Terranigma - Review

The world from birth to death... will you become its guiding star?

By: Mistress Nightshadow

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 9
   Plot 10
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Very Hard
   Time to Complete

40-60 hours


Title Screen

   Imagine the Earth four billion years ago... there was no life back then. All you would have seen was just black ash, a thin atmosphere and a glowing sun... Then one day, a small plant sprouted... creating the first life on Earth. Now just think... what would you do if you could control that plant's destiny? How would you guide that single plant through life, and how would you assist and guide all further life which sprouted from that single plant? Have you ever wished you could control the destiny of the world?

   Then come as Ark, a young, enthuisiatic, although at times dimwitted, strongheaded, michevious and egotistic, lad who lives in what seems to be the underground of the Earth, accidently releases Yomi, a... well, cute pink furry thing with bat wings who happens to be a resident of Pandora's Box... in the process causing great instablity within the world and generally causing a lot of trouble. I guess it wasn't the best career choice he had made, but with Ark's trademark 'to hell with it, let's do it' attitude, it's going to prove to be one adventure you'll won't regret taking all the way to the 13th hour... The adventure which is Terranigma.

   The game itself is very easy to get into the swing to... it plays much like an action game. You can run, skip and jump just like most action games, and there's no battle meters or times to wait to do actions. You can do what needs to be done, be it flip that switch, hit that enemy with magic, slice and die it, block incoming attacks, or if you're feeling bored, throw everything but the kitchen sink at them [I'm not kidding, sometimes you'll find yourself throwing pots, vases and the odd rock at a few animals, monsters and people] whenever you're able to do so. You'll find yourself tight-rope walking over chasms, climbing up cliffs, swimming through rivers and jumping down waterfalls here... this will require some skill on the control pad to stay alive.

Silly Little Comment on Screen
So Ugly, it Hurts.  

   The default controls for Terranigma are very easy to use, but for those who don't particularly like pre-set controls, you can always customise them, making it work however you want them to. Movement within the game itself is very good, with the only stuff ups made within the game itself probably due to the lack of your reflexes.

   The equipping system itself is fairly basic, weapons are equipped to determine attack strengths and any special properties such as fire or ice on a weapon, armour is equipped to determine defense, you have items equipped which can be used in various situations, and there's a seperate luck modifier which determines how lucky you are. You won't see full blown screens with to hit percentages or the like, but then again Terranigma doesn't suffer without them.

   The graphics themselves are very well done for a SNES, with the sprites drawn and animated well, the cut scenes easily matching the best of the SNES world at the time, and interestingly, most interactive items will look exactly the same as the backgrounds until you try to interact with them. Although this is a good thing in that it seamlessly intergrates the foreground and background and avoids the 'obvious item' graphical standout, it can also prove fustrating if you don't pay that much attention. In some areas, you won't even realise that some of the rocks are removable, or that some items on the floor are indeed important.

   The music and sound are done quite well... the town themes will make you feel like you're in a country or city town, bonus game themes will give that fun feel to the mini-games you can play, dungeons will feel gloomy and erry, and the Quartos will always make you feel at home. Sound, although not bad in quality, can prove to be somewhat repetitive after a while...

Cutesy or Realistic Name
Scary ghost and a Dead guy  

   Particularly when you get lost. Although Terranigma has one of the most original plots ever seen... controling the fate of the world from its quiet beginnings is certainly something you don't see every day, but unusually, it has very few people to nudge you along the storyline. It has the non-linear feel to the game, with several sidequests which can be done at certain points... even though the game itself is seperated into fairly linear chapters. You will sometimes find yourself stuck at a certain point in the game because you don't know what you need... or what to do. Then again, it's fun sailing around the world and exploring the nooks and crannys of each continent looking for strange and interesting places and people if you're in need of searching. Secrets abound the Earth... it could be said there are almost too many secrets... You'll have a lot of trouble finding a lot of them!

   Speaking of the characters, you will see throughout the game that you feel like you're meeting miniature versions of many of the great influences of history, and the events surrounding them are quite intriguing... and how Ark learns, develops and reacts to them. You can influence the progress of Earth for better or worse by refusing to touch that weird contraption, taking part in an election, showing off a new item to the right person, or to dare taste a brewer's first bottle of wine. Terranigma allows you to do what no other RPG had ever offered before.... to play around with the history of Earth! You could accidently make Bell not invent the telephone, make the camera nothing but a failed prototype or keep the Sunshine Coast of Australia a remote and hidden secret you know...

   And the game itself isn't quite a pushover either, despite what it first portrays. In some areas, sheer power may be the key, but in others, it is keen observation which will win you out rather than brute force. Sometimes puzzle solving will be the key to victory, and in quite a few cases, the true Ark style of just keeping on trying may pull you through! Terranigma has difficulty of all kinds, and this will keep you tied up for quite a while...

You know the deal-title it.
Walk Beside the River  

   But despite all its faults, this isn't one game you'd want to let slide by. Although it isn't perfect, it's quite amusing to play if nothing else. For all those who haven't got a large amount of patence, I'd think about picking a copy of Terranigma up first... it could drive you crazy trying to find out which way to go. Anyone willing to take the time and sit this RPG all the way through will find it something quite unique, and an experience you won't be able to let go of soon.

   Will you be that guiding star to lead life to and beyond the 13th hour?

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