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Platform

GameBoy Advance

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Vivendi

 

Developer

Vivendi 

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2006

 

 

- Gameplay is styled after classic JRPGs

- Decent music

 

 

- Boring battles

- Terrible graphics

- The story isnít all that great

 

 

Review: Juka and the Monophonic Menace (GBA)

Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

Review: Golden Sun (GBA)

 

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Eragon

Score: 6.0 / 10

 

When the Eragon movie was released over the holiday season, publisher Vivendi unleashed games for practically every system out there. However, not all of them were same - the console versions were dragon riding action games, and the PSP and DS versions were action-RPGs. Recently, thereís been a rather confusing trend where the Gameboy Advance version of a given license turns out, at least relatively speaking, to be the best - see the cryptically good Monster House, which was pretty awful on all other platforms. The GBA version of Eragon follows down this path, resulting in an odd aberration of a licensed game that isnít completely awful, even if it is lacking in a few areas.

 

eragon     eragon     eragon

 

The developers in charge of this game mustíve played a lot of Japanese RPGs as a kid, because Eragonís gameplay would fit nicely alongside any number of 16-bit RPGs. You control up to three characters in turn based battles, which has a system similar to Xenogears - by using different combinations of the A and B buttons, you can pull off different kinds of attacks, which is a bit more interesting than choosing skills from a menu. Other than the overworld, there are no random battles, and you can see most enemies approaching on the field - and even if you canít avoid them, you can run away from practically any fight without any real conflict.

 

You also have limited control over how your characters grow. You can choose to train them in, say, endurance, and youíll gain more HP when you level up. Or

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have them train in hunting to increase power with a bow and arrow, or herbology to make it easier to pick herbs You can even spend time upgrading your weaponry, rather than blindly buying new equipment.. Thereís more things to tinker around with than youíd expect in a game primarily marketed at kids. Even the music is surprisingly decent. It suffers from the usual low quality GBA 

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samples, but itís surprisingly catchy, and about as rousing as a faux orchestra on a portable system can possibly get.

 

Still, despite all of the good intentions, Eragon comes off as rather amateurish most of the time, and most of this can be blamed on the visuals. The sprites look like huge blobs without any real detail, and the character portraits seem to be incredibly poor CG models. The battles are all poorly animated, and lack the rhythm and style youíd find in other games like Final Fantasy or even Dragon Quest.

 

There are other questionable decisions in the gameplay as well. For all of the effort into giving depth to the underlying gameplay systems, most battles can still be defeated by mashing buttons, which quickly grows repetitive. Some characters have magic spells, but since thereís no MP stat, they all drain HP. You can actually try to heal yourself and end up losing health. .Additionally, thereís some out of place holdovers from certain older computer RPGs - you canít open certain containers or pick certain herbs unless youíve leveled up the appropriate statistic, which is strangely limiting.

 

The story itself is woven pretty well into the game, which will undoubtedly please fans of the book/movie, but letís be honest - Eragon wasnít exactly a masterpiece. The story begins with three fierce soldiers who are ambushed by the sinister bad guys, who end up dropping a small little orb. This orb is actually a dragonís egg, which is found by naive farm boy Eragon. The egg eventually hatches, revealing a dragon named Saphira, who becomes Eragonís friend and tells him heís in charge of saving the world. Naturally, the bad guys stroll into his village looking for the dragon, kill his uncle in the process, and set up the storyline that in no way rips off Star Wars and/or Lord of the Rings. Granted, the plot isnít really that much worse than the RPGs from the olden era of gaming, but all but the youngest or most devoted fans will probably just see through it and groan.

 

Eragon does a good job of trying to emulate a classic style of game, and at times, it almost succeeds. But even at its best, itís no more than a clone, which is coincidentally, the same issue with the Eragon novel. Still, itís a worthwhile investment for younger fans, even if it only acts as a stepping stone for better games in the world of RPGs.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(April 15, 2007)

 

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