Shilkin’ every night and day.
GENRE: Text adventure
RELEASE DATE: 11/21/90 – (JP)
Shilka’s Adventure is the second of eight text adventure games based on the characters of Phantasy Star II. These eight games could only be played if you had the Sega Game Toshokan cartridge and subscribed to Sega’s MegaNet service in Japan.
Shilka’s Adventure begins with an exposition dump about the titular character, so hey, why not kick off the review in a similar fashion? Shilka (known as Shir in the English version of Phantasy Star II) is a young woman who grew up rich, but leaves the fancy life behind to steal things. A ketchup bottle here, an ivory comb there. As long as she’s stealing, she feels alive. In Shilka’s Adventure, she plots her biggest score yet: the painting known as “Opa-Opa” by world-famous painter Eli Ossale. Not only is it worth billions of Meseta, but it’s trapped behind layers of security. To get it, Shilka needs to evade robot guards, disable alarms, and even wear an alluring disguise. Sounds dangerous. Sounds exciting. What could possibly go wrong?
Ossale’s previous painting, the Alex Kidd, sold for very little at auction.
The plot, for one thing. This potentially exciting heist is ruined by a mix of conflict-free events and interactions. For example, Shilka needs a hang glider to glide from her hotel to the Kaiser Building where the painting resides. What luck, the hotel has a sporting goods shop that sells hang gliders! Or how about when Shilka makes it to the security room, but doesn’t have the password to disable the security system. She then hears two people coming and quickly hides. These individuals plug in the password, disable any security, then promptly leave. Problem solved!
Shilka’s clearly pulled off this sort of caper before.
The gameplay is the same as the other adventures. From your menu screen, you use one of five actions – Move, Use, Look, Take, Drop – while the text at the bottom of the screen guides you through your surroundings. Since the screen rarely provides any visual updates, it’s up to you and your imagination to envision any action. Items that have some significance are all highlighted in yellow, so you’re never in the dark about what’s important. You will fight the occasional robot guard, but they’re so easy, it hardly counts; nothing like a traditional Phantasy Star battle. If you don’t keep track of your location, it’s possible to get lost, but otherwise, Shilka’s Adventure is a breeze.
This is some wicked art gallery.
Amia’s Adventure was the first of these Phantasy Star text adventures, and while it isn’t a masterpiece, its bounty-hunter-pursuing-the-bounty story kept me interested until the end. Shilka’s Adventure doesn’t even compare. The plot amounts to “Girl wants painting, girl takes painting, the end.” Shilka also displays zero emotion or personality outside of her narrow focus to steal the painting. Aren’t these adventures supposed to provide more background into the characters? I already knew Shilka was a thief in Phantasy Star II. The scenario should at least provide a bit more insight into who she is, either through the characters’ inner thoughts or via some sort of conflict with a supporting character.
At best, Shilka’s Adventure is a small time waster for Phantasy Star II enthusiasts. At worst, it’s a go-nowhere adventure that fails to delve into the psyche of the character for which it’s named. Here’s hoping future installments of this eight-part series aren’t so void of meaning.