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Game Maker Games - Albero and the Great Blue Emblem
 Albero and the Great Blue Emblem by Dex (Chris Royer)
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Review by Joewoof
At first glance, Albero and the Great Blue Emblem seems like nothing more than a dull and uninspired platformer. In fact, the first 5 minutes of the game looks and feels like just any ol' Game Boy clone. Afterwards, it transforms into a well-polished, full-fledged exploration-based platformer with RPG-elements. It is also one of the few Game Maker games that has a good, structured plot line that slowly unfolds as you progress. This is one of those games that must be played right to the very end in order to experience its full splendor. The story becomes increasingly engaging as you advance through the game, with innumerous plot twists thrown in along the way.

My greatest joy is how the game starts off presenting a disappointingly "monotonish experience" that evolves into something much greater. Not wanting to ruin the fun for those reading this, I must recommend you to try out the game before you read any further. Download and play it (recommended - press F4 to play it full-screen). Be disappointed. And be surprised as it grows.

You play as Albero, a cute white Malbio that used to serve as the guardian to the Great Blue Emblem. The emblem is a great source of magic. It alone powers the sky and gives it its blue color. However, another guardian, also a Malbio, is one day consumed with a lust for power. As he begins to steal the emblem's power, Albero breaks apart the emblem, scattering its pieces throughout the world. Furious, the evil Malbio throws Albero from the tower.

Albero survives the fall, but now he must journey the world in search of the pieces of the Great Blue Emblem. On his journey, he meets and helps many inhabitants of the world. Many friends also later join him in his epic quest. As they search for the missing pieces, they learn of an evil, sinister conspiracy that threatens to corrupt the entire world.

This platformer is mostly about overcoming obstacles while avoiding monsters. You jump around, use special abilities, switch characters and collect items. It doesn't sound very intriguing on the surface, but the game offers a great deal of variety and many places to explore. More details on that below.

- Warning. Spoilers below are detrimental to your experience with this game. Read on at your own discretion. -

= Target Appeal =

Good.

There are many people who like charming games with cute characters. This game achieves that through lighthearted humor and having a cast of characters that consists of blobs and butterflies. My personal favorite is a pink jug-creature that can hold water and spit it out. That's right - a living jug in pink. You have to see it to believe it.

= Immersiveness =

Fair.

The graphics are excessively simplistic. This is not always a problem, but the window resolution is incredibly tiny to the point that the game is almost unplayable unless you press F4 to play the game full screen (recommended). In full screen, the game appears fuzzy and blurred. On the plus side, the sprites are clean and most of them do not look out of place.

There are no sound effects in this game.

The music is of mixed quality. All songs have a uniform, "retro" feel. This fits into the graphical theme of the game, but many of them are not very interesting and catchy, regardless. On the other hand, despite their quality, every theme fits each area convincingly enough. The game needs a boss theme for better dramatic effect though.

Together, the subpar graphics, music and lack of sound effects add up to a rather poor experience. Fortunately, the story and world makes up for all that. The NPCs that you interact with provide that "personality" to each and every area. While most of them do not move, they turn to face you to give the illusion of movement. Great focus and effort is placed upon world development, and the result is spectacular. Each area seems alive and has a different personality. Discovering a new part of the world and learning about its inhabitants becomes a goal in itself. Through this, the game successfully captures the "essence of exploration", so to speak.

= Polish =

Good.

There are only a small number of minor technical problems in this game. In a situation where you talk to the "Time Trial" NPC with a character that is not meant to do the trial, a tiny bug will occur. In addition to that, the collision mask of the butterfly character can use a few pixels of adjustment.

The item storage system should display the items being kept. Not being able to view them makes it cumbersome. Fortunately, you will hardly have to deal with this system at all.

None of these significantly affects gameplay.

= Originality =

Good.

Although the idea of playing as a blob is definitely not a new idea, it is greatly overshadowed by the vast amount of original ideas presented. The main cast of characters is very unique, consisting of a blob, a butterfly, a clone, a living jar and a god. It is within their special abilities that the game really shines (more on that later).

The story is well-crafted, although some concepts are not completely new. Its central structure is old, using the "collect X number of magical artifacts to save the world from evil" style. However, there is enough humor and details to keep it fresh all the way through. One of its key highlights is unpredictability; you never know what will happen next. Even if you guess, there is a large chance that you will be wrong.

= Smooth Curves =

Excellent.

This game has one of the best learning and difficulty curves I've ever experienced. It starts really slow and simple, introducing you to basic movements and interaction. It is not until after an hour that gameplay begins to get complicated. Each new gameplay feature is introduced at exactly the right time. The difficult curve also slopes very evenly, allowing you to hardly notice any jump in difficulty (with only one exception).

When you start off, there is a tutor that teaches you how to get around. The first part of the game is actually one big tutorial that fits into the story. Very effective. Afterwards, with each new feature, there is a short "practice obstacle" to get you started, just like any good platformer has.

= Variety =

Excellent.

Some games introduce you to a completely new gameplay element every 15 minutes, but few do it non-stop for 5 hours straight. Even fewer do it alongside the discovery of new areas and plot twists. Very impressive.

The key gameplay concept in this game is a character-switching system. Each of the 4 main characters has several abilities that allows them to overcome different kinds of obstacles. The blob can jump high, equip items and walk on the ceiling. Later on, he can also release a controllable magical fire. The butterfly can hover for a short distance, enter hidden walkways and fire spirit boomerangs. The clone can perform multiple jumps, equip items and travel through pipes. The living jar can fill itself at special pools with water, fire goo, gray liquid and lemonade. Each has a specific use for certain obstacles and situations. For example, gray liquid can dispel magical flames, while water is used for opening a particular kind of trapdoors. You can switch between characters at a device near a save point.

All these may seem too many, but the learning curve is well-tuned. You are given more than enough time to familiarize yourself with each character and their abilities.

The puzzles and dungeons are very dissimilar. With each new area you enter, you are provided with a completely new challenge to face. They range from "time trial" challenges, releasing spirits to piece together a ghostly stairwell, to leading an AI-controlled companion through a high-tech installation and even fighting fearsome bosses. Monsters may be a little repetitive during the second half of the game, but for good reason. The focus is on overcoming obstacles.

= Challenge =

Good.

Although the difficulty curve is near perfect, the game starts off a little too easy. Near the end, it becomes a little too hard. Some challenges are almost frustrating to figure out, with one misleading clue for one of them. There is also one boss in particular that is a pain to defeat. These parts can use a little smoothing. The amount of challenge is generally good, however.

= Depth =

Fair.

It takes around 5 hours to complete the game. In that time, you learn a great deal about the world. There is a fair amount of backstory about the creation of the world and some history regarding the rulers. What's interesting is that all this backstory is not just for ornamental purposes. Some games make the mistake of putting in backstory that has no true significance to the plot. This game integrates all that into the plot - and does it well.

Sadly, there is little character development.

Hidden throughout the world are secret rooms where you can rescue butterflies in exchange for increased hit points. The rarest kind gives you the greatest bonus. These secrets add a little replay value, but without a clear defined goal (such as how many butterflies there are to rescue in total), players are not likely to actively look for them.

= Overall =

Good.

Albero and the Great Blue Emblem is a magnificent game in some respects, but it can use some work in many areas. Its slow, dull beginning and lackluster presentation may turn off some players. On the other hand, those that stick with it may discover that it is much more than it seems. Some games take time to "kick-in". This is one such example. And boy, does it kick hard!

- - - - -

- Creator's Description -
Control Albero and help him gain new abilities and friends through this Exploration based Platform RPG.

Download Albero and the Great Blue Emblem (EXE, ~1.6 MB , Content caution )

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Opinions about Albero and the Great Blue Emblem
engaging
100%
artistic
75%
original
75%
strange
25%
challenging
75%
polished
50%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

Recommendations: The 37 people who like Albero and the Great Blue Emblem also like the following games.
Comments (Add your own):
2009.12.21 EagloBane
Rating: --

I cannot rate this game fully because I am incapable of finishing it. There is a pedestal near the end of the game in the black castle (the one before the room inside with the black and blue stairs and lamps) that I cannot place the purity stone on. This seems to be a bug that refuses to work, so I cannot continue on. Please fix or tell me how it can be fixed.
2009.12.21 EagloBane
Rating: 7

Ignore my last post. I figured it out. Now here's my real review:

Ok, the positive points are these: moving the character was solid enough, switching between characters was a good idea, as well as the team effort puzzles. I also thought the story was well planned out.

Negatives? The graphics were a little too simple, the music too annoying, and the glitches frustrating. I found myself having to quit and restart because I made a minor mistake that cost me the game. The problem with a lot of the puzzles, too, was that you had to get it absolutely right or you would either have to do a whole bunch all over again or quit and restart the game to get out of the jam. This happened too often as I was learning how you were supposed to solve the puzzles, and it became more frustrating than fun.

There were several other things that I didn't like, but they were just little things like the text bubbles, the enemies hurting you more than a boss, and incredibly horrible resolution.

So, in the end, it was a decent game. However, you could definitely go back and work on some things, starting with resolution and graphics.
2009.09.13 jimlefevre
Rating: --

This seems to have a rojan virus on the file, at least that's what my virus scan says.

Does anyone else have this problem.

I realy want to play this though!!!
2008.11.15 Gåsen
Rating: 8

I think this game is amazingly good. I actually like the graphics. The blur that occurs when the game is maximized just makes it look good, in my opinion.
I don't really like the music though.
2008.02.14 gamefreek2
Rating: 9

It's absolutely great! I'm still clawing my way at it... I'm sort of stuck on Level 6. BTW, why does the one guy on L5 say 'I have fury?' Is it a Fawful reference?
2007.12.12 blaucomelmar
Rating: 9

The best RPG game I've seen on game maker games. It had me hooked for hours. Great storyline, good graphics, the music a bit repetitive, but a great piece of work. I'm looking forward for Albero 2...
2007.10.14 Toasterofdoom
Rating: --

After you get the 4th elevator bowlerfly thing and it says it wants you to do something for an elevator pass, what do you do?
2007.10.13 DeathMasterGames
Rating: 7

Hey, looks like I never rated this game. I played it a long time ago. I liked it a lot. It reminded me of the oldschool GameBoy. The only problem was I never knew what to do when I got to the top of the tower with the emblem. And then the game froze while I saved, so I lost everything. In light of that major glitch, 7/10
2007.09.05 ShrooboidJr.
Rating: 9

For such a simple looking game, It has such depth! Man, this game rocks! The old fashon, gameboyish graphics really add something. Hmm...
The only coms, as far as I can see are the slghtly annoying, repeditive music, and the inability to enlarge the screen.

P.S., I love the Fawful refrence ;)
2007.09.05 ShrooboidJr.
Rating: --

Whoops, scratch the 'inability to enlarge screen' part. Hehe...
2007.09.02 SquareSmileyFace Productions
Rating: 8

HELP!!! WHEN I GET THE FIRST JUMP POWER-UP I CAN'T JUMP OVER THE LEDGE!!!

Okay, back to the game. Its a really cool game with really cool sprites. but i cant jump over the ledge when getting the first jump power up please help!!!
2006.11.29 lewa417
Rating: --

Pointless game... once you get the first jump powerup you cant continue any more.
2006.11.29 lewa417
Rating: 8

Please ignore my last comment. it is an awesome game.
2006.11.27 worubouk
Rating: 9

Awsome Game, but like it has been said... the music isnt the best :(. Umm its a great game, i dont think the speech bubble is that annoying and such lol! Overall its a good game the graphics are simplistic but good. The beggining is pretty boring but oh well! This game is definetly challenging at points and the small glitches can get annoying. I do really like the games design and the character u are playing as is a nice design. I hope to see a second version of this game!
2006.11.22 Rubber Ducky
Rating: --

Replaying the game again, I found out it was an ability for Acacia for two tanks, which makes sense.
2006.11.15 ledi51
Rating: 9

Great game, downloaded it a while ago, before it was in spotlight. 9.5 for me, couldn't get past the third level.
2006.11.11 jmanjman47
Rating: 8

Wow, this game is such an inspiration. Nice job!
2006.11.09 Rubber Ducky
Rating: --

not really. maybe it wasn't an ability. does anybody else know what I'm talking about?
2006.11.07 Rubber Ducky
Rating: --

I'm really stuck. I accidently skipped over a text box for an ability I got for the Bowlerfly during a time test in the tree. How do I use it? Does anybody else know what this was?
2006.11.07 user_ferai
Rating: --

Well, I'm not sure I know what part you are refering to, but Rusty only has a few abilities:
1) Fly - Hold up after a jump and Rusty can fly for a short period
2) Travel through Cracks - Depending on where you are, Rusty gains the ability to travel through red and black cracks.
3) Soul Throw - By hitting 'X' Rusty can throw his soul (a small white orb) through light grey cracks. This is mainly used to hit switches.

Hope this was helpful.
2006.11.05 user_ferai
Rating: 10

Best game maker game so far. I found a glitch at the very end of the game (somehow getting myself stuck in an infinite save loop) and I actually started again, and played it all the way through! Great learning curve, stylistic graphics, and good gameplay. Its a bit slow to warm up, but after that its hard to stop.

Oh, and for the person stuck trying to get the elevator card to level 4, find a white bowerfly and take it to the bowerfly heights. When you return to the 3rd level you will meet rusty who can fly over to the card.
2006.11.04 beam
Rating: 10

This game is excellent, even if it wasn't graded in relation to the fact that it is a GM game. Even if it was a Game Boy game, I'd say it was a great game. My only two qualms were the text boxes (which are negligable), and the music which could have been better. All in all, this is easily my favorite Game Maker game to date.
2006.09.29 zon3r
Rating: 8

Normally, I mostly hate RPG's, due to obnoxious steriotypical characters, and other petty annoyances that lead to me shutting off the game and booting up Jetz Rampage 4 on the computer. But Albero has the odd, very enjoyable feel of the old game boy games. Reminds me a lot of the old Pokemon games, like Red and Blue. And Gold. (all pokemon games after those are worse than crap.)

I am still not good at RPG's though, so I was wondering if somebody could give me a hint. Right after reaching the tokowhatever village and riding the elevator to the 3rd floor, I find that I cannot jump high enough to reach the next elevator card, or the jump upgrade. I beat it once (the part I'm stuck on, not the whole game), quite a while ago, but have forgotten how. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, great fun, good game. Albero 2 would be nice....
2006.09.25 Lazrael
Rating: 9

Beside the music, I have absolutely no complaints. It is a very polished game. I don't really have anything else to say that wouldn't already have been said. Good work.
2006.09.13 tomatoeworm
Rating: 9

Im to lazy to type, so all im gona say is I LOVE IT!!!!!!!
2006.09.04 game_devil
Rating: 7

Good maked and little bit annoying musics!
I love this game!
2006.07.21 operating_thetan
Rating: 8

i loved this game. its so simple, but that's part of the appeal. well done is all i have to say...the music killed it a little though.
2006.07.12 Rokuji
Rating: 9

Wow. A GREAT game! Very addicting, and long too! I loved it, and couldnt stop playing. You could sell this as a gameboy game. seriously. The music was a little annoying, but it fit. It wasnt ear wrenching or anything.
2006.07.08 Marbs
Rating: 8

Great game, although I haven't finished it, I'm sure I'm very close to completeing it. Its the sort of game I play every noe and then when I don't have anything else to do, and each time I get a little further. It is really long compared to other GM games, but you just want to keep on playing. The thing says I have been playing for over 1000 hours, which is weird, cos I haven't.
2006.05.20 Swazhini
Rating: --

the speach bubbles are irritating and it would b nice if it started out easier for gaming beginners!
2006.05.16 potnop
Rating: --

OK now I beat it. Finally... I was stuck on that part with the grey blocks for a while! OMFG! Finally I figured out how to get past them. Then I beat the game soon after. Man that was aweosme. If this game wasn't this good, I would have just given up a while ago.

But... This game had me going U know, and I beat it in about 3 hrs. THat's awesome tho that a gmae like this could take 3 hrs. THe end was supposed to be sad I guess, but somehow I have a feeling things'll get better. I won't reaveal too much. And judging form the eyes I'm guessing there'll B a sequel and Albero will be back.

And for all of U, only today did I realize it's Albero, not Alberto. There is no 'R'!
2006.05.14 JMchaos
Rating: 9

After I completed this game i said ''WOW, that was one hell of a game''. This game is very, very well made and polished and the learning curve is the best ive ever seen in a game maker game. Though it is true it starts slowly, it get very good around 1/4 of the game and get better every second. The story in this game is also very good and is well connected to the title and the whole game itself. This is one hell of a great game.
2006.05.09 supmaster005
Rating: 8

awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwsome
really great game!
well only 3 major problems:
-some bad music sometimes
-dark emfly's IA
-I finished it in only 3:28.Its toooo short. :C

(could you do a secound episode??????)
2006.05.08 ert__
Rating: 9

It is a great game, just kind of confusing at times, and you dont know where to go. Great game, though.
I haven't beat the game, im stuck at the part where you first encounter the blue/grey switch blocks. I have to get Albero up on the ledge where the rest station is but you can't.
2006.05.05 tomerk
Rating: --

Pretty good game so far(where I am) but I can't figure out how to get past the door with a key on it in the butterfly queen's cavern.
2006.05.05 potnop
Rating: 8

WOw this game is fun pretty much. I'm beginning to like these Metroid Vania GM games. Seiklus, Soldexus, and now this game are the ones I played so far in this style. I don't mind the music too much though. It's kinda cool so far. It's a tiny bit confusing what to do next sometimes but I just go to a spot I couldn't get to before and I wasn't really lost too much.
2006.05.01 BorisE
Rating: 8

Excellent game but if only it was a bit higher resolution. It will play fullscreen but it's blurry.
2006.04.30 Mooseyfates
Rating: 10

It does just keep getting better and better.
2006.03.18 stalepretzel59
Rating: 10

Call me nieve, but I didn't notice the 'bad music'. The bubles didn't annoy me either. Incredible!
2006.03.15 Pie_4
Rating: --

i dont know how to use a powerup...
2006.03.04 ThrillSoftwares
Rating: 10

I haven't beaten the game so far but I really really like it! I'm only up to the part where you have to get all the spirits for the spirit staircase. I like your character changing and in-built game time. gives it the feel of a commercial role play platform. repetitive music though
2005.11.20 VGFox
Rating: 9

Groovy game! Some annoying bugs, anf the music, bring the score down, but this still deserves a place in the GM spotlight due to it's awesoumeness. Everythng looked soft and natural, and the story was nice. Great job.
2005.10.12 Re_jex
Rating: 8

AHH! finnally, after 3 hours and 53 minutes! What a good game, if it wasn't for those small glitches which made me have to redo large parts, it would be better. This is one of the best GM games I have played, with a nice story and all.

The speech bubbles get annoying though 'You are fully healed' 'your tank is full' and such. There are some errors, One makeing it so albero couldn't set down the orb at the last pedestal, and others. Over all its got nicely polished graphics and gameplay, and the music is tireing, but if it didn't loop so much it would be pleasent.
2005.10.10 bungo
Rating: 8

I think it's a great game and dark emfly has kind of bad AI which should be fixed, but you can beat Dr. Slugga. what I can't figure out though is how to get the forth emblem...
I guess the music could be slightly less repeditive, but it's not that bad
Also the library is a nice touch for the story line.
2005.10.08 cactus
Rating: --

Awesome game. The music isn't very good though, and the speech balloons look kinda iffy. Other than that I can't find much to complain about. Great job!
2005.10.08 cactus
Rating: 8

Oh, forgot to give you a rating. If it wasn't for the music it would've easily gotten a nine.
2005.10.08 Re_jex
Rating: --

the music is bothersome at times. Its all good until that secret slugga lab. I can't beat dark slugga, because I couldn't get dark emfly up the stairs with dark alby, so I used normal alby. The slugga only gets hurt when he bites me at the end of the halls or something.. impossible! (for me)
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