Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | AND | IOS | PC | PS4 | NS | VITA | WIIU | XB1 | All

Earnest Evans (Sega CD) artwork

Earnest Evans (Sega CD) review


"The Narcoleptic Misadventures of Schizophrenic Anime Indiana Jones"


Some works accomplish a seemingly impossible balance between elements. Half-Life is a carefully designed linear experience, yet few other games manage to convey a world with such a massive scale. Devil May Cry has a deeply nuanced battle system, but few other games have mechanics so intuitive. Earnest Evans is one of those games, too; somehow it manages to be simultaneously bafflingly bizarre and revoltingly lazy in its design.

In this game, you control the titular narcoleptic, anime Indiana Jones-ripoff. Evans embodies the dreary anime trope of being a good-natured klutz who turns out to be a fighter once he squints his eyes. The game fails to flesh him out in the cutscenes by a surprisingly prolific studio; Mad House obviously was not the same team who drew the likes of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and the One Punch Man anime adaptation at this time, for the few cutscenes that aren't just still images over audio are choppy and filled with continuity errors, wildly switching between a host of bad art styles. These unhelpful transitions lead Earnest through indecipherable interpretations of world locations as he seeks some McGuffin.

It takes a lot of careful work to revel in the absurd yet possess a coherent art direction, like Castle Crashers' delightful land of barbarians, beasts, and aliens. "Coherent" and "careful work" are not terms that describe Earnest Evans well. The setting doesn't know if it wants to be a 1920s globetrotting adventure or some weird Castlevania clone, with the first location of the game being a jungle set in... Maine, if the world map is to be believed. All sorts of weird, kooky monsters populate the deserts of China and the temples of South America. "Look at how zany and creative we are!" shrieks Wolf Team as the disconnect grows and the competence in worldbuilding diminishes. Of course, these baffling locales are far preferable to the dull tiles of cityscapes or featureless backgrounds of caverns.

Of course, the presentation as a whole is the least of this flaming disaster's problems.

Yet worse animation than the unremittingly lazy cutscenes and backgrounds is apparent in gameplay, as Earnest's multi-sectioned sprite (think Contra 3 bosses if they were horridly ugly) flails like some sort of alien ragdoll, demonstrating animation that makes bad Adobe Flash presentations on Newgrounds look like Symphony of the Night by comparison. Earnest is similarly bizarre in regards to communicative animations; sometimes taking damage triggers a reaction animation, sometimes it doesn't, with the most out of Earnest being him holding his hand in defense up a little as spikes tear into his flesh. Oh, and there are no invincibility frames, either, so your health just drains without visual indication on the part of Earnest half of the time. All this is not complemented well by the controls.

Earnest Evans is less of a game and more of a challenge to reliably execute any move. Obstensively to dodge the waves of projectiles onscreen, Earnest has a variety of crouch states that he will lock himself into at the slightest whim, especially when doing so will doom you to be hit by a bullet hell. For the uninitiated, bullet hell/danmaku is when a developer hates you so much that they want you to stop playing their game, ensuring you do so by spamming the screen with dozens of projectiles; this is especially bad in a platformer as opposed to a game with unfettered movement onscreen. Most of your deaths in the game will be due to the awful controls or poorly telegraphed attacks, eliminating the value of skill over lucky trial and error. One could argue that the skill ceiling is trying to take advantage of the hilariously bad hit detection, which alone is a testament to the amount of effort put into the game, but it's at least as likely to get you killed. Absolute trash.

The level design perhaps best embodies the game's awful design. At their best, the level layouts themselves are unremarkable, but the typical obstacle is an unfairly placed projectile-firing enemy out of sight or on unavoidable paths. Aside from asinine enemy placement, other outright trollish level designs appear, too, such as obstacles trying to kill you as soon as a level starts or foreground objects and foreground objects obscuring the nonsense onscreen. It says something when stuff like this isn't explicitly the worst part of a game, but it nicely rounds out this cocktail of confusion.

Earnest Evans is an embarrassing production from start to finish. A game with art by Mad House, good music by the great Motoi Sakuraba, and system more powerful than what supported the likes of Super Castlevania IV is hard to ruin this badly, but Wolf Team and company were up to the challenge of making a complete product as bad as their FMV drek. There was probably heart put into this game, but I've learned that the world of art is big enough that there are oceans of products with actual polish that have at least as much heart as the junior league players tripping over their untied shoestrings. The gallery of flaws that Earnest Evans displays should not be accepted as personable eccentricities; they should be recognized as bad design decisions that should never be replicated in any fashion elsewhere.

1/5

Follow_Freeman's avatar
Community review by Follow_Freeman (August 04, 2018)

When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.

More Reviews by Follow_Freeman [+]
Pokemon Uranium (PC) artwork
Pokemon Uranium (PC)

PU: A Nuclear Waste
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PlayStation 2) artwork
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (PlayStation 2)

Breaking the mold by creating a new one.
Unreal Tournament (PC) artwork
Unreal Tournament (PC)

Eternal Tournament

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Earnest Evans review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Policies/Ethics | Contact | Advertise | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2018 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Earnest Evans is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Earnest Evans, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.