Review by CrimsonAnimus
"Classic Gameplay Worthy of a Gold Star"
While perusing reviews for this game, I came to the realization that some of them either contained inaccuracy or did not provide a clear overall picture of one of Tecmo's finest achievements. Here is a more in-depth look at this highly underrated game.
The graphic prowess in this game is standard. It is not exceptional, but not lacking, either. While the style differs from other games released around the same time, the palette is vibrant, and the style sufficiently matches the overall theme of the game.
The music is also standard overall, but each tune sufficiently matches the setting in which it is used. There are also a few songs of notable quality. The sound effects are also sufficient, and the sound of each weapon attack during combat fits well with the respective weapon.
First of all, the story is cliche. In a nutshell, a group of five young adventurers set out to save the world from an evil being. Along the way, they will meet several older adventurers with the Kustera surname, which form an alternate combat party. Naturally, you will also have to contend with a great deal of said evil being's subordinates, varying from powerful generals to lesser, comical henchmen. While the game possesses a distinctive childish feel, it is also quite serious at times, contributing to an overall humorous and entertaining story.
Character Development: 7/10
Most of the development for your main characters comes when you first meet each character. Overall, it is quite limited, but it is present, nonetheless. Once again, it relies on the cliche idealism that is and has been a common development theme.
Battle System: 9/10
This game is difficult. It does not require you to grind excessively, but it will require you to level up regularly. Fortunately, each level up makes a significant difference, so you can often greatly reduce frustration by going up just a few levels. The main character will learn the Repel spell fairly early in the game, which will eliminate encounters of enemies weaker than you. Battles occur in classic turn-based fashion. All of the characters are useful in their own right. Spells are obtained by leveling up, and most of them have higher power levels that you can cast as you level up. There is also an Auto Battle option to speed up combat by having each character attack and cast recovery spells as needed.
Magic is critical to your success. The Heal and Cure-A spells will quickly become your friend, for the restoration of HP and removal of status effects such as Poison and Illness. Your first four main characters learn attack spells of an elemental nature, and many enemies possess elemental weaknesses that you can exploit. Further, there are support spells to raise your defense, speed, and attack power, as well as lower said attributes of your foes. There are also spells to absorb HP and MP from your enemies, teleport to different towns you have visited, flee dungeons, and many more.
Each of your four main characters will have their classes upgraded at some point in the story. Once they have done so, they will be able to combine magic spells to create more powerful ones, as well as combine magic spells with select magic weapons. For example, Storm 2 and Bolt 2 can be combined to make Bolt Storm, which will make short work of aquatic enemies, and combining Fire 1 with the Fire Sword will unleash a powerful fire attack on one foe.
You also have the option of switching to your alternate Kustera party at will, which is in possession of a myriad of classes. There are several Kustera that you can choose from to make a 5-person party suited to your individual playing style.
Both your party and the Kustera party are each capable of holding 28 items, including key items. Eventually, you will also have the opportunity to exchange items between parties as desired.
Keeping your main party with the best available equipment is also very important. Apart from the final shop in the game, equipment costs are very reasonable, and you will likely have more money than you need due to leveling up your characters.
There are a few places in the game accessible only to the Kustera party, as well as some places critical to the storyline that are only accessible to your main party. Later in the game, you will also be required to use both parties concurrently, so leveling up the Kustera will not be a wasted effort.
Over the course of the game, a town will gradually be created. What starts out as a mysterious shrine and a save point will eventually become a city with several houses, a hospital, a storage warehouse where you can store extra items, a registration center for your Kustera party, and more.
Finally, your next destination will not always be clear to you. Town conversation is critical in determining where to go next. You will occasionally have to make use of your noggin to proceed with the game.
Replay Value: 7/10
There is no New-Game Plus option or the like in this game. However, it is highly unlikely that any of the characters will be at maximum level when you first complete the game, so you have the option to bring them there. Good luck with that.
With the present-day mentality that games always have to innovate to be successful, there are a handful of gamers that can still appreciate a game with pure, simple fun, and Secret of the stars does not disappoint in this regard. It is an average game with above-average execution, and most certainly worth a try for fans of classic gaming.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/17/08, Updated 03/18/08
Game Release: Tecmo Secret of the Stars (US, 07/31/95)
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