I am here to tell the story of a game that is often forgotten in the wake of the popularity of its successors, despite my personal preference for it. No, no, I’m not talking about Lufia. This isn’t about Final Fantasy IV, either. I already went over those games!
This review is about Soul Blazer. Despite the fact that it’s relatively short, I spent a lot of time playing this game when it came out. It was never the most original or creative game, but for those of you who read my comment on the Arcana review, you’ll understand that I often enjoy otherwise bad games because they give the players what they want. For me, Soul Blazer falls into this category.
Sadly, this game seems to be left out when other Quintet games are discussed. Illusion of Gaia was far more popular, and there’s not much to be said in comparison with Terranigma. However, Soul Blazer does deserve a bit of credit in its own right. After all, it was the first step in the progression of the series concept, and while it might not have aged well, it is certainly on par with games of the period.
The graphics are pretty decent, for the game’s time. Not much to really talk about, aside from some nicely done large-scale boss sprites and a partially-animated ending credit sequence, similar to the opening for Lagoon. The world map has always been a favorite of mine, as well.
While some of the songs are memorable, the music can be hit-or-miss. Nothing is particularly bad or annoying, but not every song can be Dr Leo’s Lab. For every great song, there’s one that’s just alright and another that’s just filler.
It also seems slightly odd to me that Soul Blazer shares a number of sound effects with ActRaiser. I wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to make another “swish” or “huh!” effect that they’d have to rip them from a previous game. Then again, you’d think that Nintendo could come up with some characters other than Mario, Link, and Samus, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about that.
What I can complain about is the controls. For a Super Nintendo-era top-down action-oriented game, not being capable of diagonal movement is slightly more than lame. While the soul sphere thing is neat, it’s just awkward to try to cast spells with. The weird one-damage crabwalk is another kind of interesting concept, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of diagonal movement.
Despite not having too much setting it apart from the crowd, I have always enjoyed this game. It’s just enough to keep me interested, with certain little quirks and areas that keep me coming back to play it every once in a while. Like Arcana or The 7th Saga, I can’t say that this game is particularly good, but it has a certain air about it that keeps me playing.
All in all, this game deserves a little more recognition than it seems to get. Sure, Illusion of Gaia may have been more technically advanced, but it also tried a little too hard to be like, woah, man, like, what if, you know, like, THE WORLD, man, so it lost points from me. Terranigma suffered slightly from the same problem, but I think it was handled better, and it has a lot of technical aspects that made it worth suffering through.
I have to say, however, that the folks down at Quintet seem to have some sort of world-reclamation fetish. ActRaiser started it all off, and although Soul Blazer is a much different style of game, it still shares more than a few common traits with its apparent predecessor. Namely, it shares the exact same sound effects. Also, it features a divine hero coming down to Earth to get rid of monster lairs in order to rebuild a town. Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma moved on to bigger and larger things, being that you would work through dungeons to rebuild cultures, but it’s the same general idea. I mean, you’d think after years spent producing these games, they’d get tired of the concept, but you know about those Japanese. They’re into that kind of stuff, I guess.