Parasite Eve - Retroview

Mention Of Reproductive Fluid Constitutes Mature Sexual Themes


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Very Hard
   Time to Complete

20-30 hours


Title Screen

   Parasite Eve is that rarest of RPGs... The kind set on Earth in the present day. Released right around the same time as Final Fantasy VII and Brave Fencer Musashiden, PE is a difficult game to get used to. It uses a combination of things that were later adapted in a much better manner to other SquareSoft titles while maintaining its' own horror/sci-fi mystique that a good portion of the RPG world ingnores. If you missed it because of Final Fantasy VII then you made the better choice, but PE, too, has a calling to be played.

   If you've ever played Vagrant Story, you know basically what the Parasite Eve battle system consists of. As in Legend of Mana the screen becomes locked when battle starts but allows you relative freedom of movement. Your weapons have a certain range in every direction that is represented by the outline of a sphere. You can choose to attack any enemy within the sphere whenever your ATB bar fills completely. You can also use Mitochondrial Powers (magic), or items. Movement in between your turns will keep you alive - as it will help you dodge enemy attacks. Really simple actually... No 'Shadow Points' or any of the other things that made Vagrant Story impossible to master. Also of note is the fact that you gain Ability Points as you level up that allow you to enhance things. This doesn't always necessarily mean that you enhance Aya herself, either...

   The subscreen menus leave quite a bit to be desired. They're easy enough to navigate but - in exchange for that small assistance - you have the unendingly horrendous problem of being very limited in your item storage capacity. This is so much of a problem that for the first few areas, you'll be constantly dropping things or throwing them away just to make space. The one saving grace about this grievous flaw is that as you level up you can enhance you pack's supply.

NYC Has Serious Waste Management Problems...
NYC Has Serious Waste Management Problems... 

   As far as eerie techno music goes, PE is awesome. I own the soundtrack (as well as about fifty other game OSTs, too) and listen to it fairly regularly. The sound effects and the PSX synth attempts at the opera sequences are... Well... Not so good. But, the music more than counter balances the sound effects; which is a very good thing.

   Originality is one place that the game really makes a name for itself. I think I remember reading a short story about the Mitochondria/Parasite-thing one time... But... My memory is hardly reliable in this matter. Might I also add that it is the only SquareSoft game - to date - that was branded with the 'Mature Sexual Themes' mark by the ESRB? While this might be construed in a couple ways, I honestly can't see it myself. They briefly mention male reproductive fluid in the background story of a bit-character and the game gets an 'M' rating... The ESRB is the bane of my existence anyhow but a rant is not what you came to read.

   Long before the story started - even before the history of Humanity, probably - the Mitochondria gave evolutional birth to the Human race by providing our cells with a means to make chemical energy by breaking down blood sugar. But... After our thousands of years of evolution and domination over the Mitochondria, the once benign little creatures have staged a coup with the help of the Mitochondrial 'Goddess', Eve. Aya, having had a mysterious childhood where her sister, Maya, died in a car accident and a rash of hospital visits, comes to realize that - for whatever reason - her body is only slightly effected by the spontaneous combustion factors of the Mitochondrial madness.

Jimmy Knew He Wasn't Supposed To Flush His Pets...
Jimmy Knew He Wasn't Supposed To Flush His Pets... 

   The game is fairly translated, except that for the average person the technical details of the BioPhysics and Chemistry might be a little too much to sort through. And believe me... Outside the exploration areas, you're constantly bombarded with scientific 'mumbo-jumbo' (sorry to you science majors!) that they use to try and explain the games' happenings. I don't know for sure if Working Designs did the PE translation work or not, but it's up to their usual standards either way. If you can sort through the blather, the story is really impressive.

   Taking place across a 6 (game) day period where things become dramatically more difficult as time progresses, Parasite Eve is pretty much time-locked. It can take a little longer depending on if you're playing the 'second quest' because of all the hidden stuff that becomes unlocked, but all-in-all you shouldn't have much trouble defeating Eve in the final battle for dominance of Earth in twenty or so hours...

   In game graphics are comparable to Brave Fencer Musashiden or Final Fantasy VII. The FMV cutscenes - in my opinion - are vastly superior to FFVII and a good number of other CG games of the time. There's a lot of detail to everything because of the minute nature of things that a lot of the FMV covers. Character models are sorta blocky and Aya always moves like she has the proverbial 'stick-up-her-butt' syndrome. But, aside from that, the game is good in the visuals department.

   After you thoroughly explore the hospital but before you get to the roof the game takes a dramatic step in the difficulty direction. The T-Rex boss is insanely hard just like everything after it. Beware the 'second quest'. With a new building to explore with randomly generated dungeon levels and a myriad of super-hard bosses, be ready for the fight of your life... And for your efforts in the Chrysler Building... You get to see the real ending. Good luck!

Non-Spontaneous Enemy Combustion
Non-Spontaneous Enemy Combustion 

   If you've read any of my reviews (which I should hope some of you have) you know my standpoint on replay value. RPGs are just intrinsically too long to make them replayable more than once or twice a year at maximum... And if you've played as many as I have then twice for each one requires that you play nothing else but RPGs (which just isn't my style!). I might even go so far as to say that RPGs might be better only being played once. Usually the impact is a lot less the next time around.

   Parasite Eve surely isn't the greatest SquareSoft achievement of the PSX era... And, from what I've read and heard, the sequel is absolutely terrible. So... If you want to play a horror/suspense RPG that isn't just a duplicate of Resident Evil and are willing to pay the $20 PE costs, then by all means go for it!

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