Jade Cocoon - Staff Retroview  

Light, Shadow, and Cocoons
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

8-15 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Jade Cocoon is yet another game that mimics Pokemon in order to gain popularity. Rather than put your army in balls, you put them in cocoons. While the concept is similar to Pokemon, Jade Cocoon falls short. The best part of the game is your ability to merge the monsters you capture together to create custom monsters. This will effect statistics, stat growth, elemental attributes, skills, magic, and even appearance. There are a massive number of unique combinations that are possible.

   You run into enemies on the map rather than getting into random encounters. If the enemy walks into your back or you run into its back, whoever initiated the attack will gain an extra turn. The main character can equip weapons and armor to participate in battle. Unlike your minions, he gains exp only by capturing monsters, not defeating them. As you build an army you can bring up to three of your minions with you to summon. You can summon and switch between yourself and your minions at will, but it will cost a small amount of time. Despite battles seeming complex at first glance, they are quite simple and lack strategy. You merely select whichever member has an element the enemy is weak against and attack with your skills/spells. There is very little strategy involved except during boss fights where you will occasionally have to switch back to the main characters so he can heal your minions. Unfortunately you can only summon one minion at once and cannot fight alongside it, but your enemies can have up to three members fighting at once. Because only a little strategy is involved, the battle system is slightly below average.

A decent amount of character development for such a short game A decent amount of character development for such a short game

   Since it is very easy to have an elemental advantage, normal battles are very easy and even some of the enemies late in the game can be defeated with a single skill or spell. Battles are easy even when you have to fight three enemies at once. Most bosses have a lot of hp and power, but still have weaknesses which make them easy to defeat in only a few hits. Only certain status effects and certain enemies that change their element increase the difficulty slightly.

   Jade Cocoon's interaction is fairly average overall. The poor interface is made up for by good localization. Controlling the main character isn't done by simply pushing the controller in the direction you want to move. You must push specific buttons to run forwards and turn slightly to either side. Many dungeons twist and turn a lot and the play control isn't very tight so it is sometimes difficult to travel without running into a wall every few seconds. To help balance this out, the localization is good thanks to a lack of spelling and grammar errors and some nice voice acting.

   As with most games that seemingly mimic Pokemon, Jade Cocoon isn't very original. Most parts of the game have been seen many times before. The most original part of the game is the ability to combine your monsters in order to create custom monsters and the tremendous amount of detail given to this process.

Time to capture some more minions... Time to capture some more minions...

   There is a surprisingly large amount of character personality and development for such as short game. Every single character you run into has his or her own personality and fit their positions in the world well. Unfortunately, most characters only develop a little bit and this seems to be cut off rather abruptly. The story is a bit above average, but it too is seemingly cut short before it becomes anything special.

   There are very few levels in the game and ever fewer unique ones. After completing the first four levels you return to the earlier ones again that are simply re-colored. This makes it easy to find your way around quickly late in the game. Due to the lack of and re-use of levels, the game will probably only take about 10 hours if you gather and merge only a few monsters and 20 hours if you try to capture them all.

   While some of the music isn't anything special, there are several good themes in the game. Most places even have their own special music which keeps them from becoming repetitive. Sound effects are pretty good too, though the flute sound gets a little annoying after a while. Where the sound really shines is the voice acting. Jade Cocoon is one of the first games to have voice acting and most of the game's dialog is spoken. A great job overall.

   Another nice touch is that the visuals are just as good as the music and sound are. Everything is in 3D and an amazing amount of detail is placed upon the monsters, especially those that you have merged together. Merged monster retain a mix of the characteristics the monsters that you merged had so you can create some pretty cool looking monsters. There's even an anime movie at the beginning of the game.

   While it has good visuals and sound, Jade Cocoon is cut too short for the story to be anything special and the game is too unoriginal. The few, short an re-used levels didn't help either. While it does show a lot of potential, it's a shame that it falls into the category of mediocre Pokemon mimics. It's not too bad overall, but there are plenty of better games out there to play.

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