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Metal King Slime
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2014 In Review: Troll Over 
 PostSat Jan 17, 2015 1:21 pm
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They don't look fiendish to me.
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Surprisingly, it's not that kind of a game.
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The "items to boost stats" thing is a decent replacement for equipment. Lets you choose who's gonna be the toughest.
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Most of the game's mysteries flow through this chamber.
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The final map scrolls a little bit, which makes it a little more impressive after the whole game has been one map/one screen.
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Bug Report: You can talk to this guy and trigger his "I walk up a step to let you by, and then walk you guys up and left" script multiple times. It doesn't hurt anything, just weird.
This is a review of Troll Over.

Troll Over is the story of a troll who finds an amnesiac naked guy and decides to make him his lackey. The troll knows he wants to take him to goblin town to show off to his goblin friends, but we as players don't know that, creating a little bit of a disconnect. Makes the first part of the game a little directionless, but fortunately it's easy enough to find your way there. Once you're there you find out a warlock is recruiting and joining up with him seems to be the sensible thing. There's not a whole lot of dialogue and what there is isn't funny. It's not plotty enough to be serious, and it's not funny enough to be stupid, so it's just bland.

The dungeon design is pretty basic. There are mechanics here and there that make it more dangerous to explore further than to go home. It's nice to have that kind of asymmetry. Most of the battles are triggered by touch NPCs. Every now and then there's one you can dodge, but mostly you're gonna be fighting them. I really think if games are going to use this mechanic, they need to implement immunity frames. It's annoying to get hit by one enemy and then get gangbanged by the rest of 'em because you don't get a chance to move. Not to mention that touch NPCs do that silly "I'll touch you if you're adjacent! I'll touch you if you're diagonal!" kind of thing that means you always need to be farther away than you'd really think. There's not a lot of real estate in Troll Over, each map is limited to one screen, so you aren't gonna do a lot of dodging anyway.

One nice thing is that you can always go back and heal for free, and you can save your game anywhere. The downside is that the Touch NPC design encourages you to leave town, fight one enemy, turn around and heal, go back out and fight the next enemy, turn around and heal, and proceed. It took me a little under an hour to beat the game, and most of that time was spent walking back to town to heal.

In addition to the touch NPCs, there's also Pokemon style tall grass where you might fight random encounters. These encounters were weirdly balanced, sometimes you'd fight harmless roaches and other times you'd fight fairly dangerous stuff. To make matters worse, only the human can use the "Flee" command, so if he dies you're stuck in battle to the bitter end. You can save your game anywhere which means losing a battle isn't too big of a deal, but it encourages you to save constantly and you lose any potential tension.

I'm not saying I want there to be a lot of potential challenge, because Troll Over doesn't have enough personality to pull that off. I would say there's fewer than 50 textboxes in the whole thing, and none of them are anything you'd wanna see more than once. It just feels like it's missing something.

Battle balance is kind of weird. It's turn based, which as always alleviates a lot of the common problems. Troll has three attacks, Smash, Bash and Thrash. Supposedly they're good in different situations but I never understood what those situations were. Just tried 'em randomly on each guy till I saw the highest number.

As I mentioned, only the Human can run which could be problematic, though I never had to run. The human can also cast spells. He starts with Fire, and later on learns lightning and tornado. Tornado targets groups and is highly useful, but expensive. Lightning might do a little bit more damage, but it costs three times the MP and isn't really worth it... then again, what's MP when you can walk back to town?

There's a Goblin who is basically just an extra attack every round, and some kind of Death Cult dude who may or may not be optional. He has an attack that's meant to be a random spell on a random target, the ol' roulette kind of thing, but you can choose that option and see what it's targetting to game the system. If you choose it and it's targetting everyone wildly, hit escape and try again. It's a turn based system, so you don't lose anything. Eventually it'll be targeting a single, or better yet, ALL the enemies. Now it's safe to cast! Kind of cheap, but again, the game seems to encourage it.

One particularly interesting decision was NOT to have equipment. There's a time or two in the game you'll open a treasure chest and be told "Hey, a sword! Steve equips it!" but there's no actual menu for equipping, it's all automatic. It's one less thing to have to micromanage, but it also means you have nothing to look forward to, no strategies to what you use where. You'll also find a few defense and speed buff items, and can choose who to apply the buff to. It's a fascinating simplification, but I'm not sure what the end-goal was.

Probably the worst thing in the game is the battle music. It starts off okay, but then stops. And starts up another 20 second "song" that sounds like a phone ring tone then stops again. And a DIFFERENT 20 second ringtone. And it repeats this a few times. It's awful and it made me dread every extended battle because I knew I'd have to listen to it again. Map music is alright but not very memorable.

Troll Over isn't offensively bad, but there's not much good to bring up either. You're walking around for no reason and that's it. The map graphics are okay but the battle graphics are really cheaply resized versions of the walkabouts. It's not the end of the world or anything, but the big pixels you get from that kind of resize look lazy. Would've liked to see a little bit more of Spoony's scripting prowess, little bit more of his sense of humor.

I think it's a game that understands what it's trying to be better than some of the other HOTOHR games. I mean, plotwise this game is about the same as Dragons! only Dragons! expects you to grind for 2 hours to see a new color of rat. Troll Over knows better than to waste your time like that, but.. doesn't try to be anything better either. I don't know what part of this game Spoonweaver can point at and be proud of. I can see that he tried to dodge a lot of the downsides of the genre and he did a good job of that, but he also seems to have dodged most of the upsides of the genre. There's multiple endings, but that's basically the whole story portion of the game, seven textboxes at the end of the hour. Not worth it.
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