Azure Dreams - Staff Retroview  

Climb the Tower
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

30-50 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Azure Dreams is basically just another average random dungeon game. It has a few twists which set it above most other random dungeon RPGs, but they barely manage to cancel out how boring it is to complete essentially the same level a hundred times if not more. Although the tower (the location of the dungeon) isn't anywhere near a hundred stories and each floor takes very little time, you are reduced to level one every time you leave the dungeon. Luckily you can gather monster eggs and create an army of warriors that don't drop to level one like you do. You can also upgrade weapons and armor which raise your overall strength. Nevertheless, you will still be climbing the tower too many times to count doing the same thing over and over. Thankfully, they added a lot of things you can do in town with all of the money etc. you collect in the tower. You can improve your house, help the villagers, play mini-games, or try to make girls like you. These si! de-events made the game a bit more tolerable. There is also some satisfaction in improving your house beyond that of your rich neighbor who made fun of you the entire game for being poor.

Many floors just like this to come. Many floors just like this to come.

   The battle system is fairly interesting in theory. Each step you take or action you perform allows your enemy to do the same. If you plan well, you can isolate and pick off enemies one by one or gain the high ground and a tactical advantage. You could also trick enemies into walking through a narrow corridor and defeat them single-file. Well, it would have been a pretty cool semi-tactical battle system if you had any real abilities you could perform. The main character can do little more than attack normally and use items and, due to a severe need to conserve your monster's abilities, battles will generally turn into a hack and slash fest with the stronger side winning which is usually yours.

   The music is average and wouldn't be very memorable if not for the fact that you are forced to climb the tower many, many times. Luckily the music changes every few floors to keep things from getting too annoying. The visuals are poor for the most part. The only real exception is the character portraits which are detailed, animated, and express emotion very well. Most of the important characters have multiple versions as well. I thought these to be quite well done and the only thing that keeps the graphics score from falling any further.

   Due to the fact that you can take as much time as you wish to form strategies and items that allow you to escape from the tower at any time, you are never in any real danger. Since it's very hard to die unless you get careless or for some reason can't find an item that lets you escape, Azure Dreams is a very easy game. Since you have to do essentially the same floor repeatedly and constantly restart from level one, it takes a good deal of time to finish this one. This also kills the replay value as well. There's not really any point to going through the same floor another hundred times.

Like my house? Like my house?

   There isn't really a lot to do in Azure Dreams so there is very little interface. Nevertheless, it is still a decent interface, but isn't particularly special in any way. There is also very little dialog in the game which also has a decent translation job and isn't anything special. Both of these areas are fairly average and it would be a waste of your time and mine to go into detail about them.

   Despite being a game that is average in almost all respects, Azure Dreams is fairly original. While it's just another random dungeon game, the many things you can do around town were fairly unique to it at the time it came out. It manages to have a certain charm that other random dungeon RPGs lack. The story is virtually non-existent except for a little at the beginning and end of the game, but you can progress many side-plots through your actions outside of the tower. None of them are very long or detailed though. In fact, most of them are simply: "bring me X money so you I can build Y" type events.

   While somewhat original at the time of its creation, Azure Dreams can't escape the fact that it is merely and average RPG which is only slightly better than most of the other random dungeon games. It's worth playing if you need a game to kill a lot of time and that will require some tactics without any real involvement in the story. You can easily pick this game up months later and play as if no time had passed. Despite these facts though, there are many games that would be a better investment of time and money, though you could do much worse as well.

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