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Soul Blazer

Developer: Quintet
Publisher: Enix
Genre: Action/RPG
Release Date: SNES
January 31, 1992 (JP)
November 27, 1992 (NA)
January 27, 1994 (PAL)
Rating: None
MSRP: Unknown

Soul Blazer is one of those games right up there with the other SNES ‘legends’ that I can pick up anytime and just play it through. It never gets old, and while it is not the most perfect game out there, it still has a great fun factor that is associated with it.

Soul Blazer starts off as “The Master” explains to the hero (named Blazer), that the world is being overrun by Deathtoll, and he must free the souls of the villagers and animals that Deathtoll has imprisoned. The objective is to take Blazer through these various worlds, defeating monster spawn points and ‘freeing’ the souls. This is usually followed up at the very end of each world with a boss, which often releases the soul of the most important individual in each town, and pushes the story forward. Told through each character, the story is actually quite involved. The only issue is that it can be easily overlooked if there is no speaking done with the other characters. I have read elsewhere that there is an element of love between Blazer and another character in the game, but I don’t remember seeing it. Still, the story is well written for being as old as it is, and does well fleshing out exactly what is going on, and how the people feel.

The game is played out like a typical action RPG. Experience points are gained through fighting the monsters on the field. There are no separate ‘instanced’ battles, and everything happens in real time. The main method of attacking is a sword, and there are magic spells that are granted as the game progresses forward. It is possible to miss spells and weapons through the game, but it will hinder and possibly even halt progress in some instances. The enemies are relatively predictable, and would seem to offer no challenge, however I had found myself dying on various parts due to the sheer power of the enemies. There is no place to truly grind out levels, so Blazer is kept at a level that is on par or slightly above that of the enemies he is facing.

Swords, shields and armor are collected and boost your attack and defense respectively. The magic that is obtainable throughout the game are powered by gems, which are collected via fighting enemies, opening treasures, etc.  however by collecting  a certain set of items, Blazer is granted with the ability to use magic infinitely. Each weapon and magic spell have various uses through the game, providing the player with countless ways to defeat their enemies. There are some enemies that carry specific resistances and can only be killed via one or two specific methods. Items in the game are held in an inventory, but only one item of any kind can be held at one point. Fortunately, they are all fairly effective so there is really no need for more, unless you are a really terrible gamer.

The music is not as epic in this game as it is in most SNES games, however there are plenty of memorable jams that will be remembered after the game is shut off. Quintet does tend to recycle some tunes from it, giving quite a few of the towns the exact same song. There is also a song that plays just before the save that I could really do without, due to it’s tendency to be obnoxiously loud. The music that is played during boss fights and most of the exploration, though, is some of the catchier stuff to listen to. Fortunately, that is where most of the time spent playing takes place.

As this game was a bit newer and longer, there is a battery back up to allow for three save files at one time. Overall, there is probably about 10 to 12 hours of play time, meaning the game could be completed in one sitting. However beyond the completion of the game there are really no extra features or reasons to play through again. Any time I have picked the game back up to play it, I would just start another save file and get to work again. Then again, this game is a little older, so the challenges all came from playing the game the first time around, anyway.

The only real downsides to this game were the controls at some points and the alignment of Blazer’s sword. The controls themselves were fluid and easy to maneuver Blazer around the map. This could potentially put Blazer in trouble, however, as the loose and quick movement is as much a benefit as it is a curse. I often found myself running too far forward and smashing into the enemies, or not running close enough to actually hit them. I got used to it as the game played on, but there is definitely a learning curve. Not to mention Blazer does not run in ordinal directions. This can sometimes be frustrating when trying to step on the soul releasing switch, but it never bothered me enough to mind. The other thing that must be watched is Blazer’s sword strafing. Holding down either one of the shoulder buttons will make Blazer extend his sword outwards and continually face that direction. The issue arises when you are facing north. For some ungodly reason, Blazer’s sword is actually shorter when he is facing north, and therefore is more prone to being hit. I am not sure why this is, but it is quite easily the worse glitch in the game.

Overall, Soul Blazer is definitely worth playing at least once in a lifetime, as there are lots of positives to the game to allow the negatives to mean anything. There is a solid, comprehensive story if the time is taken out to chat with the characters. As I stated before, the game can be completed in as little as 10 hours, if not faster, and has it’s memorable qualities. After all, we wouldn’t be writing about it 19 years later to share our experiences, now would we?

Overall: 6.5 / 10.0

Likes:
+Interesting gameplay
+Rather fleshed out characters
+Bold story

Dislikes:
-Controls are a bit sketchy
-Odd sprite glitches
-Final boss was insanely tough

Innovative:
~Second game to utilize soul saving system
~Did I mention the story?
~Missable equipment and spells

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