Great Expectations

I quite like Magic Knight Rayearth – the first TV series, that is; I haven’t seen the sequel or the OVA remake.  It’s got a hella catchy OP song, CLAMP art, Mokona, and one of the biggest I-Did-Not-See-That-Coming plot twists I’ve ever, uh, not seen coming.

I SHOULD be the perfect audience for the video game adaptation, which I’ve owned for over a decade and which I hadn’t yet gotten around to playing until this week.

It turns out that, well, no.  It’s an awfully pretty 2D game, has good BGM, follows the story neatly, and throws in some original characters, but it’s not very fun to play.

I should amend that.  The puzzle solving is fun, and I even rather liked the platforming jumpy bits, but the combat – which, you know, I’m a guy, I like hitting things with sticks – is rather tedious.  You have two characters with swords and one with a bow, and the best strategy in every case is to keep the sword characters on the sidelines and use the bow character for everything, because trying to mix things up in melee is a pain in the arse; it’s hard to get close enough to an enemy to hit it without being hit yourself, and when you do get hit, you tend to get hit two or three times and often knocked into a hazard.

In addition, the Big Damn Twist is, well, it’s the same Big Damn Twist, which kind of illustrates the problem any video game adaptation has – you can’t really go changing things too much, so your biggest audience – fans of a show or movie – are Not Surprised when you have the exact same ending.

I think the real problem is, I’d had the game sitting in my “Play this, damnit!” stack since 1998, and there was no bloody way it was going to meet my expectations for it.  A little time spent setting my expectations properly before I began would probably have been a good idea.

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