Title  : Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage
Platforms  : Nintendo 64
Publisher  : THQ
ESRB Rating  : Teen
Game Rating  : 5.7
Review by  : Larry Tipton

Role-playing games, or RPGs, are hard to come by on the Nintendo 64; any RPG gamer knows this cold, hard fact. There have been a few releases, but most fell well short of the watermark set by RPGs on other platforms. The situation has perplexed the Nintendo faithful, since many quality RPG games appeared on the Super Nintendo, and it seemed to be a pretty safe bet there would be even better RPG games available for the Nintendo 64. Sadly, this did not come to be. Now comes Aidyn Chronicles, a game published by THQ and developed by H2O, the folks behind the very enjoyable Tetrisphere. Could this be the epic RPG that the Nintendo faithful have been waiting for? 

Early in the adventure, Aidyn is poisoned during a battle with goblins. He awakens to find himself in the presence of a mysterious woman. She is only able to partially heal him which results in Aidyn suffering from strange dream-like visions. Eventually, Aidyn makes his way back home. Upon hearing of his condition, the King tells Aidyn to assemble a band of adventures together and to go out and search for the antidote. But this is only the beginning of the story; the plot is full of dark and twisted turns that will sure to surprise and keep you challenged… if you can forgive the game's many weaknesses. 

Aidyn Chronicle is what I categorize as a classic-style RPG that is chock full of traditional RPG elements. It is a party-based adventure that requires a fair amount of exploration, conversation with computer-controlled characters, and the ultimate quest that must be completed by a primary hero, a young Alaron named Aidyn. Combat is turn-based, and you are required to gain experience points to defeat the more difficult enemies. However, H2O tried to create something different with its battle system, and in doing so, made the game more cumbersome and tedious. In battle mode, there is a ring around every character. Each character can move within its ring of maneuverability. When movement rings touch, battle moves can be performed. Ring size is dependent on character skill and experience. 

The presentation also varies from good to really bad. For graphics, the character models are composed of simple polygons that can look warped or deformed at times. The same can be said for the landscapes. The frame rate stutters along and a pretty lethargic pace, even though the game supports the N64 expansion pak. There is heavy use of fog and there is also quite a bit up graphical pop up throughout. The color palette is pretty plain and the overall graphical presentation is too dark at times. To make matters worse, it is easy to get lost while traveling the countryside as too many areas have a certain "sameness" to them. There is no way to adjust the camera angle, which is automated by the game engine. At times Aidyn and the character that he is speaking to are not visible on the screen due to the way the camera positions itself. In battle mode, the characters can be hard to track. 

There is music but you will find yourself with a lot of "quiet time" in the game, particularly when conversing with other characters. Some of the music sounds downright bad, at other times it is okay. There is no speech: all conversation is text based. Sound effects are sparse. 

Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage is for the truly dedicated RPG game player that must play every RPG game to its logical conclusion. The game's overall pace can be dreadfully slow. From all appearances, the Nintendo 64 hardware could not keep pace with the developer's vision. What we are left with is a game that is destined to become yet another forgetful RPG. Maybe this is why we have not seen many games of the type on the Nintendo 64! 


This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 16-Apr-01