PS2 REVIEW: GRAFFITI KINGDOM

Welcome to the spiritual successor to Magic Pengal: The Quest For Color. Magic Pengal was definitely on the endangered species list and I'm surprised to see Hot B USA release Graffiti Kingdom stateside. In Magic Pengel, you created characters called "Doodles" by drawing them with a "pengel" which brought them to life. Once they were alive you could battle them with other creatures in this Monster Rancher RPG type game.

Graffiti Kingdom adopts that same idea and enhances on it, but be forewarned, you will most likely need to be on summer holidays and have oodles of time to experiment before the game begins to draw you in. Excuse the pun.

Creating your own monsters has always been a fascination of the Japanese and so their obsession becomes our gain. In GK, the stroy goes as follows: The androgynous Prince unleashes monsters upon the land, but he is powerless to stop them. Using his ability to draw, he/she can create monsters that will fight for him. The more enemies you defeat, the more coins they will drop, allowing you to unlock more creationist abilities. This is the entire point of the game and will be the impetus for most, and at that, it's a little weak. But the point here isn't about the journey, like most games. It's all about imagination and let me say once you start advancing in terms of creation, most gamers will be sucked up, hook, link and sinker.

Since Taito created an expanded interface for GK from their previous Magic Pengel game, you can well imagine that it's a finely tuned piece of craftsmanship. Creating creatures is great fun and will whittle away the hours. Unfortunately the rest of the game, as mentioned, is a tad weak, although the insane enemies you'll fight are always entertaining. Walking around and fighting creatures to get their coins becomes almost annoying due to the constant repetition. Boss battles can be an exercise in complete frustration due to camera control. If you can overlook these aspects of the game that are less than perfect, you'll most likely love the freedom of creation that Taito has provided. Once you unlock everything there is to see and do in GK, then you and a friend can battle each others creations and see what unholy mutant comes out on top.

Creating characters takes some time to get used to due to the plethora of options that will eventually become available to you. And don't panic if you can't draw very well. Using the PS2 controller to draw with isn't the easiest thing, but the game will do its best to understand your scribblings and present you with an option that best represents that crappy doodle of wings you just attempted. Once your character is created, you'll have to decide what attack options and animations you require. Depending on your level, your offensive choices will be limited. Trust me when I say that once you unlock everything GK has to offer, you can literally spend days on one creation, perhaps even creating characters that already exist within pop culture or other videogames. I'd say the sky is the limit, but by the standards set in GK, that sounds entirely too limiting.

Visually GK isn't going to win any awards. You won't find a ton of eye candy here because the only eye candy found within is what you create. GK's environments are a little simplistic and drab, but that will only make a difference to the shallowest of gamers. Control is hit and miss. The creation interface is excellent and well crafted, while controlling your character is generally solid. It's the camera and the way it wants to show you anything but what you want to see in confined spaces that will drive you mad.

Although GK doesn't have quite the same appeal to me as Katamari Damacy or the upcoming We Love Katamari, the visual style is similar and the gameplay will definitely entice gamers who love the oddball imaginations of Japanese developers. I'm not taking anything away from this title; I'm always pleased to see a game that defines definition. If I play another FPS on the Xbox or action game on the PS2 I'm going to unleash hell on someone or something. Graffiti Kingdom's strength lies completely in its intuitive interface and limitless creationist abilities and those aspects will provide the patient gamer with literally months of experimentation and play value.

You have to think of GK as more of a cool toy than a game. If you come around to that line of thinking, you'll probaby understand and appreciate what Taito has created here. This isn't a game in the traditional sense, although certain aspects such as the fighting enemies tries hard to pretend that it is a game. If you leave your pre-conceived notions at the door, Graffiti Kingdom will most definitely entertain you.

Preview by Vaughn

We're suckers for anything wild and crazy and Graffiti Kingdom sounds like it just might fit the bill. It's already hit the ground running with Japanese gamers who are decidely more accepting of original ideas than some of the traditionalists found here in North America.

With the wild-eyed success of last years cult classic, Katamari Damacy, Graffiti Kingdom certainly has a good chance to capture the imaginations of gamers everywhere and we hope it does. Not every game has to be about blowing someone apart contrary to popular belief and we applaud Hot B USA for having the cajones to release a product as unique as Graffiti Kingdom in North America.

Graffiti Kingdom is a creationists dream. Your goal is to help the Prince rid his kingdom of a plethora of invading monsters. You do this by possessing the ability to change into anything that you can draw. If you draw wings, you'll fly. If you draw wheels, you'll speed over the land. As you progress, the more abilities you'll unlock which will lead to creations literally beyond your wildest imagination. If that's not the best premise for a videogame, I'm not sure what is.

Developer extraordinaire Taito suggests that players will be able to modify over 220 pre-made characters or if you've got the talent, you can create your own from scratch. Once you have your creature created you'll be able to outfit them with over 160 different attacks. Taito has even included the ability to trade characters with your friends or battle against their own creations in head to head battles. Okay, you had me at "Taito"...

This game is heading to stores now. We're hoping to receive a review copy shortly. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled at your local game stores.

Story:

As Prince Pixel advances through the game, he gets stronger, tougher and more skilled. Players also benefit from experience by acquiring more drawing tools and abilities. By the end of the game, players can literally re-create any creature that they’ve seen in the game with an incredibly easy to use drawing program. The game allows the user to draw straight lines as well, so even someone with no drawing skills whatsoever can create just about anything. Players will use their imagination to battle their way through levels or creatively solve puzzles.

Graffiti Kingdom allows anyone to convert simple 2-D shapes into customizable 3-D polygonal structures. The user can modify the polygons by coloring them, drawing textures on them, making them transparent, defining their role, and adding attacks. The parts are joined to create a fully playable character. Once converted, the 3-D characters can animate, bend, stretch, flatten and even talk!

Features:

  • Play as or Modify Over 220 Fully Customizable Characters…Or Create Your Own Unique Character(s)
  • Level Up by collecting medals obtained by defeating enemies or find them hidden in stages
  • Select From 160 Different Attack Moves
  • Store up to 144 Original Characters on one Memory Card
  • Swap between three different creations at a time
  • Possess enemy characters; learn their powers and moves
  • 22 Action Packed Levels with Vibrantly Colored Interactive Environments
  • Boss Fight Battle Mode
  • Two-Player Mode – Battle your friends or trade creatures with them
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System: PS2
Dev: Taito
Pub: Hot B USA
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
5.0