Rainbow Moon Review
Classic style with a modern look.
SideQuest Studios’ Rainbow Moon will feel immediately familiar to those of you that, like me, grew up on such games as Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire and Grandia. From the moment the game started I was transported back to the days of the SNES, but with one key difference; Rainbow Moon doesn’t try to go for a retro graphics look. Instead, it’s one of the most colorful and striking downloadable games I’ve played yet. Looks and style aren’t everything though, so let’s take a closer look at how Rainbow Moon played.
Rainbow Moon , as I said above, is heavily influenced by the RPG’s of days gone by and when you start your game you’ll be presented with the type of cheesy/cool plot bases that fans of the genre love. Baldren, the mighty warrior, is pushed into a portal by an evil wizard and transported to Rainbow Moon where he soon learns that his arrival has unleashed a plague of monsters on this peaceful world. Baldren himself provides one of my favorite story hook in the game as he doesn’t seem all that worried about the hordes of monsters, he’s simply focused on getting off Rainbow Moon. He is forced to help the locals, and even teams up with a few, but it feels like he’s only doing it because he has to.
Navigating the world of Rainbow Moon requires a lot of exploration, this isn’t the kind of game that offers you one path between the town and the dungeon, there are often multiple routes to take. The most direct route is also, not always open to you and the main quest line often nests itself so you’ll find yourself in the middle of one quest, only to have to run off in completely the opposite direction to complete another before the first quest can proceed. This isn’t nearly as tedious as it sounds and it serves to get you exploring, as questing will not see you covering all of the ground that is available. Exploration is rewarded and encouraged and you’ll notice, even with the first dungeon, that just because you completed the quest doesn’t mean you’ve seen all a dungeon has to offer.
Rainbow Moon isn’t all about walking around, of course you’ll have to kill all these monsters somehow and that’s where the combat system comes in. This thing is deep, intimidating and satisfying and once you get the hang of it I think you’ll enjoy the battles quite a bit. Battles take place on a grid and play out much like a turn based strategy game. Each character can move a set number of squares and perform a set number of actions, and these will increase as you get further into the game. Because your characters can soon perform multiple attacks in one turn, via the sub-turn system, battles will proceed quickly where you might expect them to take a while due to this type of system.
There are a couple of underlying strategy elements at play here as well, and the game eases you into these so you’re not overwhelmed right off the bat. Each enemy and character fits into one of six weapon types that all have a style that they are strong against, and one they are weak against. For instance, sword characters are strong against bow characters. The special abilities add to the strategy as each has its own method of implementation, range and effect. Some of the later abilities also look pretty sweet when you pull them out too.
One thing I didn’t like about the battle system is that characters advance their skills by collecting rainbow pearls, and rainbow pearls are only awarded to the character who performs the killing blow. This can make for some really lop-sided progression as experience points can only get you so far. I often found myself dragging out a battle so one character, who had fallen behind, could finish off the monsters and collect some pearls. Movement was also a little touchy, and there’s no backtracking, once you’ve moved to a square there’s no way to cancel and get your move back.
Rainbow Moon will take you well over forty hours to complete, and even longer if you’re exploring heavily. If you’ve really been looking to sink your teeth into an old-school RPG, this is $15 well spent.
There are no multiplayer modes in Rainbow Moon.
Rainbow Moon does something that more games should try, ditch the photo-realistic graphics and expensive cut-scenes for solid gameplay and a pleasing, still-modern look. Games can feel retro without having to look retro and Rainbow Moon pulls this theory off with style. It’s too bad this is a PS3 exclusive because PC and Xbox 360 RPG fans will be wishing they could get their hands on this one too.