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Tail Concerto
Score: 94%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Bandai
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in this game are very well done. The 3D worlds that you wander around in are immersive and colorful. The character design is very cute, but not in a frightening Klonoa sort of way. They're simply, well, kawaii. The three cat sisters -- Stare, Flare, and, uh, Alicia -- are three of the cutest villains you've ever seen in a video game. Even your hero, Sergeant Waffle, has an untractable sort of cartoon hero cuteness. The little kittens that run around in the various levels, however, stretch the bounds of kawaii and almost make you giggle like a five-year-old. Overall, the graphics of this game are great. Not the highest quality textures and such, but you're too busy enjoying the characters themselves to care. The music is superb, in a bubbly sort of way, and some of the best videogame music I've heard outside of Uematsu and the rest of the SquareSoft crew. The voice acting is spot-on, with very Saturday-morning cartoon sounding people. One of the sister's voice actor is a dead ringer for Daria from the MTV show, and I swear that it's actually her. She's got the same attitude too. This game makes a very solid graphical and aural presentation.

Tail Concerto is really, really, really addictive. A friend and I were playing it one night until the wee hours of the morning, wanting to get 'just a little farther.' The gameplay is much like MegaMan Legends, although with a considerably larger amount of old-school 3D platforming. It's the old explore-the-areas-for-the-enemies schtick, with enough twists and turns to make it interesting. You're Waffle, a dog-people (don't ask why it's not 'dog-person') trying to stop the Black Cats Gang (cat-people, of course) from destroying Prairie, the land you both inhabit. You have a Police Robo with odd arms that can shoot bubbles, capture things, and jump around in platform gaming style. During the course of the adventure, you visit all the islands of Prairie and a few other locations, searching for the little kitties that you've got to capture while searching for the members of the Black Cats Gang. Although the controls take a bit of getting used to, with a camera that just doesn't seem tight enough to really be effective, you get over it because of the great gameplay. Even when you screw up for the 30th time, you forgive the game simply because it's so much fun. Never before has a game with such quirky little control issues made me ignore said quirky little control issues. It's that fun. As the story unfolds, you get more wrapped up in the whole Waffle-Alicia interest story, and the Black Cats Gang's real purpose, and all that good stuff that's required in Saturday morning cartoons... erm, I mean, anime games. Yeah. And you know the most surprising fact of all? This game is made by Bandai.

There's only one real problem with gameplay, but it's a doozy -- the game's short as hell. For a game where you can save, six hours (and this is taking my time, folks) is a really short timespan for a game. The fact that one of the coolest scenes in the game, the Jet-Robo, is basically a throw-away area and not developed into something more concrete, makes the game feel a little less complete. You won't care on your first play-through, though -- you'll be whooping and cheering as you zoom around. It's that good.

This game has almost no difficulty curve until you get to the last two hours of the game, at which point it gets absurdly hard until you figure out the tricks of each area. But you know what? You won't care. You'll be having too much fun playing the game and dying and playing some more.

Game Mechanics:
The controls are a little awkward, with no strafing. It's also difficult to move exactly where you want to, because movement is relative to the camera instead of relative to your character. You get used to it, but it could have been better. It supports analog, which helps greatly, and Dual Shock, which is just fun. The translation could be tidier, and the game could definitely be longer, but it's a hell of a ride while you're on it. Tail Concerto comes highly suggested for platform game lovers and anyone else who remember Saturday mornings with a hint of fondness. Even with its flaws, Atlus has brought over a great game that shouldn't be missed.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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