Publisher: Ubi Soft
Release Date: 12/03/2002
GameCube owners haven’t been feeling the RPG love these past months, options are few for those looking to get in on the genre. Luckily, Skies of Arcadia was recently ported over from the respectfully departed Dreamcast with a few enhancements and has been met with critical acclaim. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Evolution Worlds. It too is a port of a Dreamcast game, two actually: Evolution and Evolution 2, which were released on Sega’s system in 1998 and 2000, respectively. However, unlike Skies of Arcadia, Evolution Worlds does not have the depth, scope, personality, or imagination that made Skies so damn fun and endearing. Instead, it is a relatively short, shallow, linear romp through generic RPG domains that seems suited more for a bustling crowd of teeny-boppers who are burnt out on Pokémon. But there is a bright side, at least they didn’t port over Time Stalkers.
Evolution Worlds tells the story of a young boy named Mag Launcher, who is the youngest in the line of the Launcher family. The Launcher family is legendary for achieving great things through adventuring, known throughout all the land and so forth. But Mag’s parents have gone missing on one of their adventures and have yet to return. This leaves little Mag in quite an awkward situation. Finally, Mag resolves to set out on his own adventure in a double-sided effort to regain the Launcher estate’s former glory and hopefully find his parents in the process. Along with a little girl named Linear, who was left on the Launcher family’s doorstep three years ago with a note attached that simply read “Mag, protect this girl Linear”, they will take on missions given to them by The Society and reach their goals one baby step at a time.
Perhaps it is only fitting that Mag’s sidekick is named Linear, because her name embodies the concept of Evolution’s method of progression perfectly. Each mission that you accept will pit you into a seemingly-randomly-generated dungeon that is actually just a sordid maze filled with enemies and traps, literally. And, oh yah, there are treasure chests too, woohoo! You’ll look upon the action from an isometric vantage point with the ability to rotate the screen. The amount of different types of enemies you’ll encounter are severely limited, usually only two or three different kinds of baddies can be found lurking in any given dungeon. The dungeons are composed of multiple levels, either going up or down. And once you get to the end of a dungeon you’ll be able to fight a boss.
It’s all pretty straightforward, the enemy encounters aren’t random, instead you’ll have to come in physical contact with them to initiate a battle. By sneaking up on the backside of baddies you’ll have the initial upper hand from the onset of the battle, and vice-versa if they sneak up on you. Once you are in battle mode you will be presented with a common RPG layout that involves your party trading hits with the opposition. Since the enemy variety is annoyingly-scant the battles quickly degenerates to smashing on the same buttons over and over again until they are dead, then recharging your party’s hitpoints, and repeating the process all over again. There are some special attacks that can be performed depending on who is in your party and their current level of experience but performing these moves on the horde of ho-hum enemies you’ll encounter is simply unnecessary and are usually reserved for the boss encounters.
After you are done cleaning up the mess at a dungeon you’ll return back to town where you are given a chance to choose new party members for the next dungeon crawl, upgrade your weapons, buy potions, and speak with the townsfolk. This is probably the most exciting part of the game, ironic as it is, since the in-between town visits are not laden with the same redundancy of the actual missions. This is also where the game’s story is pushed forward through various dialogue exchanges with your butler and other key-characters.
Visually, Evolution Worlds looks only a notch above the already-mediocre Dreamcast titles. The characters are all very cartoony and basic, though they do sport diverse facial expressions. The dungeon crawls, of which this game is centered around, are extremely analogous to each other, different only by structural design. Again, the town visits are where you’ll finally get a hint of originality. The graphics in combat mode are adequate, buy are harshly limited by the game’s seeming-inability to introduce new enemies. The GameCube is capable of so much more than this and the developer’s ineptitude towards revamping the game’s visuals is a major disappointment.
The audio presentation fares a bit better though, with full speech-driven dialogue for nearly every character you come in contact with. The voice-talent used is obviously not the best in the business but for the most part the character’s voices are believable if not only suitable to their parts. Sound effects, which are primarily only found in combat, are serviceable at best with generic audio representations for the on-screen action.
Overall, Evolution Worlds is a semi-entertaining, though more often than not, tedious role-playing game that brings to the table a straightforward and linear approach to the age-old RPG genre. Younger gamers are who I would recommend this game to, those who are more into fleshed-out and creative RPGs will almost certainly find only disappoint in Worlds.