Review by Victar
Even old-school RPG fans may want to skip this one
Traysia is an old-school RPG with turn-based combat, released only for the Sega Genesis.
Are you a fan of the genre? Are you thinking to yourself, "Could I have overlooked a wonderful, little-known treasure from the 16-bit era?"
Don't worry, you didn't.
Traysia's random battles are strictly turn-based and menu-driven, like Dragon Quest or any other traditional RPG. The developers tried to add a tactical element by allowing the player to move the four party members about on the battlefield, but in practice, all this "feature" does is slow down the game.
What really hurts the combat is its lack of options. There are some spells, but magic points to fuel them are in short supply, and most spells aren't any better than attacking with a decent weapon. Your party mage will dish out more beatings with a good bow than with nukes, easily.
As a result, combat tends to degenerate into attack, attack, attack, repeat for a tediously long time. If the enemy is especially strong, then sometimes one character will have to defend (or possibly run back and forth) while the others attack. That's all there is to it, especially if the player equips multiple Stick items to make the party nigh-invulnerable to all damage.
Combat also tends to drag on for far too long. Enemies are numerous and have too much HP, even when the party has the strongest weapons available. It gets old fast, and the only silver lining lies in how easy it is to run away from battles. There is no in-game penalty for fleeing.
Compounding the slow, tedious combat are the clunky, counterintuitive menus and the strictly limited, per-character inventory space. The menus feature crude, indistinct icons, and actually have load times. Something as simple as equipping that shiny new sword you just bought is a slog.
Perhaps worst of all, there is no easy way to tell who can wear a given piece of equipment, or whether said piece is an upgrade. The only way to determine the former is to try equipping a piece on all four party members (the macho man bruiser of the party can wear "Animal Dress" - who knew?), and the only way to determine the latter is to compare statistics on the party member's status screen before and after equipping the item. Factor in the irritating menu load times, and simply upgrading the party's gear at various shops quickly becomes a tiresome chore.
There isn't much to the gameplay outside of the shallow combat. Wander around towns and talk to NPCs (most of whom are nameless ciphers), then venture into a forest or dungeon maze. Some of these mazes are moderately complex, and may necessitate drawing a simple line map on scratch paper. Late in the game, a completely invisible maze will test any gamer's patience. Oh, and even though a menu option is supposed to prompt the player with what to do or where to go next, visits to GameFAQs might still be required to progress the story.
Saving is only possible at inns. The narrative is divided into chapters, and once the game moves on to a new chapter, everyone and everything from the setting of the last chapter is left behind.
A certain programming bug can, if diligently exploited, give the player infinite gold halfway through the game. I heartily recommend doing this, the better to simplify and rush through the tedium of endgame combat and equipment upgrades.
Between abuse of the "infinite gold" glitch and the Stick items, Traysia is potentially one of the easiest RPGs there is. Whether this is a fatal flaw or redeeming feature is entirely in the eye of the beholder. If the player makes combat laughably easy (and runs away from most of it), Traysia is quite short, and can be finished in 10-20 hours. There is almost no optional content, aside from a few sidequests in one chapter.
Traysia has old-school sprites in washed out colors, and drab, repetitive backgrounds. The cartridge's case artwork of the the hero Roy battling a two-headed dragon is by far the most gorgeous part of the game (the dragon's actual sprite is quite pitiable in comparison). Cutscenes feature some modestly decent artwork, but they are few and far between, except for one cutscene of Roy and his girlfriend Traysia, which gets rerun over and over. It's a pretty blah package.
Traysia's music is one of its only tolerable features. The battle theme is fast-paced and catchy, and the boss theme is exciting; other music helps establish a strong sense of place. There is a heavy synthesizer vibe to all the music (presumably due to the limitations of the Genesis), and it does tend to play in short, highly repetitive loops.
A couple of Traysia's plot twists did genuinely surprise me. But good stories are character-driven, and Traysia has very few interesting characters. The hero Roy, maybe barely; the villain, possibly; and perhaps one other. Two of the party members lack almost any sense of personality, and there aren't many interesting NPCs either - not even Roy's love interest, the eponymous Traysia (she's not playable, either).
The overall plot is about an organization of evil wizards out to rule the world, but it's hard to care when you have little opportunity to empathize with any of the people affected, including your own party members. The shoddy translation riddled with misspellings and bad grammar doesn't help.
Is Traysia worth tracking down and playing?
No, not really. You can buy a working Traysia cart cheap on eBay, but even a dozen hours spent playing it is a suboptimal use of your time.
If you love retro RPGs, there are far too many better ones to play, especially when including modern RPGs made in the retro style. You'd have to be an extreme diehard fan of the genre. or of the Sega Genesis, to justify playing this dull of a game.
Product Release: Traysia (US, 12/31/92)
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