Year released: 1992
Two reviews ago, I reviewed a significant game in my console gaming history. Well, this is another game that is deeply rooted in memory. Not for being the first as Karnov was, but for being the last: This is the last game I had on my list of titles that I had played extensively as a youth, but had yet to purchase. After buying this game, my days as a video game collector were essentially over. True, I do poke around the swap meet which I used to purchase 95% of my collection every once in a while, but I'm no longer exhausting myself trying to plug up the holes.
I was operating under the recollection that SoulBlazer was a fairly good game when I bought it a fwe months back. And it still is quite a good game, although not necessarily for the reasons I had cited before. My view on the game has changed since my experiences playing it some years ago; some aspects have become more favorable now, while others are less so. Still, it does not majorly influence my overall take on the game, which remains a worthy addition to my collection.
The game revolves around a humanoid sent from the heavens to save the world from the grips of the evil Deathtoll. Whenever you enter a new area, it's always completely empty: all buildings, townsfolk and other denizens have vanished. The object is to enter various caves and take out a dozen or so monster "lairs": spots on the ground which generate enemies either one by one or at certain intervals. When you defeat all the enemies from each lair, it turns green, and stepping on it will cause one of several events to take place: walls may disappear, chests may materialize, or that empty village I was talking about will start filling up. As more lairs are disposed of, the town steadily returns to normal.
It's an intriguing concept, but there are a couple holes. First of all, your strength is based on Experience. Like most RPGs, once you gain enough points, you go up to the next level. Only problem is, the number of enemies in each area is pretty much finite. Once lairs are destroyed, they don't rematerialize, and there are very few foes that aren't attached to a lair. This makes the paradigm of experience points fairly moot. Still, these levels increase steadily as you progress, giving the game a fairly workable learning curve. The only problem is with regards to finding certain necessary items for the final battle; their locations are far too inobvious.
The play control seems about as dead-on as one could hope for. Your character moves at a decent clip, although I sometimes wish he could travel diagonally. Your sword has a good range, not just in front of the player but also to the sides. And since many enemies can't seem to line up with you when you stand one block to the left and one block above them, many of them are defeated without me getting hit. Still, I'm kinda put off by the idea of having every button do a different thing. A menu system would've been more efficient, in my view.
As stated above, the game revolves around you releasing villagers and restoring the town piece by piece. It's a unique idea for a game, but there is one thing that kinda irks me: I'm not a really big fan of games where you have to stop and drop everything to head back to a town, and talk to a citizen thereof to continue on. Particularly when the dialogue is not all that clever and types out on the screen one character at a time. There are places (specifically the third and sixth areas) where you can't progress from one area to the next until you talk with a specific rescuee. It slows down the game I think, and seems to be there just for the sake of getting you to talk with people.
As for the presentational aspects of the game, they're fairly standard for a game released within a year of the SNES' existence, if not a bit better. The colors are very sharp and contrast well against each other. I'm also fairly pleased with the animation of the enemies, and the variety used for each. Every area has its own group of foes, which enhances the atmosphere of each dungeon, preventing a certain monster from appearing to stick out from its surroundings. The music, unfortunately, is not as great. My assertion in my previous capsule of the soundtrack being "little more than a trumpet and a drum machine for the action stages" is not fully accurate, but still much of the dungeon music sounds a bit uppity and pop-esque for my taste. The music for the town in distress, however, is absolutely marvelous.
Over the years, the motivations behind my recommendation of this game have changed. The recommendation, however, has not. This is a pretty darn good title that should not be overlooked by fans of Adventure/RPG hybrids.
|Play Control: ||
|Technical Score: 13
|Aesthetic Score: 19
|Overall Score: 76%|