Indiemon: Earth Nation

I have an idea for a children’s game.  In it, you’ll play as a pre-pubescent lad who will wander the world making animals fight for sport and for fame.  You’ll start with one enslaved creature (possibly an adorable mouse-lightning bolt thing, something that just oozes cuteness) and then randomly fight other adorable creatures along the countryside.  During a fight, right at the moment before your huggable little animal buddy delivers a merciless death-blow to the creature it just beat into a pulp, you’ll capture the creature in a cage way too small for it to possibly live comfortably in.  You’ll then force it to fight creatures that you wish to enslave, with your ultimate aim being to capture one of every creature like some deranged, asexual Noah.

And I’ve just been handed a cease and desist order, as apparently someone else already had this idea and has made billions off it.  Huh.  You know, I thought I paid a lot of attention to gaming.  I’m not sure how that one slipped me by.

Actually, more than one person had this idea.  Sort of.  A wild XBLIG just appeared before me called Indiemon: Earth Nation.  Quick thought: if you remove the word “Indiemon” from that name, would it not sound like a reality show you would expect to see on Discovery Channel?  No?  Just me?  Okay, never mind.

Thank God they used up one of their four marketplace pics for a splash of the game.  By the way, unless it looks different in an encounter, I don't remember ever fighting the monster shown here.  Unless it was one of the final two boss monsters the last guy you fight pulled out, both of which I killed in a single hit after about two seconds.

Thank God they used up one of their four marketplace pics for a splash of the game. By the way, unless it looks different in an encounter, I don’t remember ever fighting the monster shown here. Unless it was one of the final two boss monsters the last guy you fight pulled out, both of which I killed in a single hit after about two seconds.

So Indiemon is just like my hypothetical game would have been, except you’re a dude dressed like a knight instead of a baseball cap and parachute pants wearing child.  Well, that just saps the whimsy right out of the concept, does it not?  I mean, why does a knight need to make animals fight his battles for him?  Wouldn’t he have, like, something pointy and deadly?  A sword perhaps?  A spear?  No?  So this guy in his fancy armor and  sequined cape is making animals fight his battles for him?

What an asshole.

Well, being a friend to animals (I make a point of eating under six a day), I decided I wouldn’t be a jerk about it.  Instead, I would only keep one Indiemon, a fuzzy cute little rabbit thing called Bunnidusk in the game and “Peter Cottonmurder” by me.  When I engaged in battles with Peter, I decided to forgo any unnecessary violence against those innocent creatures that I so cowardly refused to fight myself.  So, instead of going through all the fancy attacks that Peter had acquired through the leveling up process (which happens roughly every three to four minutes), I would just spend every battle selecting attack from the menu, then selecting the most basic attack I had available.  Of course, such a brazenly lazy tactic would lead to failure in my hypothetical cockfighting game for children, where battles would be based around a rock-scissors-paper style strategy, probably something incorporating elements or living environments.  But, in Indiemon, it worked.  I never once had to use any attack except the weakest one I had open to me.  I never had to capture a creature.  I never came close to dying.  I never once had to use any item to save a fight.  Eventually, Peter Cottonmurder evolved (totally stolen from my hypothetical cockfighting game for children concept) into a giant, muscular, humanoid rabbit thing, sort of like Bucky O’Hare’s roided up cousin, Stucky O’HGHare.  Tougher, stronger, and probably now possessing erectile dysfunction.

That's him on the left.  Who's a cute little blood thirsty slayer of God's creatures?

That’s him on the left. Who’s a cute little blood thirsty slayer of God’s creatures?

Not that it changed the game much.  I could still breeze past any encounter just by mashing the A button until the battle ended with me standing over the bloody, comatose body of some helpless animal.  I was amused that the game took time to note that any animal you beat-up is not dead, but rather “unconscious.”  Well, that’s a moralistic weight off my shoulder, I can tell you that.  Otherwise, you just walk from town-to-town, then go through a cave, and then meet an old dude at a dock, then the game ends, presumably to be continued at some point in the future.  Yep, there’s not even a proper ending here.  It just ends.

And thank God for that.  I sound like a broken record this week, but Indiemon is so awful that I am almost at a loss for words.  Thankfully, I have a thesaurus, and shall now list every synonym for awful: abominable, alarming, appalling, atrocious, deplorable, depressing, dire, disgusting, distressing, dreadful, fearful, frightful, ghastly, grody, gross, gruesome, grungy, harrowing, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrific, horrifying, nasty, offensive, raunchy, repulsive, shocking, stinking, synthetic, tough, ugly, unpleasant, and unsightly.  Well, besides raunchy or synthetic, I think all of those work.

Really, the biggest sin of Indiemon is just how fucking dull it is.  There’s no original ideas on display here, which gives the game a boredom handicap right out of the starting gate.  But once some of the technical flaws of the game begin, it really starts to fall apart.  While going through the cave at the end of the game, it took me about five to ten minutes to find the dude who I needed to launch me on a ship in what turned out to be the “wait, that’s it?” ending sequence.  Once I got him, I think something in the game must have crapped out, because I got stuck in the cave for over an hour dealing with non-stop “random encounters.”  For a while, every single step I took led to a battle.  It took me over an hour to make my way to the exit of the cave.  Considering that this was the end of the game, I figured this was done intentionally to be the big finale gauntlet.  However, I talked to another player of Indiemon who experienced no-such diarrhea of the random encounter.  Huh.  You ever get the feeling a game was intentionally trolling you?  Happens to me all the time.

No, I don't know why the pictures are cropped this way.

No, I don’t know why the pictures are cropped this way.

So Indiemon is boring and unoriginal and technically problematic.  That’s not even mentioning how loose and busted the movement controls are.  Whatever you do, don’t use the analog stick to walk.  You’ll zig-zag around like a drunken knight who makes animals fight his battles for him like a total pussy.  Character design is, well, I suppose no more lazy or absurd than your average new Pokemon is these days.  But, I can’t even recommend Indiemon as the cheap dollar store knock-off that I suppose it has positioned itself to be.  It’s just too bland.  It actually manages to completely miss the point of what made Pokemon work.  Remove all strategy from that series, make the artwork more crude and amateurish, and take away the childlike sense of wonder, and you would have a game ill-suited towards teaching kids the kind of skills needed to be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

xboxboxartIndiemon: Earth Nation was developed by RicolaVG

80 Microsoft Points think a Pokemon parody, similar to Doom & Destiny or Cthulhu Saves the World, could work as an XBLIG in the making of this review.

Monster King

Monster King is the second RPG that I’ve played this month that’s missing some key ingredients.  When the core mechanics of your game involve scrolling menus, you have to really jazz things with witty dialog, a compelling story, or charismatic characters.  If you have none of that, it’s like serving a customer a bowl of warm water and calling it the Soup of the Day.

Today, I ordered a big bowl of Cream of Void because Monster King has the personality of a mannequin.  You play as a dude who has to, um, do something.  If it was explained, I forgot it.  Probably save the kingdom.  It’s always about one dude saving the kingdom.  Don’t these kingdoms ever have a standing army?  Here’s a thought: since in these classic RPGs, the “kingdom” usually consists of a dozen or so towns, each populated by between 4 and 10 people, why not just gather everyone up and move to a new kingdom?  One with better infrastructure, a standing army, and monsters not camping just outside the border of every town?  Come to think of it, why are there never monsters in the towns?  You’re a lone hero who is attempting to save the entire kingdom, armed to the teeth, and you still have to stock up on potions and regenerative magic.  The towns are populated by five idiots who say the same line of dialog every time you try to converse with them.  The monsters should be able to steamroll over them in like five seconds.  These games never make any sense.

It would have been cooler if he was standing by the dock of the bay, even though there’s nothing to do there either, besides watching the tide roll away.

The hook of Monster King is that you can capture enemies when they’re weakened and then use them during battle.  It’s not exactly Pokemon, because you can only use each monster once during a battle.  However, the magic and monster system are basically the same idea.  Use fire against things made of wood, water against things made of fire, Bengay against things made of old people, etc.  Figuring out which enemies work on others is a little trickier, and most enemies pack a pretty decent punch, so you don’t have time to experiment.  Your defense never upgrades when you level up, probably to keep the game from getting too easy, so you have to camp out near towns so you can refill your health and magic points every-other battle.  Are we having fun yet?

Monster King does make an effort to have some form of humor in it, but it really doesn’t work all that well.  Here, humor comes in the form of jokes from the towns people.  The one that stuck with me is “people ask me if I’ve lived here my whole life.  I tell them no, not yet.”  That’s about as sophisticated as it gets.  For the most part, it’s just go to town, buy weapons, fight monsters, level up, slap yourself in the face to prevent yourself from falling asleep, explore caves, and fight bosses.  However, Monster King is more stripped down than Mortal Legacies in some other aspects.  Weapons and armor are automatically equipped, you can’t hock any old ones, and stores do not sell potions.  After playing for over an hour, I never found any item stronger than the standard potion, which can only be got out of treasure chests.  MP can only be restored by sleeping at an inn or leveling up.  Thus, the already boring gameplay is really taken to its most basic level of design.  I don’t get why people make games like this anymore.  This doesn’t feel like a game someone made because it was something they wanted to play.  It seems more like a game that someone made to see if they could.  That’s fine.  That’s how you learn.  But maybe it’s best to not attempt to sell that game.

Status? Sleepy, getting sleepier.

I was ready to write off Monster King as competent and functional, but as shallow as refrigerator condensation.  And then, it happened.  What happened?  Well, I was fighting snowmen and grinding up my XP.  I had just fought a boss, had leveled up a couple of times, bought some new armor, and was about to buy a new sword.  Then I got a message from a friend asking if I could check to see how much something on the Xbox marketplace cost.  I scooted over to the town, slept in the inn, saved the game, and turned it off.  I returned just a few minutes later and loaded up my game.  Only my game was from about twenty minutes before my last save, meaning I had to fight the boss again and make up for the five levels I had climbed and then lost.  I am not sure how this happened.  I typically save XBLIG files to my memory card.  Hang on, let me check and see if I accidentally saved it to the hard drive.

Nope.  No save file found on my hard drive.  Mind you, I’m hyper-compulsive about saving in games.  When I was a kid, I went a little too long between saves playing Kingdom Hearts, and a power-outage resulted in my first legitimate gaming rage moment.  My SpongeBob pillow suffered one lost limb and three stab wounds of unknown origin (pssss, it was from a nail file).  Since then, I’ve been vigilant about saving.  And so I did save after every level-up.  But, come to think of it, the game was a little weird about when the save happened more than the one time.  I did die after a battle or two.  Sometimes I would go back to my previous save spot, but more often I would go back further.  Obviously something is not working here.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have recommended Monster King anyway.  Like Mortal Legacies, it seemed like a good first-attempt, but not a game I could recommend spending actual money on.  But, I’m sure there are people out there who are looking for bland, one-dimensional time wasters.  If that’s the case, and the save thing doesn’t discourage you, knock yourself out with Monster King.  Or, here’s a better idea: go see a fucking doctor because you obviously have no pulse.

Monster King was developed by NickB

80 Microsoft Points wondered why the tree that is brandishing a gun is called the “Tree Killer.”  Wouldn’t “Killer Tree” make more sense?  I mean, I guess it could be killing trees when it’s not attacking professional monster slayers like a dumbass.  But if that was the case, why does it have a gun?  Guns aren’t very effective at killing trees, unless it’s a gun that fires big bullets.  Like a cannon, but that really isn’t a gun.  It should have been brandishing a chainsaw, which would have been a good chance to add humor to the game.  I mean, a tree that uses a chainsaw?  Ironic comedy.  A tree with a gun?  Just weird.

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