Name: Soul Blazer, aka Soul Blader
Format: Super NES
The Snes Action RPG developed by ENIX and released in 1992. The first in a trilogy of RPG games for the Snes, with the other two being Illusion of Gaia(aka Illusion of Time) and Terranigma. While Terranigma was released at rougly the time that the Snes was dying, Soul Blazer was a very early RPG for the system, and while technically it would turn out to be vastly inferior to games which followed it, there is still an element about Soulblazer that makes for a good, if primitive, game.
The game worked like many others - a simple hack and slash, kill all enemies, get exp, go up a level, get slightly sharper sword routine. But there is an element of an almost naive charm to Soulblazer. Your character seems to go around the world doing good on behalf of the "Master," a god figure who simply decides that the world has been controlled by evil for long enough.
The way the monsters were defeated was another interesting point, though. After the player was teleported into the overworld of each level, typically a strangely deserted field/swamp etc, he would enter a dungeon, which was surprisingly enough filled with monsters. Little gold squares on the dungeon floor which flashed red would spawn monsters, and then become green and flashing when a certain group of monsters was killed. Once you had killed all the monsters, the switch would flash, and you would step on it, and watch a cutscene as a new element, such as a house with occupant, an animal, a bridge, or something else was added to the previously blank overworld. You had effectively saved some souls. So what used to be an open field became a lively town. If you got stuck in the dungeon, you might have to go outside and talk to the people you had freed, or cross a bridge to find a new entrance. It sounds basic, but it's damn addictive when you just have to kill one more monster to free a blacksmith, etc.
And that kind of sums the game up. Available now on the Internet through Snes emulation, it began a trilogy which ended with arguably one of the Snes' finest RPGs, Terranigma. A piece of history.
Similarities between Soul Blazer and it's sequel, Illusion of Gaia.
- Turbo the dog crops up in both to give advice.
- Some sprites are simply re-used, such as the tulip sprite, which gives advice in both games, and the spirit sprite, which is an enemy in the first game and as a representation of a race of people who have died out in the second.
- Some levels are thematically similar - for example, the St. Elles Seabed in Soul Blazer looks very similar to Mu in Illusion of Gaia.
- Guidance from a god figure: the Master in Soul Blader, and Gaia in Illusion of Gaia.
- Overall similar plotline - save the world from evil.