The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004

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Battle Arena

"Rank among the greatest battlers in the world!"

Every four years the strongest fighters in the world meet at Tivan to battle against each other in a glorious tournament to determine who is the world's strongest fighter. Swordsmen, magicians, and the strongest wizards are placed in arenas based on their fighting level, while each arena is led by "leaders", the highest-ranked warriors ever recorded. 

Once a young boy, Seth has finally come of age and is ready to enter Tivan's great tournament. Will Seth be able to tame the mysterious force of magic and use his sword to defeat all four of the great arena leaders? 

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Average. While both of Venosoft's QBRPGs (Battle Arena and Cai's Quest 3) earned two graphics points, Cai's Quest 3 was probably on the border line between two and three points, while Battle Arena was pretty close to getting only one point. The score really doesn't reflect how far Venosoft came along since Battle Arena.

However, Battle Arena's graphics do deserve some respect. Controllable scroll-speed, flicker-free graphics, spell animations, and multiple tilesets adorn the game, and the graphics style is consistent in quality throughout.

The only major failure in Battle Arena's design are the enemy sprites. The sprites themselves fit very well with the rest of the game's design, but apparently Venosoft forgot to make enemy sprites for all the creatures in the game, making a majority of the game's characters use the Worm Sprite. Perhaps this shortage of enemy sprites is due to memory issues or time constraints, but it feels awkward to fight a worm sprite, then fight several creatures like fighters and Spirit Trees that also use the same exact sprite.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Venosoft took the easy but effective way around game music and borrowed some Squaresoft Midis for Battle Arena. The tunes chosen fit very well with the game, although there is a short delay between the switching of tunes, and some places have no music at all. 
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
In Battle Arena, the goal is to achieve the highest rank and becoming champion among warriors. This is done by travelling from arena to arena and challenging each area's warriors. By defeating these warriors, ranking is earned. Once your rank is high enough, you may fight that arena's leader. Defeat all of the leaders and you will be crowned the new champion among all fighters.

The key to winning in arenas is knowing how to battle, and Venosoft's battle engine plays a lot like an improved version of the Secret of Cooey 2 engine. The best parts of the SOC2 engine, including the spell transformation and spell level gaining via the AP system are there, but Venosoft takes it one step further by adding multiple hits to attacks and the use of gold to purchase weapons and armor.

My only complaint in the gameplay of Battle Arena is that Innkeepers and Shopkeepers in the game aren't clearly marked. A lot of stores in RPGs are marked with signs or by some other method, making it easy for such commercial establishments to be located. This isn't usually necessary, but with a game like Battle Arena where a majority of the game's villagers challenge you in battle if you speak to them, it would have averted quite a few Game Overs if the shopkeepers were easier to find.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
While original and full of demos, the dialogue in Battle Arena feels like one of those wrestling shows where people talk trash to each other before they enter the ring. This would work for the kind of game Battle Arena is trying to be, but there isn't enough plot development in the game, and the graphics are so recycled at times that it's difficult to distinguish recurring characters from any other villager.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Because a lot of the game is unfamiliar the first time around, a second running of the game is rewarding because it gives you a chance to enjoy the battle aspect of the game a lot more while having a greater appreciation for Venosoft's attention to the battle engine and game balance.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
This is where Battle Arena really shines. The battle engine may contain the basic components of most QBRPGs, but all of the options available (Attack, Magic, Item, and Run) all have times in the game when they need to be used, and as a result Battle Arena stays entertaining even during longer periods of experience gaining.

The most important step in Battle Arena is to get access to magic spells as soon as possible. Magic is earned through gaining levels, but it isn't activated until a critical event in the game, and the sooner the magic is charged up, the more powerful the spells will become by the game's end.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
As a game director, I probably would have taken out the last couple of hours of playtime in Battle Arena. It felt like the last few parts of the game were designed to form the atmosphere for a great "final battle", but all it really does is tack on some unnecessary, less imaginative level gaining to the end of the quest.

Other than that, the rest of the game structure set up by Venosoft is very well-done, and it's nice to see that there can be an RPG in QB out there where you have to vary your attack plan every now and then, especially when fighting bosses. If you can get over some of it's faults and the battle engine is your favorite part of playing an RPG, Battle Arena is certainly worth a try.

Battle Arena Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Role Playing Game
Rating To solve: 5-6 hours Final Rating: 14/35

To download Battle Arena (204KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wBattle Arena requires a 100% Sound Blaster compatible sound card.
wTo play Battle Arena, unzip the file and run "ARENA.BAT". 

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Game Summary
Coding Group
Homepage URL
Final Rating
14 out of 35 points

The Highs: An RPG game that focuses on battle strategy and levelling up, with good progression.
The Lows: Same enemy sprite is used for nearly 75% of the game's enemies, forcing you to use your power of imagination where original graphics ought to be.

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