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Capsule Review - Terranigma

Title Terranigma
Developer Enix
Year 1995
Platform SNES
Capsule Rating
Capsule Review: From the majestic opening vistas ("Whoa dude, it's like, FMV, except not!"), you can easily see that Terranigma is, for lack of a better word, an epic. It's the perfect coda to the Heaven and Earth trilogy, combining the premise of Soul Blazer with the alluring real-world locations of Illusion of Gaia. You're Ark, a denizen of the underground, and your task is to revive the entire world, starting from the land itself and ending with the people.

The graphics/sound are truly amazing, seeing as this is, after all, the Super Nintendo. Mode 7 is used to create views like never before (particularly the overworld view in the underground), sprites are highly detailed, and the sound is as close to CD quality as possible. The Grecliff theme, for instance, ranks up there as one of video game music's finest moments. It's not FMV...but it sure is "cinematic."

And yet, on a more personal level, Terranigma falters. Ark is not a deaf-mute like Crono, or a complete blank like Blazer, but he's so faceless he may as well be both. In fact, in the very little personal development he gets, he shows himself as rather unlikable. His love interest doesn't go far beyond "attractive," and the other recurring character, MeiLin, is a complete and total godawful waste of programming space. Kara in Illusion of Gaia may have started out as a spoiled brat, but she managed to do quite a bit of believable growing up along the way; MeiLin's only role is to cause you grief. No one in the game has the appeal of the Illusion of Gaia cast, or even the non-hate-inducement qualities of the banal Soul Blazer cast.

In fact, the game's strongest parts take place in the beginning. Resurrecting the world is rather an original premise, and one that's pulled off very well, especially since the world is very recognizable as Earth (from the continent shapes to the place names to the mannerisms of the locals in certain places). It's extremely engaging to see the world turn green after you resurrect the plants, and fill up with life once you unseal the birds and animals, but once the game hits the part where the people are unsealed, it returns to familiar RPG territory. Despite the epic scope, it has none of the emotional pull that marked, say, Final Fantasy VI. And since the gameplay itself has stayed almost unchanged since Illusion of Gaia (there is a new money system which fits the game very poorly, and a basic weapons/armor system straight out of Soul Blazer), that particular title ends up being superior in practically every way.

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