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Soul Blazer

Action RPG
Soul Blazer
  • September 4, 1992
  • January 31, 1992
B+ 5 total ratings
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Let's Call Him: "Deathtoll"

A Soul Blazer review Author: Ziyad Khesbak Published: November 13, 2004
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Look, I want to be honest here. After all, I?ve heard the talk. But the truth is, you weren't there. No, you were busy darkening clouds or raising acts, but you weren't there. When you thought you were arranging buildings, we were exploring and lifting treasure to double attack strength. When you thought you were crawling through randomness, we were busy compulsively eliminating every enemy in sight. And indeed when you thought you were customizing in craze, we were equipping our blades and going to town. No, you weren't there. But the truth were probably just playing Zelda.

And the truth is, Enix's Soul Blazer was one of the most innovative and engaging adventures of its time. Yet despite its cutting edge graphics and catchy music, it was lost in the obscurity of the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and not until its later Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma incarnations were its golden virtues properly extolled. Instead, only a token few received the privilege of enjoying this journey through manic slashing while their brethren knocked up some Moblins, or something like that.

Choose?your might.

In Soul Blazer, you assume the role of a nameless "angelic" figure, guided by the Master, who, in politically correct terms, is the caretaker of life, the universe, and everything. Of course, with King Magridd on the throne, the situation in and around the Freil Empire has become rather (wait for it) frail, as he has captured the brilliant Doctor Leo and forced him to engineer a machine to summon Deathtoll, an evil creature who will pay a toll to the king for every death he incites. Clever naming patterns aside, it is now your duty to blaze your way through Deathtoll?s hordes of evil minions and gather up the souls of all life to re-institute order into the world. Okay, I?ll stop now.

Wow, welcome to my love life.

The real joy in Soul Blazer seems to rise directly from the instant and gratuitous rewards herein, to the point you find yourself seething to find every last enemy and strike him down if only to see what new building or item his untimely death generates. As the system functions, each area of the game consists of a town and a dungeon, and advancement in one requires advancement in the other; further, every monster generator will gave way to a soul saved, which translates into another tree, house, or item-bearing individual on the town map to interact with. It goes naturally, then, that more often than not you'll find explicit joy in exploring or backtracking to release that extra plant that'll politely point you in the direction of a new sword.

Oh, yes, and as a servant of the Master you sustain the ability to talk to plants and animals. In fact, the sheer simplicity and directness of each dolphin or cow you free carries within it a certain charm that, while it is devoid of any sense of development, makes you smile if only for its own juvenile sake. There are only a handful of major characters, most of whom rarely get more than ten or twenty lines of text, so it's easy to see why the story and characters are only a pathetic excuse for the real action. For the game's entire life-span, only about 15 minutes is directly devoted to plot development.

Sometimes, it?s just a man?s game.

Soul Blazer's real heart, battle, takes place in the traditional overhead view with two separate sword techniques and a set of equip-able magic that activates at the press of a button. The type of blow depending on the enemy will actually damage differently or be more effective in terms of range or continuity, so you'll often find yourself changing tactics, which effectively spices up combat. New enemy types are frequent and overlap is rare, if not inexistent, which adds an element of surprise and encourages that extra five minutes of play for about an hour.

Which is not to say that the game is by any measure easy; enemies can be, admittedly, unfair with their impact at times, but for the most part sustain enough of a challenge to inspire a fit of vengeance, and rarely frustration. Major enemies require a fair amount of strategy in deciphering attack patterns, and the satisfaction factor is significantly high after defeating a difficult foe.
I?d like to cast magic missle.

Graphically, Soul Blazer is a treat. Detailed and with realistic personality, area palettes are appropriate and used to great effect to generate a distinct mood in each of the game's areas, and allow their inhabitants an evident personality missing from most games of the same class. Bosses appear ever-menacing and impart a certain sense of dread, whether they be colossal, flesh-eating, flying menaces or a trio of horse heads.

Musically, there are a few outstanding tracks to be heard, such as the final dungeon tune, but the relative quality to other Super Nintendo cartridges seems to be lacking, town music is repetitive, and the general tones are blatant and harsh enough to warrant a volume drop. And yet, chances are you'll leave it up while taking out a room of indecencies, if only because Soul Blazer's music is just that catchy. Entertaining enough to kill to when the need arises, but everything else seems mostly unimpressive.

Altogether, Soul Blazer makes for a distinctly fun experience and ensures that completists of the staunchest class have something to cheer about. Battle is assuredly delightful, and later expanded upon by further installments of the series which maintain the title's graphical quirk and dance around clever and unnecessarily deep characterizations. Certainly worth a shot for anyone with an interest in the classics or in recovery from a nasty break-up. Good huntin'.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Underrated and overshadowed. Killing machines and town builders welcome."
B+ dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on 5 ratings) | Rate it Now
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