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Avalon Code (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for Avalon Code on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Matrix Software, the developers behind the Final Fantasy remakes on Nintendo DS, have focused their talent into a new and original RPG, Avalon Code. With so many RPGs on the two screened marvel already, can Avalon Code separate itself from the masses, bring some new cards to the table and remain enjoyable all at the same time? Read on to find out...

It is the end of the world and the Book of Prophecy has appeared to create a new world, that which is depicted by Yumil, a young boy trusted with shaping the future by deciding what he wants carried over from the current world. Befriended by the fire spirit Rempo, a guardian of the Book of Prophecy, you set off on your journey to find the other three guardians and create your ideal world. Regardless of the fairly generic 'one man against all' story, Avalon Code brings in some unique techniques, namely the Book of Prophecy itself. It's displayed on the bottom screen throughout your quest to show maps and attributes, but it soon becomes so much more. It allows players to 'scan' the environment such as monsters, plants and the rest of the civilisation by slapping the Book of Prophecy over said object - without them knowing, of course.

As well as helping level up the book and recording items for the new world, this action's main function is to allow the player to change objects' genetic makeup to alter pretty much everything. Each object has a specific code(s) assigned to it, discovered when you scan an item. Then, with the stylus, you can modify it by adding and taking away different codes to produce different effects. With this ability, you can practically bring dying creatures back to life or weaken bosses significantly by taking away their strong codes and replacing them with weaker ones such as, say, the ill code, which will give the player an opening as your opponent bursts into a coughing fit. Codes serve as your way of improving armour and weaponry as well. To do so, scan different weapons or tablets to discover the code designs that will allow the player to adjust the codex to their liking, crafting entirely new weapons. Similarly, many dungeons prompt you on what codes will allow you to progress by colour coding switches and doors (or through the guidance of one of your spirits), essentially allowing the player to open different doors with the same key; just one that has been through a little code manipulation.

Screenshot for Avalon Code on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

All the battles take place in real time action rather than being turn-based. Monsters appear on the field during play and, using the face buttons, must be attacked with a combination of right and left handed attacks allowing the player to progress through the area. Your character has a plethora of dual wielded weapons to use and some interesting abilities such as Judgement Link, which literally allows you to bounce the many varied monsters of the face of the earth until they explode in a shower of fireworks - crazy stuff, but entertaining none the less. Different weapons also allow for other attributes. The hammer, for example, allows you to 'fly' over crevasses in one of the many dungeons. Most of players' time is spent above ground, but you will also venture into many of Avalon Code's dungeons, which shake the formula up by giving out objectives that must be completed before progression, such as hitting all the switches or clearing the room of enemies. With more than nine dungeons, all with extra secrets to find and a variety of challenges in the various towns such as a Judgement Link tournament, there is plenty to do. All of this is brought together perfectly by vibrant graphical work; all of the areas look good, while some in particular look breathtaking, with blossom and leaves floating through the air, and sun shining through the trees.

Screenshot for Avalon Code on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

However, there are a few problems within the game, most particularly with the Book of Prophecy. It initially feels a bit complicated due to its many pages and codes to assemble, coupled with the fact that the inventory can only hold four codes at a time - forcing you to arrange and place them on other characters'/creatures' codex as there isn't a main central database to store your acquired codes. Also, because the Book is featured on the bottom screen during gameplay, it means constantly switching between stylus and face buttons, which is a bit of a hassle. The map can feel confusing until you can warp from area to area halfway through the game. As a whole, the in-game sound is pleasant with patches of voice acting, but is sadly let down by the cries of various creatures by not sounding right or just plain abnormal. The online mode found in the Japanese release, which allowed players to share codes and other parts of the Book of Prophecy, has also been scrapped during localisation, though only those that are aware of its inclusion in other regions will really notice. Outside of these problems, there is not much that hinders the title at all.

Screenshot for Avalon Code on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Avalon Code is a strong RPG and should be picked up if found. It features a really intuitive system that allows you alter almost anything, which is extremely impressive. You can actively shape characters, by stopping life-threatening conditions - or even causing them on monsters, by adjusting their codes to make them burst into flames and the like. Along with that, the rather mad (but fun) fighting style of hurling monsters into outer space feels satisfying, trying to beat your highest score each time you encounter a stronger monster. Despite the few flaws that it has, Avalon Code is a notable title offering a large interesting (if initially morbid) story of around twenty hours set in a rather gorgeous world. Though maybe not as memorable as some of Matrix Software's other titles, Avalon Code breaks the mould and attempts to do something new - and it works.

Screenshot for Avalon Code on Nintendo DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Features a new, intuitive system in the Book of Prophecy to deliver world changing fun, coupled with an interesting fighting mechanic - though it does have a few flaws.

Graphics

Some really nice scenes and vistas on view, character models looks slightly ropey and a few areas have a very generic look. Overall, it looks decent.

Sound

Voice acting is prominent at the start and quickly dwindles, there are a few good ambient tunes, but the sounds of creatures could have used some work.

Value

With the story offering 20 + hours of gameplay, it is sure to last you a fairly long while.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

A fun, new, interesting experience that separates itself nicely from the rest of the crowd with the use of the Book of Prophecy. If you are looking for something to play at the moment, Avalon Code is definitely worth some attention. It's a little slow to start, but it soon picks up into an exciting experience. Matrix have tried something different, and managed to pull it off with smooth execution.

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15.05.2010

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Developer

Matrix

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Good review, Cal. This, along with Nostalgia, seemed to get a lot of unfair criticism from various sources, but they're both really enjoyable games and show how Matrix doesn't simply have to keep working on FF remakes to produce good games!

It's a shame this got overlooked at retail when released here due to many retailers not wanting to give it too much support (if any)...something that's becoming far too much of a norm with RSG's niche releases Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

Hmm, might look into this, nice piece Calum. Smilie


I'll have to look into Avalon Code. I tried the demo and it was fun but I needed more than that to make a purchase.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Definitely - it's one of those games that simply cannot be enjoyed from a mere sample. The first parts can be quite confusing and don't really give a very good taste of the whole adventure Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hmm another RPG I never gave a fair go. The beginning/early parts were just so slow and I couldn't get into it. Need to add this to my to finish list. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sadly I think that is what may have put people off the game. Many folk will have jumped in quickly, then got confused/bored, then spread the word about it...Bad word of mouth = low sales.

Shame, really. Still no word on a European release for Nostalgia, sadly...so for now, this is the only non-FF Matrix game people can pick up. Show some support Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

sick

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