Galerians: Ash

Galerians: Ash

Written by Matt Mirkovich on 3/8/2003 for PS2  
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For some reason after playing this game, South Park comes to mind. In particular Mr. Mackey, “Drugs are bad mmkay... you shouldn’t do drugs cuz drugs are bad. And you shouldn’t play Galerians, because you use drugs in Galerians. And drugs are bad mmkay?” Don’t ask why but it just came to mind.

I played a small amount of the original Galerians and I remember some of the nasty stuff seen in that game, like finding the main character’s mother stuffed in a fridge, downright awful, but at the same time intruiging. I was hoping more of the same would be present in Galerians Ash but unfortunately that is not the case, it has some strange and disturbing stuff, but nothing too horrid. But Galerians Ash suffers from more than just a lack of content it also has graphics that make it look like a first generation PS2 title, very little music to speak of, and worst of all some bad gameplay to top it off.

Galerians Ash takes place during the final events of the first Galerians game with Rion attempting to take down Dorothy, the super computer hell bent on destroying the human race. The prologue is downright confusing at times. In particular, why do I need to repeat the events that I just completed twenty minutes ago? Oops no time to think about that now, got to upload this virus into Dorothy. Once the prologue is complete we learn that Rion’s brain had crashed and he’s been out of commision for six years. During these six years the Last Galerians, led by Ash, have been attempting to revive Dorothy to destroy the world again. Sound confusing? It is.

Male or female? You make the call.

Starting with the graphics, the game manages to run at 60 frames per second but only because of the horrid character models and backgrounds. The characters themselves have a very low polygon count and for characters like Romero it is terribly obvious. The environments are not very pretty either. Some of the backgrounds use a 2D texture where a 3D one would have been much more appropriate and a lot less ugly. And speaking of ugly there is the anti-aliasing. I haven’t seen it this bad since Ridge Racer 5, and I’ve never had it hurt my eyes, until now. In order to offset the anti-aliasing problem Galerians makes a lot of use of a slight blur filter which is very noticable, but not helpful in the slightest. There are three flavors of cinemas used in the game, you have standard in game graphics which at times look awful and have very poor lip sync. Then there is the slightly touched up in-game graphics which once again feature a bad audio sync. And last but not least there is the full blown FMV which looks very nice and features good lip sync. Why there wasn’t just a constant FMV used is beyond me.

As for the sound, there isn’t much to say. During the gameplay there is usually some form of ambient music that is servicable but hardly memorable. However during bosses you get a bit more, usually in the techno or drum and bass variety, yet once again forgetable. As for the voice acting I must say that I like it a lot more than some dub jobs that I’ve heard in the past, the characters are decently voiced. Now if only the lip syncing job was decent and subtitles were present. Far too may times did I notice that the characters were drowned out by other sounds. As for the voice syncing there are times where the characters will say a complete sentence before they move their mouth.
Now what is a game without gameplay? A bad one. Unfortunately in the case of Galerians there is very little gameplay to speak of. Most of the game is spent running back and forth to and fro looking for items or flipping switches, or venturing to the data world and back all at a frightening slow pace. This game took me almost nine hours of complete and at least three of them were wandering around aimlessly because I had no idea what to do. There is very little direction in the game, so expect to wander off track a lot only to find yourself back on track just because you happened upon something. How am I supposed to know a door won’t open without me checking a freaking computer screen that looks like part of the background. This also leads to needless frustration. Coupled with a painfully slow run and you’ve got a limited chance at fun, in fact you can move faster just by rolling forward all the time, although the timing on this is a bit tricky.

Aside from wandering there is the actual combat of the game. There is a decent number of enemies aside from bosses, it actually takes more than one hand to count the monsters, which is more than what I can say for Zone of the Enders. Each monster’s attack consist of three key attacks. There is the beam or projectile attack, the physical attack and the leaping physical attack. All of these attacks are easily dodged thanks to Rion’s roll ability.

To counter these fearsome attacks Rion is able to employ some drugs, known as PPECs in the game which allow him to pull of some attacks of his own. My favorite being the ability to lift a number of opponents off the ground, spin them around a bit and then slam them into the ground. The combat is made even more simple thanks to the easy to use lock-on feature which makes it so that whatever enemy targeted will be hit. Only problem is that once you start charging an attack you can’t move making you wide open to attacks which can cancel your charge, chalk up another point on the frustrations chart.

With all drugs there are side effects to their use. Once Rion’s AP meter becomes full he experiences a “short” where he gets a little woozy and walks very slowly but is invincible and can pop the heads off normal enemies, however this head-popping effect does not work against bosses. As enemies die they leave behind vials which have a large number of effects. They can strengthen the abilities of each PPEC, or can be refill vials which refill a specific PPEC, or can boost your max AP, HP, or PPEC so it actually pays to sit around and kill some enemies. There was a room that spawned in 600 weak enemies, and after a half hour of fighting I was up in the 4000 range for AP, and high 3000’s for HP so I was set to go for the rest of the game.

For all the problems Galerians Ash has there is definite promise here. The concept behind the game is sound and interesting. Now if only the graphics, music, gameplay and story could get some extra love and care there might be a good game in the works. But as it is Galerians Ash is a sub-par effort and should be rented if anything.
Galerians Ash had the potential to be a great sequel but is hampered down by many technical shortcomings.

Rating: 4.2 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers. Now I'm working for a record label, a small arm of casual games in a media company along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.


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