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European cover art
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
Avalon Code (アヴァロンコード Avaron Kodo ) is a fantasy action role-playing video game for the Nintendo DS released in Japan on November 1 2008 and on March 10 2009 in North America. The game was created by Matrix Software.
The plot centers on a young peasant who has been plagued with apocalyptic and prophetic nightmares for weeks prior to the beginning of the story. His or her latest dream, shown in the opening cinematic, features a mysterious voice which reveals not only that the protagonist's world has undergone countless reincarnations in the past and is fated to continue the cycle of correction, destruction, and rebirth until “true enlightenment” is achieved, but also that the main character him or herself has been tasked by the Powers-That-Be to deem the people, places, and things of the current world worthy (or unworthy) of being carried over into the next after the fiery purge.
This voice is that of a magical sentient record book called the Book of Prophecy. Taking this tome, the newly appointed Chosen One sets out to find and befriend four guiding elemental Book Spirits who take residence in the Book, throughout the journey learning more about a hidden plot to hasten the imminent apocalypse playing out beneath a shallow political feud with the neighboring kingdom, and about the decisions of the Book of Prophecy's previous Chosen One.
- Yumil (ユミル Yumiru) / Tia (ティア Tia) - The hero of Avalon Code. Although the player must choose between a young boy and girl character (given the default names of Yumil and Tia respectively) when beginning a new game, the main storyline remains vastly unchanged. Yumil/Tia has been assigned the task of recording everything around him or her in the Book of Prophecy, becoming its new Chosen One in title; as such, the player character becomes gifted with the ability to read ancient ruins, see and interact with Metalize (Recipe) Tablets, ghosts, and Book Spirits, use any armament or equipment produced from the book, and change the makeup of anyone or anything with its own page. At one point in the game, he or she is given the choice to align with one of four legendary Weapon Schools. Although Yumil/Tia begins the game under the protective wing of fellow slum-dwelling pickpocket Rex and is seen to correspond frequently with the sickly townsgirl Fana, his or her past—including reference to any family members deceased or living is largely left unelaborated. However, it can be assumed that the player continues to live on with the Spirits in a home in the New World. In the Japanese-language version of the game, Tia's spoken lines were performed by acclaimed voice artist Mamiko Noto.
- Rempo (レンポ Renpo) The Fire Spirit with his arms sealed, he is the first Book Spirit encountered by the player, initially acting as a guide to basic gameplay. He conducts himself with less maturity than the others, is quick to act, becomes annoyed easily (as the target of the majority of his fellow Spirit Ur's lectures), and doesn't get along with Neaki. It is shown that, although Rempo normally resents Ur's big-brotherly ways, he and Ur will stand together in defense without a thought. Rempo has an affinity for explosions and advises the hero to align him- or herself with Haochy the inventor and the Western Bomb School. Notably, despite his resemblance to a young teenage boy, Rempo and the other three Book Spirits are assumed to have been created at the same time.
- Neaki (ネアキ Neaki) - The Ice Spirit with her voice sealed, Neaki is the third Spirit found by the player, and regards the other Book Spirits with some opinion—Mieli habitually irritates her due to their contrasting warm-and-cool personalities, Ur is often too full of himself in her opinion, and she tends to shove around the excitable Rempo herself when addressed by him. She may be described as a tsundere-type character whose frosty, vindictive manner when regarding the newest Chosen One melts slowly over time. She advocates alliance with the Southern Flight School of projectiles. Coincidentally, when Neaki is sealed in the Book (in other words, when one of the other Spirits is equipped as the player's guide), her image is similar to those on the Clow Cards in manga studio CLAMP's series, Cardcaptor Sakura, specifically the card Watery. Somewhat similarly, the Clow Cards were used to seal helpful elemental spirits away, and were stored in an ancient book found by the titular Sakura.
- Mieli (ミエリ Mieri) - The Forest Spirit with her legs sealed, Mieli is found during the player's first visit to the Granatum Forest area. She wears her heart on her sleeve and possesses several characteristics commonly associated with the typical, cheerful anime schoolgirl, shown hugging the others and commenting on the cuteness of certain enemy types. Mieli has a tendency to bring up the surrounding climate when summoned for advice by the hero, and favors the Northern Hammer School likely because hammers are the traditional tools of area forest-dwellers. Though she has three working wings, the binding on her ankles still causes her to stumble occasionally.
- Ur (ウル Uru) - The Lightning Spirit with his eyes sealed, Ur is the most serious Book Spirit and appears as a scholarly young man in armor with a tendency to provide long explanations and regularly share information pertaining to his own interests partially resented by his companions. He gradually learned to compensate for his restricted vision with heightened perception, both literally and emotionally, playing the part of the mediator from time to time and serving to reassure Yumil/Tia when the plot takes a decided turn for the worse. He states an interest in the Eastern Sword School. Ur is one of the game's most popular characters, in Japan and other regions in which the game was released alike, ranking number one in a Japanese popularity poll which was conducted prior to the game's release in the United States and can be found on the Japanese official Web site. In the North American release, he is voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch, an acclaimed voice actor who has worked on other RPGs in the past.
The plot, as well as the gameplay, revolves around the Book of Prophecy situated on the touch-sensitive lower screen of the Nintendo DS. In order to record a person, monster, plant, or weapon in its pages, the player performs a “Code Scan”, which is done by striking the target to be recorded with the Book itself (mapped to the B button at all times). Locations are filed under the Book's Map section and are added automatically when the player enters the screen for the first time.
Each page reveals its subject's essential information, such as attack strength for weapons, health points for enemies, local lore for maps, and personal tastes and goals for people. In addition, every scannable thing and character has a Code—which is like DNA, but minimalistic and often abstract in nature. This page Code is in turn composed of many Codes, which are exactly what they sounds like: pieces of seven different shapes that fit into the Mental Map like pentominoes into a box and radically alter the target's properties.
Creating different combinations of Codes by adding and removing them to attain specific quantities or ratios changes the object's title and, often, effects. Changing titles to remove 'defective' Codes, as well as creating 'new' items (usually by following certain obtainable recipes), is a facet of gameplay used in many sidequests and occasionally within the story. An example of Code manipulation is as follows: at one point near the beginning of the adventure, Yumil/Tia's only weapon is a Rusted Battle Sword, where 'Rusted' is a title derived from the presence of 3 Codes of Illness and 3 Codes of Copper on the Mental Map. Rempo urges the player to remove the Illness, converting the title to 'Copper' and strengthening the weapon's overall attack power. The player can then add the Illness to a monster's Code, which will miraculously lower the health points of every encountered enemy of that species as long as the piece of Illness is contained in their Mental Map. By the same right, transferring codes of Poison from a sinister character's page to a weapon would give the player the ability to poison stricken enemies.
Each page in the Book of Prophecy has a numerical value of 'worthiness' measured in Code Points, and when the Book's entire value reaches certain quantities, it will level up. In this way the Mental Map undergoes two size upgrades, beginning with a 3x3 square. Specific sidequests and minigame activities are triggered through 'News Flash'es upon level-ups as well. In order to raise page values, besides Code manipulation, the player may do things such as examine 'Exploration Points' on a map, presenting another cast member with things he or she enjoys collecting, defeat many of a certain enemy, call on a Spirit for aid, or equip a weapon.
Dungeons are fairly linear and consist of many linked rooms in which the player must complete a specific task to advance (and determine that page's value). There are several varieties of goals, ranging from lighting torches to flipping switches to defeating enemies, and although there is an onscreen several-minute countdown for each challenge room, the player may still complete the challenge and advance after running out of time with no penalty other than a low score. Most dungeons, naturally, end with a fight against a boss. Performance is ranked according to a medal system; a good run is rewarded with a gold medal for the room, while an especially poor or slow run may not garner any medal at all. Rooms and bosses may be replayed as many times as the player desires in order to achieve a better score and possibly hidden bonuses.
After defeating each monster boss in the Boss section of the Book of Prophecy, the player unlocks a new page in a special Book chapter. These pages contain questions about the coming world, and the Codes that are inserted as answers serve to determine aspects of it such as the inhabitants' housing and the background music. Answers can be filled in differently as many times as the player wishes, yielding different results with different code combinations.
Players familiar with other games by Marvelous Entertainment producer Yoshifumi Hashimoto will likely compare the affection system featured in Avalon Code to that of games such as Natsume's Harvest Moon titles and the fantasy-tinged RPG spinoff series Rune Factory, although the protagonists of Avalon Code are too young for marriage. Most human non-player characters can be given gifts, and, as previously mentioned, have different tastes and aspirations.
Avalon Code features a total of fourteen 'eligible' non-player characters who may take a romantic interest in the player character as various sidequests are completed. In the course of the campaign, Yumil may date characters labeled as Heroines in the Book of Prophecy (kind but terminally ill orphan Fana, determined heiress Princess Dorothea, guarded psychic Nanaida, precocious elf Sylphy), while Tia may become the girlfriend of one of the Heroes (wary street kid Rex, vigilant aspiring hero Duran, emotionless swordsman Anwar, devoted commander General Heath). Six additional characters become available as love interests after the completion of the main quest—two Book Spirits apiece, along with a Hero and Heroine not listed in the game's instruction booklet.
Most character-related sidequests may be undertaken by either Yumil or Tia even if the character in question is of the same gender as the player or the player already has an 'established' significant other, as developing platonic relationships still adds new backstory information to entries in the Book of Prophecy. Every Hero and Heroine also has a particularly gripping personal issue that manifests itself in the form of a locked Code piece (i.e.: the sword master Gustav's son Duran was unable to stop a tragedy that happened before his eyes, so a square in his Mental Map is taken up by 1 Weakness removable only by helping him come to a better understanding of the past.
Avalon Code's official character designs were done by the well-known Japanese illustrator HACCAN, while much scenery and promotional art is accredited to the Japanese artist group Kusanagi. The opening theme, "deep forest", was sung by up-and-coming Japanese pop musician Kana Yazumi who has since done work on the not-dissimilar Rune Factory RPG series.
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|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
- "Avalon Code (2010)". Retrieved 2010-02-07.