Written: 5.31.08 Acquired: 2.21.06 Status: Cart with manual Price: $17.16
In April of '92, countless SNES gamers in the US thrilled to the excursions and exploits of one, Link. Legend of Zelda: LTTP awed gamers and took them on a rousing unforgettable journey. Peace was restored to Hyrule and all was good. We must have been a lucky lot, because about four months later, came Soul Blazer. So grab your Master Sword, er, your Soul Blade, dust it off and enter the adventures of the Freil Empire. The fate of an entire nation depends on you "Turbo, we're not in Kansas anymore..."
SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER TIME
[Here it is the groove slightly transformed Just a bit of a break from the norm.. er, sorry -Ed.]
I tells ya -- nothing beats getting sucked into a really good (action) role playing game on a warm summer night. It's kind of like telling ghost stories by the campfire or just shooting the wind with a bunch of your closest friends... it's hard to top. Last summer I had the pleasure to FINALLY experience Soul Blazer. I should have reviewed this sucker long ago, but I got lazy and life got in the way. Some of these pictures are as old as Ric Flair himself [WOOO! -Ed.] OK, not quite THAT old, few things are [*does the Flair flop* -RF]
Anyway, before I get myself sacked for the 89th time, let us move on, then...
WHAT -- NO EPIC MEMORIES? WOW!
Most games reviewed so far on RVG I have had a connection with. Either I loved the game back in the day, or it was a game I always wanted to play but never got around to do so. Soul Blazer is neither. I heard about it back in '92 but I wasn't a big (A)RPG fan then. It wasn't until a dozen plus years later, when my interest in the Super Nintendo was resurrected (January 2006) that I ever gave a damn about Soul Blazer. My renewed interest in the SNES presented me three joys:
Revisiting old childhood favorites
Playing all the games I was ever curious about but never did
Playing all the "classics" and fan faves that I did not particularly care about back then
The 'rebirth' was not only a chance to walk down memory lane but, it was also a chance at redemption. So, with Soul Blazer, I won't bore you with how the weekend I rented it my uncle took me skiing on the slopes of Lake Tahoe, located along the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City, or how when I bought the game at Toys R Us I spotted my life- long crush sporting bell-bottom jeans browsing the Barbie aisle. I'll spare you all those sappy memories because, quite frankly, I have none. Nope, Soul Blazer for me firmly falls into that third category -- a game I missed out on back in the day but didn't care for
I'm glad my taste matured over the years, as I now love (A)RPG's, the good ones, anyhow. Because if I still had my narrow-minded "these games are too boring!" viewpoint from when I was eight, I would have never experienced Soul Blazer
But enough about me. Onto the game proper
THE STORY GOES...
Freil Empire, here we come
So gather round the campfire boys and girls, pass the marshmallows and enjoy...
Dr. Leo reluctantly constructed the machine to summon Deathtoll. When Deathtoll was summoned, the King told him he wanted more than anything to obtain the wealth of the world. To which Deathtoll made the greedy King a most grave proposition:
THE GAMES BEGIN
Don't try to flatter me, bub!
Grab the sword inside the chest and get hackin'!
Your main swipe. Your first sword is the weakest. Along the journey you will find much more potent blades to brandish
Keep a close eye on your status screen
Throughout your quest, there are five souls to meet up with. These cats will join your cause and make life a little bit easier. Souls are represented by a blue ball [Easy now -Ed.] circling the Hero; his companions in the sky
The sub screen is another important thing to keep track of. Here you can select which armor, weapons, magic and items you wish to use in the game. A total of eight different magic spells can be used throughout the course of your journey. They are highlighted below
Wait-a-sec, gems necessary? Indeed, performing such magic attacks will cost you some gems. Gems can be acquired by killing baddies and peeking inside treasure chests (but beware of the imitation ones, they keep you honest). Hold the L or R buttons to make your Hero "suck in" the golden gems with his sword. Mighty handy stuff, that
If you die, kiss ALL your gems good-bye. Ah, the life of a hero eh? [Shit, I'll say! -Tony Stark]
"I AIN'T PLAYIN'!"
Your first magic attack, the Flame Ball, in action
Killing baddies is very important not just for acquiring gems, but experience as well! Every time you level up, your health increases and is fully recovered. Whew, it was a close call here!
You see? Killing baddies = good. [Gee, thanks -Ed.]
And speaking of which, one way is the ole trusty sword swipe. Hitting enemies with the end of your sword swing will inflict more damage. No joke. Brilliant, yes?
You can also thrust the sword. Hold onto L or R. It's not as strong as the sword swipe, but you can walk back- ward while inflicting damage to your enemies. Quite useful, this is [Is that you, Yoda? -Ed.]
In the action scenes you want to kill all the bad guys. Doing so will clear the square the baddies swarm out of. Each time a square is cleared, the decimated town or village is restored bit by bit. Sometimes an animal will pop up while other times new buildings will be formed. It's up to you to restore all the towns that have been ravaged by Deathtoll
Clearing monster lairs may also recover some HP for ya
Clearing a square may simply open up a closed section directly in the action world
... Or it might reveal a bonus treasure chest! You never know what you might get...
GENERAL GAME FLOW
Changes in town? Yes, as mentioned earlier, clearing squares, or monster lairs, in the action world will piece together the ravaged villages in the peaceful town section. Check it out!
Did you know that Quintet, the developers of this game, were absolutely INFATUATED with a certain '80s song, 1985 to be precise; so infatuated indeed that this whole city building gimmick that runs rampant in Soul Blazer was based off that song? It's a very obscure fact and one that very few know about. Take a look below, and a listen, and you'll see what I mean...
Tesla, eh? I always thought it was that bloke Marconi. You learn something new every day! And say, how much did it take to rake in Mr. Freeman eh? [Zero, it was his dying wish... -Ed.]
By the way, if you haven't done so already, you may X the cheesy video link now
[Oh right right, of course... *peers around cautiously* -Ed.]
Dear Edward, I've gone back and forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn't, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren't exactly hitting the sweetest notes -- certainly wasn't the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I'm responsible and for that, I'm sorry. But in all honesty, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. There's no way I can repay you for all you've done for me, so rather than try, I'm just going to ask you to do something else for me -- find the joy in your life. You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true -- you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home. -Carter Chambers [Morgan Freeman]
As you mill about the towns and villages, you'll meet some idiots...
... some annoying punk kids...
Hey... it's the same punk kid from before...
... and some crazy old folks!
I love these weird yes/no questions in these type of games
And last but not least, who could ever forget Dr. Leo's daughter, fair Lisa?
[Hey what are you doing there? -Ed.]
The Dream Rod allows you to enter the dreams of the sleeping. How does slipping into the dream dimension affect the living realm? I could tell you, but then I would hafta kill you. You can even sneak into the dreams of animals. It's all a bit weird but then again, that's Soul Blazer for ya. Watch out for Freddy...
Oops... wrong game...
FOR GUYS ONLY: Know how when you're checking out a girl sleeping you gotta watch out she doesn't suddenly wake up and catch you in the act... *silence* ... oh right, only me, then. Ahem. Anyway, look how smoothly our Hero plays it when the situation appears to have gone wrong...
What a smoooooth cat
I did mention how weird this game is, right? Well, it's about to get even weirder..
Talking goats, for pete's sake! HOLY CAESAR'S GHOST! Too weird, EVEN for me!
DREAM DREAM DREAM...
"WAIT! I can do much more, I'll show you!"
WHAT THE -- !
"Ummmm... *sweatdrops* heh... uhhhh... how 'bout them Bears?"
OH HEEEEEEELL NOOO
Let's move on, yeah? [Are we still on the air? I swear, I'll throw on a rerun -Ed.]
Cross the bridge in Grass Valley to forge on ahead. What terrors lurk beyond?
Along your quest you'll meet some jewel fairies. They assist you by way of offering to send you back to town (so you may stock up on supplies, gather more information, save, etc.) They also might grant you with EXP points, items to help you along your journey or simply dispense invaluable advice
Take the lift up to uncover new monster lairs
"YEAH! RIP EACH OTHER APART!"
"WHOA WHOA RELAX!"
'Tis true. Some goats will tell you any secret, provided you have some goat food on ya. And as you can see, it's weird piled on top of weird. What's this 'swallowed up in a painting' business, anyhow? Hmmmmmm. Something to investigate..
House on Haunted Hill?
Well, here's the painting the goat talked about. How can a painting swallow people up? And why? How come it doesn't swallow you? Might there be an item you need? Why not just sell the painting on eBay? Imagine the possibilities! Mother-in-laws you hate? Perhaps your boss? [Hey -Ed.] YOU GOTTA BID ON THIS MAGIC PAINTING!
It ain't no Bob Ross piece of art I can tell you that!
Don't get too cocky now. These baddies are on the low end like most other regular enemies you'll meet, but they'll eat precious health points off if you rush in gung-ho. Take your time to pick them off
Even these seemingly inanimated blocks spring to life to attack, all in the name of Deathtoll. Meanwhile, conveyor belts attempt to send you to an early grave
Don't take anything for granted. Even treasure boxes can be a trap!
Thank God, too. Or should I say Master? You will probably need to refuel at certain segments in the battle arenas. JUST when you need to head back to recuperate, one of these handy blue tiles may appear
Doing so will whisk you to the Master's Shrine, where you can save your progress, recover or head back to town for more clues and items. This is also where you can move to the next town in the Friel Empire, provided, of course, that you have cleared the current town's end boss. You may also backtrack and believe me, it's not just a luxury, but a necessity
"Yes, two eggs, sunny side up. Hold the bacon"
Every Master's Shrine is the same. Once you've opened up all four blocks, they follow this pattern:
-The top yellow tile is used to save the game (screw you, ink ribbons!) or move to another town
-The right and left blue tiles will take you to certain areas in the action section
-The bottom blue block transports you to town
I *LOVE* the haunting church organ that plays here. AWESOME
Speaking of bosses... prepare for the very first, as you trek through this lovely scene... oh what beast lies ahead? Will it possess eight eyes, or maybe razor-sharp talons? Only one way to find out...
Lovely sight. Too bad for you what lies ahead isn't
In classic gaming fashion, bosses flash when damaged. I'm a sucker for it. I'll always remember the way Rocksteady from TMNT II (NES) flashed as he weakened. But I digress. This first boss is easy, but the conveyor belts spices it up some more
I DON'T RECOMMEND YOU DOING THIS!
It's a sure fire way to be sent to the scrap heap. Stay on the conveyor belts -- hit and run! Otherwise he'll crush your grubby little body in his devastating grip. I recommend using the middle conveyor belt only as your attack point. Lure this dumb monster left or right, wait until he commits, then charge up the middle belt to score some hits, retreat, repeat. I'll show you below
He'll try to burn you alive with his fireballs, but thanks to his deliberate delivery, you can easily high tail it. He also has a slow recovery rate, worse than Ryu from Street Fighter II, so you have plenty of time to score some hits. Always lure him left or right, then attack from the middle. Retreat and repeat
He'll throw one of these on occasion to keep you honest
Yup, he might be easy, but he certainly doesn't lack in health points! Be patient, be smart, and he'll be lucky to nick you even once. The thrusting technique will take you longer, but allows you plenty of control as you can moonwalk while stabbing him
Before long, you'll have his head as a souvenir! Watch in delight as the monster explodes before you. Congratulations, young lad. You've saved the good fair citizens of Grass Valley, restore their lives, livelihood and their animals and plants. Now you may move onto the next town in need of your aid: GreenWood
But this is not good-bye to Grass Valley... more of a... see you later. You see, a couple lairs there will still have not been cleared, and cannot be until you acquire the Zantetsu Sword. What secrets might unfold, or what treasures might be found, once these sections have been cleared?
Don't forget to locate the Master's Emblem in Grass Valley, as well as pick up the Brown Stone. You'll need all six stones to open up the gate to the Dark World. There, Deathtoll awaits
The adventure has just begun!
Welcome to GreenWood. Legend has it that this town was developed by a dog named Turbo. He built this peaceful village to offer protection and serenity to all animals. That is why, once rescued, all you'll find in GreenWood are critters and creatures
Such as this squirrel, who will ask you for delicious seeds. If you have them and choose to offer it to the little guy, you'll be awarded with a mighty grand prize... the Psycho Sword!
"Have you seen my nuts?"
How bizarre, how bizarre!
For over a decade I have wondered what "it" is. "Everytime I look around, it's in my face" as the song by OMC goes. It wasn't until I played Soul Blazer that I now understand what "it" is: the blue soul ball that always circles our hero. Because everytime he looks around, everytime he looks around.... IT'S IN HIS FACE!
[NOTE TO SELF: Next time conduct a background check before hiring -Ed.]
See? The legend wasn't merely a fable!
That Turbo dog is something else. This one of those little enjoyable moments in video games you don't forget about. As he takes you on a quick tour around GreenWood, he asks if you'd like to see the restaurant menu. This all occurs with the peaceful serene music of GreenWood playing. As soon as you select yes, the music stops, there's a dramatic pause, and Turbo answers "YOU!" Of course it's all a joke but the very first time part of me wasn't quite so sure. Nicely done, Quintet! Moments like this = FTW
I love that Turbo dog. [We all saw proof of that -Ed.] It's a well known fact by now but did you know Soul Blazer's "sequel" is Illusion of Gaia? Though the protagonist is new, there is reference made to ole Turbo. If you like this game, you'll probably enjoy IoG as well
"Let me show you a great place to take a dump"
New monster threats present themselves in GreenWood
Watch out for those pesky water dragons; leaping out without warning!
"Nice try guys, but you ain't no BUSHMAN!"
The world famous Bushman in San Francisco is quite the character. For over 25 years he has entertained, and scared, millions and millions
For more on Bushman, check out this 3 minute mini-doc:
That's no ordinary plant! "I SEE YOU THIS TIME, BUSHMAN!"
Things start to heat up with scorpions and nasty Lizard Men!
And watch out for that alien crystal skull there! [Tsk -Ed.]
After defeating the boss of GreenWood, it's two stones and four to go!
THE SIX TOWNS IN THE FREIL EMPIRE
Here's an overview at the six towns you must restore to prosperity and good health. Note Freil is misspelled as Friel below, d'oh!
Can you rebuild all six towns and then overtake the demon known as Deathtoll?
RANDOM SOUL BLAZIN'
These patches of road change from hot to cold without warning
You need Bubble Armor to safely traverse the rolling waves
Hideous bosses await, including my fave Poseidon, who guards the Mountain
You can't just rely on brawn, you need wits, too!
You gotta love these little touches in these type of games
With all eight Master's Emblems in your possession, you will have earned the Magic Bell -- unlimited magic attacks! You can still defeat Deathtoll without the Magic Bell, but it sure is easier with it! Some of the Emblems aren't so easy to locate. Remember to backtrek to places with sections that you previously could not clear...
Few have made it to Magridd's Castle. All have perished...
If you manage to get by the fortress, you'll have all six Stones. All towns will have been restored. The gate to the Dark World will open, and the final battle will begin. Don't forget to find the Soul Blade and Soul Armor before confronting the demon
THE PERVERTED WORLD OF SOUL BLAZER
It's funny how people say Super Nintendo had such "innocent" games. They obviously forgot all about Soul Blazer. Here are some, ahem, controversial moments...
You see!? Quintet/ENIX... such dirty minds over there, tsk tsk [*sighs* -Ed.]
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
was well-received by critics. Many praised it for being a top-notch action RPG
EGM:8, 8, 8, 9
Super Play called it "an excellent, and slightly weird, game" while EGM declared...
It's not quite the epic game Link to the Past is, but hey, few games are. It's like comparing Dominique Wilkins to Michael Jordan, or Michael Chang to Pete Sampras: not quite as legendary, but you can't go much wrong with either one. Soul Blazer will take you on a rather fascinating (and strange) journey. From conversing with goats in Grass Valley to visiting mermaids in the rolling waves of St. Elles, you will see and do many wonders before all is said and done. And that's just the town scene! The action sequences are well done and the balancing act between thumb-pounding action and using ye ole noggin is handled beautifully. And those bosses, man are they UGLY! Just the way I like 'em. However, it's too bad the game, like the bosses, present minimal challenge FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL...
Graphically, the game does a pretty good job of bringing the towns and temples alive. I loved the clouds scrolling overhead in Grass Valley. The dark and decrepit underground chambers in GreenWood are nicely done. And who could ever forget the fiery blazes of the Dark World? Unfortunately, there are some ho-hum bits, such as the islands in St. Elles or the model towns in Dr. Leo's house
However, the graphics don't create the soul in this game -- the music does. A fantastic soundtrack puts you right into whichever region of the game you happen to be in. From the Master's Shrine's haunting church organ to the peaceful and serene theme in Grass Valley filled with adventurous undertones, the music men behind this game deserve a big round of applause (Yukihide Takekawa, Kazz Toyama and You Himeno). The battle themes are right on the mark and the dream theme that plays during any dream sequence is just that -- it's got a real dreamy quality to it, making you feel like you're in the dream yourself!
I really liked the aspect of restoring each village to prosper once again. It's instant gratification as when you clear a monster lair, the game may fade back to town to show you what people, animals or buildings you have restored. The liberation of a city is a wonderful feeling. The game plays well, and I always wanted to play more to see what denizens or creatures I might unearth next. It kept me going
I also enjoyed the various NPC's scattered about. Some are just silly while others provide helpful tips. Some others merely tell a juicy story that helps to bring the game's mystique alive. It made me wish for more character interaction as I don't think there's enough
While I never felt the game did anything particularly special or extraordinary, it was all executed pleasantly well. More than enough to keep any ARPG fan occupied for a weekend or two. There are puzzles along the way, but nothing too tricky I don't think. I found Link to the Past's puzzles far trickier, and that game wasn't much tricky to begin with! However, don't think the puzzles in Soul Blazer are as easy to solve as it is to say "Trick or Treat!" on Halloween night. And believe me, if you haven't played this game yet, you're certainly in for a treat
You'll find many sword upgrades, items, armor, magic attacks and more in your quest. You'll help many animal friends in need and traverse a wide range of locales, from creepy dark dungeons (make sure you have the Soul of Light) to the snowy mountains that reside high above the Freil Empire. Hell, you'll bear witness to a snail race (tough to beat that) and even catch a glimpse of the majestic Northern Lights! And did I mention talking goats?! Soul Blazer's got the lot! "I don't like the looks of this place..."
It took me 16 hours over two weeks to beat Soul Blazer. A seasoned veteran of the genre can probably do it in 10-12, maybe even under ten. The game won't last you terribly long, I can assure you of that. I can also assure you that you probably will enjoy every last second of it. I'm not sure quirky even begins to describe the game. Talking with moles, goats and tree stumps? It's almost like an acid trip. Uh, not that I can attest to that personally but rather what a friend told me... yes. Ahem. Moving on then. Soul Blazer is a game every Super Nintendo fan should experience. It's got a legion of fans and after finally playing it last summer, I can see whole-heartedly why. Flippin' heck, I even know a few folks who say they enjoyed this even more than Link to the Past! That sentiment didn't apply to me, but hey, it might for you. Only way to find out is to set off for the Freil Empire at once, if you haven't completed the short but sweet journey already. Overall, it's a little too straight forward with not enough "WOW!" moments for me to declare it an epic game, but it comes quite close. Bordering on excellent/epic, I highly recommend Soul Blazer to any SNES fan who has yet to experience it for themselves