Zwei The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – Oversimplified Cuteness
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release: 24th January 2018
Who read my review of Zwei The Illvard Resurrection, the actual sequel to Zwei The Arges Adventure, knows I liked it for its simplicity, colourfulness and fun combat. So after receiving almost no love from anyone since its PSP release in 2008 and original release in 2001, XSEED brings another one of Falcom´s classic games to PC. Yes, it´s pretty much the same with some more flaws and advantages.
Zwei The Arges Adventure is set once again on a floating island. However, this time the plot is all about the step-siblings Pokkle and Pipiro living in their peaceful village until an evil thief hides the six idols. Retrieving them, while slowly uncovering the evil plan to revive an ancient old demon lord is now their main objective, simply put, they have to save their world.
Mostly circulating around those punny, self-parodying siblings this prequel has an even lighter tone to Zwei The Illvard Resurrection. At most moments the main protagonists are the people who take the least interest in the actual events, due to their intended funny personalities. Pokkle, for example, defines himself through his puns and “manhood”, same goes for Pipiro just with more girly topics.
Personally, compared to the sequel´s story, that was able to balance the jokes and light-hearted nature with a more serious counterpart in form of the demon girl, Zwei The Arges Adventure relies too heavily on this sole motif. XSEED did a marvellous job at localizing the game, preserving a consistent flow of natural puns, diverse jokes and much more, but the sheer oversaturation leads to a fatigue towards the last third. I was simply too burned out from the constant rain of intended bad jokes. Yes, without a doubt, Zwei never was a series with the ambition to tell a serious story, still, Falcom´s first entry overstepped the boundary between funny and over the top too often for my taste.
Yet, where Zwei The Arges Adventure makes a way better impression are the 2/3D graphics. Surely the purely 3D graphics were way more colourful and bright in the sequel but also mushier at times. Here the unique blend of 2D sprites, hand-drawn backgrounds and beautiful pixel art at times make it a way more refined looking game. Despite the clunky to navigate UI, mushy symbols and other problems resulting from the pure age of this version, I prefer its look over anything the sequel did. Especially the soundtrack, included in both the original and remixed PSP variation, does a truly beautiful job at undermining this gorgeous world.
Unfortunately, the simplification didn´t stop there, transforming the already simple one-combo plus a few special attack combat into basically a one-button smasher. Even though one, the boy, is still responsible for melee attacks and Pipiro for magic, everything boils down to press a button to attack and that´s it. No special combos, attacks or anything else, just mash the attack button, the game locks onto the enemies and tries its best to beat them. Of course, the first game in a series is always a bit tinier but having a combat system with literally no variety is probably Zwei The Arges Adventure´s biggest problem.
On top of that come the reused dungeon assets or designs, when the game throws you into a new dungeon, which looks exactly the same as the one a few hours before. Mostly caused by the sheer age and production differences to today, Falcom´s little game may feel too repetitive at some points later on. Combined with the “boss” fights, consisting of enemies with a big health bar but minimum damage output, any feeling of challenge or unique moments can easily go to waste in seconds.
Only the food mechanic, where food is both healing item and the only way to gain XP still works like a charm and is one of the best-forgotten ideas I´ve seen so far. Deciding if I want to heal me or wait to hopefully gain more XP or levels would´ve been a great resource management aspect but since health is almost never a problem, one of the biggest possibilities to use this system is once again gone to waste without any replacement.
Honestly, Zwei The Arges Adventure isn´t a very big or complicated game, mainly being about two happy step-siblings saving the world while throwing out all sorts of jokes. For fans of light-hearted, joyful plots, in particular, this old gem may be a great fit, especially due to the great localization, sadly, most of the other aspects boil down to repetitive, oversimplified mechanics. At the end, I would still recommend this nostalgia trip, if alone for the presentation and story.
[A Review Code was provided by XSEED Games]