GAME REVIEWS

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gulliver Boy

~ GULLIVER BOY ~
Hudson Soft / Wai Wai Company
Super CD-ROM / Arcade CD-ROM
1995

Gulliver Boy deserves more attention than it typically receives, as it's a great RPG that features some of the most impressive cinemas to be viewed in a Duo game. It doesn't matter (to me, at least) that these amazing FMV sequences are displayed via relatively small windows or that the video itself is somewhat grainy. The mini-movies still represent quite an achievement, and they're noteworthy for both their advanced quality and the events they depict. There's some enchanting storytelling to enjoy here, with every plot point handled in stylish fashion, whether the order of the day is humor or destruction.


The graphical goodness extends to in-game elements: towns, sprites, and maze areas all look fantastic. The overworld graphics aren't impressive at all, but the more involved I got in Gulliver's quest, the less attention I paid to their inadequacy.


Most of GB's battles feature gorgeous backdrops, and the creatures you wage war with are detailed and well drawn, though the designs themselves are often of the unalluring sort.



A flick of your II-button turbo switch will enable you to plow through the scrums in effortless fashion. Gulliver and his allies level up extremely quickly, so it's easy to stay one step ahead of their adversaries. Plus, you can see most roving monsters on the field screen, so it's often possible to avoid combat entirely if you're just not in the mood to fight.

There are plenty of other little things that add to the enjoyability of the experience. Portraits of the bosses in their daunting glory are often replaced mid-battle by ones that show the villains battered and beaten.

You'll briefly engage in mecha combat of the bump-and-run Ys variety while exploring an underground tunnel network.

And while most of the music is merely inoffensive chip fare, there are some entertainingly wacky vocal numbers to enjoy.

Considering all of the things that GB's designers did well, it's somewhat surprising that they dropped the ball with an element they probably thought would make for a novel hook. You can purchase goods and sell 'em off later for considerable profit, but money is of little use in the game. You don't need to buy traditional RPG articles; hell, you can even dodge the fee that's charged for resting at inns, as saving is free and your characters are automatically healed whenever you load your game up.

But the mishandling of commerce turned out to be inconsequential. I was thrilled to discover a sea-buried sum of 500,000, not because I needed the cash for anything in particular but because it was a neat event that added to the game's charm. There are fantastic cinemas to watch, memorable confrontations to partake in, and atypical locations to visit as the proceedings meld Dickensian tales of young-rogue adventuring and old-Europe exploration with intrigue of the sci-fi sort. The combination makes GB worth picking up if you're at all into lengthy adventure games.

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