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Written: 8.17.07
Acquired: 1.29.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $2.25

Pub: KoeiFeb. '95
Dev: Nihon Falcom12 MEGS

Growing up, I loved action games. As long as I could exert my malignant desires at will I was a happy camper. Bashing heads in, taking the trash out, beating people down or blowing stuff up... this was my gaming diet. My brother on the other hand grew up loving RPG's.
I couldn't stand them. Granted, I never gave one the time of day. But over the years my gaming taste has gone through
a maturation process
"MY!  You're awfully happy to see me..."



And no one was more shocked about it than me. As a young child I didn't understand how someone could derive any pleasure from a slow-paced, text-filled, turn-based game. But of course, I was ignorant to the simple pleasures that only this genre can deliver

The Action-RPG, or more affectionately... OK, more conveniently known as the ARPG, is sorta
like a cousin to the role playing game

[Oh my GOD... and fornication is FUN! -Ed.]

Uh, at any rate, although I never did get around to play them, there were several ARPG's that I found appealing back in the day


.... Brandish wasn't one of them


Not that it didn't strike my fancy you understand -- more like I'd never heard of it










During my SNES resurrection of January 2006 I dug out my old magazines to find games I had either forgotten about, or never heard of. One night I came across this, and right away the ad
had me captivated

Underground?

Mazes?

55 different monsters?

I was sold like a cheap prostitute!

The game seemed as though it was right up
my alley



Won a copy off eBay along with Out of This World from the same seller not too long after seeing the ad. At $2.25 it was a bargin "out of this world!"  *rimshot*

[Oh Lord -Ed.]

Brandish would be my first taste of an action RPG... and on a late late Wednesday night of February 8, 2006... 3 AM... with my alarm set to 7:35 AM for school, I had the strangest
urge to play this game. And so, I shifted my way through the darkness to do just that





As soon as the calm intro began, with its almost soothing theme, the tower lit in the soft glow of the moonlight, and the story
of Varik being swallowed underground, fending off 55 monsters not of the normal world, I felt an immediate connection



I played for half an hour before saving and quitting. First impressions were favorable. That night
I went to sleep with sweet visions of blue blobs and red-eyed goblins dancing in my dreams







THE PLOT

Here is the story... straight from the manual. So grab your popcorn, chocolate-covered grasshoppers and kick off your shoes.... hey Billy!  YEAH, YOU!  DIM THE LIGHTS!













BERIMYA AND THE SECRET POWER


Many years ago, in a far, far land, stood a tower in the middle of a small kingdom called Berimya. The tower was so magnificent, it seemed to symbolize all the peace in the world. The people were happy in bustling Berimya, but this land was ruled by an evil king, named Berebus

As kingdoms prosper, it is not uncommon that the people become greedy. Berimya was no exception. King Berebus was not content with his country's prosperity and began to dream of how he could strengthen his power. In time he caught wind of an old saying that the tower held the key to satisfying his greed

The Berimyan saying went like this: "There is a towering source of ultimate power that controls everything in the world." It was said that the secret of the source was kept at the top of this sacred tower, and not even the king was allowed to enter this area. The secrets were only passed down to those of pure intent by Baltus, the king's archbishop

The king tried very hard to pry out the secrets from the archbishop, but his vow of secrecy restricted him from telling the king. King Berebus became so desperate that he sent a spy
in the guise of a priest inside the tower





Several days later, the spy returned
with an ancient book he had found
in the tower. This scripture revealed
information about the Secret Power
that King Berebus desired. It was
written, "A dragon, the protector of
Berimya, resides in the top of the
tower and controls all the power of
the world"



Under the command of the king, the Imperial Army forced their way into the sacred tower. Baltus tried to restrict the soldiers from entering the tower, but evil King Berebus sentenced him to death for obstructing his wishes

When the soldiers finally reached the top of the tower, an enormous stone statue of a dragon stood before them. The moment King Berebus spoke, the statue lit up in a pale blue light and
the dragon came to life






The fearless king stood in front of the dragon and declared, "I am Berebus,
King of the land Berimya. Give me the source of your power or die!"









Suddenly, the dragon opened up its wings, and curled its long neck and body into a ball. An intense, vibrant light radiated from between its wings. Fearing for his life, King Berebus ordered for the soldiers to kill the dragon. The dragon did not resist the attack and continued to radiate light











It also affected the people of Berimya. From this day forward, the city was thrown into isolation. In one night, the sacred tower, kingdom, and all of the people of Berimya sunk deep into the ground

One thousand years later, the forgotten past of Berimya would
be unveiled in the Land of Bavalya







BAVALYA: A DESPERATE LAND


Bavalya was a small, charming country that showed no signs of having a horrible past. From the outside it appeared to be a peaceful place to live. But in reality, Bavalya was in turmoil. Beryx, the King of Bavalya, had devised a plan to make the country a richer place. In order for the small country to become more prosperous, he placed large bounties on criminals and collected money by taxing these rewards. This system stabilized the wealth of the country, but invited criminals to stalk each other. Bavalya had turned into a corrupt and violent place to live

Due to these circumstances, there were few visitors who dared to enter Bavalya. The country was on the road to pure devastation







THE WANDERING SWORDSMAN


One day, a curious man came to Bavalya. At first glance, he looked like a filthy beggar. The long, intimidating sword on his side, however, was a clue that he was a powerful swordsman with a dark, secret past. His name was Varik. He was the most wanted criminal, and earned his living collecting bounties

As he walked into a local bar, Varik noticed that some men were staring at him and continued to the other side of the room. All around on the walls hung sketches of wanted criminals. A loud voice boomed from a table far away


"I heard that there are hidden treasures in the large hole!"

"But I've heard that there are demons crawling all over the place down there!"

"Which one of you criminals has the
most on your head?"

"It must be that guy over there. He must be worth a million gold pieces!" said a shrewd man pointing to Varik


"He's a strong one. For your own sake don't bother with him. It's best not to concern ourselves with that kind of vermin...."

"The reward money we could collect from that guy would allow us to live in luxury, but it's not worth the risk"

Varik decided to ignore what they were saying and find out more about this mysterious hole from the bartender

"Since the day they came across the hole, people suddenly began disappearing. Some say they hear strange groans, and there are even people who say they've seen monsters in Bavalya! There were rumors about how, some way or another, one of the monsters had crawled out of the hole and attacked someone. One person after another has been lured into this hole and never seen again. You may think you are tough enough to battle men here, but down there, it's a different story. I'd stay away from that cursed hole if I were you!"










THE CURIOUS HOLE


Varik stood on the edge of the huge crater, and noticed a small opening at the bottom. So, he began to climb down towards it. A woman's voice suddenly came from behind him. "Varik!" He immediately recognized the woman's voice. When he looked back, the sorceress Alexis was standing on the edge of the crater with a stern expression on her face

She twirled her magical wand, and yelled






Five years ago, Varik was falsely accused of murdering Alexis' master, Balkan, and she has been persistently following Varik to get revenge ever since

Just at that moment, Varik and Alexis felt something strange happen. A magnetic force from the hole at the bottom of the crater began to pull them, interrupting their confrontation. Varik took one look at Alexis and began to jump. Alexis chased after him yelling






Then Alexis stretched out her arm, and from her palm effortlessly threw a fireball at Varik. With enormous speed, the ground beneath Varik exploded as he dodged her fireball. Horrified that her shot had missed him, Alexis threw a second fireball which fell into the hole















You assume the controls of the bounty hunter, Varik. As public enemy #1, your goal is to somehow return to the surface. But standing in your way lies thousands of monsters, booby traps, puzzles and oh... Alexis hot on your trail! Advice?  Keep moving and don't trust goblins!

Will Varik ever see the light of day again?

Will he ever again bask in the glow of the moonlight?

And most importantly... will he ever enjoy another Bavalya Cheesesteak?







GAME FLOW

  • 1. Ruins Area 1-10
  • 2. Tower 1-9
  • 3. Cave B10-B1
  • 4. Dark Zone 1 & 2
  • 5. Fortress 1-7
  • 6. ??????  (I'm not telling..)


Good luck....







CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE GAMER  [TALE #162]







I started Brandish in February 2006. Buying games at an insane pace it got lost in the shuffle. It wasn't til July '06 that I picked it up again. I collected two gold bars but *gasp* they took up two slots in my limited inventory box. Can't I combine them some how? I checked a FAQ but it only said "Mega Tip: Consolidate your items" and didn't tell me how. So I asked my good fellow gamers over at DigitPress if anyone knew. DDCecil PM'ed me that he had a Brandish manual lying around his shop. He offered to send it to me, no fee, the next trip to
the post office



What a top bloke! =D
I remember the day the manual arrived
I was so excited and read the 40+ pages as though it were the Bible!
And now I knew how to consolidate items. First you needed to have a Dimensional Box...

Here, just spreading the good word for any manual-less Brandish players out there who may
be wondering what the flippin' heck. DDCecil, a toast to you, my good man










BRANDISH BESTIARY

One of my favorite parts of the game: over 55 monsters await. They range from very small to very big, from low to extremely high health points. Some prefer to hack alone, others work in packs. It reminds me of Doom in that regard.... here's a small sample of some of the villains you'll meet in your lengthy quest....


































BOSS MONSTERS

????????? I don't want to ruin this for ya, do I?

Over a dozen boss monsters await. Trust me, you'll know 'em when you see 'em. Good luck......







WELCOME TO THE RUINS














Varik's descent through the darkness ends, but his troubles are just beginning...









JUMP!

A cool feature not seen
in very many ARPG's



Of course, one cannot talk Brandish without bringing this up... its awkward camera system that has turned off a-many gamers...



What the --



Brandish employs a unique method of movement, shifting the entire maze 90 degrees around the player on each turn. This "snap shot" flashing perspective has frustrated many. This jerky and sporadic motion takes time to get used to. It wasn't long before it became second nature for me. There are two different command settings, but more on that a bit later on. Yes, you'll always see the backside of Varik. Strafing will be your best friend as well as the on-screen compass. It's really not that bad.... and as you might imagine, gameplay is more methodical than say, Zelda







MAPQUEST

An auto-map charts the regions you've explored. Map symbols indicate key spots



Explore every last nook and cranny. You never know what goodies you may find







MAIN SCREEN FUNCTIONS


1. Current shield

2. Current armor

3. Current weapon

4. Evil bloke

5. Marker (open doors, pick up items, toggle switches, etc.)

6. Compass

7. Current region & floor

8. That'd be you

9. Secondary item

10/11. Ye health bar & magic bar



The secondary item can be switched to on the fly by simply pressing X. Some of you might be wondering why the secondary sword here has a "30" by it and the current weapon broken. Yup, swords wear down as you slash the bad guys up. Once it reaches 0, the sword shatters. It may still be used, but its original strength is no longer. For those who are already thinking "That's lame!" -- fret not... as you advance through the game you'll discover indestructible swords

The secondary item can be anything from your inventory, from keys to potions to magic spells. Be careful when selecting from your items, however. It takes place in real time....







STATUS


This is how you start out. By comparison, here are my levels
at game's end:

Level 86
HP:  216
MP:  194
Luck:  121
Gold:  243,390
Attack Strength:  149
Defense Strength:  65
Arm Strength:  99.99
Knowledge:  95.43
Magic Endurance:  99.99


Your luck fluctuates constantly. It affects the damage you can inflict when you attack monsters. Gold can only be found in treasure chests or by selling items to shopkeepers. Monsters do not drop gold when killed, so early on it may seem very hard to "get rich." But as long as you save and spend wisely, you should be alright

Arm Strength merely indicates your ability to defend yourself whenever you're not equipped with
a weapon. Knowledge influences the effectiveness of your magic and Magic Endurance refers to your power to resist the opposition's magical forces







CONFIGURATION



Some complain about the plodding nature of Brandish. Thankfully, the game speed can be adjusted on a whim. This is great for a number of reasons. Wish to backtrack? Put it on high speed for quickness. Fighting a super nasty baddie? Hmmm, maybe the low speed will slow his attack down... I played at normal speed mostly, switching to low or high whenever it was warranted


Message speed is self-explanatory. Ditto the buttons. Color, hate the default blue? You get to select from nine choices for the hell of it!

But what's Lateral and Rotate? With lateral, the screen shifts 90 degrees when you press the D-Pad. L/R strafes. With rotate, the D-Pad serves as strafing. L and R will shift the screen. I prefer lateral







CATCH UP ON YE READING!





Ah bless the marker. Not
only does it toggle levers
but it allows you to scope
out an item's description,
make out what's inside a
mystery bag, warn you of
hazardous spots on the
ground and of course, read
the many plaques scattered
throughout the labyrinths



The plaques range from highly helpful to downright strange. Take a peek:

























HOLE IT!  HOLE... HOLD.... GEDDIT?!  [Pack your things -Ed.]



Falling down is the pits!!!!
Some sap you of precious
health while others drop you
to lower floors. Some pitfalls
are given away by a pebble
or mark, but others, to the
naked eye, are impossible
to discern. You could drop
a steel ball, or better yet,
make great use of that
marker! 










OTHER "HANDY" BITS WITH THE MARKER





Items left lying around are marked by the green "mystery" bag. Don't just pick it up right away. Use your marker






Speaking of keys, if you love adventure games where there are hundreds of locked doors and, thereby, hundreds of keys to find, you'll love Brandish. From the Skull Key to the Dragon Key
to the Ruby Key, there are more keys in this sucker than the Plaza Hotel in New York City!







THE GREATEST YET CHEAPEST THING EVER

In the first area of the game, the Ruins, there are fountain springs scattered about the subterranean floors. A quick sip or two will restore you to good health. Once out of the Ruins however, you're on your own. But don't worry, you have health potions and then... the greatest yet cheapest thing ever....






L+R to recover? Say wha? Yes, it's called "resting" and allows Varik to regain full vitality. It's not a cheat, it's even promoted and encouraged in the manual! Any time you're at less than 100% health you may press L and R. The screen will pause and darken as your health bar shoots to maximum capacity. In fact, I hardly used the health potions I found throughout the mazes. The catch? None, really. You might guess the recuperation rate to be slow, but actually it's pretty fast. The one small thing is, should a baddie attack you while you're resting, you take double damage. But usually, you can find a spot to recover safely. Therefore, there's really no catch!







STOP!  HAMMER TIME!

Keep your eyes peeled for deteriorating walls. Using your sledgehammer (either found or bought), bash in these weak walls to discover new playing areas. Sometimes this is necessary in order
to advance, while other times it serves as a tasty reward for eagle-eyed explorers. Note that sledgehammers too have a limit on their services. The game does a great job however of balancing the number of hammer bashes to that of breakable walls. Nice



Deteriorating walls are marked by a little funky black circle








Who knows what invaluable treasures, dark secrets or horrible monsters, this shall unearth?







SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP  [Or at least until you're dinner... -Ed.]


Along the way you'll find a magic, item and weapons shop



The coolest thing about this is you'll never meet the same person twice! From here you can sell, buy or talk. ALWAYS talk to the shopkeepers. They'll provide either useful information, or not so much but add to the atmosphere of the game. And thankfully, the translation came out GREAT. Here's a look at some:






















Some (unintentional?) humor to be found as well!






But is every shopkeeper friendly?  I'll let you find that out for yourself....










ACTION JACKSON

"Yeah, this whole exploring and talking/selling/buying business is fine and dandy, but where's
the A in the ARPG, a?" 

Don't worry, there are plenty of bad guys to kill....





















I can't say it enough, I love the baddies found in Brandish. You never know which of the 55 is lurking just around the corner....







TALES FROM THE CRYPT















OVERHEAD DOOM?  GET OUTTA HERE!

The more I played it the more I couldn't help but notice it!  From the hierarchy of the enemies to the twisting, dark passages of the underground maze... in fact, one maze in particular reminded me heavily of the classic Doom II map known as TRICKS AND TRAPS!

But maybe I'm just being crazy here. Then again, maybe not. In all, 42 floors must be cleared, each one inhabited by bloodthirsty fiends, locked doors and keys up the wazoo, each maze with its own "personality" and even boss monsters!

I can't be alone in thinking this, but hey, I'll take it to my grave...










"MARGE!  I'M GONNA NEED SOME BRAIN FOOD THIS MORNING!"





The corridors beneath Bavalya conceal tricks and traps to snare all but the most brilliant players. Even the best equipped warriors must rely on their wits and savvy to survive. Certain pressure plates open doors, but others close off escape routes. Jump over pits and plates that hinder
your progress, but remember that a select few holes offer refuge from a worse fate...









Brandish works your thumbs as well as your brains. Teleporting rooms and warping tiles add to the madness. The unique features and challenges of each floor keep dedicated players coming back for more







1ST BOSS OF THE RUINS

I'll leave the rest to your imagination...









ELEVATOR BEING REPAIRED -- TAKE THE STAIRS YA LAZY BASTARD









OUT OF THE RUINS AND





As you can notice the graphics leave a lot to be desired, especially by 1995 standards. The still shots and cut scenes however are quite lovely, and the Tower on the whole is the game's best looking stage

New monsters present themselves in the Tower...

























                                                                             Indeed it did!












The Tower is ransack with cockroaches, puzzles and NPC's (non playing characters). I won't spoil what you have to do or who you meet... but let's just say the game really picks up here.
No two floors are alike, and some of the best level designs are found here. Wait til you see
the.... [SNIP! -Ed.]










OUT OF THE TOWER AND





Welcome to the caves... a strange and fascinating place. A step down from the Tower, but it has its surprises and moments as well. Some of the puzzles are tough. My advice? Keep your eyes on your compass.... 
















BRANDISH BROTHEL





Remember, kids. Varik is technically a bad guy. And bad boys do baaaad things....












[ALRIGHT THAT'S QUITE ENOUGH!! -Ed.]







CLASH OF THE TITANS

Another one of my favorite moments, check it out:












OMINOUS WORDS OF WARNING...





I'm not a rocket scientist... but that can't be too good...










DARK ZONE

???? Top secret stuff, this. So let us move on..







OUT OF THE DARK ZONE AND





UGH! You smell that? The fortress is a breeding ground of death and decayed flesh. Its pungent stench permeates the thick air, leaving you short of breath and feeling nauseous. But before you can put your hand to your nose you hear an inhuman growl from the not-too-far distance... trek on Varik.... trek on...

The fortress is home to some fiendish mazes. Wait til you see Floor X... it's pretty clever. On another floor all the doors are locked with no keys in sight. You have to find the "Green-Eyed Monster" wall, and I ain't talking 'bout envy syndrome! Then all the doors will be unlocked... as well as all the monsters dwelling within!

Good stuff..







Here is the bad guy's magic power on
display. By taking their blows, you will
increase your Magic Endurance. Early
in the game you'll meet Black Magic.
Take his best shot, and then rest when
appropriate. Repeat this process. You
shall reap the rewards of taking less
damage later on from magic strikes.
So, just stand there and intentionally
let the bad guy zap you over and over --

[OVER AND OVAH again!
I try to tell myself that WEEEEE
Could NEVER be more than friends
And all the while INSIDE
I knew it was REAL
The way you make me FEEEE-EEL!

-Jackie Chan & Chris Tucker]


... Thanks, guys



In the fortress the enemies are tougher than ever!













TOO LATE TO SUCK UP.... OR IS IT?

That witch Alexis finds herself in a tough predictament and will ask for your help. I can tell you this, your decision here affects the outcome of the game...











Do you save the girl (whose been trying to kill you) or do you let her die like a Michael Vick dog? Choices, choices. How does one way or the other change the game? I'm not telling







OH MAH GOD.... ZILLA!

I can't resist showing this behemoth. And believe it or not, he's not the final boss!

GOOD LORD!  And good luck...










GREAT CUT SCENES

I love the artwork seen in the cut scenes and still shots. If only they applied that kind of muscle to the game's regular happenings. Nonetheless, these bad boys are indeed a treat whenever they pop up





















ADVICE

Brandish is not impossible to beat, but it'll required much wit and perserverance. Here are some handy tips to help you along in your quest


  • Interestingly enough, this game auto-saves. Any time you enter a new floor the game will automatically save. It's not as bad as it may sound, though. I never had a problem with it. Of course, you can also manually save any time you like. And I highly advise you save the game often! Before you open and enter that locked door, save! When you sense a funky puzzle up ahead, save! You can never save enough
  • Enemies attacked from behind inflicts more damage than when attacked in front
  • Don't throw away items when you could sell them. Even 200 gold pieces here and there add up
  • Look for "hidden" walls you can walk through. The section of these hidden walls will differ from the rest EVER SO slightly, so keep your eyes peeled
  • Explore! Use the Auto-Map to see where you haven't been. Heading straight for the exit can be detrimental in the long run





Early in the game you'll meet this
bony bald-headed demon. Like
the red skeletons in Castlevania
he cannot be killed permanently.
It's not a bad idea to take 15-20
minutes killing him repeatedly to
increase your offensive stats





Don't waste money on
swords as they can be
discovered later on. And
some spells you do not
need. Spend wisely




You may hold up to 99
gold bars. Stock up on
'em and try not to sell
until you've maxed it out.
Accrued interest!  One
bar is 1,000 gold pieces,
but two is worth slightly
more than 2,000... and
so on 



  • Fire Magic is the first spell you can afford. I highly recommend it. It shoots a blast straight ahead. For each use, your magic meter depletes slightly. But it automatically refills when not used. Attack foes from far away! Good stuff
  • When ailing, rest. Make sure no monsters are in the vicinity. You may cease resting on a dime, meaning you can cancel after a split second. Keep this in mind when dealing with tough monsters in close quarters
  • Adjust the speed accordingly. At times it'd behoove you to set it on low (there's one monster in particular). High (speed... game speed) can also be a Godsend, like when backtracking through a previous maze to grab the item that you didn't, or couldn't, before
  • Don't expend your numbered swords on the regular baddies. A broken sword will suffice. Save your big guns for the bosses. Use the broken sword until you can find the indestructible short sword, then the indestructible Rapier, and so on
  • Saved in a nasty spot? Use the Emergency Escape. At the load screen, while holding L and R, press A on the save file you wish to employ Emergency Escape. You can then reposition yourself anywhere on the map. However, your status level will drop down one
  • Stuck with absolutely no clue what to do next? Look up Jax Aagar's excellent walkthrough on GameFAQs. Cheers, Jax. I used your guide 2 or 3 times. Please, don't rip my arms out (Cookie if you got the MK II reference)
  • If you find the dark shield/armor/sword, do NOT equip them unless it's in the Dark Zone...
  • Better have Warp Magic in the Fortress... or else
  • Have Heal Magic before fighting the final boss







"THE" MOMENT

Perhaps the most infamous panic moment of the game... it definitely had me up in arms.
Those plaques don't lie, folks...























VARIK, THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY [That's LION, pal -Varik]

















You gotta love the wacky, crazy shopkeepers. As well as these cats...
















FINAL STATS

At the end of the game, you're given a rundown of your performance. Here's my final line. If any
of you should beat the game, please drop me an email. I'd love to compare our final stats


  • Level 86
    HP:  216
    MP:  194
    Luck:  121
    Gold:  243,390
    Attack Strength:  149
    Defense Strength:  65
    Arm Strength:  99.99
    Knowledge:  95.43
    Magic Endurance:  99.99

    Escape Time:  31 hours, 56 minutes
    Steps Taken:  77,327
    Monsters Defeated:  5,154 (!!!!!)
    Lives Lost:  78
    Swords Broken:  5
    % of Map Completed:  85%


Quite a journey I took with this game. Not counting the 30 minutes I spent with Legend of Oasis back in 2003, Brandish was my first ever (A)RPG taste. I started on February 8, 2006. It wasn't until 4th of July 2007 however that I really got into it. I had many happy 3-hour sittings with this one, and finally beat it 12 days later on July 16, 2007

February 8, 2006 through July 16, 2007.... damn







WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Not much. All was quiet on the EGM and GameFan front. Neither publication either previewed or reviewed Brandish. Super Play slagged the game off with a 53% rating. There are a few fans of the game on the internet, but mostly people have cast it off as being "terrible" and "craptastic"

Though, Nintendo Power wasn't shy to support it. They devoted 8 pages spanning two issues (#71 and 72) saying:

"Great RPG fun isn't always pretty. While you won't be dazzled by its graphics, this cart offers tons of intellectual challenge and hours of gameplay. The numerous mysteries, bewildering mazes and bloodthirsty traps will keep hardcore role-playing fans exploring for hours. If you're looking for Mode 7 rotation or flashy graphics, this is probably not your game. If you're seeking
a thought-provoking intellectual challenge, Brandish might have exactly what you're looking for. This ugly duckling has the potential of being a grand swan in the growing pond of great RPG's. Brandish couples the great role-playing elements of Wizardy V, Dungeon Master and Soul
Blazer in one huge maze"







CLOSING THOUGHTS

To say that I feel this game is sadly and sorely misunderstood would be like calling the Super Nintendo "just another video game system." I'm not sure how many of these critics have gone past the Ruins. This game rewards the patient and dedicated gamer. Though quite a few of the mazes may appear samey and repetitive, there are some excellent layouts. These levels, coupled with the puzzles and the giant enemy roster, will keep you trekking on. It's easy to be turned off by the camera and walk away after 20 minutes convinced of what a dud Brandish must be. It didn't take me long to adjust, and it became second nature after a while. It's worth making the effort. I'm glad I did, anyhow. Viewed strictly on its own merits, this game has a lot to offer. Compared to the other SNES ARPG's, like Link to the Past and Secret of ManaBrandish doesn't quite fare so well, especially on the surface. But don't judge a book by its cover. It's nowhere in the class of those classics, but I can't stress enough how misunderstood of a game I feel this truly is. The camera thing is really not that bad. Gameplay is not innovative, but simply good ole fashion fun. Slashing a Tyrannosaurus Rex with your Sword of Majesty one second, zapping Death itself with Fire Magic the next... uncovering secret rooms and solving puzzles... it ain't pretty but it's sure as hell oddly enjoyable!


The sound is lackluster, consisting of forgettable bleeps and bloops. But the music I found really effective. The Ruins theme does a convincing job, leading me to believe that I'm really 40 stories underground. The Tower's theme is a Zelda rip-off! That's a good thing. My brother, walking by the TV set one night, said to me, "What the hell! That's the ****ing Zelda theme!"

I also love the shopkeeper theme. It really sets the mood proper and enforces the feeling that everyone is dwelling deep deep underground. Speaking of the shopkeepers, they are a thrill to talk to. Koei did a great job on the text. For example, the weird looking old lady coughing and apologizing for looking like Death itself. And she really does. It lends the game a very unique atmosphere that does a great job of sucking you in...






The various NPC's you run into throughout is another high point. Will you dare help one female find her long missing boyfriend? What about the ghost girl? What the hell does she want, anyway? And why
is her spirit still lingering around? Can you trust the goblin? For me it was very much like getting caught up in a really good book, hence the 3-hour sessions



The gameplay is far from perfect. Because of the camera system combat is not as smooth as in Link to the Past. Movement is awkward, especially at first. The baddies are relatively a bunch of dumb rocks. Remember how in Link to the Past the guards chased after you upon sight? The monsters in Brandish do no such thing. They just sort of loiter around until close contact is established. Shame they don't actively hunt you down

Speaking of the monsters, the ad's claim of 55 different freaks, which instantly appealed to my monster-loving side, did not disappoint. From tiny cockroaches scampering about to towering
T-Rex's roaming the mazes, for the most part they have got monster-lovers covered. Octopus-y like creatures, minotaurs, medusa's, even the Grim Reaper is seen milling about the hell hole!
It all adds up to one delightful adventure for the gamer willing to make the effort

No, Brandish is definitely not for everyone. But if the game plot, puzzle solving, monster slaying and a more methodical style of game playing appeals to you, chances are... you'll be glad you gave this the time of day



Beat the best?
Played the rest?
Why not put Brandish
to the test?

Besides, how many Super Nintendo games do you know of where you get to play a scoundrel? One guy gave this game a 9 out of 10 rating, and I think his quote pretty much sums it up: "The best worst game ever"



Graphics: 4.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8.5



Overall: 8.0

Silver Award