Review by Westen Shelton
"A laundry list of flaws partially ruins an addictive game"
''Why am I still playing this game?'' I asked myself as I slowly trudged through enemy after enemy, desperately trying to build my level, and gold so I could cross a bridge and do it all over again. Despite the voices in my head pleading for me to stop I did continue going. That tends to be the weird thing with this game, (excluding voices in your head for some) despite this game's laundry list of flaws, it's surprisingly addictive, and you'll find yourself going and going and going.
The gameplay is just so full of flaws, like previously stated I have no idea why I kept playing. One of the first things you might notice is that you will need to access your menu (by pressing A) then select stairs just to use stairs in the game. It's not to big of a deal since you will spend most of the game leveling up (and in Inns XD) but it can get kind of annoying. Another problem is how unbalanced everything is. The enemies in the game barely give you any gold, and all the armor, and weapons' prices are annoyingly high. You will find yourself training a decent amount even for mediocre armor, and weapons. The game's creatures are difficult enough, without having to fight an obnoxious amount of them, so you can do a better job of barely surviving against them.
Saving up for armor isn't the only reason you'll be doing a lot of training. Your enemies get stronger, at a pretty fast rate as you travel along. You can be one-hitting enemies, then a couple seconds later you are getting owned by a new, incredibly strong creature which just popped up.
As I said before money is difficult to come by in this game. I've also stated that creatures can get very difficult, which brings me to my next point. When you die, you lose half your gold. This may be fine for some of the easier games out there like Pokemon, but for a game this difficult it can be extremely frustrating, especially in situations when you are a mere fight or two away from a nice sword, or piece of armor, when BAM. Ambushed by a dragon, and you are dead.
Right now you may be thinking Maybe you just don't know any strategy the problem with that is all the fights in this game are 1 vs. 1. The only real strategy to this game is managing your MP so that when you are dying you can heal yourself, and obviously managing your HP. Otherwise battles are just exchanging attacks, and healing when you get low on HP.
While many will consider it a flaw, I love how you don't get to much direction in this game. You are kind of sent out there, with small hints, and then after exploring you find out more about what you have to do, and you find where new towns are. This gives you a sense of freedom, and adventure not usually felt in a lot of RPGs.
There are a couple things that manage to make the gameplay addicting though. First off the 1 on 1 battles themselves. It is annoying that you can't plan any decent strategies because of it, but they move decently fast because of this, which redeems the battles a bit. Also, just the plain RPG formula itself. It is very hard to level up, and buy armor, but you feel great afterwards, and they didn't make any items useless. You should see immediate results after buying some armor, or a weapon. There isn't a lot of redeeming points to the game, but somehow it stays addictive throughout.
The graphics in this game manage to be decent. The character models all look pretty bad, and generic. There is also not a lot of different terrain (water, hills, forest, plains, mountains, poisonous swamps, and a few others) Luckily, for the terrain there are different pros and cons to walking on each kind of terrain. Like it's pretty easy to walk on grass, and you don't encounter a lot of enemies. You seem to encounter more in forests though, meanwhile on hills you walk slower. This manages to add some strategy to traveling, which is good when you don't get a lot of strategy in the battles. The in battle stuff is the best part of the graphics, while there isn't any different damage animations, the enemies you are fighting look very detailed.
The games music managed to be just amazing. I mean obviously it's the NES, it's nothing you would want to listen to outside of the game, but it's somewhat addictive music, and it's some of the best NES music you will hear. All of the music fits with the theme of the game well, which is also a plus. The sound effects are pretty generic, but nothing terrible.
Unfortunately there pretty much is no story. You start out talking to the king, and he tells you to kill the dragonlord. Your hero has no character development to him. He has no personality, and neither does anyone else in the game. Town exploration is also barely there in this game, as villagers hardly say anything worth the time for a great hero like you.
The game will take about 30-50 hours to beat. Not because of some huge world map, or a bunch of cities though. It's mostly because of all the time it will take you to level up, and buy equipment. You will probably want to replay it though, if anything because of the lack of direction given in the game. This kind of makes it non-linear. So you could choose to try and beat it again, but by doing some different things in different orders.
Overall, the game is just really flawed, the only thing that really carries it through are quick, addictive battles, and a bit of non-linearity and exploration. If you can look past the flaws that are almost bound to be there considering it's the first console RPG, then you are in for a decent time.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/03
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