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Full disclosure: when I was younger - I didn't care much for standard role playing games. Growing up, my only real experience with RPGs was playing over at my friends' houses. Typically, they would have another buddy already over there and they both would be huddled around the Super NES with controllers in-hand trying to blast through Final Fantasy II or III (or Final Fantasy IV and VI in Japan.) Which usually meant I had to patiently wait around near-silent for a few hours while they leveled up, combined magic, and screamed at the screen. Meanwhile, all I wanted to do was rip into Mortal Kombat a few times before I had to go home again. Outside of Faxanadu and Castlevania II - I didn't really own games with more than mild RPG elements. Naturally, this left me with a bad taste in my mouth for RPGs that lasted until a buddy of mine leant me a game that completely changed my view on RPGs forever. It was way outside of the realm of "typical" RPGs and played more like an action/adventure game (which I would later find out was similar in nature to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, one of the greatest Super NES games of all time.) It was called Soul Blazer and would prove to be one of my favorite games for the SNES. I recently bought my own copy from Lukie Games to see if it still holds up to the nostalgia I've held onto since 1992. So the question is: does it live up to my memories?
Typically one of the most important elements in an RPG is the story. However, for the uninitiated - Rpgs can be an incredibly long time-sink that require paying attention to minute details and dialogue trees. "Where did the king tell me to travel to again?" "How am I supposed to free the mighty blade from the ground?" In Action/RPG games such as Soul Blazer, the story is still important in the overall enjoyment of the game; however, it is not nearly as lengthy or crucial as in games such as the Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, or Ultima series. In this game, you control a hero sent from "the master" to resurrect a series of towns held captive by the evil Deathtoll. Along the way you meet a cast of characters who give you items to progress through the story and to bring these dead cities back to life. It is a classic tale of good versus evil and is similar in tone to other Enix games with spiritual/religious undertones such as EVO, Illusion of Gaia, and the Actraiser series. The story and dialogue are decent enough, but might not satisfy the hardcore RPG crowd. For everyone else, this is a good primer for the RPG genre and the story moves along quick enough to not hinder the action.
|"Paging Craig. Clean up on Aisle 5!"|
|BAH! What the heck is THAT thing?!|
|That little green donut unlocks a bird...or a mermaid...or a...|