Aaron: A Dreamer Boy
"...all I wanna do is dream," sang the Box Tops in the classic "Turn on a Dream", a song that has little to do with Aaron: A Dreamer, but the sentiment of the song is a nice fit to a game that is based around a young boy's dreams. Sadly Aaron isn't quite old enough to be having dreams about the girl next door...
In a clever move from developer DreamSoft Games, Aaron is split into four different dreams, each of which holds a different type of game. One of the dreams is that of Commander Aaron, a space pilot saving earth in a side-scrolling shoot-em-up. Two of the dreams have young Aaron as an adventurer, seeking out evil in a 3D third person environment. The fourth and smallest dream is an Operation Wolf styled point and click shooter.
The best of these dreams is easily Star Battle, a shoot-em-up which looks, sounds and plays the best by a long way. This dream isn't the longest of the games but will certainly provide the most fun. The action doesn't have the complexities of a decent shooter (Gradius for example) but it is quite difficult and should prove a challenge.
The worst of the dreams is the pointless Toys Invasion. Based on lightgun games, but replacing the gun with your mouse, your sole task is simply to shoot as many objects as you can. I've never understood why any developer would write a game like this, and as a dream it is simply making up the numbers.
The remaining dreams, Sacred Cemetary and Sacred Sword, take place in a fairly large 3D world inhabited by zombies, treasures and adventures. Imagine a really low budget Tomb Raider without the thrills and you'd be somewhere near to how these dreams play out. I'm not sure why this same 3D world is used in two different dreams, but it wasn't the best choice as the graphics engine is weak and gameplay stilted and boring.
Presentation of the whole Aaron game is probably the game's best point. Whilst playing through the dreams, I got the distinct impression that the developer started out with a great idea, built the main hub, built the shoot-em-up, built the 3D engine needed for an adventure and then got a little fed up and wrote some filler.
The graphics throughout can best be described as average. The shoot-em-up holds up the best with clear, large sprites. The 3D dreams are unfortunately very poor. The ideas and imagination on show prove that the developer has potential but textures and models are very basic. 3D Aaron however does look kind of cool.
I would normally mention the audio aspects of a game around about now, but oddly, the sound doesn't work on my machine. To be honest, it would have to be something spectacular to lift Aaron to the level where I would recommend a purchase. I did try Aaron on a different PC but that ended in defeat when I repeatedly received Fatal Errors that closed the game down.
Aaron: A Dreamer Boy is a great idea for a game and could have been really good, but in its current form, I simply can't give it a high mark. Most of the score below is from the Star Battle dream, with a little extra added for general imagination and low price. Hopefully, the next release from DreamSoft Games will be a little more realised.
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