Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water

Hudson Soft
Super CD-ROM

I'm not familiar with the anime or manga or whatever the hell this is based on, but it captured my attention right away with a scene where a girl is about to blow her own brains out. Unfortunately, some lame Captain Gloval wannabe slapped the pistol from her hands; and my hopes for gratuitous gore were dashed just like that.

From there on out, the story concentrates on a girl named Nadia and her group of pals as they stumble around an island and take on some weird mask-wearing villains who call themselves things like "Gargoyle" and "Goblin." Actually, for the most part, the spotlight is placed on Nadia's nerdy sidekick Jean and a turncoat blonde, with a disturbing youngster reminiscent of Robotech's Annie thrown in for good measure.

Graphically, this is one of the most impressive PCE digital comics. You can tell that a lot of effort went into these drawings, and the scenes are constantly switching up, so you won't find yourself in situations where you're staring at a single image as the characters babble on and on. There's also plenty of voice acting to accompany the impressive and ever-proceeding slide show. But the music, while effective in setting moods for most scenes, is forgettable.

Sadly, the story is just as forgettable as the soundtrack. There's plenty of buildup, but the conflict resolutions are almost always anticlimactic. I understand that the core material isn't supposed to deliver the kinds of thrills you can get from 3x3 Eyes or Snatcher, but I still would've liked more excitement. Ranma 1/2 2 provides great anime-style entertainment without resorting to anything particularly "mature" thematically. Nadia's plot twists are moderate and predictable, save perhaps for the emergence of a monstrous something-or-other that starts wrecking shit late in the game.

Still, the visuals do their best to save the day, and they do indeed make the game worth playing through. There are a couple of other minor caveats to note, though. You can save only at certain predetermined points, not whenever you want. This isn't a particularly big deal since the save breaks occur regularly enough and there aren't any Game Overs (that I experienced, at least), but still, it's nice to be able to walk away from a comic at any time. Also, while I got my copy nice and cheap, the game often seems to sell for about twenty bucks, which is a little high for a rather common (and unspectacular) comic.

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