Topic: Avalon Code

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A year ago I rambled about a cool JRPG on the DS called Contact. It was an interesting little game with tons of cool ideas that sadly had some major issues that prevented it from being all that great. It also sold so little there is no way there will ever be a sequel to fix these problems.

This is basically the same in that regard. Maybe in that regard only. Honestly Avalon Code is probably a better game (as it isn't half grinding), if perhaps less immediately unique. I will say my memory of the game isn't the best so I hope I don't make any mistakes, even if they're ultimately minor.

Avalon Code is an action RPG of sorts. Combat's fun, has a decent soundtrack, it's decent at that. But the main gimmick is that you have a book called the Book of Prophecy. If you press the B button, you will use the book on...nearly anything and it will than be added to it. Creatures, weapons, people, items etc. are added to it. Each thing added has a 4 X 4 grid of "codes" that are part of it. The codes are arranged as blocks of various shapes and sizes. They can be elements like fire, water, electricity, metals like bronze and iron, animals like dogs and birds and even ideals like justice and freedom.

With very few exceptions, you can take any "code" and put it on anything else you scan and it changes it in the world. Now often it only makes minor changes at best like some stat changes for enemies but sometimes it can change a lot. If I recall correctly, there is some use of element weakness ala Pokemon so you can take advantage of that or have I believe either death or sick codes on enemies to make them much weaker (though those codes are pretty rare). Items can change how you use them, like how much they heal you for example (I believe it costs MP to use those items to avoid making it too easy). But the big thing is that some combinations of "codes" turns items and weapons etc. into completely different versions of those items. For example, if you add fire to a sword it will just be Fire (insert name of sword here) with slightly better stats. But if you have the right combination with forest code it gets you something like "The Forest Sword of Justice" or something like that which looks entirely different and is basically the super upgraded version of the weapon. You can find objects that tell you how to get these swords.

Sidequests are also interesting. You can give certain items to NPCs, often for romance subplots(it changes depending on the gender you choose at the beginning btw). Or there's the locked codes. For rare invinsible enemies if you surround a locked code entirely with a certain type of code it, the locked code is unlocked and be taken, thus making the enemy defeatable. For NPCs, this changes how they act. You actually end up somewhat changing the personalities of certain characters, though the game kinda tries to make that less messed up than it sounds. You can even end up curing a sick girl using this technique.

It's such a brilliant idea and there's a ton of customization in it. But there's some major issues. One of the big ones is that navigation can be annoying unless you have a particularly great memory. You can only skip to the start of a few chapters that are used to seperate all the things into different categories. Characters, weapons, enemies, etc. But there's so much that you still need to flip through the pages a ton. And when you're trying to find the right code for something, it can be particularly annoying. Sometimes the code you need, both the right type and size, is only found on like the last enemy you look at but you need it on an NPC in the middle of the NPC chapter. It's so annoying, especially considering you have only another 4 X 4 grid (I'm not sure if even that) to keep anything to yourself so you might have to drop some code you need somewhere else to pick up that code and it's just frustrating. Like I'm sure there's some purist saying how great it is, but it needed at least a bit more work as far as I'm concerned. As the book is unquestionably such an awesome idea that you will want to spend so much time on, the amount of frustration from it is unfortunate. Especially for weapons as there's a decent number of them with 1 (maybe more?) unlockable version to get from a very specific combination of code. I think there's only one for quite a number of element + size combinations so it's really annoying. Did I mention it's annoying. Also speaking of annoying, most of the good weapons (original version, not the super upgraded versions, yeah this game is slightly confusing) you can only unlock doing sliding puzzles. Some 4 X 4 sliding puzzles. HAAAAATE.

The combat is pretty fun. But it's not the best. There's 4 types of weapons that play fairly differently, especially bombs. But the dungeons are almost always just rooms with random enemies with the same few tasks to complete. You get...something or whatever if you get it within the time limit but regardless you open the door to more bland dungeon rooms with the same few tasks. Dungeons are a large portion of the game, especially in the last 1/3, so this is not for the best. It's somewhat forgivable since this is more action RPG and less y'know, Zelda. But the combat still gets a bit too repeditive for me. It's not exactly the most deep thing. You can do a cool charge attack that changes for the weapon (best one is for the hammer/axe type weapons where you spin around and then fly forward in the direction you were facing, with your hammer hitting anything in the way). The best/worst part is the juggle mechanic. If you hit the enemy with I believe the y button it usually starts a minigame where you have to time your hits to hit the enemy higher and higher (doing more damage each time) and it eventually starts going into space. It's very amusing but since defeating enemies this way is the best way to get either HP or MP you'll be using this technique a ton and it will get boring after a while.

How about the story? The premise of the game is very interesting. Among other things, you are trying to record everything in your book because the end of the world is apparently coming. So this book is to record everything so it can be remade in the new world. At the end of each chapter you are even allowed to choose a code to decide how a certain aspect of the world should be like, and you get a preview of this new world at the end of the game. That sounds like a fascinating story. It's...not. It's so not. You have to find the fairies from the dungeons and stop the previous book owner who is evil. It's not that interesting. It's kind of amusing how the king throws you in the dungeon and when you escape and come back to town it doesn't matter and the king doesn't care.

So this was a game alright. Despite all that though, it was still kinda fun.

Bioshock is 10 years old. Let's play through its horrific environment and see why its so beloved!
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