Catching Up With 2009: Adventures to Go!

Though I’m not sure when exactly this thing is going up, at least it finally is. I think I started playing this game about a month ago. You might be wondering why it took so long to get this piece up, but the truth is that I only finished the game late on Saturday night. I’ll go more into why that is later on, but suffice it to say I’ve been waiting to write the column until I finally beat it.

I’m not a fan of the rogue-like genre of RPGs. It isn’t that I think they are bad games or anything, it is just that the very things that make them appealing to some gamers, repulses me on a fundamental level. I never get the urge to go down a treacherous dungeon in order to find a slightly better sword or fill up an empty spot on my bestiary. I could care less if there is a monster type I haven’t found yet. Nor could I care less that my character is only just powerful enough to beat a boss and could become much more powerful through leveling. If there is a minigame that allows me access to a useful item I can’t get anywhere else, I just ignore it.

Basically, I hate grinding.

Why then, you might ask, would I ever sit down and start playing a game of this genre?

It’s because Alex Lucard said it had some of the best gameplay ever. It took the basic RL formula and mixed in randomly generated battle with SRPG combat. This managed to get me very intrigued, so I waited for the game to drop in price and grabbed it my first chance.

Let’s Catch Up!

What’s The Game?

This week’s game is, finally, Adventures to Go! for the Sony PSP.

Who Made It?

The developers are Global A, who are well known to PSP owners for the Dungeon Maker series.

When Did It Come Out?

It was released on 10/28/2009 as a Gamestop Exclusive. (A fact which drew ire from many.)

Where’s The Review?

Our own Alex Lucard reviewed this game last year.

Why Didn’t You Play It 2009?

It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested. I had a gut feeling that said this game wasn’t meant for me in any sense of the word. As such, I held off buying the game at full price. Thankfully for me (Though not so much for the developers.), Gamestop didn’t hesitate to drop the price after only a couple of months. I picked it up sometime in late January I believe with the sole intention of playing it for this column.

I will say that it jumped to the head of line over some games I would much rather have been playing. This is, again, thanks almost solely to the fact that Lucard gave the gameplay such high marks. I trust my fellow staffers, you see.

Granted, I really should have read that review more carefully. I think I glossed over all of the parts that clearly labeled the game “NOT FOR AARON SIROIS”. When am I going to learn to pay attention to things like that?

So, What Did You Think?

Reading so far, you might think I think the game is bad or something. To the contrary, the game definitely has some strong points. It just isn’t my kind of game.

The story starts off with young Finn deciding he’d like to make his mark on the world. The problem is that he doesn’t want to leave the comfort of his own village to do so. Instead, he ventures over to Adventures to Go, a business run by a few wizards. ATG summons fields and some basic monsters with the intention that heroes and adventurers could use these constructions in order to train before they go out into the real world. Finn decides to make ATG his headquarters and to pay the wizards to summon new land types and monsters so he can get all of the loot he wants without ever having to leave town limits. Basically, we’re told the main character is lazy and has found a way to be rewarded for it.

The rest of the story is pretty loathsome as well. You meet a young witch who joins up because she has a crush on Finn, though he couldn’t care less. You’ve got a sister who does nothing but nag you every time you get up in the morning. She yells at you to get a job when you’re clearly the richest man in town. Finn’s father is also a useless bum who gets himself into trouble often and gives you boring quests the rest of the time. There is no story to this game, though it tries to be witty and funny. I’m sorry, but Finn being a greedy brat isn’t very fun to watch.

As far as gameplay goes, you too will never have to leave the town, not that there is all that much to do in it. You have the clerk’s office where you can get quests and turn in quest items. You have your house where you can sleep and save. You have the Professor’s house, where your bestiary and other such things are located. The Professor is also Finn’s go to guy for special quests or more information on how to get an item. And then there is ATG itself. Inside you’ll find a handful of stores that sell magic crystals, items, weapons, and armor. The clerks always say the same line every time you enter, and you can usually find the items they sell in the field. Most of your time in these shops will be spent selling off loot. Finally, there is the help desk, where you can place an order for an adventure.

You see, like in the Dungeon Maker games, there is no set path for you to take. You can order exactly what type of dungeon you’d like to explore. Basically, you start off with simple badlands and a bug type. Both of these are free. As you continue, you can order more land types, caves, dungeons, mazes, and a host of enemy types to go along with it. By mixing and matching these options, you can get different monsters and loot. For people who get into it, this mechanic can offer hours and hours of fun on its own. Me on the other hand? I got bored of it after the first ten or so hours of the game. After that, I was playing for the end.

In the adventures you purchase, there are only a few things to worry about. On each screen, there are stone monoliths that have a range of effects. Some clue you in on how to make a new spell, what combinations you might try to get a monster you need to beat for a quest, or even buyback restorative items for more than the stores would give you. You can also use event tickets at the main desk in order to receive seemingly random effects such as boss fights, exploding dungeons, or a casino that houses special items you can’t get anywhere else.

Of course, there are the battles themselves. You run around the fields and at any time, a battle may start. This battle takes place on the exact location you are in, so if you were crossing a bridge or in a forest, you’ll have areas that are closed off because of this. (You can’t very well walk through a tree, after all.) Battle itself works much like a turn based strategy game. Each character on the field gets a turn and the battle ends when one side has been wiped out. You get action points that get spent for every action you do. Moving and turning take up one point. Using items, attacking, and guarding take up two points. Spells can take up different amount of points depending on how powerful they are. The most interesting option is “ambush”. Ambush allow your character to raise his weapon and threaten the area in front of him. If an enemy moves into that area, your character will get a free attack that also drains some of the enemy’s action points. This was great for strategic play and is something I want to see in more SRPGs. The combat was pretty well done all told.

The real problem is that the game never evolves. Sure, you get new weapons, spells, and enemies, but that is simply progression. What I mean by evolution is that the game feels the same from start to finish. Characters are locked into what kinds of equipment they can have, they don’t learn new abilities, and there is almost no customization. All you can really change is the spells, and I found that only the witch ever need use them. Truly great SRPGs evolve. In Final Fantasy Tactics, you could train a character in multiple jobs and then mix and match abilities from those jobs. Training a knight as a ninja for awhile could grant you the ability to wield two swords at one, for instance. In Jeanne D’Arc, the penultimate SRPG on the PSP, you could craft and equip stones that granted all kinds of abilities, spells, and buffs. An archer could become more than a simple distance fighter if you equipped them right. That is not the case with this Adventures to Go. No matter what kind of enemy you take on, you’re stuck with the same abilities you had at the start. It just doesn’t have the kind of depth to keep it interesting for me.

That being said, the game isn’t short. I truly dug into the game for the first ten hours, but after that, I was rushing through it to get to the end. It took me nearly twenty hours of gameplay before I reached that goal. The story didn’t go anywhere, the combat didn’t evolve. All that happened was dungeons got longer and weapons got slightly higher stats. It dragged on and on.

This did lead to some hilarity. Lucard has said there were twenty-five chapters in the game. When I got to chapter twenty-six, he said that was the last one. Then I got to twenty-seven and nearly tore my hair out. As it turns out, there are twenty-eight chapters. I’m hoping Alex was just misremembering, and not messing with me.

After I finally reached the end credits, I celebrated with a lot of cheering and a lot of whiskey. My roommate thought I went insane. I was just so happy I was done with the game.

Again, it isn’t that this game is bad or anything. It’s just monotonous and stays way past its welcome.

What Score Would You Have Given It?

Needless to say, I wasn’t as impressed with the game as Alex was. Still, I’d give the game a score of “Decent” if only because the basic combat was great and there is a ton of content on here for someone who gets into the game.

Would It Have Made Your Top Ten List?

If you’ve read the rest of the column, you should already know the answer to this. I don’t pound whiskey after every game I beat.

How Much Does It Go For, In Case I Want It?

Gamestop is not a friendly store to the smaller developers. You can already find this game for fifteen dollars new, which is half of the game’s initial price. It dropped to that price at the beginning of the year, which means it wasn’t even in stores for three months before it was cut.

Still, if you get into it, you have a game that will last you a while for a pretty cheap price. If you like rogue-likes, look into it.

Final Thoughts?

Thank God I finished this game. I spent three times as many hours as I was willing to in order to finish it, but I finished it all the same. That should show you how committed I am to continuing this column. I’m willing to slog through hours of monotony just so I can fairly judge every game I write about.

Adventures to Go is a decent game with a lot of neat concepts. The problem is that it doesn’t do enough with the formula and so it lags on for dozens of hours. The story is no good, so you don’t even have that to fall back on if you don’t get into it.

Basically, if you still like the game after the first ten hours, you’re in for a good time. If you don’t, be prepared to put the game down unfinished. It will be easier that way.

Next Time: A game I’ve wanted to play for months finally went down in price and I’m working on it for the next column. That’s right, it’s time to get my Naruto on! Believe it!

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