"It didnít take me long to figure out all this weirdness was because Gulliver Boy simply is one of the shortest action-RPGs Iíve ever played. The reason the plot feels so rushed and that characters are introduced, only to be immediately discarded, is because this game seemingly was designed to be beaten in one afternoon."
As a long-time fan of role-playing games and their ilk, I must admit that something about Gulliver Boy really weirds me out. This SNES action-RPG by Bandai moves by so quickly, I had to wonder if it was developed for people with too short of an attention span to actually handle plots, character development and those other trifling details one expects to find in their RPGs.
Within mere moments of starting up, you find out that Spain, under the control of a FIEND by the name of Judo, is conquering and destroying the rest of the Old World (I do love my historically-accurate video games!). You control a lad named Gulliver, with hair so spiky it even puts Cloud to shame -- oh....and he is supposed to put a stop to Mr. Judo and his evil reign. Helping him out on his quest are a nerdy inventer named Edison and a girl named Misty. Edison is capable of holding his own in battles, as he can throw bombs; however, at least initially, Mistyís only purpose is to collect mystical stones that provide support magic. Regardless, odds are that youíll spend most of your time in control of Gulliver, as his sword-like attack is, by far, the most effective thing youíll have going for you early on.
Now that youíve been introduced to your friends (which also includes Edokko, a super-duper transport machine piloted by the head of a sumo wrestler....donít ask), things start to get hyper. Misty gets kidnapped by a weird-looking freak named Baron Mangatsu. After building up the levels of Gulliver and Edison by wasting weak troopers, that situation is instantly resolved. Then, you get captured by Judoís three lieutenants. After a bit more level-building, you kick all their asses in about five minutes.
By this time, if youíre like me, youíll be seriously confused. After all, if there is one thing that history has taught a person about RPGs, itís that the top subordinates of an evil leader donít go down for the count this quickly. Games such as Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger seemingly throw subordinates into your path every five minutes to get their heads bashed in, run away and return to plague you a dozen or so more times over the next handful of hours. They donít show up, blackmail you to help them and get eliminated with barely a whimper. It definitely seemed something strange was going on with Gulliver Boy.
It didnít take me long to figure out all this weirdness was because Gulliver Boy simply is one of the shortest action-RPGs Iíve ever played. The reason the plot feels so rushed and that characters are introduced, only to be immediately discarded, is because this game seemingly was designed to be beaten in one afternoon. The entire game consists of Gulliver and company getting whisked from one land to another, going through a short action scene or two, fighting a boss and then going to the next area. There are only a handful of dungeons and nearly all of them are short. It probably took me as much time to level up Gulliver so that heíd be able to handle the first couple of bosses as it did to do anything else in Gulliver Boy.
Early on, I had to make a point of fighting weak enemies repeatedly until they only dropped items worth one experience point (rather than the 10XP items they drop initially). That was boring. Enemies only drop those items sporadically, so it could take minutes to gain a couple of levels....or a substantially longer amount of time. Sadly, the fighting in this game isnít interesting enough to justify running from one screen to the next in order to kill foes.
There is a cool concept to the fighting, as I had to balance my use of all three characters as the game progressed Ė itís just that the action was pretty non-existent. The speed (and amount) of actions taken by each character is determined by gauges that deplete and refill anytime anyone does anything. Gulliverís basic slash attack is the one I used most frequently, as that gauge refills a mere couple of seconds after each slash. As the game progresses, Gulliver gets a number of special attacks and Misty obtains a powerful boomerang weapon -- both of which are connected to lengthy and slow-filling gauges. And then there is Edison. His bombs only regenerate when he is not the active party member. Also, all three characters regenerate lost life whenever they are removed from the fray.
All of this creates what should have been a fun system with the player constantly juggling the three heroes in order to overcome the forces of evil. Sadly, thatís far from the case. Virtually all regular enemies are pathetic and predictable. Anytime I took damage, all Iíd have to do is control my healthiest character and wait for everyone else to recharge after clearing a room. Bosses would be even more boring, as I found myself using Gulliverís best special attack and then switching to a sidekick (to serve as a punching bag) until his gauge maxed out, using the special attack again and so on, until the battle was won.
Simply put, Gulliver Boy is one of the weakest action-RPGs Iíve ever played. The action is boring and the RPG elements are so basic they might as well not even exist. The story told by Bandai is so rushed that it often feels like little more than hastily-written filler to direct Gulliver and friends to a new part of the world, so they can beat enemies up for five minutes before moving on once again. There are a couple of nice concepts in this game, but their execution is so sub-par that itís hard to find much of anything worth complementing.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (November 18, 2005)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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