RPG games are getting more and more frequent on the PalmOS. Which is great -- I mean, what else could you possibly do on a boring grey day sitting at an airport waiting for a flight than play a RPG on your Palm to kill time? Well, okay, you could write a review of an RPG game on the Palm, but since people who do that are more infrequent, it can go unmentioned.
Kyle's Quest II is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the second installment of the KQ series for Palm. The first one was well known, but it's probably seen better days seeing as it was greyscale. With the proliferation of colour devices, all but the true hardcore fanatics have grown largely ignorant of the series.
Enter Kyle's Quest II. Among the new features is colour, which is great, though unfortunately, Sony Clie high-resolution support is still absent (as it is from most other games, sadly. Face it, designers! The Clie is a superior platform! You must submit!)
There is one difficulty with my reviewing Kyle's Quest II. It is not really a game per se, so much as it is an engine for people to develop games for. The game that comes "bundled", so to say, with KQ2 is Episode 4 of Kyle's journey. So it's KIND OF related to the game, but it does not utilize the full potential of the game engine whatsoever (for instance, spells never come into play). So the capabilities of the engine are far more advanced than the built-in game demonstrates. Yet it is hard to judge that which is unseen. I will discuss both elements in this review and let you, the reader, decide.
The game begins with Kyle arriving in a random town situated in a random country that doesn't really play any difference in the order of things in the world. He's setting out on a quest for your long-lost friend, Kenny, who set out to look for some big skeleton dude called the Pirate King who runs around shooting fireballs at people and his army of the undead, which is basically more skeletons running around killing people and stealing treasures. Because he's such an oaf, Kenny got captured, and it is your responsibility as a good citizen and friend to go hunt him out, save him, and give him a good ass-kicking for being such a, well, oaf.
Along the way, you will meet some random people that will say stuff to you (notice that I avoid using the word "dialogue", since they are monologues most of the time), collect items (though never from dead bodies: you will either get them from the Pirate King when you defeat him, or you will have to purchase them), and work your way to the climax, which unfortunately, at least to me, was sadly anticlimactic.
But like I said - this is just a single story. After completing it and reading up on the forums in regards of stuff I missed, it became apparent that this particular module was designed to replayed several times because at the end of each iteration you receive a special item that lets you do something in the next round of play. I'm not sure if I dig that idea or not since I believe in replaying games because I like them, rather than having to replay to advance in the game, but maybe I am old-fashioned; I don't really know.
Besides this module, there are quite a few other ones which I have not had the opportunity to try yet; but the expansions include anything from a Star Trek-like RPG to Starcraft-like real-time strategy games. So apparently, the KQ2 engine is capable of quite a few things, as the impressive examples aptly illustrate. And, seeing as you are not confined to playing just one particular module, you can easily switch to something new.
The engine does have some bugs though. For instance, if you hit the menu button then you absolutely must save - if you don't, and hit Return [expectedly, to game], you will return to the main menu, losing your current progress. Similarly, if you have to quit the game to look up an address or a memo, it will not store your current progress, and you will have to reload to get back where you were. I also did not particularly like the fact that the menus have no hot-tracking effects meaning (a) you don't really know which option you chose and (b) because the game occasionally lags, you don't know WHETHER you chose it, leading to duplicate selections, which can be BAD (i.e. tapping on Sell to switch out of the Buy screen, thinking you didn't tap it, tapping it again and winding up selling an expensive item for half-price).
The character build-up in the game is done in standard fashion: gaining points and using those points to gain levels. At least in this module, you cannot pick specifically WHAT gets upgraded, and you have to deal with the game assigning you new stats based on the level you gained.
All in all, the KQ2 engine is one that has a significant amount of promise. I like its modularity very much since it allows designers to create worlds of their own without being limited to anything in particular. I wish it supported Sony hi-res screens, though (and at the extreme end, the NR/NX's hi-res+ screens....), but I suppose that's unlikely to happen in the near future. In the meantime, I suggest you to try the demo, as it is definitely a very interesting game for the PalmOS. After all, one can never have too many RPGs - then one wouldn't have to do things like type in an airport waiting area.