Illusion of Gaia
|Reviewer: Blazing Soul||Date: Mar 3, 2006|
|'Illusion of Gaia' is probably one of the most hideously underrated games released to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and it is for this reason that I've decided to make it the basis of my very first review on Vimm's Lair.
'Illusion of Gaia' is the unsung sequel to 'Soul Blazer' (released as Soul Blader in Japan) and is the middle installment of Quintet's 'Blazer' trilogy (the third installment being 'Terranigma' which, as far as I know, never saw a North American release.)
The story involves a young boy named Will and his quest to save the word from evil, borne to this world by the approach of an unlucky comet. He is set about this quest after discovering Dark Space, a dimension in which he makes contact with the life force of the planet, known as Gaia.
I won't go into any more detail for fear of spoiling things, other than to say that the world in which the game is set is a fantasy-based version of our own. During your travels, you will discover Incan ruins, the Nazca lines, Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, Mu, and even Egyptian pyramids.
There are very few connections between this game and its predecessor (I don't know about Terranigma, I have yet to complete it) but, if you've played Soul Blazer, you might recognize a returning (hidden) boss, Turbo the dog, and a couple of other subtle nods that this game is, indeed, connected to the first entry. The recurring theme that connects them as a series, though, is most likely the hero's knack for changing the face of the planet as he advances through his quest.
But enough about that, time for the breakdown.
The look and style of Illusion of Gaia is greatly improved from Soul Blazer, but not quite as vibrant as Terranigma. The character sprites are well animated, each one is quite distinctive, there's no chance of confusing one for the other and the color scheme for each one is very anime in style. You're bound to see four or five shades of hair that simply are not natural, but that isn't a bad thing.
The monsters look pretty good, and the boss monsters are all pretty massive and distinctive. I very clearly remember the TV ads for the game back in 1994, in which the very first boss in the game was featured, and on seeing those ads I knew I wanted the game.
The levels look pretty good, but some of the later areas (such as Mu and Angkor Wat) can get slightly bland with all their shades of gray. Dark Space is pretty to look at, and the location of the final boss battle was stunning, at least in 1994.
There is virtually no slow-down in this game (that I remember) but this could be attributed to the fact that there is rarely ever more than five or six character and monster sprites on screen at once. The game isn't quite as pretty as Chrono Trigger, but not near as ugly as, say, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest.
The soundtrack for Illusion of Gaia is extremely good. Composer Yasuhiro Kawasaki did a great job of capturing the mood presented by the storyline, and while the tracks aren't as memorable as what Yukihide Takekawa did with Soul Blazer (his vocal version of Koibito No Inaiyoru is simply stunning) the music will have you humming. I don't think Kawasaki's work has the same staying power as Nobuo Uematsu or Yasunori Mitsuda, but it does deserve recognition.
The sound FX in the game are all pretty standard, but I have to admit that I can't rightly remember them very well. I've recently played the game on an emulator, and after doing a bit of searching, I found out that there isn't an emulator that can render the sound FX in the game 100% perfect. Case and point -- the wind. I don't remember it sounding so mind-numbingly shrill on the cartridge, but if it was I might have to give the sound an 8 as opposed to 9. I don't think that was the case, though, so I'll leave it with the 9.
The gameplay in this title comes under attack quite often in forums that I visit, and unjustly so. There is an element of The Legend of Zelda to how it handles, but it always seemed to me to be more of a continuation of the Soul Blazer fighting mechanic. Like the Hero from Heaven in Soul Blazer, Will has minor ESP. He can bring dropped jewels to him via holding the L or R button (just like the Hero from Heaven) and he has magical abilities as well.
This aspect is furthered through the game's more interesting play mechanic -- Will's ability to take on the body of the dark knight, Freedan, or the energy warrior known as Shadow. They both have their own exclusive powers that will help will on his quest. They are both fearsome warriors whose true purpose in the storyline is never developed, but they do make for some interesting gameplay alterations. There are certain puzzles and enemies that can not be defeated without on of these two ethereal warriors.
There is also a neat side-story involving a man who calls himself the Jeweler Gem, in which you must collect 50 red gems and return to him. Doing so will win you various items and upgrades, and ultimately lead to an extra level and a bit of pleasant tying-in with Soul Blazer. You must utilize the skills of all three of Will's forms to find these jewels, but you have to be sharp -- if you skip one, you can't go back for them once the story has advanced. Optional backtracking is not the game's strong suit, unlike Soul Blazer, in which you go from one area back to another once you find items/weapons that will allow you to do other things.
Overall, 'Illusion of Gaia' is a very solid title.
The gameplay can get a bit repetitive, but it isn't so long that you'll get bored before the climax. It's a game that, until I lost the original cartridge in 1998/1999, I continued to go back to from time to time. The music is enjoyable, the characters are likeable, the boss battles are interesting, the gameplay isn't tired, and it's a worthy waste of thirty minutes/an hour a day. I really wish this game hadn't gone so unnoticed in North America. I attribute 'Terranigma' never coming out in the states (unless I'm wrong about that, but I don't think I am) to the weak performance of 'Illusion of Gaia.' Thankfully, the game did release in Europe, so getting a ROM and playing that is no hard task. It's just too bad that such an amazingly cool series met with such lukewarm appeal here.
Despite this, 'Illusion of Gaia' remains one of the better third-party action RPG titles for the SNES. I would highly recommend it and 'Soul Blazer' to anyone who loves the RPG genre but would like to try something a bit different from the 'Final Fantasy' or 'Dragon Quest' franchises.
Now if only Square Enix would develop a next generation follow-up... one can but dream, yes?
|Reviewer: BlazingWill||Date: May 2, 2004|
|Illusion of Gaia, or Illusion of Time, as it's known on Europe. An underground RPG, but that doesn't mean it's not good. In fact, I think that the Impact that this game caused, it's because of it's short promotional work, and it still earned a good reputation around all the underground RPG world.
Nothing amazing, right, some uncolorful stages, and the same colors used once and again in every stage. Still, some very good stages were designed (that mayan ship made me shook all over). The drawings are very good, but not the colors.
Something that many SNES RPG's got in common (Super Mario, Chrono, Final Fantasy, Earthbound, Lufia's, etc.), is that their music are complete soundtracks. This music isn't the exception, and it's sounds are just very good. Calm musics, some orchestrated black music, and the epic ending theme are just some examples of the completely cool sound power of this game.
Played Zelda before? then nothing to worry about, 'coz it's very understandeable. The playing system it's very similar to Zelda series, and that's where I find a weak point about this game: it's non-original gameplay style. Maybe the only thing I can say about the gameplay it's the changing character style: from a human boy to a powerful knight, and even a legendary ghost spirit, that's a good point about it. But thousands of games have used this system before, and that game it's the same as the others.
Even though the game system isn't a "wonder", it's not very important, once you got the idea of the game: the story and the music are it's strong points, while the gameplay and graphics are it's weak ones. But hey, all games have their ups and downs, don't they?.
|Reviewer: ultra_cookie||Date: Jul 16, 2002|
| First off, wow! When I first saw Illusion of Gaia, I said, "Man, this game looks like it will be a piece of crap." But to my surprise, it is a very awesome action/rpg type game.
For it's time, it's got awesome graphics. And as far as some of the bosses, and their attacks go, they rock! The game runs extremely smooth and looks like it could have been a squaresoft game.
The music is rather average, but never does it bring down the fun gameplay of Illusion of Gaia.
As far as my opinion goes, I'm hard Squaresoft fan all the way, but this game really took be by surprise. Squaresoft fan or not, take the time to try out this game, you won't regret it. (Especially if you like Secret of Mana.)
Anybody who's anybody NEEDS to play this game. Almost everyone I know has atleast played or beat this game, but those who haven't played this, I feel drastically sorry for you my friends. Take it from an old game veteran, PLAY THIS GAME NOW!!!
And long live Vimm's Lair!
|Reviewer: hawksun||Date: Jul 3, 2001|
|This adventure/RPG game is similar to Zelda but has a few things that set it apart 1. There are three characters you can play as (not right off the start but you can switch between them in dungeons) 2.The puzzles require slightly more attention( especially those with wind involved).3. You don't really buy items, most of the time they are in a chest or somebody gives them to you. 4. The characters semm to have more personnality(the hero talks) 5. It's way more linear than Zelda. This is a good "snack" for hardcore Zelda fans but ultimately it's for people that are starting to play this kind of game since it's simpler than Zelda in some ways.|