GAME REVIEWS

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Travelers


~ TRAVELERS! ~
Victor Entertainment
Super CD-ROM
1994

Travelers is a traditional-style RPG that really tries its darnedest to buddy up to players. Level-ups occur frequently, and characters need not even complete a given battle to reap benefits from them, including the immediate restoration of lost HP and MP. Regular healing is hardly required, though, as most of the monsters are capable of doing only meager bits of damage. Once you've put a weapon through its paces, you can sell it off for nearly as much money as you spent on it in the first place. And a dash button is provided so that your party can quickly navigate fields and labyrinths that are anything but vast to begin with.


Despite its best efforts, Travelers hasn't been able to get in good with everyone who has played it. In fact, unaffected by its methods of ingratiation, my stern brother Duomitri couldn't wait to unload his copy on me. He was extremely irritated that a Super CD RPG had the gall to make its way to the marketplace sans cinemas. Indeed, that Travelers sticks with sketches featuring its in-game sprites for storytelling sequences is no minor point.


Only during the closing credits is any cinema-worthy artwork presented, which is rather unfortunate, as the character drawings that adorn the game's packaging aren't of the typical anime-style variety (though they don't represent an extraordinary deviation either). Also unfortunate in the eyes of some players is Travelers' insistence on being goofy at almost every turn. Characters bob up and down like pigeons when they speak, and both heroes and villains have the ridiculous tendency to trip over their own feet at the most inopportune times, leading to "comedy" revolving around fallen fools rolling about the turf.


The game does get more serious with its plot points as it moves along: some emotional moments prove truly touching, and some suspenseful scenes actually make quite the dramatic impact. One intriguing sequence has your characters employ a glass cutter to break into a shop and snag a secret document, while another pits them against would-be late-night assassins.


Plot development isn't the only area in which Travelers improves as it proceeds. The first third of the adventure has players visit dungeons that are somewhat inventive in design (the characters must scale walls and walk tightropes at various points), but the distinct elements are really rather superficial and never truly fleshed out.


But the second chapter has the party explore the bowels of a giant demon-infested tree trunk that plays home to a large red dragon and has creepy vermin resting on its walls.


And the final stretch hits hard by taking players into a cave in which the bloody bodies and severed appendages of slain kobolds are strewn about.


Challenge is absent throughout all of the game's stages, but there are elements of the Travelers play system that show its designers were indeed striving to create something a good deal more complex and involving than some Mystic Quest-like baby-targeted product. Characters can take up various positions on the battlefield, with the spots they occupy ultimately determining the offensive options at their disposal and affecting the likelihood that they will come under attack.


And a four-phase day-night cycle is put into effect. As one might expect, certain events can be triggered only during particular time periods.


Travelers starts off as a decent (if all-too-easy and all-too-goofy) RPG and evolves from there into a rather engaging adventure game. Fans of the genre will likely have themselves a good time aiding the clumsy-but-well-intentioned heroes in achieving their goals.

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