Review by coocoo66

Reviewed: 10/12/05

A very underrated RPG from Treasure

Let me start off by saying that I hate RPGs. I like to finish a game within one week of starting it, and so many RPGs demand an eternity. It's not that I don't have the time, it's that I'd rather spend it elsewhere. Also, I hate traditional RPG elements. But enough about genre hatred. Light Crusader manages to do away with the most annoying RPG conventions and make a fun and fast-paced action-RPG hybrid.

Light Crusader has a style similar to RPGs such as Alundra and Landstalker, albeit far less difficult. It's a combination of hack 'n' slash combat with plenty of puzzle solving and platforming thrown in. Our protagonist David will trek through 6 floors of dungeons with varying themes. The dungeon floors are fairly large, but it's always clear which areas haven't been explored, thanks to a helpful in game map(similar to Diablo's map). There is a good amount of variety in the rooms encountered. Light Crusader is not a story-oriented game. There's only one town in the game, and it's the usual defeat the evil guy and help the king plot. However, it does have a subtle quirkiness to it, which helps give it a more unique feel.

Our hero also has the ability to jump around(and he has serious hops). The puzzles are very intuitive, and some require thought while other involve reflexes. Most puzzles involve pulling switches or pushing object. A few of the puzzles tripped me up and required the use of a guide, but almost all of them were solvable without any help and satisfying to solve. The combat seems like your usual hack 'n' slash, but there is an element combination system for casting magic spells. Combining four elements, spells ranging from healing to ultimate destruction can be cast. There is a very good blend of action and combat. The combat side of the game always surfaces before the puzzle solving can get tiring, and there are some creative combat environments and situations that resemble an action game. They make the combat more than just mindless hacking.

Graphically, Light Crusader has very smooth graphics for a Genesis game. The environments and sprites are nicely colored, and some of the bosses are in 3-D! Areas are lively and colorful. Though some room color patterns repeat, they are visually appealing and the final floor is a pleasant surprise. The music won't win any awards, but there are some good medieval tunes, and some dungeon music fits in with the game's more arcadey feel. A few of the tunes are quite hummable.

One of Light Crusader's best accomplishments is elimination of the RPG elements that turn off non-RPGers. Very little item micromanagement is present. There's just some basic armor and almost all of it is available at the town store. As far as healing items, the game has an option to have them automatically used, and this really saves much of the trouble. There is little in the way of leveling up, beating enemies is more of a matter of good positioning and combat is on the easy side, though not boring. There isn't the annoying RPG tradition of talking to a billion characters to trigger an event. Talking is useful, but there is only one town and the process is quite brief. Though there's not much story, I felt that I got to know the townspeople better as a result of the small size. I'd rather have a manageable closely knit town than meet a million faceless people. Also, the map feature is very appreciated. Without it, mindless wandering and frustration would result, and I really wish this would become an RPG standard. I only wish the game didn't have to pause to use the map(like in Diablo), but it's still a very welcome feature. Finally, this game is very realistically beatable in under 10 hours. I finished it before it became repetitive and bitter, and few RPGs seem to do that. There is no reason to replay this game, but I was more than satisfied.

Light Crusader is often criticized for being too short . I say it's length is just fine. Almost any Genesis game is under 10 hours, and I don't see why RPGs should be held to higher standards. As I've said, this is a fun and fast-paced adventure, but it also requires thought and avoids tediousness. I'm not surprised it was made by Treasure. They always know how to take any type of game and make it fun and memorable. Just a word of advice: read a guide to get the sextant. It's helpful, though not essential, and can be obtained pretty early.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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