Friday, December 12, 2014

Soul Eater: Medusa's Conspiracy comments

(Images used for review purposes only.)

Soul Eater, Medusa's Conspiracy
It really says something when there's NO walkthrough or cheatsheet for a Japanese anime-related game...

I really like the Soul Eater manga and anime, but I hesitated to get this game, which is based on the first volume of the books, because the artwork on the back of the jewel case didn't look all that exciting. Then, when I was visiting Book Off and going through the game shelves to kill some time, I couldn't find the copy that had been there and I'd thought someone else had bought it. That's when I got Dragon Quest 2 Morimori Slime 2 (Rocket Slime, in the U.S.) instead. However, as I was playing Morimori, the top screen of my Gameboy DS died.

I spent a few days looking for a used replacement DS, but neither Book Off nor Bic Camera had them in their display cases anymore. I specifically asked about it at Bic, and the clerk told me they only had the 3DS now. So, I began thinking about getting a used 3DS, but the prices are still in the 120,000 to 180,000 yen range ($110-$170 USD), and that's more than I can justify. Besides, none of the used 3DS games are under $25, and there's nothing I'd want to play in any case. There was a second Book Off store a 20-minute walk from my apartment, but that closed a week earlier (I didn't discover this until I made the walk). There is a third Book Off down in Minami Kagoshima, and I was thinking of visiting that when I was in the area the following Friday. However, the wait was getting to me. Finally, I returned to the first Book Off store, and asked the clerk there if they might have a used DS under the counter. That's when he reached under the counter and pulled out a beat-up box, telling me that it had come in recently and hadn't been cleaned yet. It was priced at 2,500 yen, and it still worked, so I told him I'd take it.

As I waited for him to finish cleaning the DS, I went back to the game shelves. This time, I found the copy of Soul Eater again. I probably overlooked it before. When the DS was ready, the clerk pointed out some deep scratches on the back of the case, apologized, and offered to discount the machine to 1,400 yen. Well, since Soul Eater was 950 yen, I figured that I'd treat this as a 2-for-1 purchase, and I got the game along with the game machine for 2,500 yen total.

(Conversation screen, Tsubaki and Black Star.)

After I finished playing Morimori Slime, I fired up Soul Eater. After a couple hours, I put the game away. Sigh.

Soul Eater is a combat-based RPG. You start by controlling Maka, as she wields Soul. You're on a street in the city, but there's only one direction you can go. You're confronted by one kind of low-level ghost that can't hurt you, and the tutorial walks you through each of the attacks. The attacks use the stylus, and you have to draw specific patterns to fire them off. The problem is that the attacks don't work right, or shoot in the wrong direction. Additionally, the instructions use symbols that aren't DS button names, and aren't translated or illustrated in the player's manual. I did manage to clear the first stage, but the presence of only one enemy that can't deal damage was pretty boring.

The second stage featured Black Star, using Tsubaki. And this time, I really struggled to make the stylus patterns right, even knowing what was expected of me (Black Star has similar actions, but uses different weapons and therefore has different attack patterns.) At the end of the stage, I had to face Masamune, Black Star's nemesis in the manga. Nothing I did seriously damaged him, and I got Game Over three times in a row. That's when I gave up.

Bottom line, Soul Eater: Medusa's Conspiracy has decent graphics and good voice acting. But the approach for drawing patterns to launch attacks is messed up, and the game play for the first couple chapters is really boring. Not recommended.

(Side note: The next game I picked up was Final Fantasy Revenant Wings, and that's when I realized that the new Gameboy DS machine's touch screen is misaligned about a 1/4" to the left. I tried recalibrating it in the setup menu, but the machine wouldn't calibrate right. So, part of the problems I faced with Soul Eater are caused by the DS, and aren't inherent in the game itself. But, I still don't like the stylus-based patterns for the attacks, so I'm not going to revisit this game anytime in the near future.)

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