Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Soul Blazer - Beat the game

I decided to play this game because of Zelda. Specifically, I saw this video that attempted to place all of the Zelda games on a historical, game-world, timeline (actually two timelines, but you'll have to watch the video to see that). It inspired me to want to play all of the Zelda games in the order presented there.

Unfortunately for me, the first Zelda game they mentioned was the Game Boy Advance game The Minish Cap. The reason that is unfortunate is because of my peculiar game play habits. I try not to have too many outstanding (unbeaten) games for a system at once. That is, I don't want to have too many games that I start, put a significant amount of time into, and then leave "unfinished." I put unfinished in quotes because sometimes I can feel done with a game even if I don't beat it, and many times there isn't really a meaning of beating the game.

Anyway, I currently have two portable games that I have put some time into, but have not finished. The first is Fire Emblem for Game Boy Advance (which I love, but my obsessive-compulsiveness regarding to games is hindering how good it could be) and the other is Contact for the DS (which, to be honest, seems merely fine so far). Starting The Minish Cap would add one more portable game (not to mention that I would still be playing Animal Crossing: Wild World and that felt like too much.

I still wanted to play Zelda, so I decided to play a Zelda-like game. I have been curious about Soul Blazer since I acquired it, and on a superficial level it seems Zelda-like: overhead view, sword as main weapon, magic as secondary weapons, items to equip. So, I popped it in and began playing it.

It certainly owes a lot to Zelda, and I would call it Zelda-like, but not a Zelda clone. I'll go into more detail of what the game is when I review it (probably the next post), and for now I'll just give my feelings on it.

Basically, I like it more than its quality.

It has quite a few shortcomings - in play control, usefulness of items and magic, too easy gameplay, and the plot it tries to show (though I think this is mostly the fault of the translation). Despite them, I found I never grew tired of this game and kept wanting to play on. The reason is because the innovation of the game - freeing the souls in dungeons and having them appear as characters in the towns - totally gives me what I want in a game: a sense of exploration. While the dungeons themselves are fairly well designed, they are mappable in your head and so don't really require thinking about what direction to go in.

It is the freed souls, appearing in and transforming the town that make me want to keep going. I know once I exit the dungeon, I'll have more people to talk to, possible side-quests to perform, and maybe even a new dungeon opened up to me. Also, it is never hard to get back to the town. There is always a teleporter square or soul crystal willing to take you right back, so you don't have any tedium in having to trek back (and as mentioned, the dungeons aren't huge anyway, so you never have to go far). You are constantly moving, revealing, and exploring new areas. In a way, it makes the game completely linear even if it seems there is a sense of non-linearity.

I totally dug it, despite it merely being a good game. It fulfilled my Zelda longing and it had just the right design for me. I'm curious to try its spiritual sequels, Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma.


Rob Andrews said...

You amaze me because you've managed to reference a game that I've never heard of before: Terranigma. Tell me more about this incredible anomoly.

Red Hedgehog said...

I imagine there are plenty of games I could reference that you've never heard of before. Though if you read the Insert Credit forums, that would make my job harder.

Anyway, Terranigma never got a North American release. It was released in Japan and (strangely, because they usually get the shaft on games) Europe. This means there is a non-fan-translated English version of the game out. Of course it is in PAL format, so if I want to play it, it will likely be through an emulator.

Soul Blazer, Illuion of Gaia, and Terranigma are related in that the same people designed them, their gameplay is similar, and they share similar worlds, though there is no direct connection between the games as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

i can just say that SoulBlazer is the best game ever and in its own way, i think it still beats games today.

i have played it through about 20 times and i think i will do it more again.
but the sad thing is that it ends. :(

i have always wanted to mod it and make my own version and even though it will probably never be as good as the original i would give it a big try because i simply love the game and want to play on.

however the best thing would be if Enix and Nintendo could cooperate to make a second one with exactly the same graphics, a continuing story and the same atmosphere.

its most improbable but i think that im not the only one who thinks this is the best game in the world!

and i also think some people would pay a bigger price than the original game costed just to play the sequel.

well hope the best game in the world gets a "real" sequel...

because it deserves it!