When it was announced that Climax would be producing an RPG for the Dreamcast, I wept tears of joy. Finally I proclaimed with absolute confidence, we the followers of Sega shall truly have an RPG to call our own. This enthusiasm was warranted, after all Climax was responsible for some of Genesis's more original RPGs like Landstalker and Shining in the Darkness. However, my hopes were dashed when I finally received the reviewable copy of Timestalkers. So how did this, what was to be Sega's finest hour in Role Playing, turn out?. Well brave adventurer if you dare to continue, if you dare to discover the shocking truth, then follow me down the winding, randomly generated path that leads to the heart of this review.
A Climax game is always recognizable thanks in no small part to its clever character designs and smart puzzle like environments. I still to this day recall how great little old Nigel from Landstalkers looked moving around in his pseudo 3D setting. The hero in Timestalkers, Sword, does appear to have a certain charm on paper but on the screen where it's important he is a dull, poorly animated character who moves with a clunky lurch that makes Frankenstein look graceful. Many of the supporting characters and enemies in the game appear to suffer from this same lack of design enthusiasm. What makes matters worst is the fact that Climax chose to throw in a few character cameos from previous games which only made me yearn for days long gone.
Dungeon crawls appear to be a growing trend these days in RPGs but its a trend most of us could do without. Timestalkers dungeons are a repetitive collection of bland rooms and long corridors. Time and time again you'll see the same boring and dull texture map repeated endlessly, its hard on the eyes and extremely tedious. Random generation for the dungeons is a welcome concept but is does little to help the games lack of visual flare and besides we have seen it put to better use in games like Evolution.
No surprises here, music is the usual mix of Japanese rock blended with an instrumental music score. Dungeon and monster sounds are minimal and there is no voice acting at all.