Review by Phantasy_StarX
Treasure's first attempt at an rpg
Treasure has been widely acclaimed for its array of action sidescroller shooters, shmups and arcade beat em ups. Some of their gems that graced the 16 bit and beyond were Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, Sin and Punishment, Bangai-O Spirits, Guardian Heroes, and Ikaruga. These games provided fast and frantic gameplay.
During the 16 bit era, rpgs were becoming very popular. The Super Nintendo was the system to have when it came to rpgs. Many of the classics and AAA titles flourished on the SNES. Gamers were introduced to Final Fantasy 4 and 6 (Known as 2 and 3), Breath of Fire 1 and 2, Secret of Mana, Lufia 1 and 2, Chrono Trigger, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario RPG etc. The SNES controlled the rpg market. It was at this time that Treasure, who worked solely for Sega at the time, created their first rpg called Light Crusaders. It is a good action rpg that suffers from a few problems that in the end does not stand out from the rpg elites during the 16 bit era.
The game opens up with a short cutscene of a wizard seeking revenge, since he has been wrong. More on the wizard's reasons for revenge is told later in the game. After the wizard, we are introduced to the main protagonist, David, who has been invited by the king of Green Row to seek out clues to the disapearance of the people in the village. As you venture through the story, you soon find out that there is a cult involved and the townspeople serve a bigger purpose in their grand scheme.
Light Crusader is an action rpg in the same vain as Secret of Mana, Legend of Zelda, or Beyond Oasis. David has a sword which he uses to attack his foes in real time. Attacks ranged from quick slashes to enemies as well as jumping and diving slashes. David is also equipped with battle armor and gloves that gives him good defense against his enemies. New weapon, gear and food (use for recovering hp) can be bought at shops or be found in dungeons. Magic can also be used to destroy your foes. Magic is based on four elements in the game, wind, earth, fire, and heal. These elements can be bought in a store or be found by fallen enemies. The neat thing about the magic system is that combining each element can create new spells for more effective attacks. For example, combining wind, earth, and fire can create a spell call Needlecrack.
Gameplay consist of going through dungeons, attacking enemies, solving puzzles, and finding keys to open locked doors. Light Crusaders has almost a Zelda esque feel to it. There are tons of bosses ranging from dragons, demons, and knights. Most bosses can be beaten with the push of the attack button, but later ones require some skill and strategy to be taken down. Going back to puzzles, there are a lot and will take some time to be solved. Puzzles involved pushing objects to open switches and playing a game of "Simon". These puzzles keep the game fresh when all the gamer is doing is slashing enemies. The only gripe I have with the gameplay is that the puzzles can be too challenging to the average gamer. For those that are stuck, a walkthrough is always helpful. Gamers who do solve the puzzle without a strategy guide can feel the sense of satisfaction which is always rewarding.
One thing that I was disappointed with were the NPCs. When David arrives in Green Row, the town feels so dead, almost zombie like. NPCs have only one line and most stay in the same spot. There isn't much interaction going in Green Row. The townspeople are probably too depressed, considering half of them have been abducted. Having good NPCs and interaction is a must in rpgs.
Visuals are hit and miss. The game is played on a 2D isometric environment, much like Diablo on PC. Animation is quite fluent for the main character and the enemies and bosses you encounter, but like I mentioned before the NPCs have little to no animation. Most NPC's stay in one spot. There wasn't much detail given to the town of Green Row. There are cutscenes in the game, but they only appeared in the opening. It would had been great if Treasure added more to help the story moving. On the plus side, dungeons are well design in the game. There is one main dungeon, broken down into subsections in the game. One point you will be in a dark spooky dungeon, and the next an underground civilization inhabited by green caveman. Each section has a distinctiveness feel, making each area of the dungeon different.
As for sound and music, its okay to listen to. Sounds consist of the sword slashes you make with your sword, the magic you cast on your enemies or on yourself and grunts and groans the main character makes when attacking or being attacked. There is also a narrator in the game who would warn David if he is near death, or would congragulate him when he solves a puzzle. The music is nice. Tunes consist of soft atmospheric, fast and upbeat and dark and barren. The music fits well to the environment the player is in and does not become annoying.
All in all, this is a good first attempt action role playing game by Treasure. It may not be perfect or stand out to stellar action rpgs such as Secret of Mana or Legend of Zelda, but it provides fun gameplay for those who have a Sega Genesis. It's on the short side, lasting about 4-6 hours depending how fast the gamer solves the puzzle, but its well worth it.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Light Crusader (US, 05/25/95)
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