Sunday, 14 December 2014

Evil Stone (Arcade)

Evil Stone is an odd game. It's a beat em up, but rather than taking place on a traditional scrolling path, it takes place on grids of floating rocks. Furthermore, it's a beat em up in which the player has no kind of health counter, and can theoretically take an endless number of hits without dying. Obviously, the catch is that the player instead dies by being knocked back into an empty space and falling to their death. The player can move in four directions, and there are only two action buttons: jump and attack, though jump can be pressed twice to jump two spaces instead of one, and attack can be held for a second or two for a more powerful and longer-ranged charge attack. Aesthetically it's quite interesting, too, as the plot deals with the gates of hell opening, and demons flooding heaven and earth, and the designers seem to have been influenced by both western and Asian visions of hell and its inhabitants, with a slightly stronger emphasis on the Asian.

The game starts with a moderately easy stage to introduce its concepts, though in this case "moderately easy" is relative and should be interpreted as "somewhat less sadistic than what is to come", as you probably won't even reach the boss on your first attempt. A useful thing to know, though, is that you should grind the goblin/demon enemies at the start of the stage until you collect enough power-ups to turn your charge attack into a projectile, otherwise the boss will be almost impossible to beat, if you manage to get that far without projectiles.

After the first stage, any kindness the game may once have shown the player will be thrown out of the window. There will be jumping puzzles, tests of agility, and periods of aggressive bombardment by respawning enemies. Sometimes there will even be jumping puzzles that test the player's ability while they are also being aggressively bombarded by respawning enemies. I had to do some credit feeding to get a couple of stages in, so that I could take some more varied screenshots, but some way into stage 3, I just had to give up altogether.

Despite the fact that Evil Stone is undeniably a cynically designed money-grabbing credit muncher, and despite the insane, sadistic difficulty, it is still technically a fair game. Or at least, I'm fairly certain that theoretically, someone with inhuman skill at playing videogames could possibly have a chance at finishing the game on a single credit after decades of practice. Which, although the difficulty of Evil Stone means that you could never accurately describe it as a fun game, it is at least in a higher league than "pay-to-win" mobile phone/facebook game scams. I still don't recommend playing it though, except as a curiosity.

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