Dreamcast: Evolution (ESP/Sting)

By Krank
Hardware One

evolutioncover.jpg (32395 bytes)

Its out! Its out! Yessshhh....! The 1st RPG for the Dreamcast is finally out! The name of the game? Its Evolution from Sting/ESP. Evolution is indeed the 1st released RPG for the Dreamcast and we have it right here (Courtesy by me. Who else is spending the dough then huh?) for your reviewing pleasure. Evolution is a true 3D polygonal RPG adventure, everything from surroundings to characters are rendered real time in full sweet high-resolution 3D which you come to expect in Dreamcast games. Did I say sweet? Yeah, its sssweeet (drooling). Erp..whoops, back to the review. We'll be going through some aspects of the game although I only managed to finish 1 dungeon, I hope it would be enough to show you how the game is. Onwards!

The Stuff
Evolution comes in a standard GD-ROM package consisting of a CD-Jewel case (or should it be a GD-Jewel case?) with the standard wrapping that comes along with it. Since I know nuts about the Japanese Language, except a few simple words here and there I can't decode the "back-of-the-box" text for ya. Oh if you know Japanese well enough to translate text in games, please email me to apply for Hardware-One's prestigeous Japanese correspondent/cum games reviewer. But behind and in front there are simple text like "1-player only", "Dreamcast", blah blah blah, which you all should know. The game booklet that comes with the jewel case, is made up of cheaper materials than the Sonic Adventures booklet. How do I know? Well my fingers told me so while fingering (scrub your filthy mind, young man!)  both of them at the same time. The GD-ROM itself is standard, nothing different. Only thing different is when you pop it into a standard PC CD-ROM drive you get....NOTHING! Yep, no free BMPs like Sonic Adventures does, sadly there are no freebies *sniff*. Once after you admired the entire inital setup, just "Pop n Play" and you're set!

You'll get your standard 3DCG rendered MPEG movie, which is good, but not that good....but good. The movie shows the game's 2 main characters MAG and LINEAR grabbing something from some highly old structure which in turns causes a chain reaction which transforms the tall tower structure into a huge ancient satellite/laser cannon which charges up and shoots into space and beyond. Hmmm..., what's the moral of this movie? Never NEVER touch anything that is old and that resides on a tower like structure which could, I MEAN could transform itself into a Star Wars Laser cannon. Oooooh, dangerous. Well that's what you get a short, "good" introduction. Oh yeah, not to mention, the 2 characters (MAGs the guy and Linear (n Quadratic Equations) is the gal. So you get them stuck on a transforming tower, then you get the guy to save the gal from impending doom using a backpack with a white hand which looks vaguely like a Swiss Army Knife. Now I should mention that LINEAR attacks with home-cookery. Yes, she starts out with a frying pan (duck!). MAG has the Swiss Army Hand and LINEAR gets the frying pan, what's next? Well after that, its on into the game with an inital Battle to get you aquanited with it. After that the game progresses with more introductory scenes, this time rendered by the system itself, then you'll pop up finally in a beautifully rendered house.

As what I said in "The Beginning", the entire game is made up of real 3D polygons. No pre-rendered stuff. From what I've seen so far the towns, buildings are all rendered real nicely. No clipping or tearing is evident in the game. The characters are very detailed, with loads of facial expressions present. Other than that, its your standard 3D game.

Well from what I have played, your objective is to go to "dungeons" which have multiple levels to get something by fighting a final boss at every end of each dungeon. But before that you'll have to "ask" for it as in a job from the town's job center. After you accepted a job offer, you head on down to the airport or airstrip to get on a plane to your dungeon destination! Sometimes you continue into the story line where you meet this really nerdy looking bad guy. Main importance of going to dungeons is to collect the artifact at the end of every dungeon by eliminating the Boss, gathering up your levels and then proceeding on in the storyline.

Control wise, its pretty simple and easy you have your directional controls, although the game supports the analogue control and I recommend using it when you are about and running, use the arrow directionals for accuracy. Mapping the keys is easy as the game allows you to configure which button does what, but the standard A: OK B:Jump/Cancel X: Inventory, Left/Right switches rotates your 3D environment all works out pretty fine. Now here's where the game is different from most RPGs, the dungeons are all randomly generated! Yep, everytime you head into the dungeon, everything is randomly generated from the start so no two dungeons are exactly the game.

In Battle Mode, things get really funky here. As with all console RPGs, be prepared to look at a whole load of funky skill moves. From exotic blasts to really nice particle system. Yeah, particle system. Hit an enemy once with reasonable power and watch particles bounce from it. In battle, the camera system really kicks ass, whatever is the case, it will show the best possible view for your attacking or defending character so you can view your attacks in true glory. Standard commands of Attack, Items, Magic are present. Also in the command mix are movement, although this is restricted to forwards and backwards. Attack strength/accuracy is dependent on how far or close you are to the enemy, the farther you are your chances of missing are high as well as less damage.

Your inventory is also pretty limited, your party is capable of only holding 32 items. That includes all healing spells, curing spells and items that you can sell at the job market for cash. So if you so happen to run out of space and have a sellable item that is available to you, you must drop an item to get that item. Ain't it a bore? Well I would really appreciate more space rather than limiting myself to 32 items. Even though you can store items at your house/basement but even with that, its space is only limited to 100 items! Talk about space-limited! Maybe they should ask Larry Leisure Suit for help.

VMS Support?
From what I've seen so far, only thing that is supported on the VMS is the display stats on the unit itself when you are playing the game. It only displays the title Evolution with a moving bar below it, like the sensor array on Kit in Knight Rider. Then after that it shows HP stats of the 3 characters you are playing currently. I don't know if there is a VMS game inside Evolution but but I'll try to find out. If you know of any VMS support besides those I mentioned, or found out how to access any VMS game, do give me an email.

Overall Impression
Well since this is MY first Dreamcast RPG, I can't really say much. But if Evolution is this good for a 1st Generation RPG for the Dreamcast, then I have very high hopes for future RPGs on the system. The battle system ranks top notch in my books, as well as character design. Environment wise, it isn't really much. Not like pre-rendered ones, but it still allowed a total immersion of gameplay rather than distraction. I'll give this game 8.5 points out of 10 for this excellent Dreamcast RPG.