Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Have you ever wondered what Princess Zelda was going through while she desperately waited for Link to come to her rescue? Maybe you have, and maybe you haven’t, but I’d like to believe that if handled properly, her story could make for an interesting twist on the classic tale of the hero’s journey. Unfortunately, Hope: The Other Side of Adventure takes what could have made for a groundbreaking and empowering experience, and utterly destroys it by substituting community theater-level soliloquy and angst for compelling gameplay.
Our “game” begins when a carefree Princess is suddenly kidnapped by a dragon while on a picnic date with her one true love, the Prince. The dragon, we find, is actually the agent of a sinister Duke who wants the Princess for his very own. For one brief instant the player is given control of the Prince, but soon the screen fades, and his journey takes a subservient role delivered through RPG like status updates. We are quickly transported into a dank and roach-infested tower where we find our wispy Princess imprisoned and alone, waxing poetic about her sad state of affairs.
And this is where we’re introduced to the one sliver of play this game offers. While the Princess bemoans her existence, we’re granted the opportunity to walk her around this virtual hell (which has all the floor space of a Japanese closet) with a touch screen joypad on the left side of the screen, or to press two very special buttons on the right. Press the A button and the Princess cries. Press the B button and she lets out a sigh of grief. I kid you not. Hope: The Other Side of Adventure doles out this barely interactive nightmare in bite-sized chunks over the course of a week, with no option to play ahead, unfortunately.
The game does look nice, though. Stylistically speaking, the Princess’ story resembles a dark fairytale (which is appropriate, given the moody dialogue and bleakness of one of the two ending scenes), while the Prince’s journey looks like something straight out of King’s Quest. The music is rather nice as well. The Princess sings a haunting aria during certain parts of the game that manages to impress in spite of the game’s other shortcomings, and the Prince’s scenes are accompanied by authentic, up-tempo gamey tunes. The ending ballad is a bit cringe worthy, though.
Hope: The Other Side of Adventure tries to appeal to the gamer via old school references and fan service, but it doesn’t provide enough gameplay to be a good game, and it lacks the focused message of good art. Instead, we get some convoluted mishmash of the two – a vaguely interactive adventure with a powerless protagonist that we get to watch suffer over the course of several excruciating days. It comes across like a snuff film at times. And even if you get the good ending and the Princess is saved, the fact that she had no active role in her rescue deflates the entire experience. That should have been the hook of the gameplay, really – the Princess using the power of hope as a device to aid the Prince on his rescue attempt. Instead, we got tears and sighs.