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Earnest Evans (Genesis) artwork

Earnest Evans (Genesis) review

"The game is not an utter pile. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of time to realize this."

Lads and lasses across the world dream to live their heroes' lives: stealing from the rich like Robin Hood, swashbuckling as a musketeer, and the like. Young Earnest Evans fancied after Indiana Jones, even going so far as to craft himself a chain-link whip. He'd use this whip to drag treasure chests out of swamps, or so the story goes. Then, his mum sent him off to kill a demon.

Rumor has it that a lot was lost in the English translation.

Bare-boned story aside, what we have here is a rather skeletal side-scrolling platformer, forgotten in the murky depths of a crowded genre. Evans flaunts a lot of creative inspirations, but suffers from a hell-wrought execution. The basic premise seems sound enough: you control Earnest Evans, explorer extraordinaire, as he wanders from ancient site to ancient site, gathering artifacts and whipping beasts (and even the stray gangster) into submission. Unfortunately, initial impressions are not favorable.

The very first thing to strike you and most likely it shall strike you to the very core is the ghastly, robotic animation. The programmers used a technique that was implemented (properly) in Castlevania: SOTN. Each body part is animated as a separate unit in an attempt to create smooth, lifelike movements.

The animation is certainly smooth. However, lifelike it most certainly is not. To put it kindly, Earnest runs like a string-bound marionette. To put it honestly, this is the stuff of nightmares. If I saw such a creature shambling towards me, arms and legs winding through mechanical motions in a pretense of humanity, I would scream bloody murder. Hopefully, I'd then awaken in a cold sweat. Although human in form and shape, the hero of this game is truly an inhuman beast.

If you can get past the ghoulish character animation, there's actually some fun to be had. The backgrounds are appropriately explorer-like, featuring beams of sunlight bursting into dank, limestone caverns. As Earnest exercises his spelunking skills, gigantic purple worms will lash at his head, crawling vines will attempt to entangle, and leeches will crawl up his shanks, sucking sucking sucking. There is even an exciting battle against a gigantic piranha, during which you must tap the jump button to swim through the water! So, the game is not an utter pile. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of time to realize this.

Sadly, despite the creativity, Evans does suffer from some gameplay faults. Foremost is the sparsity of combat: although the music is well composed and intense (the same fellow did compose the stunning soundtrack for Tales of Phantasia, after all), the action does not mesh. The game favors placing a few powerful enemies into large, expansive levels, rather than filling those massive locales with creepy opponents. Although memorable, the truly energizing battles are scarce, making the game's eleven levels feel much shorter.

Also, the 'extra weapon system' is rarely used. There are exactly three new weapons to be found: exploding rocks in the third level, a morning star in the temple, and some sort of club-stick-thing in the forest. For the rest of the game, you will use your whip. There are no multidirectional whip attacks as in Super Castlevania 4: you simply swing. And swing. Yes, much more could have been done with the 'extra weapon system'.

All in all, Earnest Evans is not an unworthy purchase. Like a swill-and-slimy dish of escargot, it's not for everyone; but, if you can block out the horrific visuals, it might prove favorable. Fans of platformers should give the game a go; some will find it to be a treasure-trove of imagination. If worse comes to worse, you can toss it right back into the swamp.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (March 01, 2005)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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