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Cthulhu Saves the World (Xbox 360) artwork

Cthulhu Saves the World (Xbox 360) review


"Thus begins the Old One’s quest for backwards redemption -- defeating some evil so he can unleash a greater evil. Sulking along the sandy beach he arrived at, he rescues his first party member, a star-struck water-based healer who incorrectly paints Cthulhu as her rescuing knight, and stomps off to his first village where he undertakes such heroic tasks as Saving A Boy’s Dog From A Cave."



I liked Breath of Death VII. See how the game title is hyperlinked to an existing praise review? That’s what we call proof. The game did pretty much everything a parody RPG should be doing, but did so without falling into any of the traps it lampooned and without dipping its cup into the murky depths of lowbrow. It made sure it was a good game in its own right without leaning on its comedy aspects so, when the laughs did come, they were a very welcome bonus, not an excuse for misfires elsewhere.

Cthulhu Save the World is strikingly similar. It’s built from the same engine, contains a lot of the same ideas and, though the graphics have been upgraded, has the same cosmetic look. It starts off with an argument between the protagonist -- the dreaded Cthulhu -- and the narrator after the dark fiend emerges from the depths of the ocean strangely powerless. Using the evil power of eavesdropping on disembodied voices, Cthulhu learns that to regain his powers of insanity required for his obligatory destruction of Earth, he’ll have to mend his ways and become the greatest hero the world has ever known. No driving the masses mad until you’ve saved them from lurking terror first. Resignedly, he sets about this.

Thus begins the Old One’s quest for backwards redemption -- defeating some evil so he can unleash a greater evil. Sulking along the sandy beach he arrived at, he rescues his first party member, a star-struck water-based healer who incorrectly paints Cthulhu as her rescuing knight, and stomps off to his first village where he undertakes such heroic tasks as Saving A Boy’s Dog From A Cave.

Along the way, you have to stroll through a monster-choked lair that makes use of a dialled-up version of Breath of Death‘s bite-sized battle system. Here, random encounters are refreshingly brief, over in seconds but losing no amount of challenge because of this. Anything you fight slowly gets stronger as the battle crawls onwards, making them harder to put down and easier to fall prey to. Still, though you’ll want to pour strategy over the tougher battles, many of these fights don‘t take long, and a victory grants you a full HP reprieve and a small chunk of your MP back. It makes exploration seamless and, coupled with a save anywhere feature, newly collectable 1-ups that allow you to reattempt failed battles and the ability to do away with random battles all together once you slaughter enough foes in a set dungeon, it completely eliminates any drag the simplistic settings might otherwise suffer.

Other ideas return, like how level-ups grant you the choice between different upgrades. You may be asked if to pick between different sets of stats to sharpen, or have to pick between different variants of a spell, or to choose different passive abilities for your cast. Unlike with the last title, you’re no longer limited to a party of four, but have your ranks bolstered by sentient floating swords, senile stat-buffers and sultry necromancers.

You meet the last of that list inside a town besieged with the undead. Zombies line the street, most of them too busy dancing to pay you any heed. While his battle party prime their weapons to take on the army of brain-munchers, Cthulhu holds them back; zombies, he says, are light-hearted and playful abominations and he’ll not condone their needless slaughter. As such, the ranks of rotters serve as impromptu and impassable walls that the party must circumvent by making use of dilapidated, crumbling houses, wandering through their broken walls when boarded up doors are further dead ends.

You recruit another member in a huge UFO inhabited by cat-like aliens who get really testy should you point out their cat-likeness. Still, their high-tech lair has push buttons in the shape of feline paws and, should you make your way into the living habitats, you‘ll come across balls of yarn and scratch posts in what can only be labelled as a great attention to detail. Here, you’ll encounter buffed cattle, stolen by the aliens and injected with hormones to turn them into a sneaky, ironic army in which to slaughter mankind. Foiling this plot will grant you 20 hero points!

That the game’s funny is a great plus, but, like its predecessor, the main draw is simply that Cthulhu Save the World knows what it’s doing as an outright game. The foundations and mechanics are strong and the adventure it promotes works on its own because of this. It’s happy to lampoon outdated and obsolete RPG tropes still used in abundance, like convoluted dungeon design that has you retracing your steps constantly and the oft-unbreaking nobility and justice of cardboard protagonists, and then avoids doing just that in its own design. The script is well written, funny and knowledgeable, but that doesn’t make a great game on its own. It seems ancient terrors that lay dormant beneath the sea are aware of this, so take part in complete titles rather than jokes where they become the punchline.

Rating: 8/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 28, 2011)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Feedback

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Masters posted January 28, 2011:

Nice job, Mr. Prolific!

How you're managing such high quality while pumping stuff out like Peter North is beyond me.
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EmP posted January 28, 2011:

Thanks Marc. My plan is to hit writing burnout early this year then laze the rest of it.
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Masters posted January 28, 2011:

You're well on your way!
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overdrive posted January 28, 2011:

I really gotta get this and Breath of Death VII. Both seem to be the perfect sort of "right up my alley" game and they'd only be like $4 combined.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 28, 2011:

It's games like those aforementioned that make me want to rush toward getting my 360 online.
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Masters posted January 28, 2011:

It's games like this that make me want to rush getting a 360 in the first place. PSN has a weak ass library of downloadable titles.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 28, 2011:

As does Wii Ware. Apart from Cave Story, I have yet to be impressed.
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Masters posted January 28, 2011:

But wait, the Wii has that 'new' Castlevania game, doesn't it? Looks sort of like Bloodlines?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 28, 2011:

Ah, yeah. I didn't mind that one. It's fun, but not as good as Bloodlines or Rondo of Blood.
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Felix_Arabia posted January 28, 2011:

Gary, about how long is this game?
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EmP posted January 28, 2011:

6-7 hours on Normal, I would say. Longer should you go for a harder setting.
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overdrive posted January 30, 2011:

Well, I bought this, Death Breath and a roid-rage-rogue-style named Epic Dungeon for the total of FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS!!! I'm happy. Death Breath won me when, right after playing Symphony of the Night again, I get to read the tutorial boss paraphrasing Dracula's one line from the opening of that game.

Haven't played Cthulhu yet (and won't until Death Breath is done), but Epic Dungeon is fun in a crazy way. Like Nethack for players who'd like to avoid thinking...enemies fly at you and you Ys-style run into them (w/o the "hit them from the side/back" strategy...you just run into them).
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EmP posted January 30, 2011:

Epic Dungeon is the game I'm going through now. I'm camped out on level 43 or such right now and it's getting to the point where death looks likely.
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overdrive posted January 31, 2011:

I just started it and did a couple levels to see what it was all about. Observations:

1. HOLY SHIT WHO SLUNG THOSE MICE AT ME!!! was the first thought I had. I'm not used to games like this where enemies FLY at you.

2. Is it bad when your first visit to a shop involves you spending ALL your money on health potions and lantern oil...with nothing left over to improve crappy initial equipment?
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CoarseDragon posted February 01, 2011:

You may be asked if to pick between different sets of stats to sharpen, of or have to pick between different variants of a spell

Change "of" to "or".

Good work on this review. Sometimes I wish I had an Xbox.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 01, 2011:

A buddy of mine is selling me the internet connector for a mere $20, so I should be picking up some XBLA and XLBI games soon, but I'm mainly going for the aforementioned RPG's and Limbo.
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jerec posted February 02, 2011:

For some inexplicable reason I can't download XBLI games because I live in Australia...
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 03, 2011:

Finally got connected and set myself up with 1600 points with which to download the following:

Cthulhu Saves the World
Epic Dungeon
West
Of Steel and some other thing
Breath of Death VII: The Beginning
Light's End
Molly the Were-Zompire
Chaos Gate
Aphelion
and maybe Antipole if I have enough points left over

EDIT:
Decided to forgo Molly and Chaos Gate in favor of Antipole and Wizard Apprentice. I'm glad I dl'ed Antipole. Oh, side scroller goodness. *drool*
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EmP posted February 03, 2011:

Molly and Epiphany in Space are text adventures made by the same guy who did Cthulhu and BoDVII. Not played them myself yet, but that's a pretty good reason to try them out.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 03, 2011:

I'll keep those ones in mind, then. I just wasn't in the mood for text adventure right at the moment.

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