Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nerdicus Genesis Review #34: Blue Almanac / Star Odyssey

Title : Blue Almanac / Star Odyssey

Publisher : Kodansha Ltd

Developer : HOT B CO. LTD

Genre : RPG

Players : 1 Player

Release Date : 2011

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $10-$15 (JPN) $100-$200 (ENG)

No, folks. That isn't a typo on the date. This game was in fact released in 2011, approx 20 years after the original Japanese release had come out. You don't see this every day. In fact, you barely encounter a game that comes out such a long time after the original. But when you are pumped for a game like Blue Almanac (aka STAR ODYSSEY), and you're craving for a decent RPG on the Genesis, it is worth the wait.

When the original game came out in 1991, it was pretty much supposed to be immediately ported to the NA systems. Of course, due to unforeseen consequences, the game was ultimately cancelled. I actually remember seeing advertisements for this game in a few gaming magazines and I thought this might be the reason I would have to be pick up a genesis. I was HUGELY into RPGs back then, and I was always looking for the next best FF or DQ.

It was really quite disappointing that the localization didn't pan out. The Genesis really didn't have as big of a RPG market as the SNES, so they missed out big time by not releasing this game.

Nowadays, not so much. But it's not often where I can sit down and play a RPG from the 90's and still have my interest held. No joke, I have an easier time playing all my 8 bit and 16 bit RPG's than I do RPG's now. They are cinematic messes now.
Unfortunately, I had to wait 20 years to play this game, but I DID manage to get my hands on a copy from a friend. Not to own...just to borrow and play. It wasn't even a genesis copy. It was released as a bundle package for the PC with a bunch of other RPG games that weren't as good. Boy, did the US market miss out from not bringing this game over. But THANK YOU to Brandon Cobb and those over at SUPER FIGHTER TEAM who stuck with this game and decided to work their arses off to bring it over here. 

If you are a fan of the classic RPG, strap yourselves in. It may not be perfect, but it's definitely worth the wait.

In Star Odyssey, humanity has spread its dominion across the galaxy after leaving Earth to colonize. You play as a young man, who as a child crash landed on a inhabited planet. Upon coming of age, you embark on a journey across the galaxy, recruiting allies in order to combat a Rogue Planet that is trying to withdraw from the intergalactic union.

Okay, it's a lot more involved in that, but I really don't have time to go through the whole story. Let's just say it follows a traditional RPG element. You're the hero, there is a rising enemy hell bent on taking over, and it's up to YOU to stop them.

The story moves along pretty well for the most part, and a few things irked me but I wasn't sure if it was lost in translation, or just bad storytelling in part by the developers. Regardless, the story keeps you hooked. And that's a good thing too, because visually the game isn't very appetizing....

For a Sega Genesis game, it certainly doesn't look that good. The graphics in most parts of the game (especially the overhead environment where you walk around), looks like it could have come from the Master System or the NES. The layout just looks confusing, and the characters don't seem to fit properly on the world. At least the battle scenes look impressive, and there the designs of both the monsters and the party look detailed. Other than that, it's quite disgusting. A strong word, but that's how I felt.

In terms of gameplay, it's the same formula as any other RPG. Level up. Buy new equipment. Dungeon Crawl. Complete quests and move on to the next part of the story. The quest lines and adventures your set on are pretty in depth, and they really do take you across a large expanse of space. It's like Mass Effect for the 16-bit generation. Maybe that's too much of a comparison ha.

Another problem the game might have...hold on. I know I'm mentioning a lot of problems, but the truth of the matter the game is ultimately very good. It's just things that I'm nitpicking on because of the fact that the game could have been pretty close to an RPG up to the standards of DQ or FF..but it's not. Anyway, the problem is limited inventory. You really don't have a lot of space...practically only a few slots. That becomes an issue where you're holding quest items but you also need equipment and healing supplies. Makes those long dungeon crawls a struggle.

BUT, I guess that's the challenging part.

It's quite possible to over level and breeze through this game, and a lot of it comes down to the grind. Don't all RPG's? I used to love the grind...it was so satisfying to level up and earn gold to buy that new equipment. Now, I just don't have the time.

OH, and have fun grinding up your new party members because they always join you at level 1...What's up with that!? At least mirror your MC.

Ah well...a lot of complaining and I'm sorry but the game is really all about RPG nostalgia and a pretty powerful story. For the Sega, which was sorely lacking RPGs, this could have been a huge boost. Too bad we had to wait twenty years.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until Next time - Keep on Gaming!



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