This game has broken me…
The original Stonekeep, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. It will always be special to me (as my original review reflected). As the years went by, rumors of a canceled sequel persisted. Stonekeep 2: Godmaker never saw the light of day. However, intriguing concept art was eventually released:
The direction they were going in looked promising, so it seemed a shame that Interplay had closed up shop. Before they went bankrupt, they were responsible for a few great games, including, Fallout, Earthworm Jim, and Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure.
Haters gonna hate.
In recent years, Interplay was reborn as a company and as has since revisited and re-released some of its greatest games. I was excited. I mean, this company practically defined my gaming childhood. As many of you know, the Fallout franchise has enjoyed a grand revitalization by Bethesda being given limited rights. (This has since turned into a legal nightmare.) Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games. When I heard rumblings of a Stonekeep game for the Wii, I became very excited (like, too excited).
With the point-and-click interface and simple movement controls, the Wii could not be a more perfect fit for this game. I figured the Interplay team would update and re-release a few of their classics to modern gamers so they could get funding to create new content. It makes sense to do this. Stonekeep would be a fairly decent game that not many from the Wii generation have played. Plus, it seems like a waste of production value to shelve such an achievement.
So I had expected this logical and predictable step. Then, all at once, it was released.
For me, the worst-case scenarios of this game’s release were it being a half-assed finished version of Stonekeep 2: Godmaker, or a poorly done regurgitation of the original Stonekeep, glitches intact. But I could never have anticipated what I got instead.
My WTF moment of the year.
I refused to believe what I was seeing. No, I’m serious. I needed to see the game in action, immediately. In a blind rage, I stormed to my Wii and downloaded it. 500 Wii points? As much as any fucking old NES game? This can’t be real.
As the game starts, I slowly begin to realize that this is not Stonekeep. It can’t be. The game looks unbelievably bad—like an early-generation Nintendo 64 game. At this point, things get a little hazy. I remember having to pick a character to play as first. The choices ranged from a boy to a girl. So many options. The next screen places you in a dungeon with three doors. The doors have different character classes on them: an elf, a dwarf, and a third thing that I didn’t even recognize. Since dwarves are a major character in the first game, I chose that door. Everything looks really terrible. This is…unforgivable. Just look at what they DID!!! (I had to take a picture of the TV. This game deserves worse.)
Left: Stonekeep (Wii). Gay bearded Hercules?
Right: Stonekeep (PC): Bad-ass pillager.
After the crying and vomiting stopped, I realized that the only way to play this garbage is to treat it as a stand-alone game and ignore the Stonekeep title. Maybe the “cartoony” look will add to the appeal and playability? For the sake of GameCola, I attempted to give it a go. What a mistake.
After choosing my companion, I faced the ruins of Stonekeep. (And by “ruins,” I mean the actual game, and not the castle ruins.)
Here is a play-by-play:
The first thing I noticed is that the HUD is way too big. It takes up almost 1/3 of the entire screen. Am I in some kind of vehicle? It looks like a dashboard. I hate it.
As I move the character around, the controls are extremely sluggish. Constantly being in “lurking rapist” mode is frustrating and impedes any sense of urgency.
I see a few skeletons with swords coming at me now. Time to attack them.
The weapon system. Well, fuck. I see I have some kind of a sword in my poorly rendered polygon hand. How do I use it? Can I use it?
Yes, and no.
As I swing my arm in the normal Wii game fashion, nothing happens. I later learn that in order to attack, the player must hold the A button, swing, then release the A button. When I finally perform the move correctly, the delay is laughable, as I see the PlayStation 1-quality arm and sword pathetically pass by the screen much later than I swung. Why is using the sword so difficult? The sound of the sword hitting the target is beyond generic. This is how the player is meant to attack? I am speechless.
After I kill the skeletons, I go into the next room to kill more. In fact, the entire first level is practically all skeletons. Skeletons are made of bones. So the title would indicate that these are the bones of the ancestors I am killing. Why are the bones of old relatives attacking me? Why am I collecting the skulls of my family tree? The so-called “ally” who is supposed to lend a hand randomly goes AWOL and is no help.
The remainder of my time with this game was an unpleasant affair. Every move, spell, or special action is subject to an annoyingly specific button and Wiimote gesture. For example, to heal my worthless ally, I had to hold the left digital control button, and draw a rainbow with the Wiimote. To use a speed spell, I needed to hold the A button, point my Wiimote downward, and make a stirring motion. Absolutely unresponsive fucking garbage. Luckily, the power button still worked well. Because I was about to use it.
New on Sega Saturn!
The characters all look abysmal. The level design is unforgivable. Performing just about any task in the game is damn near impossible. After “exploring” the generic dungeon and finding a shield, hammer, scrolls, and some other potions, I realized I had the gist of the game. I had no reason to continue playing. I tested the power button and it worked better than any other button in the game.
I gave the game a fair chance. I really wanted to like it. Sure, I was put off by the shitty (nonexistent) graphics. But the mechanics of the game rely on the worst kind of gimmicks: the kind that don’t work. The game is broken. But let’s be honest: Based on my previous bias towards the original Stonekeep, I would have most likely been disappointed with the game anyway. But all joking aside, I could have never guessed it could ever be this bad.
So what happened? I would argue that Interplay had very little to do with this game. It was Alpine Studios. After going to their website, it all suddenly made sense. Horrible sense. This is the newest news entry on the website:
Alpine Studios is busy working on several internal and external projects. We are currently approved for development on the PS2, GameCube, and Game Boy Advance systems.
Really? Are you fucking kidding me? So all that joking about the game being a previous generation endeavor is most likely what actually happened.
It gets worse. I found this nugget, as well:
Rather than a port, Alpine Studios is concocting a new game based on the original, with “fun, a little fear and many exciting moments to all family members who dare to seek their fortunes and rid Stonekeep´s dungeons and corridors of evil using the Wii Remote controller,” according to Alpine founder Les Pardew.
Wow, Les Pardew certainly put the “cock” in concocting. (budum chh)
I found no redeeming qualities in this “game,” w-h-a-t-s-o-e-v-e-r. Visually, it may very well have been an early PS2 game that was canceled or “reworked” as a Stonekeep Wii game later. The controls are not even clumsy. They are, without question, the worst use of peripherals I have ever encountered on a Nintendo system. They make the Wiimote feel like the Power Glove. The story is nonexistent. The enemies are generic clones with no variance between them. The sound effects and music are carelessly generic and dull. I could go on…
SO I WILL!!! I hope you read this, Interplay.
The game is such a far cry from the Stonekeep I remember that it makes me question my sanity. What went wrong? Clearly, this shouldn’t have happened. Interplay could have had this one in the bag. The game is already made! Not too many people even know it exists. Oh, and it happens to be a pretty damn good game, too. Why didn’t you just port the game over? Throw on some motion cursor controls, and call it a day. Hell, even Mad Dog McCree made the jump to Wii. Instead, you decide to WHORE OUT the name Stonekeep to some 3- bit clusterfuck of a company.
What a disaster.
This is the only logical way to end this review. Frank OUT!