Dreams - Review
It's A Man's World.
By: Cortney Stone
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
James Brown used to sing, "It's a Man's Man's Man's Man's
World." This is definitely true about Konami's Azure Dreams. This action
RPG centers around raising monsters, battling through a tower, building
up a town, and chasing women. Released back in 1998 for the Sony Playstation,
this single disk contains a great adventure.
When aggressive monsters are afoot, Azure Dreams' battle
system makes eliminating them easy. The action takes place right on your
path (no transitions to battle screens), and you can even walk away from
a monster if you see it coming (this is easier said than done though!).
Using a cross between real-time and turn-based action, you can take as
little or as much time as you need to finish the monster off. If you make
a move, the monster makes a move. This is great, because you can hesitate
and think things through if you need to without a monster chewing on your
backside. A text box pops up when an attack occurs, and it lists the type
of attack, how much damage was done, and any other event details. You are
assisted in attacks by a familiar, which is a tamed monster that battles
by your side. Both you and your familiar gain experience, but only your
familiar keeps the levels it gains. You have to start at level one every
time you enter the tower. This seems frustrating, but once you get a powerful
weapon and stout shield, leveling yourself up is not that much of a concern.
In addition, the tower randomly generates floor plans each time you enter,
so it is never the same tower twice and you don't get bored with the same
Just as in battle, the overall pace of the game is determined
by the player. You can build up the town, talk to the women, and
raise the monsters whenever you please. Sometimes action is forced upon
you and you have to respond, but this is never a big deal. The menus are
easy to navigate, and options are not confusing.
|Burn up your foes with the
help of your fiery familiar.
Spurring you on in your endeavors is excellent music. The
opening title music has a unique flair with guitar, flute, and violin music.
Each girl that you pursue has her own special theme music to suit her personality.
Even your nemesis carries the air of an arrogant tune when he comes into
the scene to poke fun at you or hit on your latest hottie. The most interesting
music is in the tower. The central recurring tune found in the opening
title and elsewhere in the game is used here. However, every few floors
the style of music changes. Instead of the same exact music for every floor,
the thematic tune is altered as you go. Lower and easier floors use the
tune in smooth violin music. More difficult and later floors use a scary
dungeon-sounding version of the same tune, or even a kooky mad-scientist
style of music. Sound effects are easy on the ears. Your sword makes lovely
metallic clangs, and enemies disappear with a mild "poof!" It's fairly
likely that you won't scramble to hit the mute button on your remote while
playing Azure Dreams.
This game tends to borrow concepts from other RPGs, so
it may not seem original. However, the combination of the concepts is original
in itself. There aren't really any other games where you can raise monsters,
pick up chicks, and build up your own town all in one. A few of the characters
are a bit stereotypical, such as the nemesis and the mother of the hero,
but the girls of Azure Dreams are unique with personalities that can stand
on their own.
There is really not much of a plot or story line in Azure
Dreams. The actions of the girls depend on the things you say to them,
so a girl will completely blow you off if you don't treat her as you should.
In addition, you select the buildings you want constructed, so some of
them may not get built and their part in the story will never come about.
The only solid story line is at the beginning of the game and at the completion
of the tower quest. Everything in between is totally up to you as the player.
This makes a pieced-together yet flowing story line where things simply
occur when you want them to. You'll enjoy walking around and making your
own decisions independent of a restricting scheduled story.
The game has been localized fairly well. As far as I could
tell, there were no terribly glaring errors in grammar or spelling. However,
some of the responses were a bit vague. You might have to stop and read
a few lines carefully and decide if it is really the response that the
girl wants to hear or if it is the one that will create a verbal slip that
will leave her steaming. But overall, the fuzziness of language didn't
hinder game play too much.
|"Does this outfit make me
The game can continue to be played even after you
have accomplished your in-game goal. This is nice because you can continue
to seek girlfriends or improve the town instead of being stuck at a save
point near the last boss. Unless you just enjoy winning the girls' hearts
again and again, starting a new game isn't necessary. Expand your house,
buy new furniture, go back into the tower and find new monsters, weapons,
Color splashes everywhere in the graphics of the game. While
the graphics are not as advanced as those today, the richness of color
makes up for them. General graphics are not too grainy, but rather well
rounded. Dialog boxes are usually accompanied by beautiful anime-style
character pictures. The facial expressions, which are animated with blinking
eyes, change according to what the characters are saying and where they
are when they are being spoken to. For example, when conversing in town
a girl is shown in her standard outfit, but when you talk to her by the
pool she is shown in her swimsuit. I guess this would be a bigger deal
for a guy than it was for me, a 100% heterosexual woman. In any case, the
visuals can be appreciated by almost anyone regardless of gender.
Azure Dreams is not that difficult to play. The battle
system can be easily grasped, and figuring out how to please the girls
takes minimal social skills. The independence and self-set pace also contributes
to the ease of the game. However, I found myself seething in frustration
during my first few tower trips because I didn't have a decent weapon and
my familiar had low levels. Once I strengthened my equipment and
my familiar, I was able to climb the tower a little farther each time.
It took me around 40 hours to beat, but I tend to be a slower than some
players. The average gamer may race to the top in 25 hours.
|"Enter the Dream..."
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed Azure Dreams. It's
hard for me to like chasing women, but decorating the house, improving
the town, raising monsters, and battling through a dungeon were things
I could have fun with. The game should appeal to almost anyone because
of the diverse pursuits available to each player. It's easy on the eyes
and ears, and it will make you groan or laugh every now and then. If you
are fortunate to come across a copy, don't hesitate to purchase or borrow
it. You won't regret entering the dream.