there virtually no objects to be found in each dungeon, but every dungeon looks similar to every other dungeon, and since they don't even have unique names (the Society says something generic like "I have another dungeon for you", and then you hop in the plane and go) it's hard to shake a sense of déjà vu.

Graphically, Evolution Worlds every bit like it originated on the Dreamcast. Environments are sparse, as the two towns in the game feature minimal layouts and (as I mentioned before) the dungeons are virtually empty. All character models in the game are simple, obviously featuring low polygon counts with angular faces and minimal animation. Textures are mostly blurry, some to an embarrassing degree that wouldn't have even looked good on the Dreamcast. I don't know if the graphics were upgraded for the GameCube version or not, but if they were they didn't do a good job of it.

Sound is really the area where Evolution Worlds shines. The music is catchy, upbeat (thus fitting in well with the game's theme), and epic in sound. Virtually every line in the game is voice-acted, and surprisingly almost all of it actually sounds pretty good despite the game's super-sweet characters. Sound effects are pretty weak though, as most of them are pretty comical and unrealistic. In fact, the "splat" sound when some bug monsters die sounds exactly like the bug-splatting sound from Secret of Evermore…which is saying something considering that's a SNES game.

Highs:

  • Excellent music and good voice acting.
  • The storyline is actually better here than it is in most dungeon crawlers, but that's not saying a whole lot.
  • Likable characters.

Lows:

  • Blurry textures, bland and empty dungeons (a common problem with randomly generated ones), and low-poly character models take the player back to 1999.
  • Sound effects are comically bad.
  • Combat is typical turn-based stuff, but hindered by poor menu design and lame enemies.

Final Verdict:

Since the storyline isn't the primary focus, dungeon crawlers largely rely on how interesting combat and the dungeons the player explores are. In this regard Evolution Worlds fails horribly. Environments are sparse, the graphics are horribly outdated, and combat is merely average.

If the GameCube is your only console and you need a good turn-based RPG, then get the excellent Skies of Arcadia Legends or Summoner: A Goddess Reborn instead. Evolution Worlds may be a good (budget) alternative for youngsters, as they'll probably appreciate the simple design and cute characters a bit more than an adult would.

Overall Score: 4.3

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