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Illusion of Time

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Released: 1993

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: SNES

Publisher: Enix

Developer: Quintet

Submitted by: Andy Bolsover

Although the SNES is considered by many to be Mecca for RPG fans, and rightly so, at its peak we European gamers were pretty starved. No Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger or Dragon Quest for us. We did however get a fairly steady stream of action RPGs that went some way to filling the hole, including the Soul Blazer series, of which Illusion of Time is part two. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s definitely not without merit.

The plot is fairly standard RPG fare, with young orphan Will taking on the task of exploring the world in a bid to prevent a comet crashing into Earth (seriously). The world you explore is a kind of hyper real historical Earth, so you’ll visit a lot of actual historical sites such as Angkor Wat and the Great Wall of China. These are absolutely beautifully realised, with wonderful lighting and water effects, with birds flying overhead, and large characters wandering around. A lot of effort has clearly gone into the visual aesthetics, and its almost enough to gloss over the fairly derivative hack and slash gameplay.

It does have one or two tricks up its sleeve though, one being the ability to morph into two different forms; a giant warrior, and some sort of blue elemental ninja who can morph through walls and is generally badass. There’s also a fairly novel jewel collecting method of levelling up, which rewards you for killing everything in a given area, and Will has an entourage of friends as well who are pretty fun.

The plot was apparently written by a Japanese novelist, although I suspect it’s more likely written by Bono, as you’re constantly bludgeoned with holier than thou moralising. The music‘s probably better though. It is also incredibly linear, so if you’re looking for exploration or side quests then don’t bother. However, there’s enough in the visuals, atmosphere and solid gameplay of the thing to warrant a look, and overall it is a pretty charming game. Although I never played it, the sequel Terranigma is supposed to be a winner, so maybe keep an eye out for that too.