Verne World (ヴェルヌワールド), released 9/25/1995, published by Banpresto
The premise behind Verne World is certainly original. In 2028, to celebrate Jules Verne’s 200th birthday, a large theme park is built. It is manned almost entirely by robots, who will take visitors through several of Verne’s stories, acting out the parts of the heroes, villains, and side characters. The main character’s family is one of a number of people who are given a sneak peek at the park before it opens. But soon after they arrive, there are several earthquakes, and the main character and his little brother get separated from the family. Everyone then seems to have vanished, except for the robots, who are beginning to act under their own power and attack. The setting draws from eight of Verne’s books (I’ll give their common English names):
- Dick Sand, a Captain at Fifteen
- Five Weeks in a Balloon
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Carpathian Castle
- Around the World in 80 Days
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Facing the Flag
- Around the Moon
I read Around the World in 80 Days when I was a kid, and I’ve heard of Journey and 20,000 Leagues; the other books I haven’t even heard of. The cover art shows all the characters in a rather unusual style:
The picture shows the 8 party members you can get during the game. From the top left they are Nicolai (a Russian who fights with his fists), Chris (an American nurse who fights with a basketball), David (an Englishman who fights with a rugby ball), Ai (your girlfriend who fights with a baseball), main character (who fights with a sword), Somu (an Indian who uses technology), Emma (a wheelchair-bound woman), Kei (main character’s younger brother), and then Shaolin (Chinese girl) at the very top . Unfortunately I named the main character kurisu as usual so I ended up with two people named Chris in the party (the default name is YOU).
The battle system has two kinds of special attacks. The first kind use something called GP (Guts Points) which is just the usual EP/MP. The second kind are called TW attacks (I never did figure out what that stands for) and use Energy. Energy serves as the currency in the shops, as well as the energy for these TW attacks. You equip them like items, and then “charge” up EP in the status menu. Some TW moves can only be used by certain characters.
With the exception of the very beginning, GP restoring items are so cheap and easily available that you will rarely use regular attacks. However, they miss quite frequently, and against bosses they can be a liability so TW attacks (which do not miss) are better. Most bosses have some kind of elemental weakness that you can exploit if you find it, but I found the most generally useful TW’s to be the various Chainsaws. There were some bosses they did not work on, but for the most part just spamming Chainsaw attacks with healing items was enough.
Sometimes you are also in vehicles, which have the same basic system but no TW attacks and the healing is done through Repair Kits.
First Kurisu and Kei try to contact Kurisu’s girlfriend Ai, but the connection is cut off. At the same time, they hear that someone named Emma is stuck in a ferris wheel and try to save her because at least then they’ll have another human.
Why is King Kong in the game? Anyway, he’s holding Emma, but once we beat him up he gives her back. Emma is in a wheelchair but knows a lot about computers so is a big help in figuring out where everyone is. Anyway I will try to hit the highlights of the story rather than covering everything (as I usually do unless the story is really good).
The basic way the plot moves is that we are trying to open up various areas that have been blocked by either flooding, broken doors, etc. Through a combination of Emma’s computer skills and going to places in person, we manage to continue on into the park. Usually the characters in the books (like Phineas Fogg) are helpful; they are somehow not affected by whatever has caused the majority of the robots to go berserk and fight us.
The game does not have you go literally through the plots of the books, but often you have to make your way through areas from the books that are full of danger — if the park were working correctly you would have “defeat the villains” through some scripted sequence and not be in any real danger, but here you actually have to fight your way through. Fortunately the theme park shops are still running normally so you can buy weapons, armor, and food along the way.
Eventually we learn that all this is happening because of Verne, the central robot that is supposed to be manning the whole thing. But a separate entity called Dark Verne has split off from Verne, and decided that humanity needs to be destroyed. The rest of the park humans (like kurisu’s parents) are in cold sleep for some reason; it was never made clear that I can remember why Dark Verne didn’t just kill them.
We also encounter someone named Gilarman, who has apparently come in from the outside and tries to take control of the situation by ordering us around. We sort of follow his instructions, but not always — eventually it turns out that Gilarman is behind the creation of Dark Verne; he did this to become superhuman and eventually take over the world (mwahaha). But he has lost control of the program, and after he continually tries to betray us and get back control of the island, Dark Verne eventually kills him by blowing up a helicopter he’s in.
Our ultimate goal is to take the Reset Disc to be able to restore the park to “factory settings”, so to speak, eliminating Dark Verne and all of Gilarman’s interference. This eventually requires fighting Dark Verne himself:
He heals himself once, but with chainsaws he was pretty easy. Then the final boss, which is computer-world Dark Verne:
This is a rather unusual final boss. He also heals himself and is a bit more tanky than regular Dark Verne, but at max level (64, which is very easy to attain) he goes down fairly easily.
After this everyone is restored from cold sleep with no memory of what happens, and the park is back to normal.
This isn’t a bad game, but it’s not one of the greats either. I will give it a lot of credit for the unique setting, and I think if you like Jules Verne and know more about the books than I do you may enjoy it more. I will also credit them for including a bunch of different characters from different countries and skin tones and not being super stereotypical about them (the African American Chris does play basketball which is a bit cliche but she’s also a social worker nurse.)
The battle system has enough variety that you cannot just hold down a turbo button in battles. The interface, for the most part, is very clean. Definitely a respectable mid-late SFC game.