By: Scott Windom
November 16, 2002
The Palm OS RPG market has grown by leaps and bounds, following the processing power of our little machines all the way up. By now, the market is full of many selections, some of which are worth a second look, and others not worth even installing. Aldon's Crossing falls quite solidly into the first category, worth the time and money, especially for anyone interested in RPG's. It has a rich plot, which is not necessarily expected of Palm games in general.
When I first loaded Aldon's Crossing, the size was one of the first things that hit me about the game. It took up in the neighborhood of 800 KB on my device. Fortunately, I have learned through experimentation that it is very PiDirect II friendly. As such, only my save files occupy space in RAM and stay around when I am not using the game.
Once I began getting the game set up, I saw the introductory screen. Normally, I wouldn't even give such a thing a second thought, much less mention it in a review, but I thought this one deserved some credit for doing its job exceptionally well. It is about the best one I have seen, especially with the ghosted face, and contributed significantly to my anticipation of the game itself.
I had to begin my game by selecting my character's stats. It was refreshing to be able to select not only my character's race, but to determine the gender and select what strengths I wanted, as well. When I actually started playing, I found the user interface a bit difficult to get used to. It seemed a bit clumsy to walk around and try to pick up the first few items. Once I figured out how to pick things up, use items, and equip weapons and shields, movement was fairly simple. By the time I had been playing for a while, I got used to it and even grew to like it. The interface is quite efficient, especially when dealing with multiple characters, such as a main character and a pet, or someone else who tags along. I also like having the choice to pick up items I find or not. It's nice to leave something for later, or even leave it behind altogether to prevent clutter with items I don't need, instead of having to pick them up automatically and then waste time dropping them.
It was when I had been playing the game for a while that I discovered how complex it was. The assignments became more and more interesting as I went, sending me further and further afield hunting for people and other quarries. It was a novel addition to be able to get a pet to walk around with me. It makes up for the fact that the game doesn't allow a party, but only one player. The dog I selected (A cat was also offered) was a literal lifesaver at several points when I was fighting against multiple enemies. I even got to change him out later in the game for a dragon. I love dogs, but breathing fire is much more interesting, and I was able to go and check on my dog at will after I got the dragon.
I noticed some optional assignments in the game that required me to change my guild association to get spells and other abilities. They weren't required, but they made the game more interesting and a bit more PC-like. This was what I discovered over time. Some games entertain me for a few hours and then lose my interest quickly, and some RPG's are too repetitive to be any fun. I tire quickly of doing the same thing too many times, but Aldon's Crossing has held my interest, and I could start the game again easily without being bored with it.
I will put the graphics on both sides of the review, because there were marked positive and negative points. On the developer's side, the slight motion of the character and pet graphics when standing still makes for a nice effect. Also, some of the background images, such as water, appeared in motion and added to the game. It is also thoughtful of them to have the character's graphic change when his or her guild changes. The difference in appearance between a thief and a warrior is notable, as it should be.
Now, on to what I didn't like as much. The game was quite entertaining, but the bird's eye view highlighted the shortcomings of both the application and the device. Unfortunately, the rest of the graphics did not live up to the standard set by the introduction. To begin with, I had to run it in center on my HandEra 330. I didn't take any points off for that, because it won't affect many users. Even so, the graphics left something to be desired. It would doubtlessly be difficult at best to have the game show the character graphic actually walking, instead of just moving a static picture across the landscape. However, that doesn't prevent it from looking a bit choppy when the character's still picture moves next to another still picture and a battle ensues. More motion would have provided a much better experience.
To close, this is one of the better RPG's I have played for the Palm OS. The graphics were less than what I was expecting, but that was the only shortcoming I found. The controls were difficult at first, but I came to like them more than others I have used. All in all, this game is an excellent time-waster, well worth the registration fee. I would highly recommend it to people interested in RPG games.
RATING: 7 / 10
|Graphics:||Interface learning curve & OK graphics|
|Playability:||Rich Plot; fun RPG|
|value:||Good Time killer|
Aldon's Crossing is available from Constant Games for $19.95.
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