I've been meaning to post about this game for a while now. Some of you might have heard about it, most others probably have no clue what I'm talking about.
I'm posting this here instead of the website as I don't have a section dedicated to fan games and derived titles yet. This might get ported eventually. Just in case that it happens, I'm writing this in my usual game information format.
Rosenkreuzstielette was originally released by the group [erk:as] as a doujin game in Japan. It draws it's inspiration from many videogame series, most notably Mega Man and Castlevania. Apparently condemned to remain overseas, with lengthy Japanese dialogue, it's fate was changed when the fan translation group Darkside decided to take action. With the developers' consent, the game was translated and a patch was available for everyone to play. While the game itself still has to be purchased for about 10$ US as a downloadable, the translation is available for free.
The basic story, set in a fictional version of the Middle Ages, focuses on the conflict between RKS and the Empire. RKS is an organization formed of magic users, which are usually discriminied and shunned because of their unusual powers; the Empire is the ruling body of an unamed European country, composed of common humans. When RKS decides that they no longer want to be oppressed by the general population, a war looms... Spiritia, the main character, is opposed to the conflict and wants to reason with her friends and teammates at RKS to avoid a bloody conflict.
This title can be described as such: imagine a game, set in the original series in the style of Mega Man 4 to 6, with a Castlevania skin while hiding multiple gaming references. This is what you're getting with Rosenkreuzstilette. The gameplay is exactly the same as what you'd expect, and despite this being a game created by an indie group, there are no special bugs or flaws that I could find compared to a larger commercial release.
The game offers an unusual option: replays. If you choose to save this data, it records your every move within the game then allows you to review it later. This adds a lot of value to some players, as it notes the amount of time it took you to clear each level. It then becomes easy to challenge yourself by trying to beat your previous records, or by sending your replay data to a friend. An option to play in Arcade mode is also offered, removing all traces of dialog from the game. You are then free to play without interruptions.
Gameplay: 9 / 10
You've played one of the NES-style Mega Man games? Then you'll feel right at home with the controls of Rosenkreuzstilette. The gameplay is responsive, and you won't find yourself at odds with buggy or unexpected behavior. In keeping with the classic gameplay style, you must write down and enter passwords instead of saving your progress.
There's no native gamepad support, but you can easily get around that limitation by using a small remapping utility. Some of the default controls aren't very intuitive, but you can change them to suit you.
Graphics: 8 / 10
The sprites are big and detailed, and the colorful backgrounds are often based on pictures or drawings. As such, they feel fresh instead of quickly becoming repetitive as it might happen with tile-based items. The game is set to run natively at a resolution of 800x600 pixels, so you get the classic "pixel effect" when playing at something higher on a large monitor. Some of the animations look a bit stiff.
Music: 10 / 10
The soundtrack, composed by multiple artists, is dynamic and varied. No two levels share the same theme, special battles get their own tracks, and each character you meet has it's very own theme too. It sets the mood very well as you progress through the game's story.
Sounds: 9 / 10
The sounds complete the set nicely, with nothing jumping out as being out of place. Voice acting is used sparingly, in Japanese, mostly used during character introductions and while yelling attack names.
Replay value: 8 / 10
The in-game replays system gives a chance to players to challenge themselves by trying to beat their own scores. People trying to do speed runs can benefit from this feature.
Once you clear the game to the first time, you get the option to play as a second character. Unlike what we're used to, this second character gets it's own story arc: it's mostly the same as the main one, although taken from a different perspective. No shortcuts have been made either: the same amount of cutscenes and voice acting is included, along with a few new music tracks.
Overall: 9 / 10
It might just be my favorite game about the new titles I've played in 2009. The gameplay is extremely solid, the music and graphics form a great package, and it has some decent replay value. I'm looking forward to the sequel, once it gets released and translated!
The admin formerly known as Dr. Cossack.
I post musings, images and nonsense on Tumblr! I play games on Steam! Add me on either/both, and don't hesitate to ask if you want to play something with me!
"There are only three things certain in life: Death, taxes, and Teej's obsessions." ~ RisingDragon (still true in 2019!)