Avalon Code

Avalon Code. i don’t think its a game many people have really heard of or played. It’s one of the lesser known JRPGs for Nintendo DS. It was developed by XSEED and Marvelous, i believe they are also behind Rune Factory, etc but i could be wrong. Marvelous is also the same group who did the FF III & IV remakes on the DS. It’s actually the second thing that attracted me to the game.

My first encounter with the game was actually pure accident. I happen to frequent this video game gallery called Creative Uncut. The owner had just uploaded images for the game i happened to see the artwork for Mieli & Nanai. I was instantly intrigued. Anything foreign or fantasy looking gets my attention haha. I decided to find out more and upon googling images of the game i saw a few screenshots. The character art style reminded me of the FF crystal chronicle games on the DS.

So i looked up even more info and found that Marvelous had worked on FF games in the DS. That aside, i read up on the plot. You play as a boy (Yumil) or a girl (Tia) who comes across the book of prophecy. It’s up to your character to decide what goes over to the new world when this one is destroyed. I felt it had an interesting premise.

Read on for my thoughts on the game.

First off i just want to say, while i do hope to get my own copy someday, i have only played about 12-14 hours of a copy i got from GameFly. So i think i haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the game but regardless i want to share my thoughts.

When starting up Avalon Code i was already entranced. I felt the opening sequence was lovely and the song was rather nice. Upon starting up, i was a little sad to see there was only one save spot (an rpg should always have more than one IMHO). Going through the character picking sequence was easy and i went a girl (of course 🙂 ). Opening sequence occurred and i felt i was thrown into the heat of battle pretty quickly. I don’t know if i had pushed a button too fast or what, I was at first confused as to what to do. lol. I think i might have missed when Rempo told me how to attack. But after a few seconds i quickly picked up on it. I like that both X & Y are attack buttons. You can dual wield in this game. So at one point i had two katanas, a hammer and a katana and even a sword and shield.

The atmosphere in the game is very colorful. I enjoyed the bright colors a lot and the music for the areas complimented them. I felt each character i ran into was rather unique in appearance and personality. I rather enjoyed being able to scan things with my book (using the B button). Whether it be people, enemies, flowers, etc. I also like filling in the maps, etc. I’m a completionist who loves filling in maps in RPGs.

About 5 hours into the game though i think the spell was fading though. While the premise was lovely and the gameplay interesting, certain things tripped me up. Small annoyances that snowballed into full on things that made me decide to return the game to GameFly so i could focus another game. If i had owned my own copy i think i would have the patience to sit down and slowly play through it bit by bit.

As i said before i love filling in the maps. This was rather easy in town and in the fields early on, i could just spam the A button till i found the spots. Later on however, Duncan teaches you how to use Judgement Link. It’s a neat ability that lets you launch enemies in the air, and the longer you juggle them the more health, mana and sometimes even money you get. Problem is, Judgement Link is the A button! So anytime i tried to find a spot on the map and i wasn’t right my girl would just spin with her weapons going “HYAA!”

To find these spots on the map, sometimes it really does take looking in every nook and cranny, now imagine that spamming the A button to find it. It becomes annoying fast. Luckily in town your weapons are away so its not so much a problem. However, it really did snowball for me into a problem and made me stop exploring my map entirely.

So i don’t know what the developers were thinking when they made the A button for both of those. (maybe they weren’t thinking?). Which brings me to a somewhat gripe i have with games on the DS. I’ve mostly noticed on this system but it seems like you can’t adjust the button assignments. It also seems to afflict RPGs mostly. Maybe because they don’t think there will be much button conflict on an RPG, but for an action RPG i would think there would at least be an option to?

But i digress, back to the game. Aside from the A button being for two things the only other thing that got to me was the Book itself. I loved that you could scan things and change stats on enemies. Ranging from elements like fire and ice to concepts like freedom, hope. They even had metals and animals. While it was neat to take away and add attributes i felt it didn’t reflect that much in the game. The only really differences i noticed was putting the “ill” attribute on an enemy decreased its health slightly. Our putting Ice on an enemy and then hitting it with my fire enchanted katana did more damage. The only real difference when making changes to a character was when it was quest related. The only real case i saw was saving the Princess’ cat from dying. Other then that it seems like anything else i did didn’t change them much. I did notice a lot of characters had locked attributes (like pride or sickness) so maybe there is more in depth game play there that i didn’t get to, but it just seemed like my changes didn’t do much.

Back to the book though, there are so many codes to find on characters, etc. i was rather annoyed you could only pull 4 out at a time. A lot of the time i found myself dumping codes on random pages just to make room to move the ones i wanted around. This in turn became more frustrating when it took forever to get back to a certain page.

The book has a normal index and you can select from there things such as “characters” “enemies” or even “items”. From there there are usually more choices. For example in the “Items” section it then asked me if i wanted to look at “Cookies”, “Bread”, “Cake” or “Keys”. It’s not so bad there, however in the Enemies section or even the Characters section. While you do get subcategories you still have to sort through page after page to find the one you want. You can’t just view another index type list of each entry and then select it to go to it.I felt i spent more time in that book searching for something then actually doing something.

Lastly gameplay wise, i felt like i died way too often and way too easily. This could just be my lack of skill and thankfully the game takes pity and lets you continue from the same area (just resets the room/area). I’m still unsure as to the level system though. I believe it is based on weapon schools and the more you use one it levels up. I often couldn’t tell if i was just in a tough area or wasn’t leveled enough. 🙁

All in all i think so far Avalon Code has great potential. While i worry the plot might be a bit rushed (i was 12-14 hours in and already on my way to the 4th & last spirit?), i really like the premise of it. I also noticed some slight romance sub plots, possibly a “butter up the one you choose” type of deal. I didn’t get to go into that so much during my time with the game. I feel what holds it back is the book itself and the mapping of buttons.

I do hope to play it again to its conclusion, maybe my opinion will change a bit. I just really hope if they make a sequel they will make browsing the book easier. You should be spending more time having fun with the game then scanning the book page by page for 10 minutes just to find one thing.

So to the creators of Avalon Code, if you make a second game. my suggestions: 1.) make the book easier to navigate, maybe more table of contents? 2.) change the judgement link button! don’t make it the same as the examine button! 3.) more than one save spot?

So yeah to sum it up, i love the graphics and the artwork. i like the plot for the most part. just wish the gameplay was a bit easier to cope with. it’s hard for me to fully hate a RPG. it’s just not in my blood. lmao.

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