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Illusion of Gaia

Action RPG
Soul Blazer
  • 1994-09-01
  • 1994
B+ 13 total ratings
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A linear though competent action RPG that just can't compete with the likes of Zelda and Secret of Mana.

An Illusion of Gaia review Author: SNESrpg Published: April 04, 2006
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After the releases of 'Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past' and 'Secret of Mana' the SNES solidified its reputation as the home to classic action-RPGs. Around the same time a Japanese developer known as Quintet also released an action-RPG (overseen by Enix) known as 'Soul Blazer'. It was met with reasonable applause from gamers, but it failed to match the standards of its legendary peers. Soon enough a sequel to this game was released in the west in 1995 known as 'Illusion of Gaia' (IoG). Would this title be able to earn itself a place amongst the classics?
The answer to this question is an emphatic 'No'. Whilst IoG has all the ingredients - decent graphics and music, an engrossing story line and great character development - it just pales next to the likes of Zelda and the SoM series. The game plays very much like a linear version of Zelda and the game is naturally broken up into villages where you interact with the NPCs to advance the story followed by dungeons, which involve the predictable puzzles and fighting scenes. Without giving anything away about the story it is pretty deep and full of many twists and turns that make you genuinely care about the characters and their exploits.
Visually the game is as good as Zelda but somewhat inferior to SoM. The sprites are animated well and there are some impressive Mode 7 effects, but itís certainly not on the level of FF6 or Chrono Trigger. Sonically it is also decent but you will be struggling to remember any of the tunes years after you complete the game - its certainly no Chrono Trigger in the music department.
Positive aspects of the game include the ability to play as three different forms of the hero Will. Each form has different powers and strengths that need to be used logically to solve some of the brain racking puzzles, something similar to the animal system used in the classic Wonderboy 3. The game also benefits from a wide range of ancient locations based on the real world spanning from Angkor Wat in Thailand to Machu Pichu in Peru. It was great fun braving my way through these beautiful ancient ruins and it certainly perked my interest in the story line.
The linear nature of the game can be an annoying problem especially in regards to collecting the secret gems (all of these need to be collected in order to access the secret area at the end of the game). Once you leave a certain continent you cannot ever return thus making it impossible to collect everything in the game if you missed out on them earlier. At times I also felt the urge to revisit past villages and dungeons just for fun but due to the linear nature of the game this was made impossible. I would have certainly preferred an overworld where all the villages are linked so that you could go back and forth at will. This would have also opened up the possibility of more complex puzzles that can be solved by revisiting past areas after learning a new skill or getting a new item Š la Zelda, but then again thatís just me dreaming.
As mentioned before the game plays a lot like an inferior version of Zelda. Its a shame really because a lot of thought and effort has obviously gone into the puzzle and fighting aspects of the game, but they just can't measure up to the dizzyingly high standards set by that aforementioned classic. There are no side quests; no sub games, no major sub-stories and absolutely no reason to play the game again once you have completed it.
So there you have it IoG is an otherwise decent RPG in an arena full of juggernauts. It just cannot compete.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Illusion of Gaia is only recommended for the dedicated action RPG fan. If you enjoyed Soul Blazer or Terranigma, then this is definitely worth trying out, however for the rest of us its best to steer clear."
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Vapid Buttmunch
Member since April 04, 2006
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