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Preview: Pier Solar and The Great Architects

You’ve beaten Beggar Prince, and it’s left a deep hunger in you for more original 16-bit content. Pickings are very slim on the console, and your Genesis grumbles in protest at the lack of new games… its power LED blinking furiously in anger. It must feed! There’s no way around it. Thinking you can perhaps sate The Hunger, you scour eBay for some obscure Japanese shooter What’s the difference, right? Rare is just as good as new, isn’t it?

What if I told you that you were wrong, and that there is indeed new content coming for your starving Genesis? The Hunger will indeed be pacified this December, when Watermelon Games unleashes Pier Solar & the Great Architects upon feverish gamers the world over. Unlike Super Fighter Team’s excellent effort, this is the first 100% original title created from the ground up for the Genesis in over a decade. Every facet of this game has been lovingly hand-crafted to give Genesis owners an RPG that will keep them glued to their consoles for hours, and it’s looking fantastic.

Get Ready for a New Adventure

Hyperbole, you say? Nay, my friend. This is a game you simply need to play, and my words bear no embellishment. Pier Solar is not a port or a translation. It’s not an unfinished beta that’s suddenly cropped up. This is a completely new adventure that’s been in the making for over four years, and the amount of love and sweat that’s been poured into it is worthy of praise. Ok, maybe they didn’t actually sweat in it, but you get my drift…

Like most titles of its ilk, Pier Solar tells the tale of adventurous youth, of brave teens seeking to right the grave wrong that plagues their land. From our playthrough of the recently released demo, we’ve witnessed a well-conceived plot that’s written without any Working Designs-style pop culture references. Instead of going for the cheap pop, Watermelon Games has wisely opted to let the story be the star, with a dialogue that works hard towards this end. One could argue that it travels down some well-trodden road with its teenage stars taking on the roles of world saviors, but RPG fans don’t seem to mind the fact that no one over the legal drinking age can become a hero. The heroes themselves – Hoston, Alina, and Edessot – seem different enough to offer the possibility of some decent character development, and while our playtime was limited to some sparse interaction with only Hoston’s parents and a few NPCs, we don’t think players will be complaining much about the story.

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Most players probably won’t notice the story for a few minutes after booting up the game. They’ll be too engrossed in the excellent visuals, which include a great use of color and even real-time shading effects. Environments are varied and are quite detailed, and though the demo only offered a forest, two towns, and a cave, what we saw showed some great promise of things to come. Of note is that all the sprite work and level design is completely original, with nothing ripped or altered from existing games. This is 100% new, my friends, and the dedication involved in such an endeavor shows on every level.

To us at least, the most striking element of Pier Solar has to be its incredible soundtrack. Crystal-clear FM tunes rocked our PC speakers, and we can honestly say that Zable Fahr has scored a set of memorable compositions that ranks up there with any commercial cartridge soundtrack out there. Watermelon Games has gone the extra mile here, offering a CD-based soundtrack that can be played in the Sega CD along with the cart, offering enhanced music during play! Pier Solar itself is a 64-meg cart, which ranks it as the largest Genesis game ever released, so buyers can be assured that they’re getting some quality work. The cartridge score sounded great, and one need only visit the official site to hear the CD versions.

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Playing as a typical turn-based RPG, Pier Solar still carries the random battles that were the standard of the 16-bit era. Going the Lunar route of having enemies onscreen that can be avoided would have been preferable, but the encounter rate in the demo didn’t have us reaching for the power button, so it’s doubtful that this will be a major issue. Perhaps random battles also add to the classic feel of the game? The debate on our forum on this subject will no doubt be the stuff of legend.

Combat features multiple moves for each of the three main characters, and the official website boasts screen shots of other party characters (Watermelon promises up to a maximum of five party members at once). Standard attacks and jumping slashes are the rule of the day, and we fell in love with Alina’s excellent distance attacks almost instantly. Hoston seemed to miss most of his slashes, but the neat magic effects all around and the relatively low difficulty level of the demo contributed to keep battles from being drawn out or too hard. We presume the final build to be more challenging, so don’t get to comfortable with those jumping slashes!

Time to Preorder

Watermelon Games is taking preorders on the official Pier Solar site, and there are currently two options:

  • Preview- Pier Solar & The Great Architects 6A standard release for $35. This includes the 64-meg, region free and multi-language cartridge in a hard clamshell case with a 24-page, full color manual. It also has the MEGA Soundtrack Booster CD, which has OST compositions and PC-enabled goodies. Worldwide shipping is also included in the price. Moreover. The set also features a Pier Solar poster!
  • The Posterity Pack for $50. This set offers everything the standard release has, but the extra $15 adds the option to have the buyer’s name included in the actual game! Spend some extra cash and become a part of Genesis history! This offer is limited to only five hundred copies (four ninety-nine if you exclude ours).

Preorders are being taken only until October 29, so time is fleeting!

Expect Sega-16 to simply devour this newest Genesis release with Velociraptor-like ferocity upon its December release. Let the countdown begin!

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