Avalon Code (DS)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Monday, March 30, 2009

Graphics: 10.00
Sound: 8.50
Gameplay: 7.00
Replays: 7.50
Gamelength: 9.00

XSEED’s overly complex “Avalon Code” has finally arrived on the shores of America.

Every so often, a game so amazing comes along that we’re willing to overlook a few flaws in order to enjoy the overall experience. “Avalon Code” is one such game and despite what other critics may be saying, I don’t think that this game is anywhere near intolerable. Yeah, the core mechanics could have been more user friendly, but anyone willing to deal with a few moments of sorting through menus here and there will be rewarded with one of the best DS RPG experiences to date. Let’s pop this masterpiece open and get immersed into the world of “Avalon Code”.

I don’t know how the hell XSEED has managed to do it, but this is easily the most visually impressive game release for the DS thus far. It looks both as good as and better than a game from the original PlayStation era, with full 3D graphics throughout. Textures are absolutely beautiful and character models use some of the most colorful designs I’ve ever seen on the DS. Attack animations are equally stellar, with fluid special effects just about every time. It’s very apparent that XSEED knows what they’re doing.

The music of “Avalon Code” is very epic, right down to the opening theme that I can’t help but listen to every time I turn the game on. This is one soundtrack that, while generic on a lot of levels, just stands out because of the astounding quality contained therein. Sound effects, on the other hand, are about as generic as it gets, but hey, when it comes to RPGs, aren’t they all? If it isn’t broken, why bother trying to fix it? Who really cares about having unique menu sounds or clicking, anyway?

Perhaps the most important part of an RPG is the story. In “Avalon Code”, there’s not a whole lot to it, but what’s there builds upon the apocalyptic foundation of the beginning quite well. The player character is essentially tasked with collecting as much data as possible, in order to salvage as much of the world and it’s life as he can. It’s a very basic story that’s hard to love, but even more difficult to hate.

When playing the game, there are a few important things to note. First of all, the controls are the tried and tested action RPG basics. Move around, hit a button to attack stuff, navigate menus and destroy your foes at all costs. It works quite well here, but there’s one major flaw to talk about: The book of codes. I’m not the first person to bring this issue up, for sure, but it has to be said. It’s a pain in the rear to navigate the book once you’ve unlocked a hefty amount of codes and yep, you have to do this very frequently. However, it’s not as game breaking as others seem to think. Yes, it’s a real nuisance to sort through hundreds of pages of code, but it moves fast and once you have a general idea of where things are, it’s not a very long task. It becomes instinctive over time and while a better method of sorting through the book would have been a great addition, the game is amazing as is. Combat generally works like any other action RPG, which isn’t saying much. You simply run up and spam the attack button on your foes until they die. There’s an air juggle mechanic of sorts that allows you to finish off opponents very swiftly if you master it, but I personally avoid using it because it makes the game rather dull and far too easy for my own tastes. Anyhow, the most impressive and unique feature of the game is the ability to alter just about everything using the book. You can change the attributes of weapons and enemies all over the place, which adds an immense amount of variety and replay value. You can essentially make the game as difficult or as easy as you like by merely swapping out a few bits of code. You can lower the attributes of an enemy, make it stronger or even add quirky special affects for fun. It’s a truly impressive idea and while it remains clunky as it stands, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the event that there’s ever another game in the series.

Overall, XSEED has done a great job with “Avalon Code”, but they should really take the complaints of others into consideration and add a few options to the sort the book however the player wishes to do so.

Pros:
-The best graphics for the Nintendo DS to date.
-Outstanding audio quality.
-Simple, yet also very deep gameplay mechanics.
-Difficulty is what you make it, thanks to code alteration.
-Altering the code of enemies is extremely fun and an addictive concept.

Cons:
-There’s no way to sort the book; it’s quite time consuming later in the game.
-Character archetypes are a bit on the cliche side.

Bottom Line:
If you can get used to the book, this game is an absolute must for any RPG fan. If you can’t deal with it, don’t even bother.

Overall Rating: 7.50

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