|This is my favorite anthology ever.|
Here, I just want to highlight and archive my critiques and favorite tropes from the game in detail - trying my best not to do so relatively or in comparison to competing (NES) titles - as I take a knowledge-fortifying deep-dive into 8-bit JRPG's.
|This box art is glorious by SMS standards.|
Let's start with the cons:
- Battle details
I love the battles overall (more in a minute), but the animation is needlessly long and many of the sound-effects are jarring.
- Monsters' treasure chests are annoying, too. The question and visual are a waste of time, and I despise the too-occasional traps.
- People and menus
The cutscene-like screen change when interacting with people and accessing menus is more waste.
- I also don't like approaching people and caves from certain directions.
- Equipment and items
Finding and equipping the proper stuff is clunky, and finding a second-hand shop at which to sell things is a nuisance.
- I especially hate dungeon keys. Literally "using" the same one at every locked door is another unwelcome time-waster.
- And most importantly, the dungeons and music.
These two get special treatment because they're impressive technical feats. The 3D dungeons are a refinement over earlier dungeon crawlers. The clear, peppy soundtrack has a lot of variety from setting-to-setting (towns, towers, the overworld, etc.) and the tracks roll really smoothly into one another.
However, my complaints are based on the variety within specific settings themselves. The music tracks feel short and wear on me quickly, and a lot . Staring down a monochrome hallway - no matter how technically advanced - gets old fast, too, and makes expected JRPG dungeon-memorization even, well... harder than expected.
In particular, these two are paired because I hate the music in the dungeons. My least favorite track loops relentlessly in my least favorite portions of the game.
|"Owl bear" is such a cute name.|
There are a ton of pros, too:
- The battles
I love the beautiful backgrounds, the unique monsters and, usually, their attack animations.
- The setting and layout
The open world(s) is attractive, diverse, and offers a fair amount of exploration.
- Also, you're always close to strong monsters. Anywhere is just a few steps from a good patch of strong monsters for level-grinding and money-saving.
- The story
This took awhile; my mind naturally attaches JRPG to high-fantasy, not science-fiction. However, I'm learning to separate the two and enjoy what's here, which will come in handy for more Phantasy Star, Mother, and Sweet Home titles in the future.
- There are also respectable plot-twists and -turns, for such an early story-based title.
- The characters
Their in-game backstories are limited, but the characters are very diverse and likable
- The villains are unique and guided by interesting motives, too.
- And most importantly, the overall experience is great.
Especially when wearing your 1988 glasses, it's easy to appreciate this game as tremendous. It demonstrates a strong growth of:
- Understanding and developing for the Master System's capabilities;
- Complete story-telling in video games; and
- Sega's development into the anti-Nintendo. Seriously, this title is noticeably and exactly well-built to oppose the Dragon Quest series.
Overall, it stands well on its own as a purely-Sega title by focusing on exciting technical development, or in opposition to its JRPG counterparts at the time via uniqueness and interest. It could be tightened up to alleviate the typical JRPG pacing and grinding complaints, but it's minor.
|This sweet logo counts as a pro, too.|
I'd recommend this game to an extremely large audience including anyone interested in the early history of Sega, story-driven RPG's, JRPG's specifically, or just retro titles technically impressive for their respective systems.