Alundra
  • Genre:
    • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Matrix Software
  • Publisher:
    • Working Designs
  • Released:
    • JP 04/11/1997
    • US 12/31/1997
    • UK 06/05/1998
Score: 85%

This review was published on 09/18/2007.

Alundra is the spiritual successor to Landstalker, which was released on the Sega Genesis. Many refer to Alundra as a typical "Zelda clone," and some cite this as the game's defining aspect. While it certainly is true that Alundra relies on various Zelda elements, its core game play is far more action oriented. Despite having an overhead view, Alundra features some decidedly hardcore platform elements. Its primary challenges often consist of jumping to and from various platforms or objects without falling. When you aren't fighting, you are usually jumping.

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Alundra initially begins pulling off Zelda's typical hunt for magical items that are hidden throughout the land in various dungeon or temple areas, by decree of the plot. After the first few dungeons, they seem to leave this concept for dead and just go all out. The dungeons are large in number, and they don't strictly adhere to the typical formula Zelda does. That is, there's not one tool per dungeon that you are required to use to solve the main puzzles. You do usually receive a nice piece of equipment, but it occasionally boosts your combat capabilities instead. There's also a bit of flexibility regarding the order in which you complete certain dungeons or temples, as a result of things not following a strict adherence to gaining new abilities to expand the areas that can be explored. However, there are a few within dream sequences that occur as you advance in the story, and these must follow a strict order. The dream sequences tend to be far more interesting than the other dungeons, as they have the majority of the game's unique puzzles. Upon completion, some of the dungeons reward you with a weapon or two, and there's three basic weapons you can wield, with their respective advantages and disadvantages. There's also magical rods and elemental spells that add to your offensive might. Due to the fact that the enemies can often take a whole lot of punishment, it's in your best interest to always find the most effective method of inflicting the largest possible amount of damage on your foes.

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Alundra is one pretty looking game, for sure. The art is nothing short of amazing, and it's very depressing to think that the majority of game developers today will probably never return to doing something like this outside of hand-helds. It really is a sight to behold. It is especially noteworthy in the outdoor areas, such as the mountains or forests that you may find yourself jumping through. On the subject of jumping, the "level design" behind the various platform segments you'll be put through happen to be quite creative and ingenious. It's here that the game play really begins to shine as an entirely different creature, far different from the likes of Zelda. Admittedly, the game has a definite lack of puzzles, also unlike Zelda. The majority of it is spent combating foes (in typical Zelda fare) and navigating areas with your jumping ability. Not to say that it isn't hugely entertaining, you just need to comprehend from the outset that this so-called "Zelda clone" doesn't try to hold itself to that title completely. I suppose the main reason for people labeling games like these as "clones" is that, there hasn't been that many of them. Not nearly as much as, say, first-person shooters or role-playing games. That may be a good thing in the end, however. Too many entries in a given genre can make it grow quite stale.

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Alundra has a definite lack of puzzles, but the few that are present tend to be, very, very tough. If you somehow had trouble deciphering the various puzzles in Zelda games, then you'll be in a world of woe upon playing Alundra. The evil ice sliding puzzles are the main threat here. It took me an ungodly amount of time to finally crack 'em wide open. So much time, in fact, that I wasn't exactly hit with satisfaction upon completion. More like exhaustion or relief. Beyond that, certain jumping portions can be just as bad. Not because they're hard to figure out, rather, they're just extremely hard to do. It can be infuriating at times. Some may consider these as short-comings, while others (masochist) may find it a blessing. In regards to true blunders, a few platform segments can be somewhat confusing due to the perspectives of an overhead view. As a result of this, you'll often find yourself making the wrong jumps because you assumed an object was within reach, when it totally wasn't. It can be a little upsetting, but I didn't find it too bothersome. Ironically, similar things can be experienced in 3D platformers.

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Alundra deserves my prognosis, and it's that you should definitely play this game. There's a fair chance that a lot of you haven't. If so, remedy this situation immediately. And yes, I'm perfectly aware of how I started each paragraph in this review with Alundra. In case you're a little slow, it was all intentional.

Word Count: 850

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