Title: Beyond the Beyond
Developer: Camelot
Publisher: Sony
Date Published: September 11, 1996 (US); November 3, 1995 (Japan)
Platforms: Playstation
ESRB Rating: n/a

I had more fun shooting this game with a crossbow than playing it

Yes, I actually shot both the CD case and the actual 2 discs comprising of this poor excuse for a video game with a crossbow. Fed up with the terrible play control, bland characters, forced dialogue and the maddening step to fight ratio, several friends and I loaded a bolt into this old weapon we found at a flea market and took turns firing shots. The 15 or so minutes we spent blasting this sucker into a hundred sharp, finger-sized fragments will forever be one of my treasured memories, while the 15 or so hours I spent playing through the final level of it would have been more productive peeling stucco off walls and chewing shards of glass mixed with toxic glue.

I'm slightly worried about my ability to node Beyond the Beyond objectively considering I enjoyed it only slightly less than getting bashed in the face with a baseball bat. Regardless, one would be hard pressed to find someone who's actually been foolish enough to sit down, play the entire game all the way through and then actually have the desire to write about their mind shattering experience. Because this leaves me with no choice but to forge ahead while pointing out and ridiculing all the flaws with this game, you should probably keep my extreme bias in mind.

In its defense, one does has to keep in mind that it was the first RPG for Sony's Playstation. Essentially, this game had no standards to meet. It was simply a sacrificial lamb to be placed on the "first RPG for this system" altar, much like Quest 64 for the Nintendo 64 several years later. In fact, its major marketing point was that it was indeed the only RPG for Playstation, giving fans of the genre that also owned the system a special incentive to buy it. In the end, the game was a product of "haste makes waste". The obvious lack of attention to detail can be attributed to the tight schedule this game had to fit.

Game play

Here is what sucks about the game play:

  1. The step to fight ratio. In the final level, there are spots where it is 1 to 1 (meaning for every step you take, you get into a random battle). Nearly every other cave or castle in the game takes hours to complete due to slightly more merciful ratios of 2 to 1 or 3 to 1. It's higher than in any other game I've ever played. Yes, it even beats out games like Breath of Fire 2 and Skies of Arcadia which are infamous for the amount of random battles.
  2. The uninspired and unimaginative concept. It's a very generic, stereotypical centered overhead view of a hero talking to people in town and getting into random encounters everywhere else.
  3. The battle system. Once again, just a very generic turn based system not much more complex than the original Dragon Warrior. You can fight, use items, run and cast spells. Hurrah. Monsters attack you. Arg.
  4. The inexplicable "button pushing bonus" hook to the battle system. In the instruction manual, it says that by pushing certain buttons at the right times, you can do extra damage (a la Super Mario RPG). This is very strange considering that IT DOESN'T WORK. Nowhere at any time does anyone mention this in the game. I believe this is probably something they started to program into the game, but never had time to finish.
  5. The "Three Levels of Air" travel system. First, the heroes find some floating vehicle to transport them over ground and water. However, it doesn't go high enough to fly over mountains. Beyond the Beyond is not the only guilty one here; this annoying feature has been put in other RPGs as well. If I go through the trouble of defeating the Super Zombie at the end of the Evil Monster Cave to get my airship, it had better fucking fly over mountains. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there for Beyond the Beyond. Later, the heroes get a large dragon than fly over mountains. But not ALLLL mountains. You have to wait until the very end to get a gigantic geometric flying fortress to be able to fly over the tallest of mountains. Dammit. I cannot properly convey my sense of frustration trying to fly around in that game without going into extreme vulgarities.
  6. The last level. I've already ranted about the insane 1 to 1 step to fight ratio, but just for kicks, the game's creators decided to throw in a boring maze with terrible revolving camera angles. To top it all off, the final boss is a chore because he takes about an hour of repetitious fighting to kill him.

What was good about the gameplay? There was a class change about halfway through the game and the characters got new animation sprites and new attacks and new spells and new stuff like that. Besides from that bright spot, there's nothing else positive I can think of.

Plot and Characters

This game didn't have a plot worth mentioning. Something about an evil overlord trying to rule the world and a prophesized hero stopping him. I don't know. It was bad. The animation and design of the characters could have passed for a decent NES game and their dialogue almost rivaled a second grader's reading level.

There is one point in the story that stands out in my mind. The group of heroes meet up with a character named Samson, who is incredibly powerful. Samson joins the heroes party and proceeds to thrash random enemies for about five minutes. It's actually kind of fun. He is, by far, more powerful than any enemy at this point. Suddenly, an evil sorceress puts a curse on his strength! Remember, this is part of the PLOT. Samson is now cursed and basically becomes worse than all the other characters in the party. Now...

A large chunk of the game is trying to remove Samson's curse so he can move a pillar with his beastly strength. Through this entire quest the game implies that his curse will be lifted and his power in the battles will go back up to its original godliness. Well...

When Samson reaches level 20, his curse is lifted. Keep in mind that this leveling was all done while he was cursed. When he becomes uncursed... He doesn't regain his unbeatable strength. Level 20 counts as if he had all his strength back. This was the most fucking stupid plot twist I've ever seen and it pisses me off just thinking about it. Hours and hours of game play were wasted. Don't play this game if you don't like the feeling of corrosive acid poured on your raw spinal nerves.

Super Hidden Bonus Embarrassment Round!

If you must know how truly atrocious this game is, listen up. Evidently, some of the programmers for this game had begun to create a CG introduction hoping to wow players with the flashy graphics.

However, at that point in time, CG graphics were still fairly experimental. Due to the time constraints the creators had, there must not have been enough time to polish this enough to have it presentable as a legitimate introduction. Still, with all the time they had spent trying to make it, the CG artists must have been angry that they wouldn't have it done in time. So this introduction wasn't removed from the game. It was hidden.

To access it, you hold the up button and the triangle when you turn the game on. It should activate just before the title screen.

This "bonus" introduction is embarrassing to watch. It's terrible. It's stupid. It's bad. Think of fuzzy polygons in the same 8 colors that come in a box Crayolas. Think of these barely recognizable super deformed pseudo anime style characters then jump hundreds of feet into the air and clash swords. Then think of the most gruesome, twisted roadkill you've ever seen. Combine these, and you pretty much have this "bonus" intro. If you are ever blessed with the opportunity to see it, be careful not to gouge your eyes out. Thank God this horrific piece was hidden or else there may have been a worse epilepsy epidemic than the infamous Pokémon incident.

Playing the game
This write-up complies with the E2 FAQ: Video Games standards.