Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Illusion of Gaia

For my first actual post I'll be taking a close look at the SNES game with a strong cult following - "Illusion of Gaia". Below is the Japanese boxart, I really hate when publishers manage to fuck up an amazing cover art when bringing a game over seas...but that's a story for another time.


Ok first off if you care about spoilers and you haven't played this game then stop reading now. Last warning, this isn't a normal game review and I'll be talking about everything as I please in order to provide a better analysis.With that out of the way let me go ahead and say that it really sucks Quintet, the games developer, is dead. The website is gone and we've heard nothing from them in years. Oh what I would give to see a new age action JRPG from them...I'll think about some more later over a beer and maybe dig up more info.

Since I'm mean spirited I think I'll start by pointing out this game's story is weird. About 2 minutes after starting the game Will, the main character, stumbles upon a warp gate and talks to a giant medusa head which spews the usual banter about going on a great journey. And as you may recall every character speaks in their own color coded text, and sometimes Will's monologue yellow text will switch to third person dialogue with no warning. You have to play the game to see how jarring this transition is. This can probably be attributed to good ole 90's translations, like randomly calling Kara "Karen".






Ok so Im done nitpicking for now. The game's graphics are colorful and sharp. Will's sprite as well as most enemy sprites are detailed enough and well drawn. However the other characters sprites (even Kara's) are more bland if not crudely drawn, but since they arent playable this isnt much issue.


Attention to detail is apparent right off. Will's hair animates nicely as wind blows, and this is used later in the game to solve puzzles like finding cracks in walls. Townsfolk move about and even have different text boxes depending on situations and what they are doing. Overall, the game has a very simple look though, nothing here comes close to taxing the SNES.

The pacing is excellent, as the story moves at a great pace and tries to keep you involved at every step. Even parts such as the raft scene keep things interactive with you having to catch fish to regain your strength. Keeping things interactive is one of the most important things a game can do. Too bad everyone seems to want to make a movie these days instead. *coughheavyraincough*

Combat I'm not going to complain about. Its very simple but the enemies are plenty and varied enough where as the combat stays interesting throughout, and playing as Freedan is always fun. Getting a small "level up" buff after clearing out a room keeps you motivated to kill enemies too - great mechanic and not grindy.


Bosses are a real treat too. They are all very unique and definitely keep you looking forward to them, though they are sparse. Difficulty is fairly balanced too - except for the HUGE spike in challenge present with the infamous vampire bosses. But I guess its nothing you can't handle.

The little love story between Will and Kara is cute, but somewhat rushed and halfassed at points. The raft scene where they become stranded has too much development too early on in the game, and literally flat out states "Will began to develop feelings for Kara". Sorry but that kind of writing speaks for itself, maybe a little too much actually. Even as a kid I remember laughing at the bluntness of it.

Your other party members are pretty flat and one dimensional, and they tend to drop out of the party on a whim and sometimes with no hesitation. You get the feeling the game is too eager to trim the fat and get to where you only have Will and Kara at the end of the game. Speaking of the end, the actual lead up isn't bad at all, but conclusion itself is anti-climatic. The comet itself isnt explained well enough, nor the spirits including Will's parents. And while the final boss is satisfying, im not sure how or why Will/Kara combined to defeat it. The game treats it as a ho-hum event, though I guess at this point you should be used to weird shit not being explained.

Overall while the game may be heavily flawed, it still has that "magic atmosphere" that I can't quite place even after all these years. That special quality that has earned it a loyal fanbase who still play it. The devs didn't make many mistakes per se, as most flaws are related to the story, which is somewhat ironic considering a writer was hired specifically to write for the game (impressive at the time). Even then its hard to say how much of the story was lost in translation. Its no perfect game, but it manages to have a fairy tale vibe I guess, something most games can't touch.

Hmmm, not too happy with how this post turned out - my fault for going in without an outline. Guess they do teach you something in school. Probably forgot a lot of crap I wanted to say. I also ramble too much and a lot of it reads like a generic review. Oh well...if there was no room to improve then I guess I wouldn't have much reason to do this. I'm also something of an Indie developer, so it does help to get my thoughts out on these games. Until next time -

Developer's Recap ( things developers should learn from this game)
----------------

PROS (what they did right)
+ Attention to detail, there can never be enough of this in games (wind animations, lively townsfolk,
+ Unique, fun , well designed bosses (never dull, something to look forward too)
+ Level up system (unique and keeps you on the hunt for enemies, plus bosses give you all the ones you miss)

COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
@Pacing is good but sidequests suffer as a result
@Some scenes that would be boring are made more interesting through interactivity (raft scene), however this could be utilized more

CONS(better luck next time)
- Story is confusing at times, poorly explained at other, suffers poor translation

Yes I'm aware this game has other flaws, but I -personally- think that the confusing story is the one DO NOT devs should get from this game. Anything else is relatively trivial in the long run. Err, I take that back actually

- YOU DONT FIGHT THE JACKAL WTH QUINTET WTH (game devs, dont build up a badass enemy just so he can die in a cutscene...if i wanted that i would watch a terminator movie)



PS : Did they really have to hide these jewels so well?

95 comments:

The Radical Chemist said...

Love this game! I don't think I ever finished it, though... since I don't own this on famicom, I'll need to find an SNES at a yard sale to replace my broken one. Sad days.

Lucky13 said...

Nice review, never played this game before, but will try to check out the rom some time. Also I couldn't agree more with "everyone seems to want to make a movie these days instead", somethign even worse than this is making a game based word-for-word on a movie.
Can't wait for more.

Come At Me Bro said...

This is great!

Jordan said...

I totally remember this back in the day!

Spazzin said...

This game looks pretty fun, can't wait to check it out! Good review too, by the way.

1HipHopBlog said...

Very nice review, reminds me of the old Game Boy games.

Sean said...

Awesome game review.

My Personal Projects said...

I remember trying to play this in Japanese because I didn't have an english version.. didn't get very far, haha.

cheshire said...

You should always take food for a long trip. Good advice, I say! :D

James Lyndon said...

Got a ROM of this a while back, I might start playing it again, I didn't get very far.

Wes said...

Nice review.. might have to try it out

Ronald said...

nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LaserDollars said...

Nice job, always heard that game was nuts!

Frogoe said...

Looks like a pretty good game!

Michelangelo said...

AWwww yeah, i love illusion of Gaia! Check my blog for the review of the spiritual sequel, Terranigma!

clique said...

sounds fun. I love old rpgs

gamefreak3335 said...

looks prety cool

WOODLOUSE said...

It looks like a nice game, I haven't played a game like this for a while so I might get back into playing more often.

Dave said...

looks like a nice game, might check it out

Evren Masters said...

It almost reminds me of Dragon Quest (at least the style). Good review.

rpullins said...

this use to be one of my favorite rpgs on the snes

somedude>_> said...

wow, that looks pretty fun, thanks for the review!

Ender said...

wow. haven't played this in... like 6 years. imma go break it out now.

Phil said...

I wish that games like this were still made.

Kryz Cabbu said...

omg yes one of my most fav RPG ever! so there's really an English version ?! i played japanese version D:

so i'm going to check out to see if i can play English version! Great blog! Followed :)

Rockinrule said...

wow. great review. i used to play Link to the Past and it took me forever without a guide.

game_artifacts said...

Funny you mention a guide. Something I didn't mention is that the English release of this game came with a huge manual with a detailed walkthrough for the entire game with screenshots and everything. Pretty amazing stuff.

Cosmonaut Music said...

never heard of this game but it looks tight ima try to get it either rom or legit :/

Joel C Anatoli said...

sweet review! I always looked for a blog like this!

Jay Reid said...

Ah man, nostalgia.

Elliott said...

not my favorite SNES game, I like super mario RPG, but great review

Helios Blog Log said...

coool...nostalgia

daniel said...

Thanks for sharing, following...

Chloroform said...

This game looks actually really good for being snes. I'm definitely going to follow.

Ephedrine said...

reminds me of the first final fantasy for the nes!

McClane said...

I remember a friend having this game back in the day when the SNES was the best console to have.

dufenstein1 said...

i agree, they should keep the original art on the cover when they bring games overseas.

Jeremy said...

It was a very nice review of the game. Might have to play this again now..

psychologypost said...

i love snes games, lots of good rpgs.looking forward to seeing more

rjg117 said...

Interesting. Clicked, followed, liked on FB. Wanna keep up to date :) nice work.. bro.

3 Dimensional Robot said...

We remember this game well, glad to see even the Meatbags think so. Perhaps there is hope for you all.

Titan of 2012 said...

SNES FTW! love that stuff!

flowchiller said...

Classic video gaming... gotta love it!

Blogs4Hogs said...

Can you play this on Windows 98?

Youtuber said...

nostalgia extreme!

Doro said...

Good old times!
Nice!

Mike said...

so old school x)

Glovey said...

Nice post! Keep up the good blogging!

pv said...

man i havent played these type of games in years

fibi85 said...

nostalgia pro XD

R. Cutts said...

nostalgia'd so hard. this reminds me of the old old final fantasy games that came out..

Mo said...

now i want to play this again...

Titan of 2012 said...

Gaia.. this game was the best!

Marc D said...

Amazing review!

K said...

Amazing review! I love these games!

B Jeezy said...

great review man

Matt said...

Game looks rather interesting.. Appreciate the in-depth review. Keep more coming!

Alex said...

Nostalgiad pretty hard. This game was awesome back in the day.

daniel said...

Interesting.

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

can i be honest with you. tl;dr
but i nostalgia'd
+followed

Liquider said...

not my favorite SNES game, but great review

Simon black said...

Remember that my cousin had that game back when i was a kid, dont really remember too much of it looks interesting though, anyway nice review!

Venus said...

thanks for the review!

Dra9 said...

nice post!

LaserDollars said...

Looks awesome man!

Lealeepo said...

The game looks very fine. I'am an old RPG-Maker addict. I actually made some games by my own but today i'am a bit busy. Thanks for the nostalgia!

Youtuber said...

i have to buy a nintendo again :D

K said...

so much fun!!

Mathron Nailo said...

Grand post! Thanks for providing some good old SNES nostalgia.

Eddie jenner! said...

nice, 10/10

sp3nny said...

great post, very interesting 2 read

Xiism said...

Nostalgia :P I miss my gameboy all of a sudden

Ke3user said...

Looks incredible. May have to get an emulator to play this. I love these types of games.

Toby Loll said...

Wow Cool

Kontingency said...

Heard alot about it but i've never actually played it. maybe i can get it from ebay pretty cheap.

SmartDroids said...

Classic :), nice blog bro... following :D

MrDSmith said...

Brings me back to the Dragonquest days. Thanks for the moment to reminisce.

Jestar4A said...

Man, I remember playing this game as a kid, and you did an excellent write-up. Definitely made me wanna give it another go through. I'll be watching your blog for more quality stuff in the future.

polyesterr said...

loved this game so much

Sickman said...

Although I know nothing about this game in particular, this could definitely be an interesting blog. Will definitely check back to see more.

Lunarchy said...

Hmm haven't played this one. Looks like it could hold my attention! +follow

wachira said...

I played this game long time ago.

Kamatacci said...

Holy crap that's a nice box!

This was my favorite SNES RPG after FFV-VI, Mario, and EVO.

game_artifacts said...

EVO huh? That's a great game that not too many people have played. I should do a write up on that one some time.

J.R. said...

Still looks pretty good after all these years

Kamatacci said...

EVO is such a unique and fun game. I wish there were others like it.

Love the blog btw

Michael said...

Ahhh, I remember this one!

Never got past the first couple of hours of gameplay, but remember it had a very particular style I really enjoyed

Thanks for sharing.

Mexikola said...

Looks like a sweet game

TMH said...

Man I love this game, need to get a

eraizer said...

Nice read thank dude

ruse said...

Nostalgia.

Graeme said...

cooooooooooooool dude

Eric Peterman said...

i love this game, nice review

The Speaker said...

I loved this game. I played when I was too young to understand what was going on. I shall be going back to play it again soon for sure. Thanks for the reminder.

Gino6 said...

It's called Illuson of time in France I loved that game :D

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