Baroque impressions take three, now with waggle

By Levi . April 8, 2008 . 12:10pm

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Siliconera readers may recall Spencer chronicling his journey through the Neuro Tower in Baroque for PS2 over the last couple of months. Well, now it's my turn to take that journey, this time on Wii. I was anxious to see just how the game played on Wii, and how Sting implemented the Wii's motion controls. So, after managing to pull myself away from Brawl, I began my journey into the dark and twisted world of Baroque. I instantly loved the atmosphere of the game as I began, noticing that the game has a creepy film grain look to it. The denizens of Baroque's hub world are bizarre, to say the least. A man with a long neck, a woman with horns, and a boy with a large bag on his head are just a few of the citizens of Baroque's world that you'll encounter.

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Inside the Neuro Tower itself, things don't get any less bizarre. Compared to Spencer's experience, I think I had a bit of an easier time than he did. I managed to get around 800 cubits down the tower on my first "real" journey into it (not counting the first one, which I already knew [thanks to Spencer] was a simulation). I have a tendency to use items at will instead of hoarding them, which gets me in trouble in a lot of RPG's, but helped me out quite a bit in Baroque. Knowing that Baroque was a roguelike, I knew that I'd most likely be stripped of all my items before long. One of the first items I found was a huge sword that gave me +7 to my attack, so with that in hand I managed to get pretty far down the tower before finally succumbing to the attacks of various Meta-Beings.

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Meta-Beings aren't the only ones you'll encounter in Neuro Tower, either. There's all kinds of strange characters lurking in the tower that you'll come across on your journey. Take for example Urim and Thummim. Urim is merely a face growing out of Thummim's shoulder. And when she speaks, the text appears vertically on the right side of the screen. There's also Alice, a mysterious girl who is upset with your character for reasons I've not yet discovered. And then there's Eliza, who I've encountered a few times. Each time, she asks me for "pure water". Add to these the ghostly boy who occasionally appears (and looks almost exactly like your character) and gives cryptic messages, and you've got a very surreal experience.

 

bwiip4.jpg One thing about Baroque that really got me was one of the status effects. Called "Lust", this odd effect makes everything you see glow with a pink color, and makes items, enemies, and even you look like a strange, blonde woman in a geisha outfit. The only way you can tell what something actually is, is by looking at it's shadow, which still reflects what the thing you're fighting actually is. At first the effect was kind of cool, but after the third or fourth time being inflicted with Lust I quickly equipped a pair of wings which prevented it.

 

I think my favorite thing about Baroque overall is the atmosphere. It's dark, twisted, and creepy. There's a real feeling of being trapped in a fever dream of sorts. The excellent soundtrack does a good job of conveying this feeling as well. The entire time I was playing, I felt like I was struggling against inevitability. I knew I would eventually die, and be set right back to Level 1, with an empty inventory. But being the fan of roguelikes that I am, I was prepared for this fact. The dark atmosphere of the game really lends itself to the almost claustrophobic feeling of Neuro Tower. After a while, you really start to feel like the tower itself is the true enemy. There's a couple of times where I was my own enemy, as well. Remember blowing yourself up with the Boom Bone, Spencer? Yeah, I did that too (good thing it was just in the training dungeon…).

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Oh, and for those of you wondering how Sting implemented motion controls in the Wii version…well, don't get too excited. You shake the Wii Remote to do a strong slash. And that's…about…it. Kinda disappointing, I know. And after using the Wii Remote + Nunchuk combo for a while, I decided to switch over to the Classic Controller. Why? Well, honestly, the Wii Remote button layout isn't really that good. The B button does your basic light slash, and the A button opens the inventory menu, while the D-pad manipulates the camera. Maybe it's just me, but this setup isn't really good. After switching to the Classic Controller, I had a much better time with the game, not to mention an easier time controlling it. And aside from the limited motion control element, the only difference between the PS2 and Wii versions of Baroque is that the Wii version supports 480p and 16×9 widescreen, while the PS2 version doesn't.

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So am I enjoying my journey (make that journeys) through Neuro Tower? You bet I am. This is exactly the kind of game I've been wanting to play lately. I've got to applaud Atlus for localizing Baroque. Roguelikes traditionally don't do well here in the US, commercially or critically. But there's a very niche group of gamers here that love them, and Atlus has given them in Baroque something to really sink their teeth into. Most gamers out there won't be able to grasp a game where you lose everything when you die, but those that "get" roguelikes will absolutely love Baroque. I know I do. And now, if you'll excuse me, there's some Meta-Beings that need to be introduced to my sword.

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Images courtesy of Atlus. 


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  • Savory

    Argh! I just discovered my love for Roguelikes through Shiren the Wanderer, now I have to buy another game! And here I just picked up Izuna for DS and Torneko for PS1 to fill my roguelike desires. :-(

    Thanks for the write-up, this really sounds right up my alley. I love the mood and design. Kinda of crappy the PS2 version doesn’t get 16×9, but I’ll take upscaled 4:3 visuals on PS3 over 480i widescreen and waggle.

  • http://cigarettesandcoffee.com jeffk

    I’ve been completely won over by Shiren the Wanderer on the DS, so this is looking like a must-buy for me too. Roguelikes…who knew?

  • http://gametaku.blogspot.com gametaku

    I’ve been trying to figure out what a Roguelike is without using google, thanks to the first comment and impressions I know. Turns out I’ve been playing them. Azure dreams, Izune: Legend of the unemployed Ninja and some other game I no longer play. It turns out I like them. I’m glad to see all of the hateful reviews are out there just to deter people who aren’t fans of the genre. I wished reviewers would take such a stance with fps’s for a year. What a year that would be.

  • Lord Gek

    Yeah, my only gripe so far was the basic Wiimote & Nunchuck control scheme giving me major camera problems…in large fact to the BRILLIANCE of having the “Z” button both reset your camera view to the direction you are facing AND, if in combat, being used to “Lock-On”. While one the surface this might even make sense…what it meant in actuality is that when the camera was off in some weird direction and I then hit the “Z” button, my character would know what to do and target the appropriate baddy BUT I wasn’t able to see what was going on since the baddy was off screen.

    I like the idea so far but just need to get the controls down. I also was having some issues with the 2D map not lighting up entryways all that well for me intitially so I spent several minutes trying to get beyond the two rooms I knew of so far since I didn’t see the OTHER hallway leading off of one of them.

  • http://www.siliconera.com Levi

    @Lord Gek

    I had trouble with seeing entryways on the 2D map as well. What I do is turn off the map, then turn it right back on. It’ll temporarily light up enough so you can see the entryways.

  • Pedro Silva

    Sad to hear about the bad control adaptation, but I was expecting the game to fall short everywhere else too, due to what I’ve been hearing lately, so it’s not that bad.

    Savory doesn’t the Wii version have progressive scan in this one? making it 480p? I think so.

    Anyway, PS3′s upscale doesn’t add detail to the image, so, unless you have a horrible upscaling (typical of Samsungs and the like) the diference shouldn’t be much (and when it was, it would mean Ps3 was way blurier with the smoothing that makes it loose detail on the textures and the like)

    Anyway, if Atlus had to choose, they should be making stuff like Persona 4 multiplatform with Wii; or rather, if they’re doing/did this this, they should follow by doing that… and adding 16:9.

    is the soundtrack as good as the original one?

  • EvilAkito

    I’ve been on the fence about this one, but it sounds like the kind of game I would enjoy. I’m going up to Gamestop tomorrow anyway, so I’ll see if my impulse-buying kicks in.

  • Savory

    @Pedro

    I was just going by the 480i mentioned in Levi’s impressions. But yeah, my LCD has a poor 480p display anyway (the Wii always looks like crap on it) so I’d rather upscale it to 720p.

  • Shin

    “the only difference between the PS2 and Wii versions of Baroque is that the Wii version supports 480i and 16×9 widescreen, while the PS2 version doesn’t.”

    you meant the Wii version supported 480p right ? :|

  • http://www.nakedsushi.net/ Louise

    Hm….a real-time roguelike sounds great. I’m not so keen on the waggle-controls, so I was leaning toward the PS2 version, but is 16:9 worth dealing with the Wii version?

  • http://www.siliconera.com Levi

    @Shin

    Yeah, sorry about that. Minor typo there. It is indeed 480p.

  • http://www.vanishdoom.com/ Volcynika

    I’m not sure if I’ll be able to scrounge up $40 before this game disappears. Darn.

  • Aoshi00

    I really haven’t played Izuna or Shiren before, but this review really intrigues me.. Definitely going w/ the Wii version for the 16:9.

    I know this might be minor to some others, how’s the Eng. voice acting, is there a lot of it? If it’s horrible I would rather pick up the Jpn version even even if it costs a little more (can’t stand playing Valkyrie Profile Lenneth in English..)

  • http://www.siliconera.com Levi

    @Aoshi00

    The voice acting is pretty good. It’s basically the standard group of anime VA’s, but they do a good job.

  • Aoshi00

    @Levi – Thanks, sounds good, as long as it’s not grating to the ears. Let me see if I could get my feet wet w/ this roguelike genre w/ Baroque :)

  • http://www.freewebs.com/mattiator mattiator

    I became a fan of Sting’s games with Yggdra Union. I’m tempted to get this game regardless of reviews, simply because I love most of their work. Joy, now I have another game to get through after getting a used Riviera, plus Brawl.

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