A special note about this post:
The following review is cross-posted from Gemakei, where I am the Community Administrator. As a full disclaimer, a voucher for a free copy of the game to review it was provided by the developers, but this review was not commissioned. The thoughts that follow are entirely my own. Enjoy.
I will admit it, I am a sucker for achievements. One of the first things I look at when I get a new game for my PS3 is look at the trophy list. When I saw that Rainbow Moon had a trophy just for playing the game for 100 hours – a Silver level one at that – I thought “Well, that’s a nice reward to work for on a second play through.” As it turns out, it’s one you might find yourself getting on the first play through. If you have a fair bit of time on your hands, like RPGs, and need a new game that will last you well more than a week, Rainbow Moon may well be your game. Even on easy mode, I found plenty of parts in the game where I found myself needing to level up – a lot – before proceeding any further.
Rainbow Moon’s title alone sounds like a game from roughly the 80’s or so, and it certainly plays like a classic RPG – just with beautiful HD graphics. However, Rainbow Moon is no Final Fantasy, especially in terms of story line. Rainbow Moon’s story is, well, practically non-existent. In a nutshell, after being more or less tricked into a fight in a sketchy-looking forest – a fight you just get to watch the story for – you are pushed into a portal that sends you off to some strange moon called “Rainbow Moon”. Yep, the game’s title doesn’t have any deep story behind it, it’s simply where you find yourself stuck fighting the monsters that conveniently appeared at the same time you did on the moon. But again, it’s a beautiful moon and the variety in enemies is rather impressive. While later on new enemies end up just being color changes of enemies from before, the fact that they do is a nice nod to the RPGs of old.
One of the places Rainbow Moon excels in is tutorials. For those that need them, they’re rather well detailed and can be pulled up on demand from the Book section of the menu screen. For those that don’t, a simple press of the triangle button will dismiss them. Also, unlike some other games, Rainbow Moon doesn’t force you through any tutorial/training/level 0 area before the actual game begins. The game begins as soon as the opening cut scene ends with tutorials only popping up in areas where eastasiasoft thinks you might need one.
Battles in Rainbow Moon vary greatly in terms of both number of enemies and time required. In fact, the types vary too. In Rainbow Moon, you can enter battle by encountering enemies randomly if you choose to accept the battle, or by actually running into a sprite on the map, in which case you can either run in the other direction or enter into battle. Again, like the RPGs of old, Rainbow Moon’s battles are laid out in a grid, turn-based playing field. As you level up, the more turns you get before having to take a beating from the enemies you bumped into.
Speaking of leveling up, it’s important to point out that your character’s stats don’t automatically level up with you. Rainbow Moon has two currencies: Rainbow Coins and Rainbow Pearls with the latter being used to improve your player’s stats, the limits of which increase as you level up. Rainbow Moon I found actually requires a remarkable amount of strategy in choosing what to level up. Thankfully, unlike RPGs of old, in Rainbow Moon, the only time you can’t save is while in battle. That said, save as often as you would save a final paper for a class. If you screw something up, permitting you saved before it, you get another shot at it. Likewise, Rainbow Moon’s definition of Game Over is spitting you out to where you were before the fight that killed you – just with 1HP though. As someone who hates having to run around looking for a damn save point in RPGs, Rainbow Moon’s almost always accessible Save option is an extremely welcome feature.
As for the less important aspects of the game, the music you will probably want to turn off, especially if you get stuck in an area for too long. The music isn’t anything special, and you sure as hell can tell when it loops. Characters don’t have any voices short of their own variations of “Hello” and “Goodbye” – most of which are actually rather funny, if only because some are rather corny. Side quests are a plenty, many are repeatable, and for item-hunting ones, the more items you bring back, usually the better your reward will be. Heck, I managed to get my first side quest before my first story-related quest. That said, if you want to fully clear Rainbow Moon, disconnect your phone, computer, take at least two weeks off from work, and kiss your social life goodbye. I will be fully honest, even on easy, I still have not fully cleared the game. Rainbow Moon is a game that make you work for rewards and progress. It’s a damn good challenge and a fantastic way to improve your strategy skills.
Final Verdict: BUY
I’ll be blunt, eastasiasoft and SideQuest Studios, you two are insane for only charging $15 for Rainbow Moon. Rainbow Moon is truly a gem among PSN downloads. It can be a royal pain in the ass at times, but that also makes Rainbow Moon one of the best challenges I’ve faced. There are more than a few battles where I felt like I had finished a final exam after beating them. Yes, I’m dead serious about that. If you still aren’t sold, go grab the demo, but have your wallet on hand. If you need me, I’ll be trying to finally finish the game.
BUY: These are titles that of upper quality and deserve your hard-earned cash at full price. Don’t wait to enjoy these titles and get them as soon as possible.
Image credits: eastasiasoft/SideQuest Studios.