Oy Vay

A few weeks back, Sega’s Ethan Einhorn showed up for one of our podcasts so he could pimp Super Monkey Ball for iPhone. My suggestion was to try and adapt a few classic Sega titles for the format, namely Phantasy Star or Rez — they both seem pretty touch-screen friendly, right? Well, I take back my suggestion. Someone inexplicably decided to port Vay, of all things, to iPhone, and I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a very bad idea! (Meaning both trying it and porting it to iPhone in the first place, to be precise.)

Yeah, wow. What? What happened here!?

I’m guessing this is one of those cases where some tiny little publisher acquired the rights to a dusty, disused and otherwise forgotten property and decided to capitalize on a budding platform in a desperate hope to earn back some of the cash spent on buying said rights. Now, I’ve never played Vay, because it was one of those games that seemed hopelessly, unplayably dated by the time I acquired a Sega CD (approximately 1998), but as far as I can tell this version doesn’t use the Working Designs translation. The character uses his original Japanese name, and the opening “FMV” is narrated by a different actor. This means someone went to the trouble of relocalizing a game that maybe ten people will ever see. Also, as you can see above, they slapped some ill-fitting high-resolution sprites and backgrounds into the battle sequences, but not the rest of the game. And they didn’t redraw the enemies at all. And the original-resolution artwork is stretched and blurred throughout. And, and, and my brain hurts now.

Worst of all is the control scheme, which involves tapping a spot to make the hero move there, or double-tapping to make the hero run straight ahead until he hits a wall. It’s difficult to describe how lousy this system is! The setup isn’t entirely different from many point-and-click PC games, except those generally get it right. Vay for iPhone absolutely does not get it right, and in fact gets it wrong so hard that I fully expect a letter of apology from Apple. Not for the five bucks wasted, but for the five minutes it took me to realize this might actually be the worst adaptation of a 16-bit game I’ve ever played. Oh, for the sweet succor of TOSE!

I like Phantasy Star too much to see this happen to it. I do still think an iPhone rendition of Rez could be pretty boss, though.

Also, I’ve thrown a bunch of stuff up on eBay to accompany my Super NES collection. Don’t feel too bad for me about selling off these things. Sure, it stinks, but anything actually worth owning will find its way back into my possession again, eventually. This is all a temporary measure to get the girlfriend up and on her feet as a professional photographer, a process which involves a great many expenses; but she’s quite talented and someday will be very successful. So, until then, I can live without Earthbound or whatever.

22 thoughts on “Oy Vay

  1. They look like Kingdom Hearts characters with big floppy Sideshow Bob feet. Now I normally like characters with big feet, but these ones are half the size of the rest of their bodies!

  2. That RPG set is about the only reason I ever found for owning an X-box. But it’s a good 4 reasons.

  3. Yeah, their take on Sandor/Heibelger is basically Sora with a mullet. Not really an award-winning aesthetic, there!

  4. That doesn’t look too bad, it’s just that the character sprites look….horribly horribly blurry. Maybe this was designed for near-sighted people? Nah that can’t be. The reality is that it’s still on the same flat screen. Yeah I got nothin.

  5. oh man. seeing you sell 4e books wounds me as much as your snes collection did to our friends in the post below.

  6. Hey! I didn’t know you were a Maison Ikkoku fan. Or is it your girlfriend’s collection? I used to devour Ranma and Maison Ikkoku novels back in the 90’s (yes, devour).

  7. Sweet Disney collection you have going there.

    Also, you’re quite the dude to help your girlfriend like this. Kudos.

  8. I’m somewhat tempted to take a stab at taking the Xbox wad off your hands, or at least helping to push the price up to something less sad. Remind me though, are any of those representing the portion of original Xbox games that make the 360 just “mostly” backwards compatible?

  9. “So, until then, I can live without Earthbound or whatever.”

    …Don’t say that over at Starmen.net

  10. Barf! Vay? Isn’t that the game where the programmers got lazy and recycled an entire town and the art was so bad an enemy was even called a Retardotaur?

    I don’t remember an RPG that hated the player quite as much as Vay did. Its the only one I remember where you had to grind just to afford items. Then there’s the no saving in a dungeon.

    Why does apple hate its iphone owners? ;_;

  11. anything actually worth owning will find its way back into my possession again, eventually.

    Exactly. It was this advice you gave to me that helped me pay rent for two months; since then I’ve never been shy about turning my nerd-stuff into real gold. Er, cash.

  12. Delicious Maison Ikkoku. I’m tempted to get the lot even though I already own the first 7 volumes or so. At the very least I could give those to someone who hasn’t read it already.

  13. I’ve never seen a more polarizing RPG than Vay in my life.

    Seriously, either people really love it or absolutely hate it and want to gouge their eyes out. It’s nice to see the tradition is not lost on the itouch adaptation!

  14. Niki, I find your claim hard to believe. I think it’s far more likely that the four or five people who have actually played Vay all agree it sucks.

  15. You’d be surprised! Granted a good chunk of them are real Working Designs devouts, which could explain quite a lot.

  16. The irrational part of me wants those Klonoa guides. Even though the rational part of me keeps telling it I don’t have any need for them, or anywhere to keep them, or that they aren’t even shipping to where I live anyway. I’m hopeless :(

  17. Niki I am one of those Working Designs devouts, and Vay was frickin’ awful even back in the day it came out.

    spoilers: Pottle DIES

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