Description: A hodge-podge of action-adventure/RPG conventions that was a bit ahead of its time.
Conveniences: Lots, surprisingly. It’s easy to grind for money/levels, healing items are automatically used when health reaches 0, NPC’s are very direct with their hints, etc.
Annoyances: Having to constantly hit the Start button in order to assign different actions to the A and B buttons.
Standouts: The time-travel mechanic
- The party members are quite varied, featuring a genie, a living pumpkin, a robot, and more. They’re not fountains of personality, but they’re a far leap ahead of the blank slates common in RPGs at the time. They also come equipped with unique spells and abilities, e.g., escaping from battles (including boss encounters!) and translating long-lost languages.
- Random battles only occur during screen transitions and are limited to 3 characters. Before the battle begins, the player chooses 2 combatants to accompany the hero, and all of party’s HP/MP restoring items are split among the trio. Just like in the overworld, these items are used automatically and they don’t even waste a turn!
- Status effects on enemies are accompanied by distinct albeit abstract visuals, e.g., a “frozen” opponent that can’t use physical attacks is represented by a clam shell looking sprite with googly eyes.
- Additional soldiers can be recruited to aid the party in random battles. These take up 4 custom slots and serve as cannon fodder, absorbing the enemies’ initial onslaught while dishing some out extra damage themselves. These troops are easily to kill, but the player can purchase up to a hundred of them and they automatically max out the 4 slots at the beginning of every battle.
- Party members can combine at the start of battle to launch a massive special attack. These combinations are unique to different characters and are taught at universities located in various towns.
- It costs a bit of money to enroll in universities, but they reward the player with extra items, plot related spells, and formations for new combination attacks. These last “courses” even culminate in a quick, multiple-choice quiz.
- It’s actually possible to attack townspeople, at which point they resort to one-line quips for all conversations.
- The player’s fairy sidekick automatically chimes in whenever there’s a secret located on the current screen. If the player chooses to cast a special spell in these locations, stairways appear that lead him to extra areas.
- Bartering can decrease the cost of items, although it turns the shopkeeper’s image into a sad expression. Pushing him too far will also make him irate, at which point his avatar will turn into a crazed visage and he’ll kick the player out of the store while (somehow) taking 10 gold pieces from his inventory.
- The ability to travel back in time is fairly limited but still pretty neat. Areas are topographically remixed, and the player can recruit allies from the past while performing extra tasks such as planting trees that end up sprouting cash in the future.
- Boss fights are action based and take place in unique arenas where the player is stuck at the bottom of the screen.
- Alarat solar eclipses happen periodically over time, and add another fun layer to the game. They darken the palette, buff up the hero, make it easier to win at roulette minigames, enable the planting of the aforemention money-trees, and allow the player to cast “Great Magic.”
- Great spells are one-time use magical abilities obtained from sages sprinkled throughout the game. Casting these spells has large-scale effects on the game and its world, e.g., bringing rain to a desert land or filling up the player’s purse and all usable items.