I'm going to do a marathon run of the three Quintet SNES games this weekend. (Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma)
Haven't played through these gems in a very long time, so I'm pretty excited to be revisiting them. I really miss this developer, their games had a very distinct style and vibe to them and each game transcended to the next, you could feel the similarities. All three titles were smack in the middle of the golden era of gaming, where going in one of four directions was plenty. Backgrounds scrolled in parallaxes and something as simple as transparency could bedazzle even the most cynical gamer. The 16 bit era was truly a renaissance for creative ideas and these three titles are a clear and prime example of this.
Many beloved franchises and companies during this era had gone on to do other great things and prosper, but Quintet is an exclusion to this. I often wander what they could have shown us had they not gone belly up. Many developers and publishers took chances, some of which paid off big, changing what was merely a fad into an implosion of world-encapsulating mega industry, an outlet for developers to express themselves artistically. YOU JUST DON'T SEE THIS AS MUCH ANYMORE.
It's no surprise giving the impact this generation had, that it's constantly referred to and brought up in topics among many gaming niches, to some degree is discussed even more than the current generation. Something about the 16 bit era just keeps gamers talking and debating. Even titles that were considered obscure during the heyday have now gone on to become classics held aloft by the endless support of devoted fans and new fans attracted by the hyperbole of their elders.
One such a series that slipped under the radar at release that has now amassed quite a large fandom, focuses on death and reincarnation, directed by a company called Quintet. Founded by two former members of Falcom, they loosely knit together a franchise. They were already responsible for Enix's hit Actraiser(one of the best SNES launch games) and didn't disappoint with their next title, SoulBlazer. This title would set the precedent with the death and resurrection themed tone that would later be amplified in the sequels. It was received to fairly good reviews and decent attention, so they shortly after began work on the next title in the quad/trilogy. In 93 when Illusion of Gaia was released they really received a break and was greeted with good reviews around the board, really bringing them into the spotlight. Shortly after they began working on Terranigma (Also called The Creation of Heaven and Earth) and was released in Japan and the PAL regions in 95. (Sadly the U.S. did not receive this title) It's worth noting there is actually a fourth game in the series named Granstream Saga on PS1, but was not recognized mostly due to not having Enix's name on it.
A difficult game to describe, at first glance your typical over the head action rpg. Your character, a pseudo deity of sort is sent down from the heavens and tasked with regaining the souls of the world and rebuilding/creating the world anew after it's destruction at the hands of demons. The world is divided into six different sections each having a town and several attached dungeons adjacent.
Definitely the oddball to the series, where the other games have fairly patterned gameplay focusing on elemental towns this game is extremely linear, straightforward flowing adventure that has a defined beginning and end. Rather than focusing on the gimmick of resurrecting people or places, Gaia focuses more on action elements, making it a deeper, smoother, more engaging experience than the previous title.
For most people this is where the series comes to a conclusion. This game represents the engine brought forward by SoulBlazer coming full circle, returning to the style of the first game bringing the resurrection theme back in full force while still retaining the solid representational aspects introduced by Gaia. In many ways combines the best of both worlds and is still one of the most talked about and sought after 16 bit games. Unfortunately it was released in the waning twilight of the SNES lifespan, so was mostly overlooked in favor of new tech. Many religious and alcoholic references were kept in tact surprisingly remaining uncensored. Easily my favorite in the series. Before I move on I would like to leave you a piece of the game's ost, this haunting melody reigning supreme in my mind. Which reminds me that I haven't even talked about the trilogy's OST, being one of the most unique and down right magical I have ever heard. From a lovely little waltz, very homely and quaint to hip and jazzy tunes to represent peace in places like Crystal village.
The puzzles to each game are tricky enough to vex you, while not being impossible enough to solve without a guide. They really struck a perfect balance here. The graphics are top tier for the time that each game were released, with character designs being particularly impressive (maybe not in SoulBlazer though) I would say though some npcs repeat their designs and this is quite noticable, but in all not that distracting. Enemy diversity is there, although there is a good deal of palette swapping as well. Dungeon design is pretty standard for it's time. Sound effects are well placed and fit their use quite well, although nothing really memorable here. Where the games truly shine though are the cutscenes (especially Gaia and Terra) containing some of the most mouth watering visuals seen for it's day. I imagine they were painstakingly detailed and rendered, resulting in a beautiful display of emotions.
So, I feel like I've rambled on enough. If anyone here has played any of these games and feels like discussing them I'm more than willing. I'm the type of guy who is quiet all night, but if you find the right topic that really strikes a chord with me you just can't shut me up. If anyone is curious and wants to know more about any of these titles I can go into further detail discussing the mechanics and the like. Also if anyone could suggest other action adventure titles that are in some ways similar to this quad/trilogy I'd be extremely grateful. I intend to emulate, but I have purchased on the games in the past, so I feel it is justified.
I apologize to myself for any grammatical or spelling errors, my proof reading isn't the best.