Wednesday, 12 December 2012

E. V. O. Search for Eden (SNES)

E.V.O. Search for Eden title screen.
Okay, here's another one off the requested games list: E.V.O. Search for Eden, on the Super Nintendo, by Almanic. I have no idea what E.V.O. actually stands for, but I'm going to make a wild guess and say it probably stands for... absolutely nothing.

I've actually played this before a few years back, but fortunately I barely remember a thing about it, so it should all be new to me.

Roughly 4.6 billion years ago, the "Sun" had nine smaller stars, and liked to chat with them. He tells his third star, Gaea, that from this time forward she'll have children every 1 billion years, and those children must face a severe and difficult trial.

It is necessary.

But if a child passes the test, he'll get to join Gaea as her partner and enter Eden with her. The other planets don't get to go to Eden, daddy doesn't love them enough.

Hi Gaia! I love your hair, it's so hypnotic. It's also a disturbing reminder of what she actually is, which is planet Earth itself, a big rock in space (or a star according to the intro). And that of course makes her your mother.

E.V.O. world 1 map
Gaia only dropped by to let us know that we've managed to evolve into a fish, and it only took us 3 billion years! Wait... she can't drop by, she's the entire Earth, this game takes place on her.

Good to see the game has world maps. It's nice to have the choice to go back to previous levels if I feel like it. I might even get some branching paths later if I'm lucky.

Yep, I'm definitely a fish alright. I can swim around and eat these little worm things to get +3, but it's unclear what I'm getting +3 of. I nearly tried biting a jellyfish, but I decided against it when it started chatting with me.

The jellyfish informed me that in this world, the rule is "only the fittest shall survive".

Also, there's three rules:
  1. "Fight for survival and for food."
  2. "Only move forward never back."
  3. "Evolve and become strong."
So does that mean we're up to four rules now? I'm going to swim off somewhere else before he thinks up another one.

I've found a menu option to upgrade my fish's body parts, but I've got zero EVO.P right now, and I'm not sure how to get more. Eating plants doesn't seem to have earned me any.

Hey, what the fuck man?

I thought this Jellyfish might have something to say to me like the other guy did, but instead he stung me! Right, he's getting a bite then. I'm going to sink my little fishy teeth into him, and establish which one of us is the fittest here.

After dying he dropped a little piece of cartoon meat on the bone. I didn't think he had it in him. It turns out that eating meat gives me health (the red numbers) and evo points (white numbers) which I'm now able to spend on pimping my fish. No evolution for herbivores I'm afraid.

So far this is reminding me a bit of the good part of Spore: the first level with the swimming. Before all the dancing and disappointment started.

With a new tail, scaly body, angry eyes and a nose horn, my little fish is now a more impressive specimen. I've got more health, biting power, defence etc, plus I can ram things to death with my face.

But I still crave more! A better tail, a bigger body, a big fin sticking out of my back! I must destroy all sea life and steal their evolutionary powers. Fortunately they respawn the second I scroll the screen away, so I'm never in any danger of running out of points.

Oh crap, this isn't good. There's no period of invulnerability after an enemy attack, so this guy is just munching right through all my health. I need to evac, and get a bite to eat.

Yeah I know that rule #2 said "only move forwards, never back", but who cares about a jellyfish's rules anyway? I'm a badass fish, I eat jellyfish for breakfast. In fact that's a good idea...

Well that's just great, my horn broke off. On a bloody jellyfish. Well now I know not to waste precious evo points on that again. But I am back to full health at least, so I'm ready to return to the cave.

Ugh, can't believe I just got my fish killed by a bouncy little orange thing. It curled up into a ball when I got close and fired itself off at me like a bullet. It's actually kind of hard to dodge things underwater.

You want me, a fish, to keep a secret from your father, the immense ball of hydrogen and helium that entire solar system pivots around? Sure, I guess I could do that. For you.

It turns out that I have infinite retries, so I'm put right back on the world map to take another go. Though it did cost me half those evo points I'd spent so much time collecting. That's more of a frustration than a problem though, seeing as it only takes a bit of tedious grinding to get the points back.

Hey it's that boss again, the one that charges into a wall and knocks himself senseless when you dodge out of the way. Only this time he's a shark. If video game boss types had their own imdb, his list of appearances would be a mile long.

Well this shouldn't be too difficult, if I can just stay out of his way.


WAY TOO MANY RETRIES LATER.


I am so sick of this asshole now. And I'm sick of having to replay the entire level leading up to the fight every time I run out of health. It's not even that long, I've just seen it already. I've traversed that path, beaten that challenge, I don't need to revisit it.

Anyway, this guy turns out to be pretty difficult to avoid, at least for me. Perhaps there's a different combination of fish parts that'd allow me to move faster, I don't know; they don't tell you how each upgrade will affect your stats.

Right now my scheme is to hide behind a wall, wait for him to charge at me and knock himself out, quickly race up here to grab a bite to eat, and dart back around the corner again. It should only take seven more trips to get back to full health. Though every time I fuck up and get bitten I lose another 15 hit points, meaning five more trips on top of that.


LATER.


Man, that took way longer than it should have. But at last I have defeated the oceans! Bored of the water, I jumped out to challenge the land instead, and fortunately evolution was on hand to help out before I suffocated.

I have reached world two, and now the land of... Land awaits!

Now that I'm out of the water I don't even need to bite enemies anymore, I can go all Mario on their asses instead. And with a jump as awesome looking as that, how can I not?

Switching to an amphibian has given me a new selection of upgrades to choose from, but I have to start collecting evo points from scratch again.

Dude it's okay, not everyone can have badass horns like me. You should just be happy being what you are. A dopey looking amphibian with huge cheeks and a frilly tail.

Ah, it hurts, it hurts! Quit stomping on me!

I was soon kicked back to the world map in shame. It seems I'm going to need air superiority to defeat this enemy, but it's going to cost me a bit to upgrade. Let me work this out: fierce jaws will cost me 1500, a new tail is 1000, a fin is 1000 and body armour will set me back 5000. A full set adds up to 8500 evo points and I earn around 15 per kill, so I'll need to kill and eat over 500 amphibians.

This might take a while.

I just went with the fin in the end, which turned out to be more like cool gargoyle wings. I still can't fly, but I'm definitely doing better now.

Incidentally this is the first level I've come across in world two which hasn't been entirely flat. I can jump around, but you could barely call this a platformer so far. 

With the amphibian boss defeated, two more animals come up to ask for my help. They tell me that the insects have evolved to become abnormal, and are close to eating all the plant life on this land. The small one's dad was sent to have a word with the insect leader, but he never returned and now they'll like me to take over negotiations. If I'm not too busy stomping on all their friends that is.

Damn, they weren't joking about these insects being abnormal. Bugs flying off with lizards just ain't right. Look like I'm gonna have to jump up there and sort them out.

Ah, it hurts, it hurts! Quit stinging me! They only take a tiny amount of health off each time, but that's not stopping them from draining all my hit points away.

Well I've found the kid's father but he's not looking too good. He tells me to "eat the food I have collected" to gain the strength to beat the next boss, and then dies. Now either this guy's been carrying 1000 evo points worth of food around with him just in case he got peckish on the way back, or he's actually asking me to eat him.

Of course I ate the meat without hesitation, I need those evo points!

Oh shit, the King Bee can fire stingers! This time jumping isn't saving me, as he simply adjusts his aim to shoot me out of the air instead. I need to wait until he swoops down to attack, then jump on him or bite him. The trick will be getting the timing right.


AN EMBARRASSING NUMBER OF RETRIES LATER.


Come on, how many hits does it take to kill this bastard? I must have jumped on him nearly twenty times by now. He's a pretty simple boss to beat now I know his pattern, but the longer this drags on, the more mistakes I make. Once I even accidentally walked out of the fight halfway through because I got too close to the door, and had to start the fight again from scratch.

But I've got a secret weapon. Every time I evolve, I get a health refill. So whenever the bee wears me down to half my hit points, I stick that useless horn back on and recover them. I'm basically using my evo points as health potions.


LATER.


Well I defeated the King Bee, but now I have to deal with an even greater challenge: surviving this dragonfly's harsh words. These insects are assholes, the lot of them.

He flies off yelling "Hail Queen Bee!" which is a bit weird, but okay.

OH SHIT IT'S THE QUEEN BEE! Look at my poor amphibian's eyes, he's had enough and he just wants out.

24 damage in a single hit and there's no invulnerability time remember, so she can just keep hitting me. This is why I don't feel even remotely bad about using evolution to get my hit points back.

At least she's got a similar pattern to the King, and a similar amount of hit-points too judging by how long this is dragging on. I'm trying to do some mid-air bite attacks to speed this up, but it often ends up with me taking the damage instead.

Well it cost me 1400 evo points for healing, but finally beat that bloody bee! The reign of the giant abnormal insects is over and plant life will return to the land. Plus it exploded into honeycombs (which is a bit weird, but whatever), giving me +500 evo points each!

E.V.O. Search for Eden age of dinosaurs
And then the game immediately resets my points back to zero because I'm a dinosaur now! Though I'm a pretty rubbish dinosaur. In fact I think I'll quit here, before I end up grinding just to earn some tiny T-Rex arms or whatever.


Despite the evolution mechanic, it doesn't seem that E.V.O. has much depth to its gameplay. It doesn't have much depth to the levels either, as it's all been caves and straight roads up to this point, though I imagine that'll change as the my character evolves. Boss fights aside, the game has been a total cakewalk so far, even for me. And whatever appeal the easy stages had was quickly lost when I had to keep returning to them over and over to grind for evo to survive those damn boss fights. Those damn damn bloody damn boss fights.

But I liked the game. It's... likeable. It helps that there's no lives or continues; the game just kicks you back to the world map to have another try. Plus it's nice enough to let you save between levels, so you don't have to finish it in one sitting. It makes it very easy to just take one more go and play one more level, until you find you've finished a whole world and now there's new creatures to transform into. It's not that great of a game, but it's worth a look.


If you've got any thoughts about E.V.O. Search for Eden, my writing, the site in general, etc. please feel welcome to write them out in the comment box provided. It's not good for much else.

2 comments:

  1. You could save your previous evolutions, then reuse them, just in case in the start, you don't have enough power for fighting

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  2. The bosses in this game are REALLY difficult, mainly because the fights drag on for so long as you said. I was going to mention the healing "exploit" (which really is necessary to get through the game) but you found it. I really liked this game back in the day (1997), but I wouldn't play it again. The controls are really awful, for the most part.

    There are five worlds. After the dinosaurs are over with, the fourth world turns you into a bird (if I remember right) and the fifth culminates with you turning into a human. The bird section of the game is my favorite, personally. I ended up as a badass griffin.

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