The Last Fortune

Lots of XBLIGs look like they’ll be fun.  Then you play them, and they make you actively question whether the concept of fun is something you’ve been hallucinating this whole time.  That’s what The Last Fortune made me ponder.  I took a peek at the screen shots of it and thought it looked kind of like Wonder Boy in Monster Land, a retro gem that I picked up for $1 on PSN that was just swell.  Then I picked up Dragons Curse (which I guess is Wonder Boy 3, or possibly 4.. then again, I’m not sure which one Monster Land is either) on Wii’s Virtual Console and thought that was even better, until I hit a brick wall about halfway through and gave up in shame.  Still, fun series  It’s about time someone tried to make a tribute for them on XBLIG.  It’s just too bad this one turned out a bit warped.

It really does have a bit of a Sega Master System look to it.  There was no problem with the graphics, besides item pick-ups being too small and samey.

It really does have a bit of a Sega Master System look to it. There was no problem with the graphics, besides item pick-ups being too small and samey.

The game starts with a village full of peaceable folks getting ransacked by evil doers that burn it to the ground.  Choosing to play as either a boy or a girl from the village, you seek out revenge.  Because the language of the option menu suggested that The Last Fortune might be, ahem, difficult, I decided to forgo the medium setting (my typical starting point for most reviews here) and play on casual.  But even on sissy mode, I still had a tough time with Last Fortune, because the mechanics of the game kind of suck.  Like the developers fundamentally had a good idea of what to do, but didn’t take the time to polish anything up.  The controls have issues with unresponsiveness, which makes movement a chore, especially when you get to sections of the game with long jumps and an emphasis on platforming.  I was practically praying that the game wouldn’t go nutso with jumping elements.  So naturally, there’s a boss fight that takes place during a vertical auto-scrolling section.  It’s like being on an airplane that just lost an engine, so you pray for safety and get rewarded by having a wing break off.

The Last Fortune simply doesn’t do a whole lot to entertain.  Progression is straight forward.  Get from point A to point B while stabbing everything in-between.  Combat is the focus of Last Fortune, which is unfortunate (pun fully intended) because the combat is shit.  The range of your attack is limited, and thus you’ll have to do most of your fighting up close.  You have no dodge, counterattack, or block.  Thus, most of the time you’ll be forced to trade damage with the enemy in a way that gets downright maddening later in the game.  I especially hated these giant red knights that looked more like a spartan from Halo brandishing a Halloween novelty sword.  You have to get too close to attack them, and they’re spongy enough and fast enough that you will take damage.  Well, unless you unload your special moves on them, assuming you have a good one.  For some reason, you can only have one type of spell at a time.  The item-picks for these are tough to distinguish from one-another, even if you’re on a TV big enough to double as an ark with two of every creature.  You can buy a charge attack that shoots a Zelda-ish beam across the room, but it’s as weak as a watered down Martini.  All the purchasable upgrades are overpriced and money is scarce even if you go out of your way to slay every enemy.  Plus, you can only access the store between levels, which are too long and boring for anyone to reasonably endure.

The Last Fortune was only one dodge or block move away from being a decent game. Alas, it was not to be.

The Last Fortune was only one dodge or block move away from being a decent game. Alas, it was not to be, making all combat an exercise in frustration and annoyance. The only way to safely fight these flying bastards is to hit once, run away, and wait for another opening. Also known as Zzzzzzword Play.

There’s just no hook to keep you going.  In fact, the game seems to go out of its way to make you want to quit.  The asinine continue system forces you to spend your coins (which again, you aren’t provided enough of to make shopping enjoyable) to continue from the beginning of whatever stage you’re on.  To salt the wounds, you have to pay extra to start midway through the stage.  Lives systems are obsolete anyway.  A continue system this punishing for a game that isn’t very fun to begin with will not add incentive or replay value to it.  It will just make people quit and find something better to play.

That’s what aggravated me the most about Last Fortune.  It looks good enough that obvious care was put into it.  The developers just forgot to bring the fun.  Gameplay is bare-bones.  Enemies are cheap.  Damage is often unavoidable.  The level design is basic and boring.  The dialog is soul-crushingly long and dull.  I truly believe the building blocks for a good game are somewhere in this mess, but Last Fortune never puts it together.  It’s like the developers were given multiple paths for each mechanic: the fun way and the boring way.  They fully intended to go down the fun way, but couldn’t read the map properly and ended up in the boring capital of the world.  And that’s a shame.  Bad game or not, nobody should be stuck in Sacramento.

xboxboxartThe Last Fortune was developed by Misty Day Games

80 Microsoft Points have friends that live in Roseville, which is right next to Sacramento and thus is a like a satellite of boredom in the making of this review. 

Gameplay footage courtesy of Splazer Productions

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