Old RPG Review #10: Secret of Evermore

NuMetalManiak Alright! Double Digits! Here I talk about an SNES game known as Secret of Evermore and it is the most recent RPG that I've completed. This game is quite similar to the more popular Secret of Mana (to which I promise to play eventually) but it isn't a sequel nor is it related to that game. Secret of Evermore was developed by Square Soft, in North America. So mostly Americans made this game. I figured that out through the credits.

Characters: Two main playable characters, the first is a young, James Dean-like boy who cites B-Movies when he witnesses something cool. He's the main character, and you can't afford to have him die. He can wield swords, axes, spears, and bazookas. The other main character is a dog, who stays loyal to the boy and helps defeat enemies along his side. I found that the dog hits a lot harder than the boy. The dog only bites enemies, but doesn't have weapons to use. You can afford to have the dog die in combat, and revive him with a dog biscuit. I'd suggest having the reliable pooch with you all the time.

Both characters can be named by you, and in game, you can control one using the select button. The other one is AI controlled, and there are settings for controlling AI, but I never really needed to use them. Usually, I kept control of the boy, and only needed to control the dog when I needed to level up a weapon for the boy.

There's plenty of NPCs to this game too. Four important ones, Elizabeth, Horace, Camellia, and Professor Ruffleberg all get sucked into the same world as our boy and dog, and you find them and help them along the way. You also meet evil clones of them. Pretty interesting stuff. Grade: B+
Setting: Evermore's an interesting world. You have four separate realms, pertaining to human history in some way. These four realms also change your dogs appearance as well. Prehistoria is the prehistoric world with very primitive people, and your dog is a giant beast. Antiqua resembles some Roman-like world, and your dog is a slender fancy dog. Gothica is some Medieval European place, so expect castles and grasslands. Also your dog is a poodle. And then finally there's Omnitopia, the futuristic space station apparently above Evermore, with robots and all that (plus your dog totally becomes one too). Very interesting setting. Grade: A+
Gameplay: So if you know anything about the Mana series and how it's gameplay goes, this is very similar to that. It's an action RPG, meaning running to hit enemies, as well as a ring-style menu system. Items are pretty broad, there's healing items, and help items such as Call Beads among other ones. I had a lot of trouble hitting enemies and dodging with my controlling character, while my AI-controlled one seems to handle things better. You need to level up quite a bit to get the hang of things, and not only do you have to level your characters, you have to level up their weapons and magic as well! This makes for a very daunting game.

So weapons and magic. Weapons (this includes the dog's main attack) have 3 levels, where if you reach them, you can charge your weapon to deal even more damage. Some weapons like spears can be thrown on higher levels. This is rather great for boss battles. The weapon that is the bazooka requires ammo though, so I didn't use it. As for magic, get this, it's in the form of alchemic formulas. There's no MP or any of that in this game, you need to collect special ingredients and find people who are willing to teach you a spell. Each one has different effects, as well as a total of 9 levels. Leveling up an alchemy spell makes it generally stronger, so offensive magic does more damage, healing magic heals more, etc. Ingredients get used up, and to get more you need to either purchase them from shops or have your dog sniff stuff, which works sometimes. Whenever you use a weapon, or even run in the game, your percentage bar at the bottom resets, meaning, in order to deal more damage to something, it needs to be at 100%. I cursed this quite a lot for the game, as I do 1 or even 0 damage because attacking multiple times isn't as allowed as it should be. Oh well, makes battles a bit more strategic.

Bosses and mini-bosses in the game can be quite tough if you don't know what you're doing. But they aren't hard if you do. Bosses use some magic, most of it is weak. A level 3 spear attack can really put the dent in a lot of the bosses if you use it just right. The hardest boss I fought in this game was the Verminator, who always uses a ton of alchemy. But I still beat him rather easily if I abused alchemy as well. The final boss was a sort of gauntlet, fighting off a number of things, and then fighting the final boss, Carltron's robot. I sorta glitched that fight though, because I got hit and ended up behind him. He only shoots downward, and I was above him, so this final boss fight ended very anticlimatically when I was behind him as I was in no danger as I beat the final robot down.

And there are quite a plethora of shops to go about in the world of Evermore, especially in two of the towns you reach, which actually are marketplaces. Four types of currency exist in this game, but thankfully you can convert currency at certain shops. The most general of shops offer healing items, alchemy ingredients, and armor. You can't buy weapons, you have to earn them after killing some bosses. The big marketplaces of the game are a bit more exquisite in trade. You have to trade certain goods for other goods. I'm not sure if all of it's entirely required, but you can get a few lucky charms in the game for trading these goods. I guess that's good and all, but shopping has never been my forte in RPG playing. Overall, Secret of Evermore has interesting gameplay mechanics, so it's worth a try even if you have to level up a lot of your stuff to get it to work. Gameplay grade: B
Plot: So your boy and dog are in the city of Podunk, apparently in America, and your dog chases a cat down the street. The boy follows and finds a laboratory where someone takes him to a room where robots attack him. He gets by and finds his dog in a shuttle. The shuttle crash-lands in Prehistoria, and the dog is for some reason a giant beast dog, but is still loyal to the boy. They journey to a nearby village where they meet Elizabeth, who is called Fire Eyes by the people and is their chief. She happens to be another resident of Podunk, caught in the awry experiment. You do a few things in Prehistoria, going up to a volcano and then confront Elizabeth's evil twin. The events then take your boy to Antiqua, where the boy has lost his dog somehow.

He journeys to the big marketplace Antiqua, where he finds his dog is apparently some sort of sacred relic, but at least the dog comes back to him. Later, the boy meets Horace, another Podunk resident, who aids you as well. You get a few ancient relics for Horace, only for his evil clone to take them away from you. The boy then finds the real Horace and gets news of an energy core, then journeys to Gothica. His dog becomes a pink poodle and is mistaken for a pig for the annual pig race in the next town. The boy's invited to Queen Bluegarden's castle, but is kicked into jail because of the dog. The queen apologizes and wants you to go to the rival castle, but when you get there, you find the real Camellia Bluegarden. You then go after the doppelganger, and afterwards get assistance to reach Omnitopia.

Up there, your dog becomes a bot, and you have to get past all sorts of crazy trials to find Professor Sidney Ruffleberg, and then you find out that his android Carltron is responsible for this Evermore mess. After confronting the android's big bot, you get Elizabeth, Horace, and Camellia to get out of Evermore with Ruffleberg and then the game's ending plays.

Overall, a pretty ingenious plot, some stuff completely out of the ordinary, especially the dog transformations, which were quite weird. Grade: B+
Music: One of my favorite things about Secret of Evermore. I enjoyed the music a lot. It was very ambient and sets the mood perfectly for the settings I was in. Gothica especially had great music to go with it. The credits music at the end were also great to hear. Grade: A+
Overall grade: A-
A very underrated and underappreciated game. It's not easy, but it's quite fun. The witty lines of the protagonist and his shapeshifting dog are quite cool (try talking to people as the dog). The characters and setting are quite immersive. The biggest problem with this game would have to be the shopping system. Leveling up is also very grinding but I could handle it. Try this one, it won't be too bad.