Game Over Online ~ Ariole Sin

GameOver Game Reviews - Ariole Sin (c) Mugenstorm, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Ariole Sin (c) Mugenstorm
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Friday, November 23rd, 2001 at 11:53 AM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

The proliferation of tried and true PC genres on to the Pocket PC platform should really surprise no one. Both of the platforms share the PC moniker, so it is natural for us to see the first person shooter, the real-time strategy and other genres which have defined gaming on computers, pop up in the PC platform. Mugenstorm's Ariole Sin, however, is directly inspired from the fantasy anime worlds. Ariole Sin is an interesting piece of work being part RPG and part fighting game; probably a strange combination. But then, we have to remind ourselves that Final Fantasy Tactics (and for that matter, Fallout Tactics) were credible hits in themselves, merging the RPG world with strategic combat.

Here, the combat is shifted into one on one sparring between various characters in the game. You assume the identity of Ariole, an angel sent from the heavens to save the world. She is aptly tasked to defend the world against a little phenomenon like armageddon, the apocalypse, total destruction and annihilation. Why Ariole must be dragged away from frolicking in heaven, is of course because a band of evil-doers want to put together a medallion split on to three continents. This medallion purportedly makes the beholder a god. Thus, the evil ones disperse and repeatedly bully innocent villagers for medallion pieces that they undoubtedly either do not have or do not want to share with the evil ones. The story is complicated even more because Ariole, like the Christian Jesus, has identity problems when descending into the realm of the mortals. People in the mortal world think she might be representation of the "one true God" rather than a follower, disciple or offspring. Part of the story involves the classic motif of the search for self.

The premise of Ariole Sin is indeed intriguing and for a game that revolves mostly around dialogue, intermixed with fight scenes, you would not expect something entirely prosaic or unfulfilling. The combat is a bit quirky and definitely seems inspired by its console roots. You have one health and energy bar. So if you want to initiate attacks, you might inadvertently weaken yourself so much that your opponent could simply initiate a coup de grace. Although combat can certainly denigrate into a parry-recharge-attack cycle, you can avoid this by pulling off some combos. There are only two controls, one for a long ranged fireball attack and the other for a charge or combo breaker. The combat works well, when it works though. Sometimes, battles may be totally one-sided with either you or the computer winning outright. It's a little disconcerting because one round dictates the entire battle. Though I'm not an avid fan of fighting games, the two buttons seem a little simplistic. I cut my teeth in fighting games with Street Fighter 2 so it is a bit strange with only the two.

In between battles, Ariole is placed on a world map where she must traverse through different regions in order for the story to progress. Often, these are just hotspots on the map that involve some dialogue and then some action. It's nice to finally see some female heroines make their mark in the digital world. The graphics are definitely colourful and a bit whimsical or even cartoon-like. My complaint rests not in the content themselves but with the execution of it. At the end of battles and during dramatic scenes, the developers zoom in and out of the characters. Because the characters are 2D sprites, they suffer from extreme pixilation much like Zio's Metalion. Moreover, the dialogue in the game is presented in the console style where text is slowly spelt out to you. However, I find it superfluous that "[PEASANT]" and titles for who is talking must be spelt out in the same manner. Furthermore, it is a bit confusing when you can press buttons to bypass screens. I found myself wishing for a flashing indicator at the end of very dialogue and at the end of every sentence, so I can easily manage fast-forwarding through the game. On the other hand, the audio in the game is styled similarly. My only wish for that part is a longer soundtrack or more variety in the pieces played.

Overall, Ariole Sin has some pretty impressive production values but ultimately it seems too much of a niche product. Its style either works for you or it does not. It certainly has its overseas origins as the writing of the dialogue is not an example of perfect English. If you enjoy cross-genre titles like Fallout Tactics or Final Fantasy Tactics, this operates on a slightly different wavelength. Ultimately, there may be a good chance the interesting premise is lost because of the accrual of these minor flaws and via extension, their collective effects on Ariole Sin.

[ 07/10 ] Addictiveness
[ 16/20 ] Gameplay
[ 12/15 ] Graphics
[ 08/10 ] Interface/Controls
[ 08/10 ] Program Size
[ 04/05 ] Sound
[ 03/05 ] Discreetness
[ 11/15 ] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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