Review: Aspetra (DOS)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out a game that most probably won’t really recognize. It’s an RPG game called “Aspetra” that was released as a DOS game.

As far as we can tell, this abandonware game was released in 1996 as a small project between two people. It pretty much is one of those games that reminds you of RPGMaker.

The player starts off as a character with a strange green hat standing on the top of a mountain. The character is greeted by a number of soldiers who ask how he flew to the top of a mountain on top of a cloud. The character explains that he was sent by someone by the name of “Eldirood”. That is when he learns that the proper name is “Reth-Eldirood” and he is a vicious individual causing chaos in the realm. The unnamed character realizes he was deceived, but is warned not to cause any problems. The character meets up with another individual who asks him what his name is. At that point, the player can temporarily name the character (real name is revealed later).

From there, the character eventually sets off in his journey to find out the real nature of Eldirood and what his real name actually is.

This was a decent game to play. One of the features of this game is the time meter in battle (which was a feature in Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo). Some have suggested that this was the first PC game to feature this element, but I have no real way to confirm that.

The game has a positive element in that it has a nice progression of difficulty that the player can adapt to throughout the whole game. When it comes to increasing the difficulty of enemies in a reasonable fashion as your character builds up, this game probably has some of the smoothest and well thought out progression of difficulty in an RPG game I’ve ever seen. It’s not too difficult if you progress to another screen, but if you try and rush your way through, the monsters will be a little more difficult to bear and grinding will be required to build yourself up to an acceptable level.

This game has a few particularly amusing scenes including when the character crosses a vast ocean. When he makes it to the other side, he is starving and winds up eating flowers for subsistence. It doesn’t sound particularly funny, but the buildup to that scene was well done.

This game does have it’s downsides. In one case, if you exit a particular cave area (exit would be north) and you go west a fair distance, then south, you’ll appear back in the cave, only on top of the rock areas that should be impassible. Another pitfall was that the darkened forest level (where there is no monsters) is too large. You can spend several minutes just walking and walking trying to find your destination and it can be a little frustrating after a while. Another downside is that while the monsters towards the beginning are interesting concepts, the monsters towards the end (minus the bosses) are more strange that amusing to me. Several monsters have the prefix “Nice” like “NiceOx” and “NiceGuy”, but one monster is called the “NiceNice” (???). While I can get that this was an attempt at humor, I think the energy could have been better spent on coming up with more interesting monsters.

This game has positives and negatives when it comes to the graphics. One positive is that the textures are pretty well done. The main characters walk cycle is pretty well done as well. The negatives are that some of the monsters look simply strange. A monster that is a floating shield looks more like a lemon than a shield.

While the sequences of the music are well conceived, the mastering is a major problem. The audio for the battle winning fanfare, for instance, seems to be a bit too loud compared to a lot of the other music in the game. There is also little to no sound effects, but this is actually hard to notice.

Overall, this game is an interesting way to spend several hours. While there may have been a point or two where I wondered if there was a solution (yes, you can beat this game), the game has a nice balance of humor, fun, seriousness, and challenge.

Furthest point in game: Game beaten.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall Score: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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