Publisher: ASCII Entertainment, From Software Rated: Teen Released Year: 1995
- Sony Playstaion 1
As Prince Alexander, you must take up the quest to recover the mystic Moonlight Sword and return it to the king. However, on the way to the island, the Prince's ship is sunk, yet he managed to wash ashore. Armed with nothing more than a dagger, he must venture through the island, against all odds.
"I hated this at first... Then got into playing it a lot!"
Plot / Concept: 4 / 10
The game plot ends up coming in through fragments. You do need to talk to a lot of people in the game to progress the storyline, get special plot-critical items, weapons, etc. As it turns out, the island ended up turning into a hub in the war between two dragons, each representing their own interests. One dragon still exists and is guarding the Moonlight Sword you seek to rid the island and your land of chaos. In addition, someone named Necron, who was corrupted and managed to enslave most of the island population either through destroying their minds to make them soldiers, or by forcing those unbroken to mine for crystals.
Overall, the development of the story felt a bit hollow since it is difficult to stay on top of 'what is going on on the island' because of what can seem to be great gaps in the overall storyline.
Gameplay: 5 / 10
The gameplay for this was all over the board. A lot of concepts were neat, but other things just about killed the possibility of playing this.
As the main character, you can move around, strafe, attack, cast magic, use items, play with switches and puzzles. You cannot jump, but you can look and aim all around you. The game starts off with a couple areas to explore, but more become available as you become stronger to take on more monsters, plus you can learn more magic along the way, obtain special keys to unlock new areas. The game has a LOT of backtracking you must do, but it has a special 'warp gate' sequence. By using a few MP, you can warp to a spot where you left a key behind, provided you have a suitable gate for it. Eventually you get your hands on three of them.
The game uses a relatively basic equipment system, but obtaining money is slow and items are expensive. Fortunately, a good chunk of the equipment you can find on your own, eventually. Still, you can always farm for "Dragon Crystals" that (literally) grow on trees.
The game also starts off with a very limited way to recover HP and MP. As you journey, you find a shrine, but you need to find special keys to 'turn on' parts of the shrine so the recovery stuff flows to the middle. You can also collect the water in flasks and carry them around as potions. These flasks become one of the most important items you can collect, as they determine how far you can travel into the more dangerous parts of the game without having to recharge.
Monster tactics involve a lot of strafing to get behind them or casting magic from a distance. As you get closer to your objective, the enemies become more dangerous and also fight back with magic. The game also uses bosses, most of them are larger, souped up versions of regular monsters. Funny thing is, when you first start the game, you start off right next to a boss. Luckily, the boss is stationary, but trying to fight it is suicidal, at best. You should not expect to beat it until at least 2/3 through the game.
Now for the ugly.
This game is incredibly... and painfully... SLOW! Rather than loading smaller sections, it streams the data as you go and tracks a LOT of detail as you move along, tying up the resources of the playstation.
Now as a disclaimer, I do own 5 Playstation 1 consoles and a legit copy of King's Field. Still, I found the only to overcome just how 'slow' the game played was to play the CD on my computer, instead. Not only does the 3-d modelling become twice as sharp (since I play on a 480 resolution, instead of 240), but the overall speed of gameplay becomes a lot easier to handle. It has slow spots, but it is not constantly slow, so that makes it playable.
If this had been ported to a system with far more resources than the PS1, this could have been interesting.
Controls: 7 / 10
While the gameplay hampered this, the controls were suitably well intuitive. Those familiar with console FPS games may need to re-adjust themselves as the looking and moving are handled with directional pad / analog stick. (This was pre-analog days).
Music: 6 / 10
King's Field used about a dozen different tracks, including the special music used in the opening and closing movies. Nothing too fancy, but some of them did a decent job of setting the mood for where you were in the game.
Sound Effects: 2 / 10
The game did not benefit from the very few sound effects that were used in the game. They all tended to stick out like a sore thumb, sadly.
Graphics: 6 / 10
For 1995, introducing full-blown 3D graphics was certainly not bad. While some textures were well detailed, others were quite lacking. For instance, "People" were missing faces.