Let’s NOT Talk About El Viento

viento front

Como el nombre de este juego está en español, pensé que escribiría la introducción en español también. Por supuesto, usted probablemente tendrá que google traducir esto para averiguar lo que significa lo siento, pero no lo siento.

And no. I didn’t take Spanish at secondary school. I’m a master at google translate though so blame that. Completely. Go figure.

El Viento translates as ‘Wind’ but let’s be clear from the very start and say that this is not a breath of fresh air and it probably wasn’t at the time either HO HO HO WIND BASED PUN. To be as fair as possible to the game, I’m actually not thinking about this from a ‘has this game aged well’ perspective purely because I never played this game as a kid and I certainly hadn’t even heard of it until maybe five or so years ago. I also had no idea that this was the prequel (as such) to Earnest Evans.

Which made me quite worried.

Now I haven’t got around to reviewing Earnest Evans but holy shit is that game a completely farcical mess of hideous proportions. Hopes for El Viento were not high.

I was… slightly off the mark with that one.

viento6

Le Vent casts you as Anett, a lady with a MAGICAL/MYSTICAL bloodline to an old god named Hastur, a god that some people would like to reawaken because of course that always works out brilliantly in the end doesn’t it? Every single time we’ve resurrected a god in order to help US take over the world, we’ve NEVER had anything bad happen to us. EVER.

Unless you count every single other game or film that involves resurrecting old gods and goddesses because well those are CLEARLY incorrec- oh shit. Everyone’s gonna die basically. That is the crux of this.

SERIOUSLY. Every SINGLE time a film or game throws in a half-arsed plot about bringing back a god, are you sure this god is just going to let YOU rule the world when THEY have all of the evil powers and could basically take everything over in an instant? ARE YOU SURE THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, ANTAGONISTS? ARE YOU REALLY SURE?

So either way, Anett’s out to stop the stupid dickheads from being dickheads by dealing out her unique brand of magic and some bladed boomerangs through numerous levels of platforming bedickery set in the supposed 1920s in New York or some such bollocks IT’S DIFFICULT TO TELL WHERE WE ARE BECAUSE IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE ANYTHING OR ANYWHERE AND THE WHOLE STYLE OF IT IS LOST IN TRYING TOO HARD.

viento4

Der Wind has an instant problem in that it feels like it has no identity. This concept of being a 1920s gangster-themed game gets lost amidst the MAGICAL bullshit plotline that doesn’t fit and isn’t maintained throughout the game anyway. There’s no specific look to the game that keeps the theme going at all. If anything, it gets lost in the game’s need to find an archetypal level design in the forest or a dungeon or a factory or the docks or something.

Graphically, for an early 90s title, it’s not horrendous by any means. Some of the game’s sprites are decent enough and the effects on display are quite imaginative. It does suffer from that horrible texture disease that games of this ilk ended up contracting in some way. The murky textures and gritty browns and greys all meld into giving the game a muddy, murky look that does it no justice. Admittedly, Anett herself stands out on screen because of this but it doesn’t always make the game the most pleasant to look at, It;s either that or the world’s most lazy and blah backgrounds when the game is set in the open world (you know… a forest) and the background is just BLUE.

viento3

Seriously. This is from the game. It is a travesty that we could have a game as beautifully detailed (for the time) as Sonic The Hedgehog’s background graphics and then be comparing THAT same technology to THIS. “Oh but maybe they didn’t have time,” someone might say.  “It’s only a sky,” they might also say. “It’s not as if skies are interesting,” they might decide to continue, not realising that they’re clearly making excuses when THERE ARE NONE. This is not the Master System. And given that they already created backgrounds in the earlier levels that attempted detail they can clearly do, this kind of two tone blue sky nonsense really should not be excused.

viento2

Even worse? This is the lowest section of the level itself and HOLY SHIT it doesn’t really look much better! Are those supposed to be… trees? Or are they mushrooms? Or something? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. Come on guys. Don’t you even know what trees look like?

As such, the quality of graphics varies far too much to be taken seriously and it just compounds the whole identity thing I mentioned earlier. I know that forests and whatnot didn’t look vastly different in the 1920s but… let’s be clear here: if you’re gonna make a thing about being set in gangster-land 20s America y’all, you do as least need to try and keep that ideal going throughout. Maybe. I’m just saying. It’d help. Maybe.

But hey, you’re designing the game. And you designed Earnest Evans so clearly you know what you’re do- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’m sorry, I can’t say that with a straight face.

viento8

The aim of Il Vento is to try and stop the dickheads by traversing through the not-very-clear-where-they-are platforming sections and find the boss at the end of the stage. Several enemies get in the way but the majority of the later levels tend to find you hounded less by enemies and more by natural surroundings. Well… spikes can be natural in a forest… or a factory… or in the middle of the city- you know what, let’s just say they designed the levels to try and fuck you up and be done with it, OK?

Anett has several things she can do at her disposal. She has her bladed boomerangs which can home in on specific things, such as enemies or things you need to try and destroy in the stage. She also wields different types of magic, which she accrues as the game progresses, beginning with a fire attack, then advancing to a water attack, a generic wide-range projectile attack, an explosion and finally a… weird… spike attack that goes on for about ten seconds? I dunno. It seems underwhelming given the previous one was a MASSIVE explosion but it has its uses when you’re being hounded by bird enemies who DON’T FUCKING LEAVE YOU ALONE. GO FUCK YOURSELVES GAMING BIRDS.

Not the real birds. They can stay. Apart from crows. They’re creepy. And geese.

Fuck geese.

viento7

In terms of bosses, the major problem seems to be in that they make little to no sense in being there. Yes, you face off against the main villain (well… er… let’s get there in a bit) a couple of times but the rest of the time, you face off against these implausible alien-like things that really don’t hold any weight in the main story. I mean, sure, Anett has MAGICAL powers because GAMING LOGIC but this goo monster? There’s a subsequent boss that looks like a floating testicle that shocks the crap out of you when you attack it and yet we’re set in 1920s America. Now, I don’t mind the idea of holding suspension of disbelief but I can’t do it here for some reason. It doesn’t feel as though it fits. There’s no logical reason for it other than “JUST BECAUSE” or “BECAUSE MAGIC” or “BECAUSE IT’S A GAME, STOP READING TOO MUCH INTO EVERYTHING” when… I just need a little… reason as to why they’re there. I could take a general boss. I mean, we’ve got the main cult leader villain Henry (HENRY!!! HOLY SHIT! THE MAIN VILLAIN’S CALLED FUCKING HENRY!!!!), Mafia boss Vincente, and sorceress-with-backstory-never-explained Restiana and we only truly face off against Restiana… and that happens twice.

And here’s my other gripe: we never face off against the other two because Vicente has a fucking change of heart (NOT PERSONA 5 STYLE) half way through the game and then Earnest fucking Evans appears to say “he’ll talk to him” and nothing more is said of it, and Henry (FUCKING HENRY!!!!) disappears like he’s never been in the fucking game!

WHEN DO I GET TO FIGHT HENRY?

WHY DO I WANT TO FIGHT BLOB MONSTER 1 AND BLOB MONSTER 2?

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

viento11

Outside of this dickery, Anett’s controls are fairly standard on the whole. She shoots magic, throws boomerangs and can do a mini dash thing if you hold down-forwards and press the jump button several times. This comes in relatively useful at times so that is most definitely a welcome addition. Anett herself seems like a pretty boss character. She doesn’t just submit to the antagonists and doesn’t fold or simper when Earnest fucking Evans appears to help out. She has a mission, he knows it and he lets her get on with it.

FEMALE CHARACTERS FOR THE WIN. if anything… I feel sorry for Anett. She’s in a game that is almost… beneath her. She’s a cracking character which enough story behind her to make her interesting and this was further divulged upon in the third game in the series Anett Futatabi (a game sadly not released in Europe) and yet here she is. Jumping around claustrophobic mazes, battling shitty ethereal monsters and trying to haphazardly defeat an enemy that she knows is in New York and yet still travels to the GRAND CANYON to… prove herself? I mean… really? How did she get there? HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE? IT’S THE 1920s! THESE THINGS DON’T JUST HAPPEN. NEW YORK DIDN’T HAVE AN AIRPORT UNTIL 1931. ARIZONA MIGHT HAVE HAD ONE BUT HOW THE FUCK ARE WE GETTING THERE IN A HURRY? BLIMP? TRAIN? WAY TO WASTE TIME HERE, ANETT.

viento10

It feels like a real shame that Wiatr feels so blah and underdone. And let’s not be too misunderstood here: there is a decent game in here underneath all of the bollocksed-up story finagling and the bland level design and the lack of identity. Because Anett seems like a decent enough character, there’s kind of a willingness to do it for her… to help her ESCAPE THIS GAME. El Viento is a bit of a misnomer in terms of its term as well. There’s very little mention of any wind AND there’s no actual wind magic on display either (unless you count that blast attack as a massive gust of wind but who the fuck knows what it’s meant to be). Yes, it’s a metaphor for Anett, I suppose, but… again. Identity.

Tuuli (and by this point, you might have realised I’m basically going through ‘THE WIND’ in several different languages) is a distinctly bland experience. It is excessively hard and there’s so little room for error in the level design that you easily get a game over screen and get sent back to the title screen. You have one life to get from start to finish and if you actually DO die, you get a ‘continue’ as it were but use all these up and you’re finished for good.

viento1

And sadly, you’re more likely to want to press the ‘no’ button if get the opportunity. El Vimto doesn’t feel like the right game for Anett at all. Anett deserved better than this. She deserved better than Earnest fucking Evans. She deserved better than Anett Futatabi as well.

Justice for Anett.

¡Justicia para Anett!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s