SAND LAND - Review @ RPGFan

HiddenX

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RPGFan reviewed the action RPG SAND LAND:

Sand Land - Review

May the eight-year-old nephews of the world rest easy tonight knowing there is an imminent uncle-gift-worthy videogame perfect for their summer gaming needs. Come along as we dip our toes in the sands of a game that gives "fun in the sun," even if parts of it might leave you feeling burned.

Sand Land is a bit like a nostalgic summer road trip. Following a 2000 manga of the same name by Akira Toriyama, Sand Land follows Beelzebub, the Demon Prince, who sets out on a road trip to find the Legendary Spring, a fabled water source that could potentially quench the parched Sand Land residents. Water has become prohibitively expensive since the riverbeds dried up following a disastrous thermonuclear explosion from an "aquanium" (a rare and potent, though volatile, mineral in the world of Sand Land) facility disaster, so Beelz, his royal accomplice Thief, and the brooding Sheriff Rao hit the sandy, sunny road in search of the solution. And like a classic road trip tale, shenanigans, pitstops (side quests), hitchhiking, and idle chitchat fill their journey to hydro-fortune.

[...]

Earlier, I said that Sand Land would make a great gift for a young one, and despite my gripes I still mean that wholeheartedly. As a content note, there are a few "damn" and "hell" drops, but it is a game about a demon after all. There is weapon-based action, but no talking creature or person in the game is ever explicitly "killed" by your weapons. Also, your character and allies never use ballistic weapons on foot. When enemies are downed, they either run away and disappear or faint with stars above their heads. In short, I feel that Sand Land is appropriate for children despite its T rating, and its charm will likely override its flaws for young folks. Simply exploring the desert with fun vehicles and getting to know its cast of characters is sure to be a blast for kids with proficient (second-grade-ish maybe) reading comprehension. I know I would have gone nuts for this game when I was young, with its sand buggies, tanks, motorcycles, and so on, all with Toriyama's rad art as its glue. I wager others will feel the same.

I also wager that ten years from now, Sand Land will be a slam dunk video game in "hidden gems" lists and "underrated games" essays. Once its price crawls below $25 and its bafflingly pointless "Deluxe Edition" content is packed in (or, better yet, deleted altogether), the game will be value caviar for hungry backloggers. Partially in honor of you future value seekers (hello from 2024, if so), I don't want to outright pan the game for being an inconsistent and unnecessarily SaaS-ified jumble as it is now. It has plenty going for it, especially in its visuals and its vehicles. Just don't give Bandai Namco your hard-earned ten extra dollars for shit they probably forced ILCA to shovel (the Deluxe Edition content) right as they were wrapping up development. Better yet, wait until Sand Land is on sale. That is, unless the 8 to 16-year-old in your life asks for it, in which case I guarantee they'd get sixty bucks worth out of the game.

Score: 75/100

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