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Posted on Mar 30th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Quintet, Enix, RPG, SNES


I've mentioned it many times before, but Illusion of Gaia is a game that I have fond memories of from when I was a kid and is still one of my favorite Super Nintendo games today. As many already know, it is a loosely-based sequel to Soul Blazer, which has earned itself quite the reputation over the years as a great action-RPG for the console. As such, Soul Blazer has been on my mind for many years as something that I should eventually play, so I finally made time to experience what is now another in a long list of favorites for the SNES.



Soul Blazer is an action-RPG that was developed by Quintet and published by Enix. It was released in Japan and North America in 1992 and in Europe in 1994, and it has never seen a re-release on any console or digital platform. The game was met with generally positive critical reception but sold relatively poorly.

The game is set in the Freil Empire where the evil Deathtoll has destroyed all villages and imprisoned every living creature. The Blazer, a heavenly being sent by the Master, must journey through the Freil Kingdom and ultimately destroy all the monsters and restore the kingdom to its former glory. The story here is very minimal and mostly just serves as a vehicle to move the gameplay along, but there are some story beats along the way that help flesh out the plot.


On the surface, Soul Blazer is a straightforward hack 'n slash action-RPG, but there are some unique mechanics that help set it apart. The game is divided into six distinct areas as well as a final endgame area, and each of these six areas has a town and a dungeon associated with it. The towns will be mostly barren when you first arrive, but by clearing monster lairs in the associated dungeon, you will slowly unlock more people and structures in the town. Exploring the towns and talking to NPCs as you unlock them is important as it helps flesh out more of the story as well as grants you new items and equipment, some of which are required to progress.

Combat in the game feels great, and this keeps the hack 'n slash gameplay fun and addicting. Killing enemies grants experience points which go towards leveling up your character, and enemies also drop gems which are the resource used to cast spells. The dungeons are littered with monster lairs, small points where monsters continuously spawn, and killing every enemy within the lair will clear the lair and allow you to unlock the aforementioned town assets. It's important to note that enemies and their lairs will not respawn if you leave the dungeon, so backtracking doesn't become too tedious if you need to do so. This also makes level grinding impractical for the most part, at least until the final area where certain lucrative enemies will continuously respawn, but fortunately the difficulty is balanced around this.


Just like most Quintet games, the bosses are visually impressive and fun to fight.

The graphics look good for the time with a vibrant color scheme and nice enemy variety. The music is pretty good overall with only a couple of tracks standing out as great. Of course, anyone who has played a Quintet game before will notice the familiar text font and sound effects, and these will always have a special charm to me personally.

Soul Blazer may not sound that compelling on paper since it is fairly simple overall, but the fluid gameplay and town-building elements keep it a fun and somewhat addicting experience, and it is a game that I would highly recommend to fans of action-RPGs. Used cartridges tend to float between $50-$60, and personally I think it's well worth the asking price.


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Comments
 
So much love for this game!  Thank you for bringing it back to my mind!  I might have to go play the whole series again!  I don't think I ever did finish Terranigma...

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