Thursday, April 30, 2009

Graffiti Kingdom (PS2) Retro Review

Retro Reviews are reviews of games from the Playstation 2 era and back. This particular Retro Review is a bit old, but it's in anticipation of tomorrow's brand new Retro Review. It's for a game that hits shelves next week from a franchise that's been Sony-exclusive and overlooked just like Graffiti Kingdom. That narrows it down quite a bit. Do you think you know what game I'm alluding to? We'll find out tomorrow.

Draw your own conclusions.

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In a gaming world plagued with sequels, first-person shooters, Mario spin-offs, sports titles, and run-of-the-mill titles only varying slightly from one another it's nice to see a game like Graffiti Kingdom from Taito come to surface. What sets Graffiti Kingdom apart from other action-RPGs is that you can actually design your own character, monster, or whatever which is implemented quite well.

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Nag, nag, nag... That's all you ever are.

What begins as a search for an AWOL prince by the name of Pixel shuffling across the narrow foothold of a castle keep turns into an adventure into a mystical kingdom-- the Graffiti Kingdom. Prince Pixel falls into a hidden passage where he meets up with a cerulean dog-like creature named Pastel. Pastel gives the lazy prince a special wand which he can use to draw models that can come to life with the wand's power. Knowing this, Pixel draws a small circle which turns into a three-dimensional shape, bouncing away and into a magical seal-- opening the gate into Graffiti Kingdom. Thus, the evil demon, Medium, unleashes his fury onto the world fusing the Graffiti Kingdom and Pixel's kingdom together and imprisoning the townspeople of Pixel's hometown. With companion, Pastel, on his back, the difficult Prince Pixel sets off an adventure to retrieve the townspeople and make right what is now wrong.

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Take any monster and put them in a colorful platforming world.

The game begins in the colorful Canvas Plains where Pastel teaches you the ins and outs of combat. Pixel can assign three monsters to the directional buttons on the Playstation 2 controller. As Pixel players can capture other monsters to briefly transform into the "captured" creature and use their moves, or Pixel can permanently turn into a monster by collecting its little devil card (a red card). These cards drop randomly and are luck-based. A monster with one star will most likely drop a card faster than one with four stars. There's also cards hidden in hard to reach areas of the game as well. By defeating graffiti creatures Pixel can collect coins that raise his experience gauge. Coins range, in order of how much experience is given, from bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. When the gauge reaches its limit, Pixel gains a level. These usually add life to Pixel's health or bestow a new function in the Graffiti Notebook such as the ability to add wings to monsters.

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Create your own graffiti or work off a preexisting creation.

The Graffiti Notebook is where all your creative juices can flow. If you're not feeling overly creative, feel free to edit a preexisting creature in your collection. To create a creature from scratch, simply draw a shape. You can change the sensitivity of the drawer so it can go as quickly or as delicately as you like. When a shape is made, you can then choose the three-dimensional shape of it-- whether it's flat, fat, etc. Next, you just make a connection point to where you want the next shape to connect to the first shape. This is how you make heads, arms, legs, tails, and capes. Detailed creatures will need a profusion of connection points. The possibilities in creature creation are limitless, and you're only hindered by the limits of your imagination. Want to make Mario leap around in the game? Go ahead. Feel like creating a dinosaur? Right on. Making a decent-looking monster takes time and dedication, so editing preexisting monsters is the way to start off to get used to the construction controls.

After crafting the aesthetics of a monster it's time to give it moves. There's a large range of moves to choose from as well as its movement style (whether it skips, shuffles, etc) and its voice. Usually you'll want the X button to serve as the jump or fly button. Triangle, Circle, and Square are also designated attacks buttons.

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Katamari Kingdom. Wait. What?

Graffiti Kingdom is a relatively short game. The story is fairly brief, sometimes funny, and always full of bad lip-syncing and voice acting. The main story can be completed in less than six hours. You'll come across various and varied worlds to explore such as outer space and a hot-headed volcano each with its own graffiti creatures to combat. Some creatures are stubborn to give you their devil card when they're defeated, so you'll most likely need to beat them multiple times before they finally surrender their card to you. Each world concludes with a boss battle which are the most difficult parts of this otherwise easy game. A VS mode rounds out the package offering you and another local player to battle creatures already made or made from scratch.

If you've ever dreamed of creating your own creature to battle in a fully 3-D action-RPG, you will not want to pass this title up. It's severely underrated, plus it has far more editing options than its spiritual prequel, Magic Pengel. If creating new monsters is not appealing to you then you might want to give this game a pass. However, the rest of us will craft our own creatures, collect all of the devil cards, and play through the story mode several times to fully complete the game 100%. Couple this with an expertly-composed soundtrack by the great Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger, Cross, and Xenogears/sage fame and you have an irresistible package. Graffiti Kingdom paints a pretty picture in an otherwise stale genre.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.5/10]

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