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12 home / february 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Kido Tenshi Angelic Layer
Game Boy Advance
Angelic Layer is a hard game to master.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Kido Tenshi Angelic Layer
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold

As any CLAMP fan should know by now, the manga super-star creative team recently finished an offbeat series about a young girl who is on her way to her aunt's house and happens to get involved in the latest toy craze hitting Tokyo. That craze is Angelic Layer, a high tech game involving two combatants using customized fighting dolls that the players, known as a dues, control mentally. If your doll runs out of energy or is thrown out of the combat arena then you lose. A perfect concept for a fighting game if I ever saw one.

Still, the people over at Epoch definitely know how to make an interesting concept a little more challenging than just mashing a lot of buttons. They've taken the plot and characters of the anime series and turned them into an amazingly unique game. Angelic Layer is not a fighter... well, not in the traditional sense. It is part RPG, where you control Misaki as she strives to climb the Angelic Layer tournament ranks with her angel Hikaru in a rather cut and dry retelling of the anime. On the flip side, the game is a strategic move-based fighting game that is a cross between Mega Man Battle Network and Parappa The Rapper.

The game is pretty linear, so there isn't much to do except for watch the action, read the text, and press a button. It does get kind of old after a while, especially if you are familiar with the anime. Plus the controls are kind of awkward when you play as Misaki, because she must be moved diagonally. Even if you go up to someone to talk to them, it might not register until you've moved back and approached a character differently.

The game does kick into high gear when it goes into fight mode, though... and believe me, that's a good thing. The game really begins to show it's potential for being a killer strategy game when you are controlling Hikaru in the layer. The initial couple of fights are basically training matches to get used to the controls and explain how the moves work. Knowing some Japanese at this point would be very helpful and save you from a lot of time blindly testing out what works and what doesn't when you are in the tournament fights.

In the layer, the floor is set up in a grid and you are allowed to move a select few spaces at a time sort of like chess. When you come in contact with your opponent you have to open up a menu and select a move to pull off. The catch is that you have to pay strict attention to the screen and perform a timed set of moves to either attack or dodge a blow for it to be completed successfully. If you are off at all, then the move will fail and you will loose concentration points - or worse, get hit and lose life points. In a sense, this is the only true way that Angelic Layer could ever emulate the dues-angel mental command relationship that is the essence of the series. The easiest way to win is to push your opponent out of the layer, but this isn't as easy as it seems, later on. Sometimes it's better to just wear down your opponent until they loose all their life.

The coolest thing about the game is that once you finish story mode, you unlock some secret areas. The most important of these is the ability to create your own angels from scratch, train them, and fight with them. Still, getting to this point might be a bit too much for anyone that isn't willing to brave the language barrier that makes this such a difficult game to master. If you can't read or translate Japanese, then all you will be doing through the story mode is simply pressing the buttons a lot until something happens. It gets kind of tedious after a while, and not even the great sound clips and good graphics and prevent this.

In closing, I would just like to note - what's the chance of anyone besides Japan ever seeing this game? You know that expression about a cold day in a really hot place? Apply it to this situation.

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