The colorful characters in Working Design's next translation project. Albert Odyssey, will probably look familiar to die-hard RPG players. After all. they were created by Kubooka-san. the Japanese artist who designed the characters in the classic RPG Lunar: The Silver Star, as well as the heroes of several other RPGs.
Kubooka-san's touch will ensure that Albert Odyssey looks good-and that its characters ooze personality-but how does it play? The game is a very traditional RPG. with an overhead perspective and menu-driven combat (although the game resembles a more action-oriented RPG at times). Albert Odyssey also packs spectacular, screen-filling spells, a richly orchestrated soundtrack and a quest that Working Designs' claims will last between 35 and 50 hours.
This quest centers on a legendary warrior named-no surprise here-Albert. Long ago. Albert conquered the land's motley collection of monsters, who lived in tribes and were waging against all humankind. After Albert's army beat down the monsters, he dragged them to the negotiating table and forged a shaky alliance between the humans and the beasts.
Unfortunately, this peace didn't last forever. Hundreds of years after Albert's heroic efforts, several beast tribes abandoned the tenuous truce and started making trouble with humans again. To make matters worse, the malcontents are trying to rile up other monsters and bring back the good old days of the beast wars.
A teenager living in a small village sees this growing conflict between humans and monsters, and he's none too happy with it. He decides to get involved, to help restore peace and order to the world. Players guide this good-hearted teen and follow him on his odyssey through the war-torn land. As they go about their quest, players will build a party of both humans and beasts (not all monsters are bad guys, after all) and get into lots and lots of turn-based battles.
By the time Working Designs is done translating Albert Odyssey, the game will be packed with many of the company's trademark features, such as well-rounded characters, quirky humor and plenty of cinemas (which were directed by Kubooka-san, by the way). In fact, the U.S. version of Albert Odyssey will include as much as three minutes of animation that's not in the Japanese original.
Saturn owners won't be without a Working Designs' RPG for long. Translation work is nearly complete on Albert Odyssey, an ultra-colorful epic that Working Designs is calling the first true RPG for the Saturn. Unlike the more action-oriented Shining Wisdom and Legend of Oasis, Albert Odyssey is a more traditional, menu-driven RPG with turn-based combat and smallish characters. Gamers won't be overcome by unwieldy menus, though. Albert Odyssey's commands are icon-based, similar to those in Secret of Mana and Lufia.
The game's most noteworthy features are its beautiful graphics and sensational orchestral soundtrack. The characters, drawn by the same artist who created Lunar: The Silver Star's heroes, look especially good. The scattered villages and castles are richly detailed, while travel through the game's world takes place on a 3-D map, similar to the one in Dragon Force-except much better looking.
Unlike Working Designs' famous Lunar games, Albert Odyssey is lean on digitized dialogue and anime-style cinemas. Instead, most of the game's story unfolds through text, in the traditional top-down view seen in the Final Fantasy games.
After publishing the kick-butt strategy/RPG hybrid Dragon Force, Working Designs has decided to go back to the basics. The Redding, Calif.-based company's next game. Albert Odyssey, is a very traditional. menu-driven RPG-and one that just happens to look and sound pretty damn good, by the way.
Albert Odyssey's graphics are sharp, colorful and more than a little cutesy. And if the game looks a bit Nintendoish. well, it ought to; Albert Odyssey, developed by Sunsoft, was originally planned as a Super Famicom game (as a sidestory installment in the Super Famicom's Albert Odyssey series), but those plans fell through and now the game's finding new life on the Saturn.
This rebirth on a next-gen system means Albert Odyssey looks better than it ever could on Nintendo's 16-Bitter, of course, but the game has been supercharged in the sound department, too. Albert Odyssey boasts a fully orchestrated, often soaring musical score, making it one of the bestsounding RPGs ever.
Players guide Pike, a teenage orphan who was raised in a village of harpies after his parents were murdered by marauding beast men. Unfortunately, such attacks have become commonplace, ever since the tenuous truce between the world's warring tribes of monsters broke down. This truce was forged centuries ago by the legendary warrior Albert, and now Pike has decided to set out and discover why Albert's legacy has gone sour. Players start the game alone, but soon their party will swell to five characters-some human, some beasts (not all monsters are bad, after all).
Fans of old-school RPGs will find Albert Odyssey's gameplay instantly familiar. Travel through the world takes place on a 3-D map similar to the one in Dragon Force-except better looking, with transparent clouds and lush terrain. The game switches to an overhead perspective when the party enters towns or dungeons, and combat-which is turn-based-is handled in a side view (get used to the combat sequences, too. because battles pop up more frequently than they do in other RPGs).
Although the game relies on menus, they are icon-based, like the cross-shaped menus in Lufia and Wild Arms. And unlike most other Working Designs' offerings. Albert Odyssey contains very little voice and few cinemas. The translated text, however, is filled with Working Designs' trademark sense of very American humor (one character even gives a lesson in Ebonics).
Working Designs claims Albert Odyssey's quest will last between 35 and 50 hours. But you might want to take your time and make the game last until late summer, when Working Designs publishes its next Saturn RPG-this one more action-oriented-Magic Knight Rayearth.
Albert Odyssey's appeal isn't driven by camera-crazy polygonal battle sequences, hours of voice acting or any of the other snazzy staples of modern RPGs. It's just a nice-looking game with an engrossing story line and plenty of Working Designs' trademark humor. In fact it's the dialogue that makes AO so memorable. Here's a for-instance: Early in the game, a guard threatens to open a can of "whup ass" on your party. Not exactly the mood-setting stuff of most RPGs, but funny nonetheless. Hell, I actually looked forward to talking to all the townies, usually a chore in other games. AO is very much a traditional RPG, with a linear, city-by-city progression of the plot and random, turn-based battles. These battles do come a little too often for my tastes. Sometimes it seems I can't take three steps in a dungeon without being beset by another bout of combat. And-although it may not sound like much-the five seconds of load time before each fight gets old really quick (still, the load times are much shorter than the Japanese version). The graphics are simple-a bit 16-Bittish, in fact-but still richly detailed and at times downright gorgeous. The orchestrated soundtrack doesn't disappoint, either. Oh, and wait until you go up against the final Boss. Talk about tough!
Besides this one being a solid RPG, the dialogue is some of the most hilarious in any RPG to date-even compared to other Working Designs' titles. Any game that can poke fun at itself gets my respect. On top of this, the graphics look great and the fighting system is easy to use. The story line is interesting, but it is pretty much a standard RPG story.
I hate having to review games like this. They suck you in, they keep you around and before you know it, a few weeks of your life have passed. Albert Odyssey is not only beautiful (both musically and graphically), it has one of the best, most involving story lines seen in an RPG. The witty dialogue is icing on the cake. The only bad point: Combat is a drag.
Albert Odyssey doesn't offer anything groundbreaking as far as traditional RPGs go, but the writing is excellent (no RPGhas ever made me laugh out loud this much without ruining any of the dramatic scenes) and the music is fantastic. Load times are a bit on the annoying side, but otherwise, Albert should be more than enough for RPG-starved Saturn owners.
Processor: PC compatible, P-200
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode