The box is shiny, but not embossed!
Working Designs fans riot worldwide!

 

This was the last game released in North America for the Sega Saturn, but ironically it was released within the first year of the system’s life in Japan. Working Designs wanted to bring the game over, but some of the data was missing because Bernie Stolar of Sega hated Victor Ireland of Working Designs, so he hid a chunk of data in his special, secret place. He then used the excuse that a hard drive crashed and that some of the data was corrupt in order to piss Victor Ireland off. But Victor didn’t want Bernie to get the best of him, so he took on the project anyway. Some of the data had to be reprogrammed from scratch here in the USA and as a result the game does have a lot of bugs and some major slowdown. Slowdown is illegal in Japan, so it’s only logical that Victor purposely added it as a special treat for US gamers.

 

Awesome color and many layers of scrolling and transparency
are used throughout the game. 2D Graphic whores rejoice!

 

Story: 7/10
To be quite honest, the translation is pretty good. Working Designs didn’t go totally overboard with their low-level humor as in past games and the text and dialog is overall very enjoyable. They do sneak a few juvenile jokes  in, though. I’m OK with that as I myself have the maturity level of a 12-year-old. The story itself involves some girls who have to do some stuff in order to accomplish something. It’s pretty hokey and it subtly speaks out against the death penalty though it certainly never makes a direct reference to it. After you do some stuff, you do more stuff, and keep doing stuff until you are finished. That’s pretty much how it goes. There isn’t much of an ending story-wise… it’s just a few quick words and BAM the credits are rolling. But the story is plenty good enough and it’s fun to see how the characters react when they do stuff. And doing stuff is required to progress in this game.

 

 
The script went through multiple rewrites and this is what we got.

 

Gameplay: 7/10
This is an overhead action RPG just like Zelda, only completely different. The control is good… very smooth and precise. You run around and talk to people in towns, buy a limited amount of items and run off to dungeons, solve puzzles and beat bosses. You can jump, swim and run like you’ve got a load of diarrhea ready to burst out and the nearest toilet is far away. Actually there are no toilets in the game, and yes that is even mentioned. You control three different teenage girls, and each has their own way of fighting as well as her own magic. One of the brats can shoot arrows which will be required to hit things from a distance. So no need for Zelda on the Saturn, we have this! One thing I really like is the ability to move and attack in diagonal directions. I don’t think any other Zelda-type games from this time or before allow this, but what the hell do I know? The puzzles are all pretty easy. There is one puzzle that is almost kind of tough, but it’s not required to beat the game, only to get some extra life and magic. Speaking of easy, the whole game is a little on the easy side, I’d say. You may die here and there, but you’ll always quickly figure out what the hell you’re supposed to have your anime teens do next. Overall it is pretty fun and kept me coming back for the few days it took me to beat it. I’d say it offers a bit under 20 hours of good ol’ fashioned fun.

 

 
Almost a dozen hours will be added to the game due to the amount
of time you’ll spend rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably!

 

Graphics: 8/10
This is your typical 2D action RPG, but it looks really, really good. Lots of detail has been provided everywhere. Transparencies are all over the place, multi-layered scrolling is abundant and tons of colors are used. There’s some scaling and rotation that will blow your mind! OK maybe not, but it is cool, especially for an RPG. I like how when going up the stairs in a home or some type of building, the new floors fade/dissolve in over the old ones. When you go back down they fade away, no more boring black screen between floors wasting precious time that you’ll never be able to get back. This is technology from the future being used here, truly. There is full motion video (FMV) throughout the game, and it is compressed fairly well for the Saturn, except the ending which looks a bit blurry. The characters are drawn with a (surprise!) anime style. It is illegal in Japan do draw anything except variations of the anime/manga style. Imagine if all US-produced cartoons had the same style as Filmation’s He-Man. Yes, I think they should have more variations of style over there. But again, what do I know?

 

Apparently they do the wild thing like crazy in Rayearth-land.

 

Sound: 7/10
All of the game music is played by the Saturn sound chips themselves… no streaming music, no CD audio, just music the same way the Genesis and SNES produced their music which is almost a MIDI approach but not really. Basically this is what Saturn cartridge games would have sounded like if they made them. It does sound really good and many tunes are very enjoyable. There isn’t anything that really stands out or will make you delete everything on your iPod just to make room for 700 hours of this, but it is more than adequate. The voices are a bit “trebly” though, meaning that the high frequencies are just too high and there isn’t much in the way of low-end to them. Bad recordings, perhaps? Probably. Some of the sound effects, such as when fireballs come crashing down, are too loud for the Saturn’s preamp to handle and end up being a bit distorted. This doesn’t happen too often, fortunately. I’m surprised they didn’t catch that during testing.  Then there’s fact that towards the very end of the game, the same tune that normally only plays on the overworld map when you switch towns ends up playing for that, the last town, Zagat’s palace and whatnot. You keep hearing this same tune over and over again, and it’s not really great or anything. I blame the missing data for this. A song or two had to have been lost. That makes me sad and I do not enjoy being sad. Of course since this is Working Designs, there is a song in the game with lyrics written by world-renowned song smith Victor Ireland and sung by the same lady who sings all WD’s songs. The lyrics are provided in the instruction manual under the false presumption that anyone would actually care.

 

I’m wondering how this kid even knows who Greedo is, and how
he was able to see the Star Wars Special Editions. He doesn’t even
live in the same dimension as George Lucas. Lucky kid.

 

Wrap Up:
This is definitely a good game to have in your Saturn collection, if a bit short and easy. Trying to collect all of the hidden amulets in the game is a true challenge, though. I couldn’t find them all. But the game remains recommended.  Unfortunately a complete copy goes for nearly $200 at the time this review was written. And you’ll have to buy three copies. That’s right, there are 3 different designs of the disc artwork, one for each of the female protagonists. You can’t just have one, that would be absurd! You need to get all 3 and you need to play through all 3.  It’s like Pokemon, only better. Gotta hoard them all!

FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10