(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the July 2009 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.)
Like the fabled Simpsons switch to HD, or analog cable going the way of my nutsack, or the untimely yet strangely convenient death of EGM, GameCola will soon cease to exist as a monthly periodical, finally killing a legacy that was molested and sealed away from sociological decorum the minute Meteo Xavier joined the writing staff.
And the timing couldn’t be better.
I mean, c’mon—even electronic print is dead. If I had even the slightest iota of an idea of what modern people do nowadays, you can bet I’d end the sentence on that. GameCola as a monthly e-zine could only guarantee like 20 minutes of attention from a reader. Once you’d read the latest pixilated Mary Worth by Jeddy, or indulged in the inch of comic rainwater Zach Rich thinks he brings to the table, or absorbed the monthly sexist column of pure Swedish horse crap by Vangie Rich (who I’m absolutely sure is Michael Ridgeway wearing my mother’s hairpiece), or watched Nathaniel Hoover blowjob his way to Employee of the Month month after month by writing everything that isn’t tied down with piano wire by Michael Gray in Michael’s desperate quest to justify his useless lifeforce by being the first person to ever “suicide by journalism”…
…well, after that, what else is there until next month?
GameCola’s new shift means you’ll have a reason to check us out every day. That means more $$$ for us (for lack of an American cent symbol on my keyboard) and more chances to hire better writers for more creativity! We’ll beat Penny Arcade yet, so help me God.
And to celebrate GameCola’s glorious death and tragic rebirth, I’m closing out my tenure as a monthly reviewer with a GLOWING review of a trilogy that should be on the Wii’s Virtual Console:
12 years ago, my family bought a Macintosh from Wal-Mart. First computer we owned of any kind. We almost killed it. We almost killed EACH OTHER with it, but I have some VERY fond memories thanks to the shareware community. We indulged in many an amateur title. Tetris Max. Yipe! Mantra. TaskMaker. Tomb of the TaskMaker. Realmz.
But NONE compared to the almost effortless performance of the Exile trilogy.
Even in its plainest summary, Exile still inspires much enthusiasm. It’s a cross between a tactical RPG and an action-RPG. In other words—chess-style fighting with serious exploration. And hell’s balls, what exploration…
Today, these games would be nothing special, but back in the middle of the last decade, this was some serious shit. All the titles are totally non-linear, which for me is usually a turn-off, but the ease and enormousness of exploration make it totally worth playing them to the end, which could take anywhere from 40 to 160 hours from the start in all three games.
In the first title, Exile: Escape from the Pit, you control upwards of SIX silent protagonists (take THAT, J-RPG model!) who were sent underground by the Empire in what is basically how Australia was born. And, like in Australia, you deal with giant lizards, poison boars, felines with Germanic armory, Wights, and a world of nothing but subterranean hell. You have three basic goals in the first game: Kill the Emperor, kill the Archfiend, and secure an escape route to the surface.
Exile II: Crystal Souls is broken up into chapters and is decidedly more linear in its story, but it still never points a gun to your head. This time, while you still fight with the armies of Exile—the cats, lizards, spiders, and Empire—you also discover an alien race way, WAY off in distant lands beneath the surface who help you land crushing blows to the invading Empire.
And the third, longest, and definitely most adventuristically accomplished title in the trilogy, Exile III: Ruined World, has you finally returning to the surface only to deal with five MAJOR plagues by conspiring with the demons you sealed in the first game plus the alien race who helped you in the second.
And every single minute is worth playing.
Across the three titles is almost two to three years of religious exploration and battle. Storming a fortress with just six characters, where you gang-fight 20 to 40 googlies, plus the leader, just so you can find the five to six hidden rooms or passageways in any given map, has never been and never will be as much fun as it is here. And there’s a LOT of loot. You’ll find badly needed foodstuffs and gold all the time through hidden layers. You’ll find a multitude of sidequests; you’ll enjoy scripts upon scripts of awesome dialogue. Somehow, it NEVER gets old.
And the battles are a lot of fun, too. If you fight in a town or dungeon, you basically choose when you want the fight to start, which can lead to interesting strategies. Nothing beats mowing down a whole garrison with one well-timed fireball. And even the dungeons themselves can be really, really fucking cool, like this one particular vampire cave, and some of the optional caves in Exile III boast the height of creativity within Exile‘s very simple programming. It’s just simple, smooth, fun, effortless exploration, and somehow it NEVER gets old.
If there is anything I would bash here, it’s that the game could maybe use a stronger weapon and armor system and a better way to bring dead comrades back; but, if you play the game right, you won’t need to worry about those things.
And that is my last review in the monthly format.
LET METEO X BE LIGHT!