Avalon Code Review
Avalon Code box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Matrix Software 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Xseed Games / Marvelous Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Mar. 10, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Wielding the mystical book, you have the power to scan monsters, characters, items, and other objects throughout the game to preserve their code. This is done by heftily pummeling them over the noggin with the tome. Anything you scan stays within the book and can be accessed at any time by flipping through the pages via the touch screen. More importantly, the book lets you tinker around with the code of things you’ve scanned to impact their properties in the game world.

Avalon Code screenshot

For instance, you can imbue a weapon with a particular elemental property (to create a flaming sword or a lightning hammer, etc.), use hope and faith codes to save mortally ill characters, and even drop illness codes onto monsters or bosses to weaken them in battle. Codes types come in different puzzle shapes and can be swapped out on a small square grid that accompanies the page for everything you’ve scanned. As you collect different combinations, you’ll also uncover recipes for creating specific items or solving certain challenges, but it’s often hard to tell what different code types actually do unless it’s explained in-game.

As excellent and creative as the Book of Prophecy system is, it’s not without its faults. A small bit of magic power is consumed every time you move code around in the book, which means you often run out of mojo during lengthy combination sessions. Also, progressing deeper into the game yields tons of scans that pile up in the book. Even with a table of contents that organizes scans by type, hunting for different codes you’ve dropped elsewhere in the tome can be a seriously time-consuming task. The slight delay that crops-up when turning pages slows the process down even further. Combining codes to create unique powers, leveling-up the book itself, and concocting new items is a pleasantly engrossing addition, but it’s too easy to become obsessively absorbed in the code matching process – and bogged down by it.

Avalon Code is a beautiful and visually varied game. From the omnipresent interactive book on the touch screen to smoothly animated cutscenes done with the game’s engine and the action-centric combat portions, the game looks great. The characters and environment designs share a very similar, stylish appearance to the Final Fantasy DS remakes, yet the game is different enough to stand on its own without coming off as a copy.

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Simultaneously walking the beaten path and wildly straying from it, Matrix Software has created a diverse action-RPG that’s very satisfying. The blend of both familiar and completely new gameplay elements in Avalon Code improves the experience rather than detracting from it. The game’s originality and its problems stem from the unique Book of Prophecy system, yet the issues are by no means crippling. With additional work to shore-up some of the looser aspects of the design and a little tweaking to nail the formula just right, another go around with a stronger sequel would be a greatly welcomed.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

The graphics engine is smooth, and the creative visual direction is stellar.
Dealing with the book coding can be cumbersome later in the game, but otherwise the mixture of stylus and button controls is tight.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A smatterings of good voice work blends nicely with a moving musical score.

Play Value
Prepare for a long and enjoyable adventure. Also, brace yourself for some time-consuming code combining.

Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The experienced Nintendo DS development team behind the Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV remakes, Matrix Software, is at the helm together with the creative minds behind the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory series.
  • By collecting information on the various monsters, inhabitants, and locations found in the game world and filling out the pages of a mysterious book, players can influence a myriad of parameters from monster attributes to weapon strength.
  • Highly detailed characters, landscapes, and monsters fuel the addictive nature of capturing different monsters to complete the book's collection.
  • Players can lose themselves in the game's grand sweeping storyline. Choosing between a female or male protagonist, start on a quest to either save or doom the world.
  • As the main character, players can make enemies, alienate friends, and even fall in love.

  • Screenshots / Images
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