GAME REVIEWS

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alshark


~ ALSHARK ~
Right Stuff / Victor Entertainment
Super CD-ROM
1994

Alshark is quite reminiscent of Fang of Alnam, another traditional-style RPG released by Right Stuff. Both games feature excellent battle systems, but they share the misfortune of being plagued by abysmal visuals, and neither lives up to its vast potential.


As appallingly primitive as Alshark's field graphics are, they're hardly a major concern, as the strikingly speedy characters need little time to scurry from one location to the next. Interruptions occur in the forms of overhead-view combat scenes that play out in entertaining fashion. Your party consists of heroes and heroines who wield lightsabers and mow down their foes with missiles and machine-gun fire.


Not nearly as engaging are the spacecraft duels that take place as your fellowship travels amongst the stars. You can allow the game to carry out each visually unimpressive orbital scrum in a predetermined manner, or you can take matters into your own hands and partake in the rudimentary VCS-shooter-like action.


Complete an important mission on a given planet and chances are you'll get to view a lengthy cinema, but these occasions are seldom worth getting excited about, as the quite-cool main characters usually aren't displayed in the most flattering of fashions.


Almost every aspect of this fairly ambitious effort ends up dragged down to some degree by the poor visual work. Even the battle scenes, which remain entertaining for the duration of the quest, could've benefited from superior sprite design. The few bosses that appear are tiny and nondescript.


The soundtrack, which travels a back-and-forth line between goofy and generic, is of little help, but superficial elements are hardly the most significant concern here. A far more serious issue is the immense slowdown that frequently occurs as your characters are strolling about towns (of all places). With some villages being quite expansive and requiring plenty of mundane, here-and-there fetching and conversing, the sludgy hiking constitutes an absolutely unforgivable flaw.


The game does get its act together to some extent during its latter half, as it turns its focus to dungeon-depths combat and away from in-town antics. The labyrinths themselves are never particularly innovative in design, but there are some dramatic plot points to be experienced within them.


It all culminates with a surprisingly fantastic ending, but in typical Right Stuff fashion, the dreadful accompanies the awesome--the dreadful in this case being an atrocious end-credits tune.

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