i finally got around to officially finishing my first SNES game a couple of weeks ago, the enix RPG e.v.o.: search for eden. the game is fairly unusual for an RPG. the basic premise is that you start off as a fish and as you gain experience (by chomping on other animals in platformer-like stages) you gain the option of upgrading various body parts, such as jaws, a tougher skin, horns, faster fins, etc. the game has quite a few nice ideas, but ultimately they just don’t add up.
one problem with the design is that there’s not really much sense of choice. it becomes pretty clear that only one set of jaws or one skin is “the best”, and there’s not much opportunity to experiment and create really outlandish creatures. (the main exception is that it’s best not to evolve into a human as the human is much weaker than the best mammal.) also, the stages are all fairly ho-hum. there are a few maze-like levels thrown in, but most of the stages are completely horizontal with few or no obstacles. it seems more of the effort went into the enemy design, and for the most part all the enemies’ graphics and movements are well done, including the bosses. but there’s just not enough variation in the gameplay to make it worth playing through a second time.
there are some nice touches though. the maps for the main sections trace the progression of the continents from pangea to our current configuration, and there’s a subplot involving the appearance of some unnaturally evolved creatures. one of the more puzzling aspects of the game is that enemies that are clearly based on real animals are called something slightly different (e.g. “segosaurus” instead of “stegosaurus”). was enix or their translators intentionally trying to remove any remote possibility of the game having any educational value? also, why is the name “e.v.o.” written with periods? what does it stand for? anyway, there’s also a feature where you can save previous forms and at certain points revert back to them temporarily, but while potentially worthwhile it’s never really necessary and thus completely underused.
all in all this was an interesting game to play in terms of deviating from the more generic RPG fare, but it seems with some more time or effort it could’ve been a lot more interesting. it would def. be interesting to see a sequel, although that’s not likely to ever happen. too bad. apparently sims’ creator will wright has been working on a PC evolution game called spore which looks interesting and is supposedly due out sometime this year.
and now … yes, virginia, there are some links: