GAME REVIEWS

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Out Live

~ OUT LIVE ~
Sunsoft
HuCard
1989

Even if Sunsoft's PC Engine games weren't generally enjoyable, they'd still be worth checking out thanks to their music, as the company always seemed to come up with high-quality numbers for its HuCard soundtracks. Out Live doesn't disappoint in this regard. And I'm always up for spending a few hours with a good, solid first-person dungeon crawler, and, well, Out Live is indeed a first-person dungeon crawler. It is not a deep RPG, nor is it some sort of epic science fiction adventure. Quite reminiscent of NCS/Masaya's Double Dungeons, Out Live is a simple, fast-paced dash through a series of look-alike mazes.



The tunnel network is your way of getting from one town to the next. As you might expect, towns are where you can heal up, buy equipment, and talk to people about the next leg of your quest.



Townsfolk will occasionally challenge you to do battle in an arena. These closed-off fights are chances for you to earn lots of dough and, sometimes, special new equipment.



Of course, you'll spend most of your time not in the towns but in the dungeons. And there isn't a whole lot to do down there besides beat up the fools who get in your way and look for either the gate to the next town or a particularly tough monster to batter. It's simple stuff, but it's handled well, as the scrolling is very smooth and the combat is fast. And there's lots and lots of English and katakana, making Out Live a very easy game to play.



Not that it doesn't have some issues. The later mazes are huge, and while Double Dungeons' labyrinths have inns and shops here and there as "landmarks" of sorts, Out Live offers no such convenient way of keeping track of where you are. Sure, the walls themselves change shade depending on the type of area you're traveling through--blue represents cold, for instance--but when you come across every area type multiple times in a single maze, the colors don't help much. At least you can almost always utilize the tried-and-true method of hugging the left or right wall to eventually find your way.



There's no similarly simple method that can be utilized to evade the required, sometimes monotonous grinding or the general repetition of the experience. Double Dungeons alleviates such tedium with a fantastic two-player mode, but Out Live is a one-man journey. And while some of its creatures and robots are very cool, Out Live doesn't contain nearly as much variety in its enemy cast as DD does in its own.



Still, OL is a fun game that just might keep you zoned in and up very late for a night or two--provided that you're not inclined to despise it in the first place (if you don't like Double Dungeons, stay away from this).

(I must conclude with a warning. When my Attack Level reached 50 [which I believe is supposed to be the max], a glitch occurred: the "level up" window came up and would not go away; it simply reappeared every time I pressed the damn button. So, uh, you might want to avoid leveling to the max. Note that I don't know if a similar glitch occurs if you max out your Defense Level, as mine never reached 50.)

1 comment :

m1savage said...

Finally beat this game today at attack level 46. The review pretty much sums up the game. The amount of grinding before the last level and then again before the final boss almost ruined the game for me. They should have made it a bit more balanced in my opinion. Overall though, I liked the enemies and the music enough that it was worth playing through the whole thing.

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