Elemental Gimmick Gear, for the Sega Dreamcast

Presentation

Aside from a few typos in the texts, it's pretty standard for this genre. You play as a man known as Leon "The Sleeper". He was asleep for a few thousand years, inside what is known as an Elemental Gimmick Gear, which is an egg-shaped battle/utility robot. The new human race excavated you and woke you up. You eventually come to find out you are the last survivor of the old human race, a typical RPG plot device. Apparently your old race created a computer known as Mother, and it was supposed to help humanity, but along the way it got buggy and practically destroyed it. In 1 more year, humans will be extinct. You must stop it before then.

The game has wonderful post-apocolyptic atmosphere, mixed with the occassional futuristic setting everytime you enter one of the Fogna areas, which were created by the old human race.

Graphics

Very impressive, I would say. Most of the game is a 2D overhead view. All the backgrounds and sprites are a 320x240 resolution, but all the backgrounds are 100% original hand-drawn goodness. There's nothing constructed from tile sets here. Every inch of every map is unique. Very colorful stuff. Very alive. Sprite animation shows nothing to complain about. Very pleasing to the eye.

All the boss battles, of which there are maybe 10, are in full 3D. They play exactly like the 2D portions of the game. Same buttons for the same moves. It offers a good bit of variety and makes the bosses seem a bit more dramatic.

The FMVs are pleasing as well. Pretty good quality footage, with clean-cut digital anime characters overlayed on 3D model environments. There's not many of them, but they are there for the main cutscenes.

Sound

First off, this soundtrack is great. The game has a wonderful melody that is arranged a few times, and the rest of the music is above average as well. Some of the dungeun tracks loop a few times too many, but they are mostly ambient, and not really music, so it doesn't annoy as much as you would think.

Sound Effects are above average too. They all sound appropriate with what's happening on screen. There's a variety of metal clang noises and such, when your EGG is fighting other mechanical enemies.

Gameplay

If you've ever played Alundra 1, Beyond Oasis, Legend of Oasis, Brave Fencer Musashi, or Zelda LttP, you will know what to expect. The game consists of running around on fields and dungeons, talking to townsfolk, collecting money and other items, acquiring character upgrades and weapons, and performing some side quests. There's a few mini-games thrown in there, but some are extremely frustrating.

I must say, this is a difficult game. You will find yourself dying often, but fortunately you can continue right outside the doorway again, but with little life to start out. At least you won't feel the need to save the game every 10 minutes. One reason why it can be so difficult, is because the game offers very little direction. It hardly ever tells you where to go. It's like Metroid on the NES; You must have a very good memory, and make note of where every suspicious, seemingly useless object is, because eventually you will need to come back to it with the required equipment in hand.

The bosses usually require a good strategy to beat, and you will probably need to spend your first attempt at them just learning their moves and looking for a weakness.

There are also some fairly creative puzzles in this game, but a few are too easy, or too damn hard. The hard ones, for example, might drive you nuts, because one wrong move and you will be forced to setup the puzzle correctly all over again, to re-attempt.

Overall

A quality title that is practically unheard of for the Dreamcast, developed by a group of people known as "Birthday", that don't seem to have made any other games. GameFAQs doesn't list any, at any rate. The game should be savored if you own a Dreamcast, because of the fact that it's part of a genre that was pretty starved on the system. It's a game with some faults, but it's originality will make sure that it's a title you won't forget.

8.5 out of 10

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