Genre: RPG Developer: Westwood Studios Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1992
After a slew of releases on PC and console, TSR’s classic role playing franchise finally came to the Genesis in 1992. It was a radical departure from the many Japanese RPGs that were filling the 16-bit system world at the time. Apparently, this turned off many gamers, and caused them to miss out on a solid little adventure that, although too short and easy, was lots of fun while it lasted.
I must say that my first impression of Warriors wasn’t a good one, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. As a console-exclusive gamer back in the day, I tended to shun most PC RPGs due to their seemingly clunky interfaces and weak graphics. Thankfully, a few minutes of play time showed me just how off the mark I was. Gameplay is quick and intuitive, and the presentation – not the greatest, I know – does its job well enough. It’s not on par visually or audibly with Phantasy Star III or Shining in the Darkness, but who cares? There’s a ton of exotic locales to explore, plenty of weapon upgrades, and lots of wonderfully D&D monsters to kill!
The first thoughts to cross your mind after glancing over at those screen shots are probably about how decidedly PC-like Warriors of the Eternal Sun looks. The top-down field perspective and intricate menu system resembles those other D&D RPGs that came before it. They can tend to fool you, as the game isn’t nearly as complicated as it initially appears to be. In fact, by the time you settle in and prepare for the typical clash of good and evil these types of adventures usually provide, it’s all over, leaving you with something of a rush that you can’t get rid of.
This would seem to be something of a defining theme for Warriors, and just about every aspect of the game is as short and simple as the overall length. Take the plot, for example. An entire castle and town have been mysteriously transported to a strange valley (reported to be part of TSR’s Hollow World game setting) by the evil Borrower. Now, as the castle’s defenses crumble before hordes of monsters and the town plummets into madness due to the glaring red sun’s powers, you and your group set out to destroy the one responsible and restore the castle to its proper location.
That’s about it. Suit up and head on out to find things to kill as you level up and gain strength. Standard RPG stuff of the day, and while I don’t really hold it against the game, I do like to have a bit more meat on my gaming plate. You can choose from a default party to save time or custom create your own. I prefer the latter, and love the whole process. Deeper than most console character creation systems of the era, it makes the whole adventure more personal, and gives you a better feel as to how your group will manage what lies ahead.
They’ll need it to, since the two gaming perspectives utilized can be a bit challenging at first. When on the field, combat is played in the same view as your standard movement. Maneuver your guys around to the nearest foe and let loose on ’em! I found this whole exercise to be very flat and dull, perhaps the only real strike against an otherwise engaging game. In-dungeon combat is much better, switching to the first-person point of view we all know and love from the great Sega CD RPG Eye of the Beholder. It’s not as large and polished as that game, but works quite well. Veterans of the PC D&D games will immediately be at home here, as this perspective makes up the majority of gameplay. My only complaint here is that auto maps erase themselves when you leave a dungeon. This makes no sense whatsoever, and is annoying to say the least, especially in those multi-level labyrinths that can take a good chunk of time to explore. Of course, once you have whatever hidden goodies are left around to be taken, you don’t really need to trek the whole length of any dungeon again.
Truth be told, Warriors of the Eternal Sun proved to be both fun and involving, even though it’s shorter than most RPGs of the time. A complete copy may be hard to find, especially with its official hint book. I do recommend tracking one down, and I’m sure skeptics will be pleasantly surprised by what they find. You’ve probably already played all the high profile RPGs on the Genesis, why not give this one a chance?
SCORE: 7 out of 10