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Orphen: Scion of Sorcery
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   ESP
Publisher:   Activision
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action RPG
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   11-08-00

More often than not, the questions we’re asked deal with anime-based games. Usually, those questions express a lot of frustration over the fact that Japan seems to get all the good ones while very few of those games get released here. When will we see Dragonball Z on N64? What about Tenchi Muyo? And on and on and on ad nausem. If Orphen is any indication, perhaps developers are doing us all a favor by keeping most of those anime games in Japan.

Orphen, of course, stars Orphen and the rest of the cast of characters from the Japanese anime by the same name. The cast consists of Orphen (the young sorcerer who does his own thing), Magnus (the novice sorcerer who complains about everything), and Cleo (the female sidekick that believes the party just wouldn’t survive without her). The game starts out with Orphen, Magnus, and Cleo walking and talking through town. There they run into Volcan (w/ younger brother Dortin), who owes Orphen a great deal of money. Volcan offers to repay the debt by offering Orphen a chance to make some easy money, and thus they set sail for Arvanrama. While on the ship they meet up with three other characters: Mar, Sephy, and Zeus. Each of these three characters is traveling to Chaos Island (each for a different reason), and whom you choose to bring along with you will determine the path the storyline takes. Once one character is complete, you go back and lead the other characters through their storyline. Thus the adventure begins.

The storyline itself is your typical RPG fare. Along the way you’ll meet up with ghost ships, towers, dungeons, and practically every other cliché found in other RPGs. Each of the secondary character’s storyline (Sephy, Mar, or Zeus) has been done before as well. Zeus is in search of his long-lost daughter, Mar is searching for his mother, and Sephy is visiting Chaos Island to mourn the death of her fiancé.

A storyline doesn’t necessarily have to be original to be entertaining (especially since each storyline is fleshed out rather well), but the annoying and clichéd characters really serve to bring the storytelling down. Orphen is very annoying because he thinks he’s high ‘n mighty, Cleo is annoying because she’s always doing her tomboy-sidekick thing, and Magnus is annoying because he’s always whining. This is entertaining in spurts, but when you have to put up with argument after argument (after practically each battle and adventure sequence) it quickly becomes annoying. For what it’s worth, the voice acting in the game is very good. Unfortunately, this in itself is bad because the voice acting is supposed to be annoying. You’ll find yourself wishing you could skip through each storyline sequence….and that isn’t good in a RPG where the story is the MAIN reason you’re playing the game.

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