This weekend was Vanillaware weekend for me, and you know what? These guys rock the 2D art, but wow… They don't craft the kind of gameplay I want to spend time with.

Odin Sphere: Damn, what a disappointment. I bought it without trying it back when it was released based on the crazy hype it was getting and assuming it'd be a hard find later on down the road, but after just one day of play it sems like the whole battle engine is just a trojan horse for getting players to spend too much time growing plants and making potions.

SNORE! Who the hell wants to waste time doing that junk? The story seemed somewhat interesting, but there's no way I'm going to sit through endless potion crafting and seed-planting to enable me to get through simplistic combat just to see it. Thumbs Down.

GrimGrimoire: Vanillaware title #2, looks just as hot but plays equally fecal. The story (again) seems somewhat interesting, but the gameplay has *nothing* to do with the story segments… it's like you watch a plot, and then go through a totally disconnected game sequence to see the next part of the story.

The play is like a vertically-oriented RTS formula where you open portals to summon elves who collect mana, which then enables you to summon fairies to attack, so on and so forth. There are four types of portals (Demons, Fairies, Alchemist, and one more i can't recall) and a wealth of creatures and spells, but the whole thing feels needlessly overcomplicated with one type being strong against another type, but one sort of portal needed to make this other sort of item, and only some characters can attack, and so on.

It's also hard to keep track of things on the screen since you can only see a small fraction of the action at a time, and the commands issued rarely seemed to be followed correctly. I was doing way too much babysitting and micromanagement with too little payoff. Again, Thumbs Down.

It's too bad that neither of these lived up to their promise, IMO… I could really get behind 2D art this good. But, without the gameplay to back it up, I'm jumping ship. I mean with graphics this nice, i don't understand why the emphasis in both of these games strays so far from action and so deep into menu-shuffling and item-juggling.


Brad Gallaway
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