Review: CIMA: The Enemy (Game Boy Advance)

Right. I’ve had this game for over a month. I’ve tried to review it. I honestly, honestly have. But I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I trusted Natsume. They’ve never steered me wrong before. They gave me Harvest Moon. They gave me Legend of the River King. They gave me Wizardry: Summoner. For god’s sake’s they gave me Abadox, a classic NES shooter if ever there was one.

And that’s why it’s taken so long to get this reviewed. Because I am so traumatized by this game I’ve dreaded having to give it the score I KNOW it will get. Much like Fire Emblem and Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, I was so disappointed from how badly the games failed my expectations that the thought of reviewing them hurt. Literally HURT. And when two of those three “biggest disappointments of the year’ come from Nastume, it’s like the thought of there being a bad Pokemon or Shin Megami game. And in regards to the later, yes Revelations: The Demon Slayer DID scar me. And I’ll thank you not to speak of it.

Like most Natsume games, this was figured to be a sleeper hit. A game that was little talked about except by hardcore Natsume fans. That was published in trace quantities and was destined to become a collectors item after games realized how good it was. Like Harvest Moon for example. Or Persona. Or Lunar. And on and on. I searched all over Philadelphia for this game of Thanksgiving, refusing to buy Harvest Moon: FoMT until I found CIMA so I could buy them together. And finally I did.

And to be honest, the second I finished Onimusha Tactics, this game went in the GBA. And an hour later, I put the game down, stopped twitched and spent five minutes muttering about how the game wasn’t bad. I had just hyped it up in my mind so much that of course it couldn’t live up to what I wanted it to be.

So a little later I played again, trying to be neutral.

Again, an hour later I put the game down in disgust.

And you all know me, I refuse to review a game until I’ve logged between 20-40 hours on the sucker or beaten it. And thus is the reason for me getting this out so late. Because the more I have played the game, the more I realized I would rather have my toenails ripped out by giant pliers than play this game. That an hour of playing CIMA is an hour of my life wrenched away never to have again. An hour I could have been doing anything BUT. To say I dislike this game is an understatement. I dislike Athletes foot. I dislike people that pick their nose. CIMA is about on par with being force-fed earwax from a large Marsupial while having to listen to REM songs over and over again. It is that abominable to me and coupled with “Harvest Moon: Same damn game as Back To Nature which is 90% the same damn game as Harvest Moon 64,’ I have a lot of anger towards Natsume right now. I swear, if HM: Wonderful Life isn’t original, good, and NOT a cop out, then Natsume replaces Square-Enix has the company that pisses me off the most.

Let’s Review

1. Story

Right. So the plot was what I got me all hyped up. It was basically “Nazi Concentration Camp Revolt: THE GAME.’ Except with Aliens instead of Nazi’s and sci-fi crap instead of WW2 weaponry. Or at least that is what I hoped for. Instead what I got was “Alien Psychic Vampires beat the crap out of the earth and leave only Emo kids to save humanity.’

Yeah, that got my juices pumped. ESPECIALLY with the horribly translated dialogue that was rougher than a hooker who saved a week ago.

What happens is, an alien race (Should be raceS considering how many types there are..) take over the earth, killing off a lot of humanity and feeding of the negative emotions of the remaining people. Which is odd, because in the game they also mistranslate to say the CIMA feed off HOPE. And that’s why they built evil dungeons for you to try and escape from or kill you in the process. Call me nutty, but if you fed off hope wouldn’t something good be like, “We believe we have found a cure for Herpes!’ That would make Humanity happy. Not killing the majority and randomly sticking others in mindless deathtraps. Because of the horrible translation, the game gets odd at points if you try and actually follow the story instead of just focusing on the gameplay with which is Adventures of Lolo, but sucky.

Your character is Ark J, a Gate Guardian aka someone that beats up CIMA. Your job is to save people and escort them through CIMA dungeons. You are accompanied by Ivy F, who graduated from Guardian school or whatever a month earlier than you. And so you two fight all the time because neither Ark nor Amy have even remotely likable personalities at all. And you also have Jester, your trainer and one of the Guardian Higher-Ups. And also 14 settlers heading towards a CIMAless frontier.

And of course they all get caught and sucked into a huge CIMA dungeon with everyone getting split up and Ark and Ivy have to find all 14 settlers and make it through the dungeon unscathed.

And there you go.

I had hoped for the whole game to be a subtle metaphor for the Holocaust, but no, instead I got a second rate version of “Chicken Run’ which was a second rate remake in and of itself.

I had hoped for an excellent story here. A little Auschwitz, a little OL’ West with the frontier settling. A little bit of lemmings. But no, I got CIMA. Maybe it would have been better if the translation had been better or if things actually felt connected instead of a very flimsy plot used to connect a big ass dungeon crawl that involved a lot using your GBA like a mouse cursor.

I’m still very bitter as you can tell…

Story Rating: 4/10

2. Graphics

Oh. My. God. This is on the GBA? A 32 bit system? I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware that a 32 bit system meant that you could throw together badly rendering barely 8 bit graphics with horrible dungeon designed that appear like the graphic artist was a flaming queen who grew up in the 1960’s. Tacky ass paisley and floor plans that clash with themselves. UGH.

Seriously. The graphics are horrible. The only saving grace is the cutscene with the train going into the gate (very well done) and the character portraits are excellent. Not Shining Force quality portraits, but still good. But aside from those two aspects, this game is very very poor if you’re looking for eye candy. All the characters look alike aside from hair colour and style. Remember the old Betty and Veronica debate in Archie comics? It applies here pretty well. Blobs with different colour blobs to separate them in an attempt to make the game playable.

Uninspired crap.

Graphics Rating: 3/10

3. Sound

The background music isn’t horrible. It’s not grandiose, but I could stand to have it on while playing CIMA. I was hoping for subliminal noises to make the game tolerable. Sound effects are nothing great either. Nothing horrible, but nothing really distinguishable to set the game apart. Middle of the road here.

Sound Rating: 5/10

4. Control

Weep with me people. Because it is not pretty. Playing CIMA will induce tears of rage and hate for Natsume.

Seriously though, this game would have been a lot better had a mouse been involved. It’s designed for a cursor, NOT a control pad.

I mind the menu system cumbersome and annoying. I find the way you have to cycle through characters and get them to follow you/do things to be mind bogglying frustrating. You can do the same thing 9-10 times and nothing will happen. Finally on the 11th, the game will register the character’s action and make it work. The engine just doesn’t respond very well to the various characters and NPC movements. And I so very much hate the way you move groups and individuals. The game would have been a lot more fun if the process wasn’t so slow and plodding and monotonous. What should have been one of the most fun aspects of the game was in fact the worst

The game tries to be a cross between Legend of Oasis and Oddworld with a dash of lemmings thrown in. And the mixture just doesn’t work at all very well. I mean, it really does try to be something new and unique. And god help them, it is. But instead of being something great, it was a freaking two headed pack mule made of feces that even Frankenstein’s Monster would run away from crying in sheer horror at the slightest glimpse of it.

Get the torches and a lynch mob boy. There’s gonna be a burning.

Control Rating: 3/10

5. Replayability

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Wait. If by replayability, you mean the lifelong madness induced into your cranium from playing this game to the BITTER END, then this game gets a perfect score.

If you are insane enough to buy this game and deal with the horrid controls that are not instinctual in the slightest and get even more cumbersome the more people you have to lug around, well go for it you masochistic son of a bitch. Just let me know when the doctors perform your lobotomy, because I’m quite sure it will be immediately after saying “I didn’t mind CIMA. I’ll play it again sometime.’

Honestly, There’s no reason I can see to play this game other again unless you’re a staunch advocate of suicide. Run boy. Don’t even play it ONCE.

Replayability Rating: 1/10

6. Balance

Heh. Monsters have NO AI. But they are constantly swarming out. I guess that’s the balance for you? Instead of a few smart opponents, we get constantly replicating retarded monsters.

Or maybe, the game makes up for the lack of challenge in dealing with monsters by making the controlling of your retarded settlers annoying as hell. Like, walking in straight lines only? The inability to walk AROUND CORNERS? Great IA scheme there Natsume. Clap clap clappedy clap for you.

A lot of the puzzles are inane and don’t give you the slightest hint on what to do. It’s a lot of guess and check and it just gets old fast.

I wish I could call this game buggy. But it’s not. It’s just sloppy. The game is exceptionally easy and FRUSTRATING at the same time. Hate it. Loath it. Do it NOW.

Balance Rating: 2//10

7. Originality

Well, it’s gonna get a high score here at least! A great concept I was looking forward to. It’s just a shame the game I was salivating over DID EVERYTHING WRONG THAT IT POSSIBLY COULD. Bad graphics, bad controls, horrible mangling of the plot, bad bad bad overall game.

But they tried to make something fresh and new. A holocaust survival type game with a little follow the leader action. I just wish the concept would have been put to better use by better developers. It’s a concept still worth pulling out and retooling.

Originality Rating: 8/10

8. Addictiveness

If your parents ever want a way to make you give up video gaming, they will do it by forcing you to play this game all the way through and then to write a report on it. Kind of like I HAVE TO DO TO SPARE YOU ALL FROM PLAYING THIS. Just no parents are involved. This game made me addicted to not wanting to touch my GBA for a long long time. I played everything but. If anything this is the anti-addict game. This is the cold turkey to your smack addiction. I couldn’t manage more than an hour a day. Sometimes two if I wanted to write horrible angst ridden goth poetry afterwards. If you can enjoy this game, you are a twisted individual with no social life, friends, or this is your first video game not called “Brittney’s Dance Beat” or “Mary Kate and Ashley Engage in Homoerotic Incest.”

Addictiveness Rating: 1/10

9. Appeal Factor

For my own sick amusement I have compiled a list of the ten types of beings who would actually manage to find CIMA fun and worth owning for something other than collector’s value considering so few copies of this game were made.

Ahem…

10. Idiot people who buy games not to play but just to own so they can seem cool to online friends or fatter, uglier, geekier people in their hometown.

9. Zombie. Because they’re already braindead. How would they know any better?

8. Servants of Cthulhu. As they are already MAD. How can this game take any sanity away from those who have beheld He who Lies Dreaming?

7. Hobos. Especially drunken schizophrenic ones. ESPECIALLY if you tell them that if they beat the game you’ll buy them a quart of Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor. DAMN!

6. People suffering from Mad Cow Disease. Of course, Zombies eat brains, so this COULD be considered doubling up. Hmm.

5. Otherkin. I don’t even need to make a joke about these creepy f*ckers.

4. A certain dumb ass 411 staff member who convinced himself this game would be extra keen and not a pile of dog shit.

3. Gaming “journalists” who can’t grade games on a score from good to excellent thanks to the Duke Phillips philosophy of reviewing. But lo, I am Jay Sherman to your Duke Phillips!

2. Widro

1. The Mommies of all the Developers. But even then it was only out of pity…

Appeal Factor: 3/10

10. Miscellaneous

Nothing special or hidden or nifty about this game. A shotty game that I couldn’t stand for the life of me. Kudos to a nice plot attempt bogged down by everything else. Nothing of merit to speak of here except that I am mystified by people that found this game fun and not a waste of time they could have spent playing other more fun games. Boo CIMA!

Miscellaneous Rating: 3/10

Short Attention Span Summary
A bad game. Just a right out BAD GAME. Run from it and be thankful it is rare. Consider it akin to the Necronomicon of the Mad Arab. It is barely known and even less sought out for a reason. For it will destroy your very soul. You have been warned. CIMA is a game for those that are amputees by choice, people that thought kissing a bear cub in front of its mother would be fun, or the kind of people who get hit by cars as a job occupation. I can’t warn you enough NOT to play this game.