Buffers Evolution WonderSwan Review
Buffers Evolution for the Bandai Wonderswan!
Buffers Evolution is the only original, black and white WonderSwan game I have in my small, but growing library of WonderSwan/color/crystal games. It also happens to be the best I've played so far (partly due to not understanding RPGs in Kanji)
I don't know. There's nothing in the game that explains the story Japanese, English, or otherwise. It's one of those games whose story is contained almost entirely in the manual.
Here's what MobyGames has to say regarding the story (http://www.mobygames.com/game/buffers-evolution, Mar 2010)
"In a post-apocalyptic future a gambling syndicate seeks to make a quick buck in the gritty remains of earth. By fusing the best of animal and mechanical traits they create three bestial androids from a bird, a lion, and a rhinoceros. Bets are taken and then the robots are loosed into hostile mazes of scrap metal on old earth. Maybe they'll even make it back alive..."
As mentioned the graphics are black and white, since it was developed for the original WonderSwan. For those of you who don't know, the WonderSwan was a 16-bit black and white Japan-only handheld console. It later saw re-iterations as the WonderSwan Color and then the SwanCrystal. The SwanCrystal was essentially a WonderSwan Color with an updated TFT LCD screen that improved contrast and reduced ghosting. I played the game on a SwanCrystal, so I can't really say if there were ghosting issues on the standard WonderSwan. That said, on the SwanCrystal, the game looks exceptionally crisp and clean. The levels and sprites all look quite good and have a good degree of character as well.
The gameplay is a fuse of Sonic and Metroid. You pick your mechanized, anthropomorphic animal and select a level. Your character is thrust into the stage and you race through looking for check points that also function to refill your health. Find all of the check points (10 per level), and you're rewarded with a new ability. The first ability you receive allows you to morph your legs into a wheel, allowing you to traverse through the level with even greater speed. Soon you will earn water, hover, and flying abilities. Finishing the first set of levels reveals another set, and then another. Abilities in these levels include upgrades of your previous abilities plus shield, grappling, and health generating powers. Furthermore, you can equip two per level per play-through which gives a good deal of variety. Not all of these upgrades are necessary to conquer each level, but many of them are extremely helpful. This is where the Metroid comparison comes into play. Also, many of the enemies look strikingly similar to metroids. So basically you just shoot through the levels looking for these checkpoints, as well as other hidden items (3 per level).
As mentioned, the enemies look quite similar to metroids. Most of them just sit or float in a specific location and harm you if you touch them. Interestingly, touching the enemies propels you off them, making it occasionally necessary to damage yourself for an extra boost. When you do become damaged, your suit/body turns progressively darker and your avatar begins to have electrical short-outs. This becomes quite annoying when you short-out mid-jump. However, this doesn't kill you, you just repeat the action, go where you need to go, and try to find health. In fact, I've completed all levels and never died, not once. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if you can die. There's not much emphasis on combat and there aren't even level bosses. However, for this game, I think it works just fine.
Lastly, in each level you are timed. Strangely though, you can't run out of time. Each level has a time-based scoreboard, which gives a little incentive for replay.
The control is damn near spot on. You have numerous abilities to get used to. They all control differently, but, all control well. My only complaint is that certain abilities, like flying or hovering for example, stop you dead if you touch a body of water. This kills the speed, but logically, it makes sense.
There aren't many tunes in Buffers Evolution. There are just a handful and they repeat. However, the music that does exist is quite good and I've often caught myself humming the level tunes.
Buffers Evolution is not a deep game. However it successfully combines elements of the Metroid and Sonic series for an extremely addictive play.
*I love a good story, but honestly this game doesn't really have a one beyond the manual.
Here's a gameplay video I found on YouTube:
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