Back in the day, I always heard how terrible Seventh Cross Evolution and Blue Stinger were during the late 90s and passed them up, but a few years later when a lot of Dreamcast games could be picked up for just a few bucks, I added them to the library for kicks. Looking for games to add to the archives, I wanted to invest some time into them. While they’re far from ideal, it’s safe to say that the stories of these game’s ineptitude were overblown, and while BS is a fairly safe Resident Evil derivative (more on that another day), SCE is an intriguing game that, with more TLC, could’ve been a cult phenomenon in a similar vein to “L.O.L.: Lack of Love”. Besides, Gorō Fukagawa produced it… can it really be THAT bad?
Initially a near-launch title in Japan in 1998 (where it was just called “Seventh Cross”), it was later released in the U.S. (2000) by “Atypical Alchemists Associate” and UFO Interactive… of all groups! A little about UFO: Founded in 1999 in California, they are a small U.S.-based publisher who translate and release mostly niche Japanese games, Indie games, kids games and titles from studios who can’t afford to publish their own games. They mainly choose games with little dialogue to translate and minimal overhead costs. Most people thought that they started with Nintendo and Sony, but they started their career on Sega’s last console with “Industrial Spy: Operation Espionage” and “Seventh Cross Evolution”. SCE is their first game and can best be described as Sega’s attempt at “E.V.O.: Search for Eden”.
The game DOES have a plot, but saying anything would be a spoiler, so just know that the objective is to start off as a basic protist and kill or be killed in an attempt to evolve into the perfect lifeform. The game is cryptic by design and, for better or worse, implores the player to dive into the world with almost no guidance to discover its systems and pave their way. Depending on how you look at it, this can be lazy, realistic or something inbetween. For the first few minutes, you have to survive by gaining nutrients until you evolve into your basic fighting form, Origin. Then you have to fight creatures and eat them for nutrients as well as earn EVP (Evo Value Points) to modify your DNA into a monstrosity. Players create arms, legs, heads and bodies by utilizing a 10 x 10 grid and making different designs, which get registered to your edit and record log. After trial and error, I’ve learned the colors used don’t determine the parts, just the stat bonuses derived from the part, and elaborate shapes mean little… all you need is at least three dots. Yes, you read right: three dots on a 10 x 10 grid. The closer these dots are to the center and whether they are vertical or horizontal determine how powerful the parts are.
This info may have just took your desire to try this game, but the game’s algorithms and costs to create parts change with time and this advice is just a template to make certain parts easier to get. There are 30 parts of each type players can find and they benefit from finding all the parts of the same set, creating “pure” creatures with ability bonuses. Another caveat is parts require nutrients to equip, and you need some nutrients to fight as different actions consume them, so you can’t equip the best parts right away. Head parts excel at boosting intelligence and E-Atk (EXPOWER / magic), arms boost attack and sometimes have secondary ranged attacks, bodies boost resilience, and legs affect speed and terrain you can traverse. You will duplicate parts constantly, but no creation is a waste as each one improves your base stats.
While all this sounds neat, the combat and technical issues hinder the game. Battles are fought automatically once you press the attack button and you slug it out until one of you dies or until you cancel by bringing up your menus, and the camera is terrible (you can adjust the battle camera to at least see enemies around you), allowing enemies to get cheap hits in. You also have no way of knowing how much health an enemy has and if you’re even hurting them (you CAN deal zero damage, but you wouldn’t know), and movement is awkward ( I “parallel park” to escape enemies, then bust a U-turn like a car). Of course, you can wander around and die from an unexpected encounter too, forcing you back into your Origin state. Then there’s the large slowdown in open areas and freezes during certain encounters, mainly bosses, where you would think your game locked up… no bueno.
The graphics are serviceable early Dreamcast fare, and contrary to what you hear, the game does have music… it’s just odd where they chose to play it. It’s nothing special, though the boss music is at least cool. Overall, the game feels rushed… a little more time would’ve done wonders for it.
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