Tuesday, June 15, 2010

VGR The Horde


Here's a brand new Review for t'day!
Since I was posting so many annoying news, I thought this was a good time to make a break.

Here's an underrated little obscure game~

VGR: The Horde
From Toys For Bob / Crystal Dynamics
Played on Sega Saturn
Also available on 3DO and Dos

Type Strategy
Year 1995

After the discontinuation of Panasonic's 3DO system, many of its library was re-released on PC Dos and Saturn (and some on the Playstation).

The Horde is one of those original gaming ideas that came out on the 3DO, and thankfully, was ported to the Sega Saturn.

What is the Horde all about?
Here, let me explain...

It's the classic story. Boy saves the King...

The game puts in you in the shoes of Chauncey, a servant in a medieval kingdom.
One night, the good king of Franzpowanki, Winthrop, choking on his food, is saved by Chauncey.
In return the king offers this servant boy a small land to do as he pleases.

Simple story? And more than enough~
And it's in its conception that the game really shines.

The game is composed of mostly 3 different sections.
The story is told through a FMV style presentation. You know, those awesome live action videos many games had during a part of the 90s. Like on the Mega-CD.
The game was a 3DO original afterall!

At various points you'll have some hilarious cutscenes with live actors, telling the game's "story".

This is simply one of the reasons I really wanted to play this game originally.
The videos are hilarious, the acting pretty fun (nobody's really taking this seriously afterall) and the characters over the top!
Kirk Cameron plays Chauncey. Pretty okay. But you'll get the more fun from Michael Gregory, playing the evil Kronus Maelo, trying to usurp the king's throne!
 
Boy gets land...

Chauncey gets a land for saving the King, Kronu fails to take the throne...everybody's happy and good then?

After the hilarious cutscenes, the player's directly taken into a more Civilization/Age of Empire type of gaming area.

The second aspect of the game is taking care of the land.
In this part, you'll have a certain amount of money, will build walls, houses, take care of the land.
You can dig, grew trees and buy cows.

Yes cows. You see, it's an important aspect of Chauncey's character. Because he wasraised by a herd of wild cows.

During this "building" phase, there's a little timer running at the bottom of the screen...and when the time will run out, you'll enter the third and final phase...

Boy fights goblins...

The third phase is the fighting and protecting the land-part.

Cause the land isn't just a normal piece of property.
It is actually infested with "The Horde".
Red creatured trying to destroy and eat everything they find on their path.

To fight those Hordlings, the game will switch to a more Zelda/Diablo-like gameplay. You control Chauncey on the same 3D isometric plane as the build phase. Using his sword (and later on some light magic attacks)  you try to defend your land the best you can.
To help you slash those Hordlings, you can buy the help of Knights or build some traps (walls, trenches...).

After killing all the monsters, you'll go back to the building mode. Help your town, rebuild houses.. Then the Horde attacks again, etc..etc..

Around your playthrough, you'll see plenty of new awesome FMV scenes, a fake news medieval broadcast, Kronus recaping your situation.
And at the end of each "year", you'll have to pay the taxes or will end up in prison...
The game is a great mix up between a building sim and a 3D isometric hack n slash action game. With the FMV sequences as the cherry on top.

The game doesn't take itself too seriously, something new modern games should take a note from~
You can save your progress on the Saturn Ram or play it hardcore, like me, on single playthroughs, much more difficult. Since this game has that "arcade game" vibe, it feels a bit linear but is pretty difficult to finish just once.. So you'll go back to it from time to time, always reaching a bit farther... (or just use the saving system..which completly changes the overall feeling!)

You can summon and fight the Horde whenever you want, if you don't want them to surprise you.
After helping and increasing the status of your land, the king will give you a new region, bigger in size with more challenging Hordlings to defeat. The goal is to clean up the kingdom and "re-conquer" all the territory from the Horde creatures!


Overall, it isn't a perfect game, not at all.
But it is very funny, original and kinda addictive.

On the first playthrough, chances are, you won't understand everything nor want to play it that much.
It's in the long run that this game succeeds.
Fighting the Horde is a nice challenge. Keeping and building up your own land is a very original feature for such a game.
This was back, when Crystal Dynamics published more original gaming experiences.

It's a pure 3DO product. Funny FMV scenes, original gameplay.
If you have the chance to pick it up, don't hesitate!
It isn't a "must have", but something you shouldn't miss as well if you have the opportunity.

I have a french copy. The french dub is pretty bad and not synchro at all, but it kinda adds up to the experience. Hilarious!

Like I said, not perfect, needs a learning curve, but pretty original and you'll play it many times trying to reach every time a bit further!
The Horde deserves to be in your Saturn collection if you're a retro gamer.
Give it a try ; )

I give it:
 2 / 3 Bubble!

2 comments:

  1. Ah, how much I miss ye olde FMVs, no matter the quality of the games. Rebel Alliance II was one of my favourite games, and I did love the FMVs in it (along with the MST3K shout out cheat)

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  2. This whole game's a pretty good mix of an original gameplay, nice settings and funny FMV!

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