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Eragon

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: VU Games
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Even by GBA standards, Eragon doesnít look great. Characters are pre-rendered and lack any sort of detail. They simply look like a blurry mush of pixels that resemble humans or monsters. Things look worse during battles where you have an up-close view. Animation is smooth, though attacks are limited to a few standard moves that everyone has. Environments fare better, at least when compared to the characters, but still look blurry and unappealing.

Music is your average RPG stuff. Some of the songs are catchy and help build up a little atmosphere. Other sounds are limited to sword clangs and other simple battle sounds.


Gameplay:

Eragon follows the plot of the book turned movie and centers on Eragon, a young farm boy who discovers a dragon egg and learns of his destiny to revive a long-destroyed order known as the Dragon Riders. Although you play as Eragon for most of the game, other characters, including Brom, Arya and Murtagh, will join your party.

Unlike other versions of Eragon, the GBA version is an old school, turn-based RPG. As you travel through the story, youíll face random encounters, equip characters, build statsÖ standard stuff. In addition to the main quest, you can take on side quests, which add a couple of hours to an already long game. However, mission objectives arenít very memorable and it is really easy to forget what you are supposed to do next. By now, quest logs should be standard in RPGs.

Enemies come at you in two different ways. When on the world map, youíll face random encounters, while in location maps you can see enemies. I preferred the latter, if only because it offers the option of running if you donít feel like fighting. However, enemies will still chase you down, so it is rare that you are actually able to escape. Most of the time it is better to fight, that way you wonít run the risk of leading a string of enemies and fighting three consecutive battles. Battles can be fled at any time without consequence, though this should only be done in emergencies since youíll need every experience point you can get.

During combat, characters can attempt to dodge or block attacks by pressing either the A or B button right when they are being hit. Although it doesnít work all of the time, it is worth trying to avoid attacks.

Eragonís ability system is unique. Called Focus, the system allows you to set specialties for characters, which is basically a big stat boost on a particular skill. Other than Eragon, most characters are limited in which skills they can focus on. Focus skills impact what a player can do. A character with a high Herb skill can create potions while one with high Magic learns spells faster. Some, like Hunting, grant the ability to access new areas or discover new items.

As a reward for smart character creation, you can unlock special bonus skills such as regeneration.


Difficulty:

Eragon isnít an easy game. From the very beginning, you are dropkicked into difficult, though not impossible, battles. Enemies are usually much stronger and come in packs. Expect to spend plenty of time wandering the countryside leveling your characters just so you can make it past the next area. Even some of the high-powered combos you unlock later in the game arenít enough to give you a substantial advantage.

The dialed-up difficulty will probably appeal to more hardcore RPG fans who seem to thrive on this type of thing, but for casual gamers -- especially those who are fans of the series -- it might prove difficult. If patience is not one of your virtues, this isnít the game for you.


Game Mechanics:

One of Eragonís standout features is its battle system, which is a little more interactive than your typical turn-based, menu driven RPG.

The battle system is based on a set of attack slots that appears at the top of the screen during each of your characterís attacks. Each face button corresponds to either a light, hard or ranged attack that can be strung together to create attack combos. At the start of the game, your combo list and available slots is small, though both will increase as you progress through the game. Unlocking combos allows you to do more damage.

One problem with combat is that once characters are locked into a character, they canít switch to another. So, if you kill an enemy on the first hit, youíll continue to swing at empty air.

As Eragon grows into his role as a Dragon Rider, heíll also learn magic spells. Magic doesnít use the slotted battle system and works like any other RPG. You choose a spell, pick a target and thatís it. It would have been neat to work magic into combos, though I can see where that would become a little too powerful, especially when you take into account the massive damage certain combos cause.

Eragon gets major props for trying something different. This isnít your standard movie tie-in and it takes risks. Unfortunately, not all of the risks pay off. While it has its appeal, it probably wonít appeal to members of the Eragon fanbase who are casual gamers. Even if you havenít heard of Eragon or avoid licensed games, Eragon is worth a look if you are a hardcore RPG fan. More casual fans should be wary that Eragon is a much harder game than other versions.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Sony PlayStation 2 Destroy All Humans! 2 Sony PlayStation 3 Marvel Ultimate Alliance

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated