RPG Review #68: Terranigma

NuMetalManiak Well I certainly needed something shorter than the time it took to get through the previous RPG. Here we go. This is the final game in Quintet's Soul Blazer trilogy of action RPGs, yet Quintet does have a handful more on the table. But Terranigma was a game that really shined in many ways that I honestly was not expecting. So yes, I found this to be the best of the trilogy!

Gameplay: Yep, action RPG. All the elements light up. In comparison to Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma's gameplay is a bit more like Soul Blazers, as Illusion of Gaia's gameplay was a bit more Zelda-like than the other ones. This one actually lets go of the HP meter the other games had and gives our character numerical HP values, and like in Soul Blazer, he gains experience and level ups. Like in Illusion of Gaia, however, he gets several different attack techniques, which are actually in a convenient battle manual too (but he doesn't get alternate forms). Oh yes, he equips spears for weapons and can equip armor and other items. This game also has a jumping mechanic, which is B, and dashing which is double-tapping a direction button (like in Illusion of Gaia) or Y. X uses an item, and R is a guard thing like in Illusion of Gaia. There's also status effects and magic, but these are iffy. In fact, it's possible not to even use up magic at all in this game considering how unimportant it is.

The game's main combat of course lies in dungeons, and while there is overworld navigation, no enemies attack here. There's also more means of travel, by boat or by airplane, and I personally love how realistic it is. This game has an interesting mechanic of town expansion, doing things for certain NPCs causes some towns to grow and have more stuff available. Magirocks are the source of magic, but are merely used as trade items for magic rings and pins, but collecting them all serves as a small collection quest. For an action RPG, there sure was a lot that can be done. I think the plot can expand on this one more than this section though, because the plot really does shine here. Grade: A

Characters: Our sole playable character is Ark, a curious yet mischievous boy from an underground village. He is tasked by the elder to go on a mission to revive the planet. Along with him are a curious cast of NPCs, including love interest Elle, lion cub Leim, Lord Kumari of Lhasa, Meihou and Meilin, a grandfather/granddaughter pair, another Elle who is a princess of a French land, along with Lady Fyda and another knight called Royd. And also a skateboarding kid named Perel. These are several important characters, but some of the lesser important characters are pretty cool too, especially given who they each reference. Like Matis references Henri Matisse, Bell references Alexander Graham Bell, and Mick references the guy who made McDonalds. Grade: A-

Plot: Chapter 1: The Outset: Curious Ark in his home village of Crysta stumbles upon an aptly named box named Pandora's Box, some demon critter named Yomi pops up and helps Ark fix up the villagers, who end up frozen. The elder tasks him to go to five towers, doing so not only unfreezes the villagers, but also, apparently, revives the continents on Earth. Yep, this game's main surface world is none other than our very own Earth, continents and everything. After his tower duty concludes, Ark then reaches the mainland Earth.

Chapter 2: Resurrection of the World: Only Ark then finds that the place is barren and devoid of life. That's not the Earth we know! So Ark first has to revive the plants, making everything green again, then the birds must be revived. Following that, the rest of the animals, as well as the wind to guide the birds. Then, finally, humans. Oh boy.

Chapter 3: Resurrection of the Genius: Ark loses his ability to speak with other animals at this point, but now that he can speak with humans, he's tasked with making them more developed. This, the longest chapter of the game, also is easily the best and most non-linear. A ton of sidequests open up, where you can talk to many people and expand towns around Earth. This is certainly something I liked doing in-game, as there was so much to do and exploration is wild. Anyways, before much of that, Ark reaches Loire castle and gets selected as a groom for princess Elle, who not only shares a name but also an appearance with the underworld's Elle. Ark finds a way to cure her muteness too. Other allies are met along the way, and Ark gets access to a boat, as well as an airplane from a guy named Will (who is actually named after none other than Wilbur Wright, inventor of the airplane). Towards the end we see Dr. Beruga, who is our bad scientist guy, wanting to create a utopia of zombies, although they are incapable of happy thoughts (or any at all, they are zombies for crying out loud). To make matters worse, this is what the Elder wanted Ark to do. Ark then finds five Starstones, and then discovers an overworld self, whom Dark Gaia (yes the same one from Illusion of Gaia) used to create Ark's underworld self.

Chapter 4: Resurrection of the Hero: Ark is confirmed as the legendary hero who will save mankind, but here in this chapter, we see him as a baby in Princess Elle's care. Meanwhile, the underworld Elle was tasked with killing this baby Ark, along with Yomi, but she hesitates, taking herself with Yomi instead while Ark grows back into his actual age and the overworld Yomi takes over. Then from there, Ark departs to defeat Beruga along with his closest allies. Beruga ends up dying on his airship, in a way similar to how Syndrome from The Incredibles died. His airship crash landed where the underworld portal used to be, allowing Ark to head back home to confront Dark Gaia. By the end of it all the ending is bittersweet though, as Ark, though victorious, must sleep his last while he and his village all disappear.

Wow, certainly has a lot going for plot stuff. Plenty of optional things too. I loved this game very much. Grade: A+

Music: Lots of good ones. Memorable or not, each one of these tracks, from town, dungeon, overworld, underworld, whatever, each had their charm. Can't name a true favorite though. Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

The gameplay was the thing I liked about Soul Blazer, while the story was the best thing about Illusion of Gaia. Terranigma, however, had both. There was so much to do for an action RPG, yet all can be done quickly and efficiently while still being fun. It certainly is a shame this game never go a North American release, especially since the other two did. But this game was worth it. I don't know what I'll do next. I know Actraiser is a platformer and city simulator, but there were some RPG elements. Maybe I can play those?