D-PADS AND DICE - Simple video game offers monster fun



Chantelise has an unusual history for a computer game. It was originally made by a small team of independent game developers in Japan. While Japanese-made games are pretty common in the world of home game consoles, PC games getting brought to the U.S. are much less so. What this means is it's a quirky, but interesting little game.

Chantelise is essentially composed of a series of monster-filled rooms. You beat all the monsters in one, you open a new room. Eventually you get to a room with a tougher Boss enemy that takes more effort to overcome.

While this is pretty straightforward, the execution is what makes the game shine. The control scheme is tight and simple, putting the emphasis on execution of the moves. It takes about five minutes to learn, but it constantly throws interesting hurdles at you. Each type of monster you face has a specific way of attacking and moving that you have to account for when fighting it.

An additional wrinkle in the game play is the magic system. When you attack an enemy, sometimes they drop crystals. You can pick them up and use them in special moves, like shooting a fireball or causing a sphere to fly around you to hit nearby enemies.

In addition, you can mix multiple colors to produce different effects, like increasing the damage of a spell or adding a quick, stopping effect.

Throughout the game you'll collect items, money and treasure that you can sell for bonuses, like dealing more damage with your attacks or taking less damage when hit. You can also use money to buy these items.

The game is filled with secret items that are quite difficult to uncover, although I do have to criticize that the only hints to find them are paid for by decreasing your maximum health. This is kind of annoying, but I managed to get through the game without needing extra items so it doesn't detract too much if you don't do this.

The story is as quirky as the rest of the game, involving people turning into fairies, ancient prophecies and elemental temples.

It's mostly pretty standard fare, but it's well written and has a cute sense of humor.

Although I wholeheartedly recommend Chantelise, I do have to make a few suggestions for optimal enjoyment:

Play with a gamepad, the keyboard won't cut it because the game demands having the added camera control from a second control stick.

You'll probably need a few tries to beat the big Boss monsters, so you'll want to take advantage of the practice mode to learn the best strategies

Finally, if you're familiar with the role playing game genre, don't play this like an RPG. It's a straight up action game and should be treated like one.

It's a fun, straightforward but entertaining game -- a good way to end the summer right before all the big-time holiday releases come out.

Chantelise is available for $9.99 from digital download services, such as Steam or Gamers Gate.

Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. He's currently a graphic arts student the Evergreen State College, working on various art projects and game designs. He can be reached at noahhinz@gmail.com.


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