> Crusader of Centy, also known as Soleil in
Europe (the same name as the main town in the game) and Ragnacenty
in Japan, is the member of a dying breed of true Action/RPGs (originating
from Zelda). As last generation Genesis games,
Oasis, Crusader of Centy and Light Crusader really
helped bolster the console's library of RPGs, which although far from small,
wasn't quite as large as the range of RPGs available for its 16 bit competitor,
SNES. But that wasn't important to its success. What
was important was quality over quantity. With games such as Shining
Force 2 and Phantasy Star 4 on its side no one
can deny that the Genesis was home to some of the best RPGs
of its time. Most of its Japanese-born RPGs were thankfully translated
and reached our shores more or less intact. The same cannot be said for
the Saturn unfortunately with games such as Riglord
Saga 2, Grandia and Dragon Force 2,
among others, never seeing the light of day outside Japan all thanks to
the anti-RPG stance Bernard Stolar (the head of Sega of America at the
time) adopted much to the annoyance of many RPG fans.
> When I call Crusader of Centy a true Action/RPG, by that
I mean "old-school" Action/RPG; it contains a nice balance of combat, puzzles,
platform hopping (which is basically leaping from one platform to another
while trying to avoid falling to your death), talking and exploration.
Most modern-day Action/RPGs focus too much on hacking and slashing through
endless armies of fanged monsters drooling at the mouth for my liking.
That's not to say that such games can't be fun (they can be very fun),
but any true Action/RPG shouldn't revolve entirely around combat in my
book, otherwise whether or not they are deserving of the name is open for
debate. Thanks to Diablo's rise to fame and fortune, an army
of clones (in which hacking and slashing your way through one army of evil
after another is the name of the game) have descended upon us all, reshaping
this RPG sub-genre into what it has become today (perhaps the term Action/RPG
should be redefined as "hack 'n' slash", because that's what it has become
synonymous with in this day and age).
> As for the story, you play the role of a boy who has just turned fourteen.
Refusing to break away from tradition, your mother gives you your father's
sword on your fourteenth birthday to signify the transition from boyhood
to manhood. Your next step is to pay a visit to the king before proving
yourself in combat training in the perilous monster-infested areas outside
the kingdom. Despite the simple premise, a twist early in the story sees
your character's ability to speak with humans taken away from him (human
speech becomes incomprehensible to him), and replaced with the ability
to speak with animals... and monsters.
> As expected from a last generation Genesis game, the game's
graphics are quite colorful and everything is seen from a detailed top-down
perspective. I can imagine people doubting that a Genesis
game could ever be this colorful. I particularly liked how the clouds cast
shadows as they pass overhead in the first town, though the boss encounters
are where this game really shines with beautiful animated sprites (some
unlike anything seen before) being paraded in front of you. How does a
towering armored serpent wielding a huge sword and shield that float in
the air as if they are being held by invisible arms sound to you (see the
relevant image below)? There are some lovely parallel backdrops in the
game, which struck me as worth praising, too, like the cloudscape swirling
beneath you and lighting up with bursts of lightening while you're battling
the armored serpent boss guardian I previously mentioned.
> The controls themselves couldn't be more responsive. Your character starts
only with the ability to swing his sword, but soon learns how to throw
it in order to reach objects otherwise beyond his reach (like switches).
You'll also learn how to jump, which should be a standard ability in all
Action/RPGs, as jumping from (moving) platform to platform never
becomes a chore (I never tire of good old-fashioned platform hopping, especially
when platforms have a nasty habit of disappearing or crumbling beneath
your feet like they do in Landstalker).
You'll also spend a lot of time dodging monsters and the all too familiar
traps found in these types of games including spiked floors, floor surfaces
that can't support your weight for very long, and conveyer belts. What
separates this game from other Action/RPGs is that you can recruit the
services of various animal companions, which you will meet on your journey,
who individually protect you from harm and grant you new abilities or enhance
old ones. The penguin animal companion will turn your sword into an ice
blade, for instance, which allows you to freeze flowing lava when thrown
at it. Adding the cheetah to your party will naturally cause you to run
like the wind, giving you the extra speed needed to make long distance
jumps, and combining the powers of two separate animals at once yields
even more potent results. There's even an ally who hastens the speed of
your sword swings. The path to the end is blocked by plenty of puzzles,
some of which involve pushing (destructible) blocks into their proper place
in addition to other problems (in the form of both puzzles and bosses)
that can only be solved with the assistance of your animal companions,
which means tracking them all down is a top priority. You can even hire
animals to aid you on your quest to save the world from evil such as a
cat who will resurrect you from the dead (cats are said to have nine lives,
so I guess this one has decided to sell a few of hers). That is what makes
this game so unique for its time!
> You travel from one location to the next via an overworld map as a miniature
version of yourself. When your path is blocked, navigating and fighting
your way through a location or finding another way around it is the only
way to go to reach new destinations. Large shiny golden apples cleverly
hidden in areas permanently raise your health, and smaller apples help
restore it. Your health also increases whenever a boss guardian (usually
guarding the way out of an area or way forward to wherever you have to
go next) is defeated, so searching for extra health is optional. Gold coins
are earned by killing the enemies that constantly respawn everywhere (naturally)
and are sometimes even hidden beneath grass (along with restorative apples),
which can be trimmed down to size by swinging your sword.
> The game's sound effects are surprisingly clear, on-board sound chip
limitations notwithstanding. The music heard throughout the game also proves
that the Genesis was far from incapable of generating tunes
worthy of your ears. The game is full of catchy lighthearted melodies capable
of soothing even the most savage of beasts, and also found room for a few
fast-paced tracks to send adrenaline rushing to your heart. Each tune sounds
appropriate for each location.
> This game has some Christian overtones which I found quite endearing
to say the least. Fighting your way up the Tower of Babel (after learning
that the builders have lost their ability to communicate with one another)
to Heaven itself through puzzles, monsters and traps with the aid of a
few talkative animal companions should be your first glaring clue. If a
game in which you encounter God in one form or another who teaches the
main character a lesson in morality (concerning the true face of evil)
is enough to drive you over the brink of insanity, then find yourself another
RPG. I didn't like the we-don't-need-gods-to-survive storyline running
2, but that doesn't mean I still didn't like the game as a
whole (or didn't find any of the characters likable like the free-spirited
You even travel back in time to the distant past to set the stage for the
future. Discovering who the warrior statue in the main character's town
was built in honor of was an unexpected twist. There really is nothing
like a good story to fuel the imagination.
> It seems that there are a few subtle differences between the American
and European versions of this game. The name for Heaven in the European
English version, "Saint Heaven", was renamed "Place of Peace" in its American
counterpart. I can't understand what motivated the American publisher (Atlus)
to change the name for the American version; the different name isn't fooling
anyone. Spoiler warning: there's also a puzzle in Heaven requiring the
presence of an animal ally to open up a passage whose name is spelled out
on invisible tiles that have to be walked over in mid-air (above a very
long drop) to reveal. MAC is the name of this animal companion spelled
out in the American version (your dog's name), and DOG is the name spelled
out in the European version, which when reversed is GOD. Again I ask, why
did Atlus feel that it was necessary to change the name when
it would have been more than welcome?
> Only fans of "old-school" Action/RPGs in the same vein as Landstalker
need apply. The only real problem with this game lies in the fact that
it won't take RPG fans very long to complete (unlike the older Landstalker).
of Centy/Soleil is a great Action/RPG that suffers from the age-old
problem of being too short for its own good, yet is too fun to ignore.
Just enjoy the ride and the sights you see along the way while it lasts.
Also keep an eye out for Sonic's cameo appearance. I must
admit, playing this game when it first came out feels like yesterday. Where's
the harm in succumbing to nostalgia every once in a while by taking a brief
detour down memory lane?
Geoffrey Duke ~
9.0 | Graphics: 9.0 | Control: 9.2 | Sound: 8.8 | Fun: 9.0