The oddly named E.G.G: Elemental Gimmick Gear was a perfect example of a video game IP that failed to garner an audience due to poor marketing and horrible artwork. The SEGA Dreamcast holds a special place in the heart of gamers and after viewing the screenshots for E.G.G: Elemental Gimmick Gear I was reminded me of my favorite Genesis RPG Landstalker.
The foundation of any RPG is a strong and compelling storyline – E.G.G. failed in that category. Taking place on an unnamed fantasy world, a group of archeologists unearth a small, mech-like vehicle known as an Elemental Gimmick Gear (E.G.G.) in the ancient ruins called Fogna (it’s engulfed in fog..surprise!). Enclosed within the E.G.G is the main protagonist whom they name Sleeper because he will not wake up. While he lies in eternal slumber, scientists are hard at work attempting to replicate the technology of the E.G.G. The initial clones are as large as a house, but eventually they master the technology and man-sized E.G.Gs become common.
Moving forward a hundred years and a switch is accidentally activated at the site where the Sleeper was found, causing all hell to break loose. Huge tentacles erupt from Fogna and tear through the planet, wreaking havoc and destroying everything in its path. Three weeks pass and the world now lies in disarray, and no one knows the meaning behind the origin of the destructive tentacles. When all hope is lost, the Sleeper finally awakens with no recollection of his past or who he is. He is given the name Leon and sets out with his E.G.G. to correct everything that has gone wrong. I bet you didn’t expect this kind of story based on the cover art bearing a blue haired kid wearing a track suit staring at purple tentacles.
Filled to the brim with a slew of cliched twists and turns, Elemental Gimmick Gear presented nothing at all memorable. The main flaw was that it tried numerous times to fall back on a story that was full of plot-holes. Add on top of that an English translation that is full of grammatical errors and oddly worded phrases that left me scratching my head wondering what was going on. The voice acting is tolerable but it is nowhere near the level of finesse we’ve grown familiar with over the years. The music is your standard affair of RPG ambient instrumentals with every single piece being well-composed and appropriate for the occasion. Watching the CGI cutscenes after all these years was a nice trip down memory lane.
Visually E.G.G. was breathtaking for its time with its incorporation of pre-rendered backgrounds and character art-style that mimicked anime. The environments look like they were taken from a comic with its usage of a lush palette of colors and impressive details – the usage of light and shadow was equally impressive. The Dreamcast was a 3D powerhouse when it was released so I was rather disappointed to see how low quality the 3D was for the boss battles. The 2D graphics held up nicely but the 3D sequences on a HD television were cringe worthy.
Another selling point in an action RPG is the way combat is handled and in Elemental Gimmick Gear it is frustrating . The standard 2D battles have you roaming around throwing some of the most pathetic punches I have ever seen. The range is so short that it is impossible to hit an enemy that is a little less than a half-inch away. The 3D boss battles are presented in the standard overhead view and feel like you are playing Rock Em Sock Em Robot. Your attacks consist of the same variety of attacks including a retractable arm for long punches/grapple, and the time-consuming spinning attack. Leon also has access to your standard array of magical spells like fire, ice, earth and plasma beam. Yup, plasma beam. Fighting the bosses is so unfair. Throw a punch and there is a slight delay between attacks that leaves you open for attack. Include a camera that had a mind of its own and wonders around wherever it wants and you are left with a poor combat experience.
Unlike most RPGs, exploration is rather limited with only several interconnected dungeons and only two towns to interact with. Many of the puzzles within each dungeon are uninspired with only a handful being creative and clever. I lost count of the dozens of areas that I saw, forcing me to do a lot of backtracking. I tried to find the solution to most of these puzzles by going through every item, spell, and special move available until one of them did the trick. Once I did manage to solve the puzzle I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Numerous times I wanted to throw my controller to the floor due to frustration as I was unable to get through a series of doors within a time limit and failing forced to me to start from the beginning.
Elemental Gimmick Gear had all the right elements to create a memorable 2D overhead action RPG. Crippled by horrible combat, terrible translation and short length Elemental Gimmick Gear is a title that deserves to stay on the shelf never to be seen again.
Should the franchise be giving a second chance? Nope