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Hail fellow, well met! Our Guild seeks
to catalog genres Fantasy, Strategy,
& Role-Playing. From swordplay to
tactics, the Guild shall be your
mighty castlegrounds. Stay awhile.

Eye of the Beholder
Opera House * SEGA-CD & SNES * VARIOUS * Now Available


A classic hath return-eth! Designed as a console-accessible iteration of the legendary home computer game, Eye of the Beholder is now available for both SEGA CD and Super NES. This title based on the expansive world of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons will have players build a party of four adventurers composed of thieves, fighters, and magic users. These warriors have been gathered by the Lords of Waterdeep to take on an ancient evil rebirthed beneath the City of Splendors. Crawl through a myriad of dungeons in first-person view and begin a search which may end in glory and fame, or a gruesome death. In each console version, Beholder operates on a point-and-click system that may feel a bit unintuitive.

In this age of free-scrolling games like Doom, Beholder is a dusty alternative. Yet, the array of puzzles and perils found in and beyond the sewers of Waterdeep remain fresh and chock full of mystery. Exploration is the main highlight within Beholder. Finding your way around the dungeons will entail picking up and throwing items, tapping levers to open doors, searching behind grates and within pipes, and discovering secret passageways. Combat is real-time, not turn-based. Brawl as you wish, or back away from monsters and rethink your strategy. You can luckily save at any time, thus reducing the stress of falling in an inescapable trap. The SNES version is fair, but CD features voice acting and cosmetic adjustments.

Printed in Issue #17, September 1994
Working Designs * SEGA-CD * CD * Now Available


Contrary to popular belief, we have encountered a stream of RPGs for SEGA systems this year. Vay, released earlier this summer, turned out considerably better than expected. In this conversion from Working Designs, players will find themselves eager to converse with villagers to learn more about the four kingdoms and its dignitaries. Dialogue is always inventive and fascinating. We especially enjoyed the exaggerated villainy of Sadoul, an unenthusiastic commander in the vein of the Sheriff of Nottingham from Prince of Thieves. The protagonist is given some welcome personality too, as it true for the comedic sidekicks and their amusing antics. The effort in this department truly shows.

As we stated in our original PPM review, it is the script writing of Vay which elevates it beyond other archetypal role-players. If not for this, it would largely end up a forgettable title with half-way decent graphics, bland combat stylings, and a story less original than off-brand supermarket cereal. Evil soldiers have made off with the hero's bride to-be, how shocking! We do commend the CD-specific presentation laden in this title, such as the animated and fully voiced cut-scene sequences interlaced throughout. Animations and superb scriptwriting breathes life into this otherwise subpar RPG. If interested games players out there are anything like our team, they will tolerate the shortcomings.

Printed in Issue #17, September 1994

Wizardry V
Capcom * SNES * 8 MB * Now Available


Wizardry is a long-running series of dungeon crawlers dating as far back as 1981 on the Apple II. The original three titles were noteworthy triumphs in popularizing Dungeons & Dragons-esque storytelling and role-playing. Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom, originally released for home computers in 1988, recently received an enjoyably enhanced port on Super NES. This adaptation from Capcom of the 3-D dungeon explorer is classic D&D fun. Join together a customized, six-man party and do your best to destroy an evil magician deep within the unhabitable depths below. Tread carefully! Players must be extra smart in traversing these caves as to avoid traps and take down lesser baddies along the way.

This cart is the first Wizardry outing on SNES following two NES iterations, and for what it's worth, this new title is PC-accurate. The overabundance of text-based menus and endless planning may alienate some modern gamers who prefer their RPGs in the Final Fantasy mold, but there are some factors to love in WV. During your dungeon traversal, you may encounter intelligent monsters capable of trading items or humorous riddles. Resurrections are also available if you have the coin to spare, so the occasional slip-up is, thankfully, forgivable. The music isn't half bad either. Still, our review team found that the repetitive gameplay and graphically barren nature of WV leaves much to be desired in this day and age.

Printed in Issue #15, July 1994
Dynastic Hero
Hudson * TURBO DUO * CD * Now Available


Save your homeworld from a hideously evil entity in the newest action-role-playing game to hit the Turbo Duo in Dynastic Hero. Originally released for the Genesis as Wonder Boy in Monster World, DH is a makeover of sorts from folks over at Hudson Soft. This much-improved Turbo version adds an animated intro sequence, an entirely new CD soundtrack, and rethemed visuals. Turbo Duo owners will be pleased to know that this title is worth picking up, even if you've already tried out the two-year-old Genesis cart. Players will take control of Prince Dyna in his Zelda II-like 2-D journey across the land of Tarron. Graphics are crisp and colorful, exhibiting a cute, anime-like style for character sprites and environments.

Sword in-hand, Dyna will need to thrash a foe or two...hundred during his dangerous quest. Accessing and managing your inventory is relatively easy, not to mention a handy shortcut toggle for selecting your favorite magic spells and weapons (Hey, why didn't A Link to the Past have this? -Jet). There is no shortage of platforming in this fantasy world. Jump, climb, and swim from screen to screen in these challenging areas. When not deep in the thralls of combat, Dyna can explore villages and castles to find clues and information which will help you out immensely. Yes, DH is indeed one of those "talk to everyone" games. The redone musical score is a welcome addition: The cherry on top of this great game.

Printed in Issue #15, July 1994

JVC * SEGA-CD * CD * Now Available


Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, has snuck into the halls of Valhalla and took it upon himself to pilfer the weapons of the gods! It is your duty to lead the Vikings to reclaim these artifacts and take down Loki! Heimdall is a unique role-playing game originally developed by Core Design for DOS, the Atari ST, and Amiga systems. JVC has graciously released a port of this title for SEGA-CD, so SEGA players will also be able to enjoy the magic and mysticism of Norse mythology. Once booted up, you have the option to try your hand at a small assortment of throwaway "Sub Games" including pig chasing and axe throwing, or to begin the real adventure of restoring Valhalla and Odin's pride to its former glory.

Select your party members from a varied pool of 15 characters, all with different strengths and weaknesses, and the Heimdall challenge will have begun. Your party will be thrust into an isometric world with no guidance to speak of. Explore away! There are plenty of secrets to uncover in these rooms. Battles play out on a static screen with minimal animation and are a bit tricky to get the hang of. This disc's graphics may be divisive among certain players, as they exhibit a cartoonish feel reminiscent of the old Dragon's Lair arcade cab, but we've found that the style grows on you after a stretch of gameplay. Prepare for some grueling loading time between screens, though. The Vikings must have had some serious patience!

Printed in Issue #13, May 1994
Young Merlin
Virgin Games * SNES * 16 MB * Now Available


The name alone invokes the very essence of fantasy storytelling and Arthurian adventure, but Young Merlin may not be doing justice to that concept. Developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Games, this Super NES cart centers on a young boy tasked with defeating the dreadful Shadow King before he destroys all things of beauty. Join with the Lady of the Lake to quell this evil! The most striking thing about Young Merlin is, without a doubt, its presentation and art direction. Merlin is a huge contrast to the bulk of the SNES library in terms of style, utilizing simple color shading and a, somewhat jarring, darker palette (Sounds like a host of lesser Genesis games I've seen -Jet).

Young Merlin is a mixed bag. Its story is comfortable and familiar, and the developers added plenty of puzzles to solve. On the flip side, this title was weighed down by some unforgivable flaws. Combat is dull and unintuitive, it is overly tedious to cycle through your items on the pause menu, and, worst of all, nearly every quest involves fetching lost items for mediocre rewards. We were left wishing the team behind this cart took more inspiration from gems like Soul Blazer that managed to make this formula jive much better. With Merlin perhaps needing a few more years to mature into the famous wizard we all know, players yearning for an Arthurian tale should look to Capcom's Knights of the Round.

Printed in Issue #13, May 1994

Paladin's Quest
Enix * SNES * 12 MB * Now Available


For those players searching for an off-beat, eccentric adventure game, Enix recently published a peculiar role-playing cart named Paladin's Quest. Chezni, a rookie student of magic, appears to have inadvertently released a being of pure evil from its eternal prison. Your neighbors warned you not to climb that tower! Guide young Chezni and his cohorts to prevent utter disaster by repairing the world step by step. The journey is stuffed with humor and recurring gags, so we're not trapped in the doldrum of your standard Dungeons and Dragons quest. Enemy types are widely varied and scale from creative to downright odd, and bosses prove monstrously powerful with notoriously giant health pools.

Originally known as Lennus and developed by Asmik, Paladin's Quest is the strangest of beasts. Battles are a touch generic, though spiced-up with a unique "attack any body part" design. Swords and spears are vastly underpowered compared to magic, as you'll find out early on, yet your Hit Points decrease with magic use! PQ's graphics are perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic. Some mags have sharply criticized PQ's use of bright pastel colors and frame its presentation as 8-Bit. Our team found the graphical style rather charming! Not every cart needs to be Secret of Mana! Try this one out as a rental and see for yourself. It's worth your time, even if your characters will perish... a lot.

Printed in Issue #11, March 1994
Romancing SaGa 2
Square * SNES * 16 MB * Import Available


Romancing SaGa?! What on earth is that? We admit, those of us in the States have been unable to acquire a translated or localized version of the SNES SaGa series of games, but we can guarantee that you've heard of SaGa before - just not by such an unfamiliar name. Final Fantasy Legend I through III on Game Boy are known in Japan as SaGa 1 through 3. It's true! Square renamed that beloved portable series with the FF moniker to achieve stronger sales figures. RS II on SNES is out now in Japan, and it has swiftly become one of the island country's favorite role-playing titles. Crowds lined the streets in December to pick up this cart upon release, and, trust us, games players in Japan know quality RPGs when they see it.

In RS II, you play as Leon, the Emperor of Avalon, and your fated task if to take down a corrupted bunch of baddies called the Seven Heroes. When Leon falls, his son Gerald takes the lead, and so on throughout the game (Saga, get it? -Jet). Despite its story differences, generational system, and speech-bubble presentation quirk, the core gameplay in RS II brings forth fond memories of Final Fantasy. Be mindful, that is a compliment! Few disagree that the FF formula for RPG battles is gaming perfection. Your party members each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you gain levels of weapon and magic experience as you fight on. Should Square bring this state-side, play it straight away!

Printed in Issue #11, March 1994

Final Fantasy II
Square * SNES * 16 MB * Now Available


With the next entry in this series imminent and reportedly set to arrive on North American shores very soon, let's take a glance back at the incredible sequel available now on Super NES. Let Final Fantasy II serve as an example for what gamers have come to expect out of 16-Bit role-plating games nowadays. Gone are the boring, one-dimensional stories of yore. We want epic action in a faraway land chock with evil kings, fleets of airships, dragons aplenty, mysticism and magic, love and betrayal, indecent proposals (Are we still talking about Final Fantasy? -Jet). Square undoubtedly redefined the meaning of "RPG" with FF II, so it's no wonder players are eagerly awaiting some more! We've been patient, Mr. Sakaguchi!

Since 1991, the SNES has become a home for role-players with various entries from thinkers like 7th Saga to dungeon crawlers a la Obitus. But, Final Fantasy II, with the arguable exception of Secret of Mana, remains untouched as the best RPG for the super systems. Its use of an active-time battle system livened up the stale turn-based affairs of standard role-players and a plethora of spells and equipment makes for a high chance of replayability. That's not even to mention the spectacular Mode 7 effects, animations, and orchestrated score. Our team rates it highly overall and anticipates the sequel. Honestly, if any game deserves a Hollywood adaptation, it's FF II and not a snoozer like Super Mario.

Printed in Issue #9, January 1994
Ys IV: Mask of the Sun
Tonkin House * SNES * 12 MB * Import Available


Released in Japan for Super Famicom systems, Ys IV: Mask of the Sun is the newest entry in the Ys saga brought to you by Tonkin. This series may be known well among veteran Turbo owners, but most gamers likely haven't experienced this Japanese favorite. Ys IV represents a newfound move to expand its audience by bringing the title over to Super NES. Though it serves as a direct sequel in both story and presentation to the classic Ys I and II on Turbo, we may be dealing with a paltry stepbrother. This cart is a top-down, action-RPG containing stylistic elements now considered standard of the genre: An infallible hero cleansing the land of all evil through meticulous puzzle solving, cutscene-watching, and combat.

Ys IV's sprite work and speech boxes are pleasing to the eye, but our reviewers found much of the setting forgettable and lacking notable landmarks. That means it's very easy to get yourself lost. Combat is certainly not this game's strong suit. There are loads and loads of baddies, but our hero character cannot bash them with a sword or use magic to clear his path. You can only damage enemies by physically colliding into them. This makes for some awkward interactions as you're forced to bump close to your foes to get anywhere - draining your HP in the process. Tonkin gets credit for writing an intriguing and original story for Ys IV, but overall delivered a far lesser product to the four-year-old Ys I and II discs on the Turbo-CD system.

Printed in Issue #9, January 1994