Aidyn Chronicles


    It's a shame that so much effort can go into a game only to see it undermined by flaws that render it nearly unplayable. But this is the case with Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage, an RPG crushed beneath of the weight of a plodding battle system, large-yet-empty world, and painfully slow gameplay. It feels like a game made with little regard for the people who might play it.

    Problems begin immediately, as the player is seemingly dropped into the story at a random point. Alaron, the hero and a knight in training, has left the castle to search for a missing farmer. We don't know how Alaron knows or cares about this farmer, when he disappeared, or why it's Alaron's job to find farmers when they vanish. But after needlessly long conversations with random characters, we discover the farmer is dead anyway and was merely a device to get Alaron out of the castle so the "real" plot can begin.

  Testing department?  What testing department?
Aidyn Crashicles

    This pattern of working hard for little reward is found throughout the game. Enemies are visible during travel and can be avoided, but Alaron and his party will find themeselves underpowered if they don't kill everything in sight. Houses and castles fill the world, but even when they must be explored to further the plot, they're empty a maddening 95% of the time. And when I finally found something in one of the game's many buildings, the game rewarded me by crashing immediately.

    Saving your game is no small feat. The first time I played, I couldn't save because the option wasn't appearing in the proper menu for some unexplained reason. Since you can't save on the cartridge itself, which is inexcusable for a cart RPG, I figured that my controller pak was full. I powered on the game again and saw nothing about my controller pak being full, but once again couldn't save. The next time I tried, the game saw that my controller pak was full and finally gave me the option to view it.

Get used to this screen.
But he never ends his action

    These hoops might be worth jumping through if the game was fun to play, but the excruciatingly slow battle system here is probably the least fun I've ever had with RPG combat. Your party faces enemies in a 3D environment, similar to Quest 64. Each character has a circular range of movement, and everyone plods around the battlefield until your character meets an enemy and hits it in the head with a club. These enemies are generic in design and miss a vast majority of their attacks.

    But the major problem here isn't blandness, but speed - or the horrid lack thereof. The engine responds slowly to commands and to the start or end of a turn, adding dead time to every single movement by an enemy or ally. Multiplied by four party members and as many as eight enemies, each taking at least three hits to kill, and you get the epic boredom which sets in during a 5-10 minute standard battle. Enemies often start all the way across an empty battlefield, meaning five or six more of these slow turns are wasted each fight. Even writing about it is boring.

  I wish you were off my television.
You don't want to know, Alaron

    More time is wasted by battles taking place on a different screen than the 3D overworld where you meet enemies, especially when that screen is a near replica of the overworld itself. Why bother loading a new environent for combat just to place enemies further away? The overworlds are also oversized, bogging down the game engine and making Alaron's already slow running speed seem that much slower.

    And even when the game doesn't err badly, it fails to be functional. The game's text is error-free but often borders on the nonsensical, placing Alaron next to a gigantic castle and having him ask the townspeople where the castle is. The music and environments display great variety, but none of them stand out as being very good. Wells are shaped like pentagons because making anything vaguely round is beyond the engine's capability.

    There is not enough worthwhile content here to justify the pain necessary to reach it. Aidyn Chronicles is a longwinded and unwieldly game that forgets about being fun or easy to play. Battles take forever, exploration takes forever, and conversations take forever. So long as there are polished, entertaining options such as Ogre Battle 64, Paper Mario, or Zelda: Majora's Mask, there is no reason for N64 owners to put themselves through the trouble of a game like Aidyn Chronicles.

Review by Ed McGlothlin, GIA.
Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage
Developer H20
Publisher THQ
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium Cartridge
Platform Nintendo 64
Release Date  03.20.01
50 screenshots
12 character designs