Review by: Richard

Right before Christmas, Sega of Japan released 3 “RPGs” within a couple weeks. I was already overloaded with great games and here comes 3 all at once. Needless to say, it has taken me a while to get to them and form some type of “biased” opinion. I had just finished Vandal Hearts by Konami, Wild Arms was technically the top of the line, and the Super Famicom releases Dragon Quest III Remake (the best looking game of that series). The Saturn games are off the shelf and here is what I found:

Airs Adventure:

First of all, the theme is very gothic and old English. Knights, princesses, and castles. The music follows the same pattern. This is not bad but you have to like this setting to go any further with this game.

The menus are very basic just items, equip, and some options. The towns have obvious shops, inns, and save stores. You have a blacksmith who for the right dough will upgrade your weapons and armor.

The view is 3/4 overhead in the towns and outside. The overhead walk-around is the strongest part of the game. It is done in rendered graphics and battle scenes pop up at reasonable rate as you walk around. Early on, you get a red horse that you ride around on that is very cool. The battle scenes will probable turn a lot of folks off. They are done in polygons and have a side-scrolling view. When you hit a button, your character runs across the screen and wacks the monster. The attacks and magic spells are very basic. They are not bad just not particularly inspiring. NOTE: With two Pro Action Replay codes, you can make these fights irrelevant. You are so strong that they take just a few seconds.

The story is a basic find the princess, lose the princess, find……… This is a “second tier” game with an overall rating of B. It kept my interest long enough to make the purchase worthwhile.

Terra Fantastica:

This game is probably the most underrated game of the year. It is a strategy RPG in the same mold as Vandal Hearts and Ogre Battle (more like the sequel Ogre Tactics). I liked it better than Vandal Hearts and Ogre Tactics (Ogre Battle has a special place in my Hall of Fame because it was the first import I ever played and it has never been equalled).

The game has conversation style intermissions where the characters talk with facial pictures to each other and lay out the story. Then, a map of the current area appears and a spite moves to the next battle zone.

The battle field is first class. It is hand drawn with that Sega look (muted, as in Landstalker) and is very detailed. Your characters are in full view at one end and the monsters scattered over the rest of the map. When you encounter a monster, the game switches to a battle scene like in Ogre Battle except this is 32 bit fully animated battle with all types of warriors, horsemen, mages, monkeys, octopuses, etc.. A+ – Very nice.

This is an extremely hard game later on and not very friendly to the Pro Action Replay (if anyone has figured out a Master Code that works, I would appreciate an email). Overall, this is a great strategy rpg and probable the best on the new generation machines.

Shining The Holy Ark:

What can I say about this one? The game is excellent. I tried to think of a comparison but none comes to mind. It is a first person perspective game with your character walking around towns done in nice polygons. Once you are in a dungeon or other unfriendly environment, this game really shines. The battle scenes are terrific. The monsters appear as you walk around and the battle ensues. Your characters jump out and battle the creatures in a turn-based mode. The monsters are really well drawn and animated with lots of wild spells.

You have a map to refer to as you make your way through the areas. Each place is very big and takes a long time to complete. Unfortunately, most of the saves are in town.

Everyone I know is currently stuck in an area right after finishing the haunted house but hopefully we can march on soon.

The overhead is just a well-drawn map with large character that you can move around from place to place. The emphasis in this game is on the caves, mansions, and dungeons – all very well drawn. This is another top of the line game from Sega of Japan that I hope makes it to our shores. It’s no wonder Sega has had to change it corporate structure with all the bad decisions coming out of that place. The Saturn could be having a different image if games like these had been marketed here.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m awaiting the countdown for an RPG from a well-known company who’s name corresponds to a well-known shape, on another system that I would never mention on this page.