Developer: Ion Storm
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Where are you, Anachronox?
Last week we visited Eidos and sat down with Ion Storm's Tom Hall to play a pre-alpha build of his upcoming role-playing game, Anachronox. In development for three years, Anachronox has the ignominious distinction of being in the same boat as games like Team Fortress 2 and Duke Nukem Forever - games that are long overdue.
Stiletto, Boots, and their robot pal
Inside the ION Storm office?
Earlier this year, it was reported that Anachronox's campaign had to be scaled back a great deal in order to make it a workable product. Hall said that they were just too optimistic in the initial stages about the scale of the game's plot, particularly in light of the fact that the development team is a modest size - 15 people. Contrast that with the dozens of people that Squaresoft employs to create a title like Final Fantasy VIII.
The comparison with Squaresoft RPGs is natural when you look at Anachronox. It's a party-based RPG, with lots of interaction with NPCs and the environment; there are turn-based, pseudo real-time battles that are clearly inspired by Squaresoft's games. Hall is an avid fan of the Squaresoft games; as the computer was being set up for the demo, we chatted about the sewer level in Chrono Trigger.
Is it fair to write Anachronox off as just "Final Fantasy for the PC?" Probably not - while many of the gameplay mechanics are similar, the story and writing are directed toward a Western audience, specifically those who enjoy tongue-in-cheek humor. Some of the dialog we saw in our demo was gut-busting hilarious, and the game drips with snide references to popular culture.
One side quest in the game has you seeking out a man's missing TACOs: Totally Arbitrary Collectible Objects. Like pet rocks or Pokemon, you can get handsome rewards for collecting a lot of TACOs and returning them to this character. Even a quick glance at the names of the game's main characters - Sylvester "Sly" Boots and Stilleto Anyway - clues you in that Anachronox is not a game that takes itself too seriously.