In typical Enix fashion, the world absolutely cannot evolve and continue onward without divine intervention a la player. This time around, though, you get to play as an ever-evolving organism upon which you get to control its evolution. Could this quirky, awkward, semi-edutainment title actually be something halfway interesting or is it all the way boring?
Available For: SNES
Release Date: 1993
Archetype: Action, Adventure, Platformer, RPG
EVO is easily the kind of game people will not remember. It’s part edutainment and part RPG released in a time where people weren’t totally dead set on playing lots and lots of RPGs, let alone wanting to learn things from videogames willingly. This is sad, too, because EVO is not a bad game. It’s not a great game, but it’s certainly not terrible.
The basic concept of EVO is Gaia is blah blah blah and so you, as a base organism blah blah blah and you have to evolve again and again, going from fish to lizard to human to whatever to evolve as the world changes, fighting evolved and some not-so-natural enemies. The reason I’m short-handing here is nearly every EVO “God plot” is essentially the same with minor tweaking.
I don’t remember the exact details, but for whatever reason Gaia creates you, then expects you to go out in the world and beat the shit out of things, because God. Pretty standard stuff, but what sets this one apart from other Enix God games is the idea that you can evolve different parts of your body in different ways, sometimes resulting in an entirely new creature, though that’s not always a good thing.
For example, you can create both a dolphin and mermaid in the first evolution region if you evolve certain things a certain way…and both are really shitty. They’re kinda like hidden easter eggs, but at the same time, it requires that you kinda back pedal certain features of your body in order to get a more powerful evolution, which doesn’t make a lot of sense and often frustrates you because these easter eggs are mostly duds.
The game switches between a mini-map that seems a bit similar to Super Mario Bros. 2 and a sidescrolling mode where you beat the shit out of all kinds of baddies. As you beat baddies, you get EVO points, which allow you to evolve your different parts. That’s basically all there is to it, but there is a little more that makes the game frustrating.
See, the bosses are really fucking annoying in this game. Now, for the most part it’s just all about learning their basic patterns, compensating by updating different features about your character, and a bit of trial and error, but the problem is there’s really no way to recover during combat, so while it should be more like ActRaiser in that sense, there really isn’t a lives system either and with a surprising lack of checkpoints, the game becomes highly frustrating pretty quickly.
I’m certainly not ready to throw the game under the bus already, but what few features I’ve talked about negatively are negative enough to make most diehard RPG enthusiasts cringe. See, I’ve always said that there is no such thing as a “tough” RPG. I stand by that, but there is an addendum. Some RPGs are set up in such a way that the cap is set far too low.
In those cases, it’s usually because it’s a hybrid, not just an RPG. For example, Fallout 3, EVO, Fable, and so on. Usually the level cap is set low because the game isn’t that long, there are other ways to compensate for the level issue, or because the developer is lazy. Unfortunately the latter is the case in EVO. I get that they don’t want you to start developing different features early and thus become evolved beyond the current “era” you’re in, but without so much as the ability to have base leveling up you’re left with being capped early and having to contend with tough levels and far tougher bosses, thus making it less RPG and more action/platformer.
Again, nothing INHERENTLY wrong with this, but it subtracts from the very idea of being an RPG in general. If you’re pretty good at action/platformers, you’ll probably have a ball, but if you don’t like RPGs, you won’t enjoy the grinding, so it’s kind of a catch 22. If you like both, no big deal, but if you don’t, you probably won’t find anything to like.
At the end of the day, EVO is certainly not a terrible game and it’s definitely very interesting, but it’s a very mixed bag. I’d still recommend it just because I have fun with it, but there are always aspects of the game that make you appreciate emulation due to save states. I honestly can’t see fighting some of those bosses time and time again without creating your own checkpoints right there, but hey, maybe I just suck at platformers.