The Pitfalls of Bad Game Systems: My short lived encounter with AreaX
So I had a little bit of time yesterday and today and decided to finally play AreaX that I purchased from Zeiva at Otakon this year. I’m very sorry to say that while I really wanted to give this game a chance, the system pretty much prevented me from doing so and therefore ruined my experience overall. Btw this isn’t really a review of the game, but rather a commentary.
I heard a lot of great things about AreaX and Xnote but it’s probably my own fault for never looking into it deeper or trying out the demo beforehand. I knew in advance that it was a non professional game, I knew that I’d have to pretty lenient with my judgement, but I pretty much walked in expecting something like a typical ren’py game that I’ve reviewed in the past. I’m sad to say this was not the case.
Let’s start with the fact that the game is made in FLASH aka Shockwave. Okay maybe for them it was easier to do it in this format, and I can somewhat sympathize as I’ve made Flash movies before and it’s really easy to drag & drop stuff than to code coordinates in Ren’Py. However, if you are charging $25 for this, you have to now consider your paying players (well at least those of us who don’t blatantly pirate indy games). The biggest pitfall of any game for me is the lack of automode. I’m old, my bones ain’t what they used to be, so being forced into non stop clicking with my mouse until my wrist actually begins to hurt is a big problem for me. I play 99% of the time in auto-mode so maybe for others it’s different, but this is a MUST for me and this game definitely doesn’t have it. On top of this, you MUST also click within the constrains of the text box. In most non-automode games at least you can press the O button your PSP or PS2 (I’ve had to do so with Kanon) or you can click anywhere on the screen. So here not only must I constantly keep clicking, I must pretty much constantly click in the same “position” of my arm which further increases the carpal tunnel effect. (；´Д｀)
Alright fine, forget the auto-mode, let’s give this game a chance! I’ll at least try to complete 1 route since the story seems interesting and the art is great. And so I begin my journey about people in the future and the heroine has to travel back in time or something. I love time travel, bring it on! She also beats up an entire gang of delinquents on her own while running into some kendo bishie and middle school shota! She doesn’t know what CAUSEPLAY is! Awesome, I like where this is going! But oops I gotta stop for the night, so I made sure to save in 2 different slots and then closed my browser and shut down my PC. THIS IS WHERE I MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE! I come in the next morning, open up Area-X.htm hit “load game” and lo & behold:
Welp. Alright maybe I did something wrong I check the readme file.
You may need to adjust your Flash Player setting in order for it to work. Make sure to allow Local Storage to store information into your computer.
Wat. This shouldn’t even be something that should affect my gameplay. I’ve played a ton of ren’py games on this computer without problems until I’ve run into this game.
We recommend using Google Chrome for best performance.
Hahahaha…no. ( ´_ゝ｀) A co-worker of mine used google chrome and she ended up getting like 8 trojans in her PC. Also the one day I had to use it cause my FF borked on me I somehow got 1 trojan from using it for about 10 minutes. So yea no thanks.
I can imagine the solution to my problem would be to adjust my lifestyle somehow so that this game would cooperate…or somehow play everything in 1 sitting without ever closing my Firefox window. However while browsing for guides/walkthroughs I stumbled upon this review which mentioned
There were some issues I had with the game such as there wasn’t (at least any way that I found) an option to skip only read dialogue so I ended up skipping over some stuff I hadn’t read before
Uh oh! I think I’ve found a problem that would further prevent me to continue with this game had I actually finished 1 route! Well either way it’s clear by this point that this is not for me, and well frankly I kinda wish I never spent $25 on it.
I know some people may be raging at me for not giving this game a chance (well I tried to…) and for complaining about the system without judging the art/story/characters BUT you have to also look at it from my point of view. I realize English otome games are few & far between and if that’s all you play then you aren’t going to have much of a judgement on systems. Me however? After things like Custom Drive and Last Escort and 200+ completed otome games, I start to develop a “standard of quality” for myself on what I will and will not put myself through. As I mentioned at the beginning, most of the time a lot of the issues posted above are easily fixed if Zeiva just chose to use Ren’Py as her programming format instead of Flash. For me as far as judging priority it’s always been and will be System > Story/Characters > Art > Seiyuus. Therefore, if your system is bad then your game basically becomes unplayable to me. Think of it as giving a can of food to a cat without actually opening the can. Sure the food in there is prolly delicious to the cat but how is the cat supposed to open the can with his paws ?_? The fact that I have a plethora of other otome games available to me (without the language barrier) that I can get through much easier really puts Area X in an unfavorable light for me. I hope in the future Zeiva considers doing her games in renpy and really considers her systems and difficulty for players as one of the priorities. Unfortunately due to this being my first ever encounter with their games and having it be so unpleasant, I probably won’t be playing or buying any of their games again. I’m still thinking about what to do with the game disk for this, maybe give it away for my blog anniversary I’m not sure yet.
For those who were able to get through the system and managed to enjoy the game, good for you! Unfortunately, with my otome gaming mood being rather low lately and with so many otome releases out there, I have to take priorities on what pretty much is up to my “standards” of a smooth gaming system. (And seriously all I really ask for is automode, a decent save feature, and “skip only read text”…) And for those who think that a time travel otome game maybe their cup of tea, head over to Zeiva Inc’s site and try out the demo and if the system really doesn’t bother you, then support them & buy yourself a copy!