Words, Words, Words
Fanatic Earth has one entertaining feature, but it isn’t graphic or game play. The dialog in this rpg is full of humorous insults and put-downs. The speech, translated by Kemco’s John Sears (who does many of their games), doesn’t feel like a translation. It is more like he takes something that perhaps is meant as an insult to somebody’s manhood and freely invents an English phrase to do the same, even if it is nowhere close to the original.
The language uses a more advanced vocabulary than the typical Kemco rpg, with allusions to the Turing test, waterboarding, and even a Clinton-Lewinsky moment. Most of the insults and much of the dialog revolves around the central character, Zech, and his attempts to pick up women, or to express his homophobia. Certainly the language is not kid friendly, and can wear thin after a few hours of repetition.
Of course if the dialog is the main attraction, you can expect the game to be “wordy,” and you won’t just skip over all the conversations. Although the characters are stereotypes, and in some ways Zech’s attitudes you might find offensive, the story itself balances his attitudes with an overall moral tone and most of the other characters offer push back to Zech.
The story does have an ethical base, as it insists that what you do matters more than who you are (meaning your race, background, or appearance).
The game play itself is linear, the random encounters are extremely frequent (but once you are at higher levels, you can usually flee without difficulty), and minimal tactics are needed in combat. The game is far too easy on “easy,” about right for a quick run through to normal end on “normal,” but somewhat difficult on “hard.” You can change the difficulty setting as often and whenever you like.
Although there are loads of accessories and several skills (different for each of your 4 characters), I found myself using only 2 skills per character until the post game (or when grinding). The same attack tactic was used almost every battle. The “auto” battle method isn’t useful most of the time.
The post game does offer much more difficult battles, and I think you will need to do some grinding to build up the healing resources you may need. In addition, there are some valuable skills that you don’t learn until you reach high levels. There are restore points before each boss battle, so you can easily grind there. The experience gained in battles in key post game sections is 3 or 4 times greater than in the normal game. In addition, there are the equivalent of metal monsters.
There are two arenas, and the second one has some very difficult battles for which you better have plenty of serious healing items. In addition to one tough monster, there are some unusual restrictions:
lose half your sp and hp every turn, no skill use, receive 20% of damage dealt, swoon if hit by a normal attack (which cannot be blocked!).
The screen interface unfortunately puts the exit for many screens way down at the bottom, right above my “back to home” button on my tablet. Also, the scrolling item, etc. menus had some sort of bounce back/wrap, which made it difficult, unless I used the keypad, to get down to the very last item.
I will mention here one serious confusion the game itself creates for the post game. After you get the “normal” end, the screen tells you to save, then click “continue” on the “*” save game. Do NOT follow this incorrect instruction. You need to “load” the “*” save game, and when you do, you will immediately get a scene obviously not in the normal game, so you will know you are good to go in the post game. As I mentioned above, be prepared, if on “hard” difficulty, for some tough, resource intensive battles.
The online reviews of the game have not been favorable, and I do agree that Fanatic Earth lacks anything new in the play, but the language is entertaining, and the post game battles, while not complicated, do offer some challenge. The advanced arena has some very tough battles requiring substantial resource items.