quoteTaito and Garakuta-Studio's new game, Graffiti Kingdom, centers around the instantly compelling feature of actually drawing your own creations and playing as them in an action RPG adventure. A semi-sequel to Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color, Graffiti Kingdom offers the tagline, "dream it, draw it, play it."
The young and androgynous Prince Pixel of the enchanted Canvas Kingdom is, for the most part, a typically lazy and bored prince. But things change drastically when he accidentally unleashes an imprisoned devil using a magic wand. Not one to be uncharacteristic, the devil causes mischief by twisting the kingdom into 22 levels of hazardous platforming environments filled with his cute but viperous minions. The Prince quickly learns that his magic wand gives him the power to manifest anything he can imagine to life simply by drawing it. Now it's up to Prince Pixel to use his magic wand to save his parents and restore the Canvas Kingdom to its original form. Accompanied by a "box-dog" named Pastel, the Prince must use his artistic abilities against his foes by drawing powerful creatures of his own that he can transform into.
The primary feature of Graffiti Kingdom is the ability to create and transform into whatever embodiment you've always desired to be, such as a robot or an inanimate hunk of cheese. Whether you wish to create a fire-breathing dragon or a menacing vacuum cleaner, the potential is there. If that vacuum cleaner has trouble jumping through areas then draw some wings on it so it can fly. Or perhaps, give that dragon a skateboard so he can burninate in style. The possibilities are endless.
While simply hitting creatures with his magic wand turns the Prince into that creature temporarily, there are two methods to use when creating creatures for Prince to transform into for as long as he wishes. The first method is to defeat an enemy creature several times until one eventually leaves a card which contains a sketch of the creature. The Prince can then transform into that creature or modify it with custom shapes and abilities to his liking. This provides up to 220 default drawings to work with. It may be worth dungeons fully to find those rare cards which include Bubblun from Bubble Bobble, a Space Invader alien, and even the Taito logo.
The other method of creature creation is to draw new creatures completely from scratch. Players use a graffiti creature editor called a notebook to draw creatures using the analog stick. If you've played Magic Pengel, the drawing system will be familiar to you. You control a virtual pen with the analog stick and draw 2D lines, creating whatever shapes you like. These shapes are given color by choosing from the color palette. While the palette might be limited, you are free to mix paint to get different colors.
The 2D drawings are converted to 3D automatically, but for more precise control you'll also have the ability to set perspective points showing where the front and back of the object is. You can also select from different shapes or lines for more accurate drawings. No matter how wild your designs are, the physics and movement of your construction are calculated so that even the most atrocious doodles can move around the 3D platform.
After creating a body for your creature, you then create the limbs which give it mobility and combat abilities. When you create a new part for a creature, you specify whether this part is an arm, leg, head, tail or other appendage. After the part is assigned, the game will give you a list of abilities that the limb can perform. For example, if you assign a limb as an arm, then it can have the basic ability of punching.
While you can create anything you can imagine from the start, it may not be as mighty or as precisely drawn as it appears in your imagination. The canvas begins with limited functionality, preventing the player from creating advanced drawings with many combat abilities. For example, you won't be able to erase anything once it has been drawn until you acquire the "Undo" ability.
The starting abilities these limbs can have are to "behave like legs," "behave like arms," or "remain motionless." As you progress you'll be able to add a tail, wheels, or wings to name a few possibilities. Additionally, as you gain experience, new abilities will open up, like fireballs, ice attacks, lightning strikes, and electric explosions. There are potentially 160 attacks that you can choose from.
With a ready arsenal of three creatures that can be transformed to on the fly with the d-pad, Prince Pixel is ready to battle through enemy creatures and navigate past puzzles. The gameplay functions around gaining higher levels which allow you to modify and augment your existing creations into more powerful and versatile transformations and figuring out what combination of powers your creatures should have. You can quickly switch among three different creatures to cope with the obstacles the environment throws at you. The abilities of creatures are sometimes more effective against the enemies you're facing. For example, fire breath might exploit the weakness of a cold-based enemy. Also these abilities allow you to solve environmental puzzles; imagine using ice breath to freeze a lake so you can walk over it.
Players can save up to 144 creatures on their memory card which allows them to trade with a friend for different creatures. You can trade for a friend's creations to use in your single player quest if you desire. Or, in the event that you don't want to trade for your friend's pitiful creatures, you can instead beat the tar out of them with your own works of art in the two-player versus mode. Bring in your trio tag team of creatures to change into and go head-to-head against another player. If that does not satisfy your rage, another feature is the boss battle mode which lets you battle previously defeated bosses from story mode to your heart's content.
Because there is so much freedom in creature creations, the polygon count is kept pretty low. The environments are often cheery and colorful and include locations like a cardboard world, a sand castle, and a land of toy blocks. The enemies are usually cute and it's hard to imagine they are working for a devil. There are colorful, lengthy cutscenes that add up to over an hour of FMV. These sequences were created by Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, the animation house responsible for famous works like My Neighbor Totoro and the recent Howl's Moving Castle. The music, by famous game composer Yasunori Mitsuda, includes a lighthearted mix of tunes that work with Graffiti Kingdom's overall cheeriness.
Graffiti Kingdom is a game in which the player is free to use whatever creatures their wildest imaginations can come up with. Duking it out in adventure-RPG style is only half the fun. So start turning the gears of your imagination because the canvas will beprimed this July 26.
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