INFINITE SPACE / Sega / Nintendo DS

This oddball space RPG comes from Nude Maker, which is not only an actual non-hentai developer name but the one that the former Human Entertainment (responsible for the original Clock Tower and Fire Pro games among others) decided on for themselves. Given the pedigree it's especially disappointing how poorly-constructed and unplayable this game is, but then given the company name decision I guess it isn't a total surprise.

As with many DS games out of Japan, it's a "visual novel" with extra gameplay mechanics bolted on top - in this case RPG battles and a ship upgrade system. The setup definitely has a bit of a Cowboy Bebop vibe, as we're dropped into a future in which space sectors are connected by warp gates and they have skimpily-dressed female mercenaries with knockers bouncin' all over the joint. One such picks up our character Yuri at the start of the game, an animu prettyboy who wants off his backwater planet and scraped together the money for it by repairing ships.

So if you read a little bit about this game online, the fans go crazy over it for being some sort of epic space opera that they claim is exceptionally well-written. I'll disclose up front I didn't get anywhere close to far enough in it to really render a verdict on that. I can definitely tell you that if it is some sort of amazing space opera, you'd never know from the writing in the initial chapters and they must have been going out of their way to hide it. There's virtually no character development at all - people just kinda plop in out of nowhere as the plot develops a need to lurch forward. No world-building either; you fly from planet to planet and all you ever see is their spaceport bar. Hell, you only ever see a tiny sliver of your own ship!

But let's put evaluation of the story on pause for a little while, because that's not the game's biggest or most immediate problem. The gameplay and structure are really what kills it.

Combat is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in a game. It's ostensibly a rock-paper-scissors model, but it's really more like paper-scissors, and also even if you pick the right option there's a high chance the attack will just inexplicably miss anyway. It's not that it's difficult, though; it's easily gamed. Immediately dodge, retreat until your gauge is full, then press forward and wait for the enemy to splooge its load before barraging. Endlessly repeat, because it's the only approach that doesn't end with you getting killed. The only thing that makes it challenging is that your barrages inexplicably miss a lot even when the enemy isn't dodging, turning some battles into an incredibly tedious grind.

As bad as the combat is, it isn't the worst thing here. The game is a visual novel at its core, and it has all the baggage you'd expect from a visual novel. You're expected to constantly chase around old environments looking for some new dialogue event to just randomly appear out of the blue. My favorite was in the second area, when you're expected to just kinda randomly win a bunch of battles with no indication at all that that's what you're supposed to be doing. Plus there's absolutely no in-game quest tracker or any real way to remind you what the hell was going on if you need to put it down for a few days or so.

So those things are bad enough by themselves, but let's get back around to the story now since that's allegedly the game's big redeeming quality. First of all, from everything I've seen on the internet, even fans of the game acknowledge it doesn't "get good" until you've sunk around 10 hours in. The hell with that. If you're capable of making a good game, why can't it be good from the beginning? Why should I be expected to wade through 10 hours of nonsense hoping the game suddenly and magically turns into an amazing experience?

I call bullshit on this ever actually getting good, though. As mentioned, it can't be stuffed with even rudimentary character development or world-building right from the beginning. The writing in the first chapter is just atrocious - the main character just sorta forgets that he left his little sister on the planet, and then the lord of the planet turns out to be doing all this because he's salty that he's too old to be a space vagabond like you anymore. For whatever reason he decides to personally duel you in space rather than send his troops, and then when you space-murder him nobody in the world seems to give a shit and there are zero repercussions whatsoever.

So it's childish animu writing. You go on to be able to put your useless kid sister in any position on the ship, even first officer (which apparently is actually a good idea because of one of her special abilities). And that reminds me, these ships apparently have a crew of 200 but the game makes absolutely zero attempt to explain how you're getting and paying these people. Or how some giant destroyer even flies without qualified people in key positions like the helm and engine room.

Point is, I find it very hard to believe that this somehow all transmutes into one of the greatest space stories ever told if you just wait a mere dozen hours or so for it to get going. I think what's much more likely here is that the people breathlessly recommending it in that way are the typical animu nerds who don't spend time with anything but animu trash and have no sense of perspective or taste whatsoever.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video