Ogre’s Phantasm Sword Quest

Ogre’s Phantasm Sword Quest has two unique distinctions on my indie game journey.  First, it has the most unwieldy name I’ve ever come across in gaming.  Second, it’s the first Xbox Live Indie Game I’ve played that takes advantage of the raised file-size limits.  Coming in at a whopping 377.59MB, it’s the biggest XBLIG of all time.  I wish it was also exceptionally bad, so that I could say it’s also the biggest piece of shit on the platform.  Sadly, that’s not the case.  Don’t get me wrong, Ogre’s Phantasy Star Online is bad, but it’s not bad-bad.

Ogre’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead is sort of a bargain basement knock-off of Shadow of the Colossus.  You play as a girl with a sword that is roughly the size of a Pinto, though probably not half-as-deadly.  The object of the game is to slay giant ogres that wear football helmets.  You do this in a quite frankly impressive 3D battlefield.  Action takes place in real-time, with hordes of little goblin things trying to kill you.  All that matters is taking down the larger enemies.  Once you’ve killed all the ogres, the level is beaten.

Unfortunately, Ogre’s Phantoms Starring Ben Affleck falters in pretty much every way a game can.  I’ll start with the combat mechanics.  X does a horizontal slice and B does a harder vertical one.  Sounds pretty straight-forward.  The problem is once you’ve swung, the chick just stands there like she just simultaneously pulled every muscle in her body and is waiting to see if her heart is going to start beating again.  Granted, she’s swinging a sword so large that it defies practicality and she’s probably walking around with a hernia big enough to park a car in, so maybe they were aiming for realism.  Probably not.  I mean, the chick can jump about twenty feet in the air and pogo-stick off bad guys in a way that reminded many of my Twitter followers of the NES game Duck Tales.

The pogo stick thing is the main method of attack.  When you jump on a bad guy, you spring extra high in the air.  If you tap the B button, you do a down-stabby thing.  If you press B and then A before you land, you’ll spring off one baddie and onto another.  This also works for doing multiple attacks on ogres, which should pop their helmet off after a few whacks.  After that, you just keep bouncing until the thing dies.  Once you figure this out, most of the levels are laughably easy.  I figured I would be able to coast right through to the end.  I thought wrong.

If the only problem with the game was having a chick who swings a sword like an octogenarian brandishing a sledgehammer yet is somehow able to spring off enemy heads with all the energy of a ring-tailed lemur that’s been drip-fed cocaine since conception, I could probably still recommend Ogre’s Fantasy Football League.  But I can’t.  Why?  Because the game crapped out on me a whole bunch of times.  Whenever more than a handful of guys were on-screen, the frame rate would sputter like a jet turbine that just took in a whole flock of pelicans.  It’s worth noting that the smaller baddies respawn constantly, so it is impossible to not land yourself in a situation where the frame rate takes a beating.  And the problem only gets worse whenever one of the ogres swings at you, which is pretty much the entire time you’re engaging them.  The game also has pretty horrible draw-distance as it relates to the enemies.  Once they get about 15 feet away from you, they simply vanish.  Perhaps the chick needs to visit LensCrafters.  Or maybe she has the strangest case of Akinetopsia ever.

There are lots of little glitches too.  Enemies getting stuck in walls.  Ogres getting stuck in walls.  You getting stuck in walls.  Or an enemy attack getting “stuck on you” somehow.  I went back to level two so that I could grind-up some cash to buy the best sword in the game.  I got charged by the giant deer-thing in that level and got knocked down.  Whenever you take damage, you drop some of the money you’ve collected.  Well, the deer had ran clean past me and was no longer in sight.  Yet, my dudette was still hemorrhaging money as if she was taking damage.  It was bizarre.  Despite wanting to retain whatever cash I had, I was curious if the game was having a blond moment, so I bailed well out of the range of any enemies, just to make sure there was nothing actively biting me.  There wasn’t.

Thankfully, all you have to do is press start once and you’re instantly teleported back to the stage-select screen.  But this brings me to my next complaint: pressing start once instantly teleports you back to the stage-select screen.  There’s no option to pause in the middle of battle.  If you press start, back to the map you go.  It’s fucking annoying as hell.  There is absolutely no reason for a game to not offer the option of pausing.  I thought this was established back in the days of the NES.  Sometimes you’s gotta answer the phone, sometimes you’s gotta piss.  The only purpose this could have possibly have served is to establish the developers as colossal dickheads.  If so, mission accomplished.

I admit, I kind of, sort of like Ogre’s Final Fantasy Fan Art, but I can’t recommend it in its present state.  It feels too much like an alpha build.  Almost as if the developers had something highly ambitious in mind, but had a teeny tiny bit too much fun themselves with the early prototype and said “you know what, fuck it, this is good enough.”  With proper patchwork, this might be a special game someday.  Hey, slaying monsters so big that they can’t fit completely on the screen is fucking awesome.  I’m sure we can all agree on that.  I’m sure we can also agree that if the best offense those monsters have is butt-fucking the frame rate down to sandpapered-DVD levels of skipiness, perhaps we’re better off waging war on mushrooms with legs and turtles.  At least they fight fair.

Ogre’s Phantasm Sword Quest was developed by Divider Games

240 Microsoft Points said at least there’s no annoying horse to drive you crazy in the making of this review.

Keep voting in Kairi’s Katch-Up Thursdays.  On April 5, I’ll be giving away 1600 Microsoft Points to someone who participates in the democratic process.  Even though the winner is not determined by a popular vote.  Whatever, just go vote.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

9 Responses to Ogre’s Phantasm Sword Quest

  1. Starglider says:

    XBLIG sales are so low in general, and so many games fail to sell any significant amount, that it is tempting to put out a half finished game and then if it actually sells polish it up in a patch.

    • Team Shuriken says:

      It’s a really bad approach to take though and leads to more fails then anything else. Usually the game being half finished will have a huge impact on gamer reception and the game will fail because it was half finished. Patches won’t make up for lost opportunity of making the most of new releases list.

      A more logical approach is to launch with a small amount of fully finished content, and then make patches/sequels if the demand is there.

      Not saying weather it applies to this game in particular or not since i didn’t try it.

      • Agreed. It seems that with XBLIGs in particular, the sales at launch are crucial. If a game sells well straight away, it can enter the charts, so releasing an unfinished game is utterly self-defeating. I do see the temptation though.

        Dead Pixels is a good example of your suggested approach (though whether that was intended from the outset, I have no idea). It was released in a finished state, then later on its content was almost doubled.

        Also, seeing the bull/elk/whatever in that screenshot made it appear in a dream I had last night. Not a nice dream.

  2. Cronachan says:

    I think the best approach for more ambitious titles like this is to simply release the game on the PC. Half-finished or not its one of the more impressive titles on the XLIG platform(which no matter how much I love the platform…isn’t saying much.) In PC land, it’s much easier to establish a community that’s interested in your product. You’re also quite likely to find someone who’s actually willing to help you out with programming, etc. and make your game even better as the PC indie community is quite familiar with unfinished, bug-laden games.

  3. Incidentally, I’ve played the demo a couple of times (so about 15 minutes in total) and not once have I managed to hit an ogre’s helmet. That’s annoying.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      You have to bounce off one of the smaller enemies with the down-thrust pogo stick move thingie, and then it should guide you towards the Ogre. It takes multiple whacks to break the helmet.

  4. Pingback: My Ten Favorite Games Ever – Part 2 « Indie Gamer Chick

  5. For those who’re interested, this game has received two post-release title updates, one of which addressed framerate issues. Might be time for a new look, Kairi. 🙂

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