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Gyromancer
GyromancerCover.jpg
Developer(s) Square Enix
PopCap Games
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Designer(s) Jason Kapalka, Yuichi Murasawa
Composer(s) Tsuyoshi Sekito
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Release date(s) November 18, 2009
Genre(s) Puzzle, role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) ESRB: Teen
Media Digital download
Input methods Keyboard and mouse, Gamepad

Gyromancer is a puzzle and role-playing video game developed by PopCap Games in collaboration with Square Enix. In the game, the player moves through a map of an enchanted forest, battling monsters using their own summoned monsters through a puzzle-game battle based on PopCap's Bejeweled Twist. In these battles, the player rotates groups of four gems out of a grid of gems to line up three or more jewels of the same color; when enough lines have been created damage is dealt to the enemy. Between battles, a story is told through a series of cutscenes, while the player and the summons gain experience and power using role-playing game elements.

The initial idea for the game was inspired by Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, a 2007 video game which members of both companies were playing at the time. The game was proposed to Square Enix half-jokingly by PopCap's chief creative officer Jason Kapalka during a meeting between the two companies in 2007, and was released on the Xbox Live Arcade and on the Steam platform for Windows PCs by Square Enix on November 18, 2009. Gyromancer received a generally positive reception from reviewers. Critics took issue with perceived limited graphics, cheesy music, and a weak and confusing plot. Despite these flaws, in general they found the game to be fun and addictive, and to have a great deal of replay value.

Contents

Gameplay

Example of gameplay during a battle; the player on the left is currently attacking the enemy on the right.

Players assume the role of Rivel, a summoner who ventures through the enchanted Aldemona Wood. He has been tasked by his king to track down the rebel group Temperance, who have assassinated a member of the royal family.[1][2] The game consists of twelve stages, which are large branching maps that allow the player can move from points represented by stars to adjacent points. Each stage contains its own objectives, from defeating beasts that block the player’s way, to solving puzzles before time runs out. Additional stages are available for purchase as downloadable content.[3] There are multiple optional objectives per stage, in addition to a main goal.[2] Many areas of each stage are initially blocked off, and can only be entered by replaying the stage later in the game.[1]

While moving through the stages, the player encounters many monsters, and is forced to battle against them using one of their summons in a puzzle battle based on Bejeweled Twist.[1] The player can only bring three summons into a stage, and selects one of them when the battle begins. A grid of different colored gems is displayed, and the player can select blocks of four jewels and rotate them clockwise. If a line of three or more identical gems is formed the gems disappear, allowing all of the gems above to fall down a level with new gems appearing at the top of the screen. If new lines of gems are formed from this movement, the process continues. Whenever lines are formed, a gauge is filled slightly for the player; when it is full a special gem appears on the board. When that gem is formed into a line, damage is done to the enemy. The enemy also has a gauge, which is filled every time the player performs a rotation, and damage is dealt directly to the player when it is filled.[3]

Later in the game, non-rotatable gems can be found, and the player is punished for rotations that do not lead to a match by having the enemy's gauge fill faster. The amount of damage that the player can take or deliver is dependent on the monster used in battle, and using a beast in battle earns experience points which can increase the power of that summon. Each monster has a corresponding color, and matching gems that are the same color as your chosen monster or the enemy makes your gauge fill faster or theirs slower.[3] Enemy monsters can change gems on the board to skulls, which cause damage to the player if they are not lined up within a certain number of moves.[1] New monsters can be summoned after defeating them in battle or by finding them hidden in the stage.[2]

Development

The game was first thought up in 2007 during a meeting between PopCap and Square Enix, who has published several of PopCap's games in Japan. Jason Kapalka, the co-founder and chief creative officer of PopCap, claims that he "half-jokingly" proposed a game collaboration between the two companies that would combine a role-playing game with Bejeweled-style gameplay, calling it “Final Fantasy Bejeweled”.[4] Kapalka was envisioning creating a similar game to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, a 2007 video game which members of the development staff of both companies were playing at the time.[5] The idea attracted the attention of Yuichi Murasawa, designer of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and the game began formal development. To differentiate the game from Puzzle Quest, the gameplay was based around Bejeweled Twist rather than Bejeweled, which Kopalka feels fit the art design of the game more.[4] Other candidates considered were Zuma and Peggle, but they were dropped as the developers felt that they did not fit in with the combat theme.[5] PopCap developed the early prototype for the game, then allowed Square Enix to complete the bulk of the work in designing and creating the game, especially in regards to the RPG aspects.[4] Square Enix and PopCap announced the game on September 24, 2009.[6] It was published by Square Enix on the Xbox Live Arcade and on the Steam platform for Windows PCs on November 18, 2009.[7] A downloadable pack of maps and a pack of items were made available for sale a week after launch on November 23, 2009 for both versions of the game.[8]

The game was directed by Murasawa and produced by Yoshinori Kamei. The story was written by Kyoko Kitahara, who had previously worked on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance with Murasawa, and the art direction was lead by Yuki Matsuzawa. The soundtrack was created by Tsuyoshi Sekito. Matsuzawa was asked to make the art style that of a "dark fantasy" and to focus more on making the visuals realistic rather than fantasy-oriented, so that it would appeal more to players outside of Japan.[5]

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 76%[9]
Metacritic 75[10]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 8/10[3]
Game Informer 7.75/10[11]
GameSpot 7.5/10[1]
IGN 8.3/10[2]

Gyromancer received a generally positive reception from reviewers. While many reviewers noted its similarity to Puzzle Quest, the gameplay was still described as being "fun and addictive" by GameSpot, and similar praises were made by IGN and Eurogamer.[1][2][3] Eurogamer claimed that it had a great deal of replay value, and praised the "surprisingly varied story missions".[3] Game Informer disagreed slightly, stating that while the game had some replay value, it was limited by the lack of depth to the RPG elements of the game.[11] Although the paintings of the monsters and world itself were rated highly by critics, the art direction itself was criticized. GameSpot called the graphics "murky and grainy" and noted the lack of animation in the battles or cutscenes, in which the characters speaking "slide back and forth like cardboard cutouts".[1] Eurogamer added that the stage maps were "crudely portrayed".[3] IGN did not share those concerns, but did note say that they felt that the portraits of monsters were reused for different summons too often.[2] Game Informer disagreed completely with the other critics, saying that the game "looks great" and that "Even the map screen between battles has a polished appearance".[11] GameTrailers also enjoyed the aesthetic of the game, saying that despite the "still images" and "simple effects", the game made an "effort to look and sound the part" of a deeper game, which they felt would increase the player's enjoyment.[12]

The plot was similarly criticized, with Eurogamer calling it "endearing, largely unpronounceable rubbish", while IGN termed it "not Gyromancer's strong point" and "a bit hard to follow".[2][3] Game Informer dismissed it as "generic" and "lackluster", while GameTrailers said that it was "somewhat thrown together". All the reviews, however, noted that the plot was largely irrelevant to the game next to the gameplay elements.[11][12] Gamespot criticized the tutorial system as very inadequate, as well as the "beyond cheesy" music, a criticism that IGN left only to the "Japanese videogame metal during boss battles", rather than the rest of Sekito's "rousing orchestral tunes".[1][2] Overall, however, the reviewers felt that Gyromancer was a fun, casual game.[1][2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Todd, Brett (2009-11-25). "Gyromancer Review". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/rpg/gyromancer/review.html. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hattfield, Daemon (2009-11-17). "Gyromancer Review". IGN. http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/104/1046583p1.html. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Welsh, Oli (2009-11-19). "Gyromancer". Eurogamer. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/gyromancer-review. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  4. ^ a b c Mastrapa, Gus (2009-09-28). "PopCap Collaboration With Square Enix Started as Joke". Wired. http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2009/09/popcap-collaboration-with-square-enix-started-as-joke/. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  5. ^ a b c Spencer (2009-11-12). "Gyromancer Development Started Over Casual Drinks". Siliconera. http://www.siliconera.com/2009/11/12/gyromancer-development-started-over-casual-drinks. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  6. ^ Quillen, Dustin (2009-09-24). "Square Enix and PopCap Announce Gyromancer". 1UP.com. http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3176193. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  7. ^ "Highly Anticipated Puzzle RPG Gyromancer Now Available". IGN. 2009-11-19. http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/104/1047625p1.html. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  8. ^ "Gyromancer Downloadable Content Now Available For Xbox Live Arcade and Steam". IGN. 2009-11-23. http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/104/1048846p1.html. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  9. ^ "Gyromancer for Xbox 360". Game Rankings. http://www.gamerankings.com/xbox360/974793-gyromancer/index.html. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  10. ^ "Gyromancer (XBox 360)". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/gyromancer. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  11. ^ a b c d Miller, Matt (2009-11-24). "Gyromancer". Game Informer. http://gameinformer.com/games/gyromancer/b/pc/archive/2009/11/24/review.aspx. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  12. ^ a b "Gyromancer". GameTrailers. http://www.gametrailers.com/gamereview.php?id=12103. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 

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