Review by Psycho Penguin

Reviewed: 11/11/00 | Updated: 07/16/01

A fun, yet flawed, action/adventure game from Enix

I have always liked the Zelda series, as it has been a lot of fun to play. Why do I bring this up in an Illusion of Gaia review? The Zelda series has always been a fairly popular series, enough so that many video game companies decided to make ripoffs of the games in the series. Even Enix decided to try this when they made Illusion of Gaia, a flawed yet fun real time action/adventure game released for the Super Nintendo in 1992 or so.

Now, to be fair to Enix, Illusion of Gaia is not some game they just decided to make at the last second as a Zelda clone. It is actually the second game of a trilogy of games released for the Super Nintendo. Some of you may be familar with its prequel, Soul Blazer, which was released on the Super Nintendo and was not noticed that much. A lot of people love the sequel, Terranigma, despite the fact it was never released in America (it was released in Japan and Europe, however.)

So, what did I think of Illusion of Gaia? Well, to tell you the truth, I did not like it as much as I expected to like it. I thought it was a good game and all, but I still think that certain elements of the game could have been better. The fact that I feel this is one of the most boring video games ever created certainly does not help, either. The damn raft rides alone would be enough to drive any normal human being insane.

There is a lot of mixed and varied opinions about the story line in Illusion of Gaia. Some like it, some don't. I was one of the ones that didn't like the story line. Call me strange or whatever, but there is nothing remotely interesting about a kid trying to save the world with a flute. And what is he trying to stop? A comet from hitting the planet. Now, excuse me if I am wrong here, but wouldn't that be a little hard for a kid to do? I was not impressed with the writing either, and the character development was lackluster at best. This is certainly not Enix's best effort when it comes to story line, some may argue with me but that is just my personal belief.

The graphics in the game are a high point to the game. I really liked the design of the graphics in the game, as everything was so bright and colorful. Sometimes I do not like it when a game is too bright and colorful, because then the game appears to be way too kiddy or childish. But the graphics in this game did not appear kiddy or childish at all, so I am a really big fan of that. I liked almost everything about the game in terms of graphics, from character designs to background designs.

The character designs in the game are awesome, and are some of the best I have seen in a game of this genre for the Super Nintendo. I especially like the design of the main character, Will. I especially like how the programmers decided to focus on how Will's hair blew in the wind, it really made the graphics look nice. And Will's hair blowing in the wind was definitely a nice added touch. The rest of the character designs in the game are solid, as well. I especially liked the design of some of the non playable characters, Enix really paid attention to the character designs in the game.

The rest of the game looks rather impressive, as well. I really liked the background designs in the game, as Enix definitely decided to focus on even the littlest of details. The result of this is one of the better looking games on the Super Nintendo. Everything here looks solid, from the petals blowing in the wind in the background, to the sunsets and sunrises. There is hardly any loss of animation, and that is definitely a good thing. I was really impressed with the graphics in this game, Enix deserves a round of applause for designing a game this well.

The music in the game is rather impressive, almost as impressive as the great graphics. The music was very well varied and sounded great, a lot of the themes in the game were great. However, one thing I do need to point out is there is not a wide variety of impressive music in this game. I will say that I enjoyed certain musical themes in the game, but I disliked some of them, as well. One of my favorite themes in the game is the dungeon theme, and I didn't really like the castle theme too much.

The sound effects in the game are average, nothing more, nothing less. You will not hear anything here that you haven't heard before. That is not to say that is a bad thing, because it isn't. I actually liked the sound effects in the game to a certain extent, but the problem I had is the fact that there wasn't a wide variety of sound effects to listen to. Some of them were pretty good but some of them were pretty disappointing. So I will just go ahead and call the sound effects average.

Controlling your character throughout the game is pretty simple. You just move the guy around with the directional pad, and you use the buttons to do different things. Simple, yet effective control. One of the things I really liked about the control in this game is the fact that you can move items around using your flute, and it is pretty simple to do that. Just pull out your flute, latch onto the item, and then use the directional pad to move the item around. It may seem complicated but it really isn't, at all. Overall, the control in the game is awesome.

Illusion of Gaia may seem a lot like Zelda at first, and for the most part it is a lot like Link to a Past. Of course, Link to a Past just happens to be one of my all time favorite video games, so it's not like the game is ripping off the ideas of a horrible game or anything. Basic game play goes like this: you move around, collecting orbs from enemies, a lot like Zelda. You have little blue orbs instead of hearts to represent your life, but they represent and mean the same exact thing.

One of the more unique things about the game is how the game handles the enemy and battle situations. Every time you enter a dungeon, you can press the Start button and see how many enemies you have to defeat, and how many treasures are left. I advise you kill every enemy you see, because you can raise attributes like strength and HP from killing enemies, sort of like raising levels in normal role playing games. And don't worry about being bored by the battles, because fighting enemies is in the same style as that other game *cough* Zelda *cough*

The side task to this game is collecting red jewels called, well, Red Jewels. There are 50 of them scattered throughout the game. You have to take your time in order to find all of them, because you can only usually find them in certain points of the game, and once that certain point's time limit has expired, you can no longer get the red jewel. You do not have to get them, but you can use them to get special items from the Jeweler Gem.

One of the things I did not like about this game is how slow paced and boring it is. The text never runs at a fast enough speed, which means you will be dragged through countless story scenes in which you can't do a damn thing about the slow text. And do not get me started on the rafting scene, which could quite possibly be the most boring scene to ever take place in any video game ever.

The replay value in this game is pretty solid but nothing major. If you can survive the slow scenes and boring game play issues then you will find a lot to like about this game. The thing I like most about this game is the fun battle system, and the thing I find that adds the most to the replay value is the red jewel side quest. If you combine those two things together, you would have a game with outstanding replay value. However, the boring scenes in the game degrade form the replay value category completely.

This is a pretty challenging game. It is not to the level of some of the other games I have played in the genre, but it is still rather challenging nevertheless. I felt that some of the game was challenging, like certain dungeons *glares at a certain Mountain Temple* while others were pretty easy to figure out (like the Sky Garden). I would say that this is an above average game in terms of challenge, but it is not impossible.

Overall, this is a game with a lot of good points, and a few bad points which really diminishes from the overall game playing experience. I cannot help the fact that I feel this is the most boring video game ever made. The rafting scenes and slow moving text during story scenes makes me feel that way. There is a lot of good about this game, it is such a shame it has to get only a 7/10 from me, and it's an even bigger shame that it gets that score only because I am being nice to it!

New York Yankees
-The graphics in the game are really impressive.
-I liked the music in the game a lot.
-Controlling the characters in the game is simple.
-I liked the battle system and gameplay in the game.

Houston Astros
-The story line in the game is below average.
-The sound effects are rather mediocre for the most part.
-The story scenes are rather boring.
-This is one of the most boring games ever.

I Run Down the Ratings.. DaLadiesMan Style!
Storyline - 2.8/10
Graphics - 9.6/10
Music - 9.4/10
Sound Effects - 4.2/10
Control - 9.3/10
Gameplay - 6.6/10
Replay Value - Average
Challenge - A Little Above Average
Is this game worth a purchase? - Not really.
Overall - 6.9/10

The Last Line: There is a lot of good about this game, it is such a shame it has to get only a 7/10 from me, and it's an even bigger shame that it gets that score only because I am being nice to it!

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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