Anachronox Retrospective

Every so often, we get treated to a new retrospective piece on Eidos and Ion Storm's 2001 CRPG/JRPG hybrid Anachronox, and each time we are forced to tap into the recesses of our memories and recall the impressions it left upon us.  This weekend is on task for the latest such experience, as this one-page article on The Armchair Empire Infinite reminisces about what made the game great and set it apart from the other titles loaded on our hard drive during that same period of video game history:

What must have been really complicated in creating the game was implementing the sheer number of gameplay elements that it contained. Yes, a large part of it was the JRPG battle sequences. They had a bit of a Chrono Trigger feel to them, which was still a fairly hot commodity at the time, as folks had a high opinion of that game's combat. However, there was a lot more that players had to do. If anything, battles aren't really all that frequent while playing through Anachronox. Players can see enemies before engaging them, and they only inhabit areas that make sense for them to be. For example, gang members may be in an underground area, aggressive creatures stick to their natural habitat, and so forth. Much of one's time is actually spent sleuthing, uncovering clues to figure out what's happening with the galaxy's Mys Tech, and solving local problems. This actually feels like a light adventure game, going around, talking to people, gathering information, all while getting to the bottom of things.

On top of this, each player has their own special skill while wandering the cities and doing this, which results in a number of mini games. There's one for Boots when he picks locks, another has you shouting down Democratus' politicians during a council session so you can fire a tractor beam, Grumpos needs help filling his lungs with enough air so that he can weave such a long, boring "old person story" that NPCs will give up and give him what he wants, et cetera. They're fun little things to do, and often attached to such ridiculous actions that one starts looking forward to their next chance to use it. There's even the occasional "driving a thing" moment tossed in for good measure while playing. It can be tough adding so many mini games, or even a few, in a title because often they feel tacked on and poorly thought out, but on the whole the ones in Anachronox are pretty entertaining and add to the experience.