Game Over Online ~ Crystal Quest

GameOver Game Reviews - Crystal Quest (c) Infinite Ventures, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Crystal Quest (c) Infinite Ventures
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 73%
Date Published Tuesday, October 30th, 2001 at 06:12 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Crystal Quest, or indeed, the moniker quest, has probably been used countless times in the annals of gaming itself. We all remember the Space Quests and King's Quests, not to mention the less legitimate quests of other games that have all but faded from our collective memories. Crystal Quest, as such, sounds remarkably familiar but upon loading up the game, I certainly did not in my wildest dreams, expect it to be an action game. I thought it would be more of a platform game or perhaps I am thinking of an old shareware game called Arctic Quest.

Regardless, there is a basic quest behind this particular title. And it would not be totally unfounded to find that it involves collecting crystals. Crystal Quest is an arcade action game of increasingly difficult levels in which the ship you control must collect all crystals and escape. I say it is an arcade game because each stage is identical to the previous. You have two gates that open up to spawn enemies, various crystals scattered across the playing board and an escape route that activates upon your collection of all the crystals. The difficulty lies not in collecting the crystals themselves but the hordes of aliens who deter you from doing so. These aliens are perhaps the cleverest part of Crystal Quest. Some of them merely jitter around in order to hit you as you zip around the map. Others are equipped similarly like you and shoot projectiles. Luckily, they are hardly as good a shot as you are. There are enemies who must require multiple hits before they are destroyed. There are also enemies that lay mines, in addition to those already existing on the board, that look very much like the crystals you want to collect, but are definitely the ones you want to avoid if you value your ship's life.

Control of this highly frenetic game is done through a stylus and buttons. Your PDA buttons can be configured to fire both the ship's standard gun and a 'smart' bomb that kills everything on the screen at once. The game is always portrayed in the Pocket PC version in landscape mode. One notably interesting function is the ability to flip the landscape mode horizontally. The stylus is a good choice for manipulating the on-screen persona. It is arguably the fastest way for your ship to dodge the swarm of enemies without developing chronic muscle spasms. It also gets around the inherent multiple button issue with the iPaq. All Pocket PC devices are supported and the software is small, weighing out as little over half a megabyte.

Much of the reason behind this is due to Crystal Quest's intentionally retro-look. I haven't played a Crystal Quest before, but the actual game seems very similar to the classic Robotron. The primary difference is the speed of the on-screen persona. Robotron's robots were very slow while Crystal Quest's spaceship zips across the playing board, as fast as you can drag the stylus. Like Robotron, there is an abundant amount of playing levels. Through forty levels, you face increasingly tough challenges, although at the higher levels, the playing field is so busy, it becomes hard to see what is what due to the lack of highly detailed graphics. The audio effects, likewise, are retro-style too and lend a coin-op air to the whole package. Crystal Quest commands an acceptable price but I found the later parts of the game to be more frustrating than I had bargained for by paying for it. Those who are easily discouraged by rigorous demands on eye-hand coordination may not think they can fully utilize what they paid for.

To combat user frustration, the developers have also included built-in cheats, easily toggled through the menu shell. Crystal Quest is insanely addictive but at the same time, there is not much depth to it. It is all great to pay homage to the retro-arcades of old but I found myself asking for more. Even today, re-releases of old arcade games are being distributed alongside re-worked titles and though this might go beyond the scope of what the developers intended Crystal Quest to be. It is all good and great that we can play ASCII type dungeon hack games on our PDAs. Yet, after experiencing riveting adventures like Baldur's Gate, I find that no matter how much I try to remain a fundamentalist who focuses on gameplay only, there is a part in me that yearns for something fresh, something new and perhaps something with a little more flare.

[08/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[10/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[08/10] Program Size
[02/05] Sound
[02/05] Discreetness
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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