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Evolution Worlds

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: ESP
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Evolution Worlds had several predecessors on Dreamcast, a system with few RPG titles in comparison to the heavyweight PlayStation library. Especially if you are craving turn-based action, Evolution Worlds could be one to check out now that Gamecube owners have the benefit of the third game in the Evolution series from ESP.

Judging by my last experience, Evolution Worlds doesn't actually look that much better on Gamecube than it did on Dreamcast, but this has never been an RPG to overuse fancy effects or try and be anything other than whimsical, colorful fun. On this count, the game succeeds, but gamers accustomed to more sophisticated graphics in RPG-like titles on Gamecube(Starfox Adventures being the obvious example) might be turned off by the blocky characters and the lack of visual subtlety. The game plays along in a dungeon by letting you see what you're getting into from a close-up third person perspective or a top-down mode. I liked the third person perspective a lot, and if you find yourself with a favorite character, you can choose him or her to lead the party. Being able to see monsters in the dungeon and make the decision on whether to confront them is nice, and of course you can also try to surprise them from behind or avoid being surprised yourself. The voices are done well, and depending on how you feel about characters talking during battle, you'll find the content amusing. Good music rounds out the entire package. The one thing I don't get in all this is the fact that the game obviously doesn't put a lot of stock in wowing us with crazy realistic visuals, so why didn't they simplify things to the point that loading could be avoided? Load times are so unusual on the Gamecube, I really found myself groaning when a loading screen would come up in the middle of exploring a town. I mean, c'mon people!


Evolution Worlds is an old-school RPG. No fancy scripted sequences or summoning will take up battle time. Complicated controls? Never! Labyrinthine dungeons with tons of secret areas and devious puzzles? Not quite... No, there is really just a story to be told here, characters you'll get to know and become fond of (hopefully) and lots of monsters to fight.

In fact, there is a positive deficit of fancy tricks and supposedly novel ideas in this RPG, which is almost refreshing. I'm actually a little tired of RPG titles that feel compelled to throw in some special feature or genre combination just so they can be described as a 'slash-RPG.' Sometimes, we just want to wade through battle after battle, build levels, discover treasure and upgrade spells and weapons to our hearts' content. If that sounds like your thing, Evolution Worlds does it in spades. The main character, Mag Launcher, reminded me more than a little of Mega Man, and Evolution Worlds plays much like Mega Man Legends if you happened to try that title. In what comes across like an alternate Earth, people are still living under fairly primitive conditions, but have the benefit of vehicles and brave adventurers to unearth treasures that let them use mechanized augmentation. These mechanized units, called Cyframes, are wearable and have the most customization potential as you build up your character in dungeons. For characters who don't depend on Cyframes, magic and items can still defeat enemies. During the course of the game, Mag and his band of adventurers will seek a Cyframe called Evolutia which (it's claimed) has special powers.

Evolution Worlds probably will appeal to RPG gamers who like a solid, retro feel but aren't interested in advanced features. Most every basic idea RPG gaming has generated over the years is encapsulated here, making Evolution Worlds a decent play experience, but nothing stretches or pushes the envelope in the least. Most people gravitate to some aspect of a game, and there isn't anything to really get a grip on here, no defining feature that makes you say, 'Play it if you like (fill in the blank).' What I can say is that the characters are more toward the Pokemon side of the spectrum than more realistic games where serious life challenges like love, trust and death play a part. In other words, Evolution Worlds sits right where you might expect a Gamecube RPG to sit, and certainly doesn't do much to pull mature gamers or RPG veterans toward the console. If Nintendo is courting older gamers, they should look for something with a deeper story and more mature themes. Mag Launcher and his goofy crew make for some diverting fun, but that's about the extent of things.


If you've experienced more mature RPG action, Evolution Worlds comes off tame at best. Even in the first few dungeons, your characters are obviously leveling up fast enough to make mincemeat of any monster with the possible exception of the bosses. You can combine special magic and items to potentially create huge damage and beat the game easily. Gamers new to the RPG conventions may find surprises, but unless you've never played anything deeper than Pokemon, Digimon World or Monster Rancher, you won't find a terribly deep experience or great challenge here.

Game Mechanics:

Several nice things are present that make the experience of playing Evolution Worlds enjoyable. Random dungeons are nice for the sake of replay, assuming there is enough 'meat' in the battle action to keep you engaged for another go-round. The incentive to do it again or go deeper into the game than the 20-30 hours it will take accomplished gamers to beat Evolution Worlds lies in the system for cashing in items and the mercenary aspect of trying to pay off a debt Mag's family has graciously passed on to him. See, Mag doesn't just go out to see himself in action, he's sent on missions by The Society. This group is always seeking old relics and will turn Mag onto a dungeon he can check out after he gathers a good fighting team. Echos of Arc the Lad are present in the system of going after bounties to propel the story, but like I said, Evolution Worlds pulls in a whole bunch of RPG conventions. Elemental attack and defense makes a difference when you face off against monsters, but not to the extent you'll be unable to win in battles without mastering the elements. Learning to exploit an enemy's elemental weaknesses makes the battle end that much quicker. Battle order, use of items and magic and the ability to target enemies in groups or individually... everything you'd expect and want is in the stew.

Because I just love beating analogies like dead horses, I'll follow the 'stew' comment by saying that Evolution Worlds manages to combine just about every taste and spice you could imagine for an RPG dish. Every taste is almost like no taste at all, as it turns out. Maturity means choosing the things you like and don't like and taking a chance. Evolution Worlds plays things safe by throwing every possible ingredient into the pot, and the resultant dish is well worth eating but barely memorable after the meal is done. RPG fans will just be glad they have an honest-to-goodness piece of the real thing to play on Gamecube, but discerning gamers with tight budgets are well advised to wait for something that stands out in the crowd.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Nintendo GameCube Disney Sports Soccer Nintendo GameCube F1 2002

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