For Christmas of 1997, one of the games I received was Albert Odyssey.
I had opted to get it because of its traditional appeal and gorgeous
hand-drawn graphics. And while it is enjoyable for a while, it
ultimately falls short of even being a good RPG. Here's why:
The music is not very good, in my opinion. There are no tracks that
really stand out, and embed themselves in my memory, like Square songs
do. Overall, the music is rather dry. But that is just the beginning
of Albert Odyssey's problems.
The next flaw in Albert Odyssey is its tedious battles. Perhaps it
wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so frequent, and didn't take so long
to load. But I think that at the core of the problem is a very bland
battle engine - you have skills and a regular attack. Yes, other RPGs
use this sort of basic approach; Wild ARMs and Suikoden come to mind,
but those games make things interesting. Wild ARMs uses the force
system, you can learn spells in any order, and the battles aren't so
frequent. And when there ARE battles, they load instantly. Suikoden
also has a very basic battle engine, but the rune system is interesting,
and requires you to conserve your magic until you really need it. Plus,
there are tons of different combo attacks to discover between the
characters. And again, the battles are not as frequent, and when they
do occur, there is no loading.
The final major problem with Albert Odyssey is its story - or rather,
its execution. The story is actually somewhat interesting for a while.
The heroes finally come face to face with Radoria, defeat him, and after
the climactic battle the story ends... and then starts up again! It is
the beginning of Chapter 2! While this in itself is not a bad idea,
what kills it is that the story is COMPLETELY cut off right after
defeating Radoria, there's a happy ending, and then the story starts up
again, with some of Radoria's henchman back in the spotlight! It's
almost like a bad fan fiction that tries to pry open a story again after
it has already closed!
That is why the story's execution is bad. However, the story ITSELF is
not very inspired either; the plot is extremely simple. While this may
have been OK back in the early 16 bit era, RPGs now are much more
mature, containing many themes. The games I mentioned before, Wild ARMs
and Suikoden, are much more than simple stories - they are still rooted
in good vs. evil, but they are much more complicated than that. This is
not so in Albert Odyssey.
Finally, the translation for Albert Odyssey is very good; it is free of
errors and all, and Working Designs' jokes will have you screaming with
laughter at times, but I would prefer the more emotional,
dialect-intense, and mature translations of Square Soft any day.
Overall, Albert Odyssey quite simply falls short of being a good RPG,
and doesn't even glimpse the high quality levels of Square's masterpieces,
such as Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, and
Xenogears. In the end, it ends up being just an eye-candy game.