As always, the Summer months means a drought of games. Nothing really big comes out and gamers complain that nothing good is out and wish it was the holiday season already. Developers apparently all got together and decided to release their games in a steady stream between January and July. With high profile games stealing the spotlight, it’s hard to see the smaller gems such as Rainbow Moon.
Rainbow Moon is SideQuest Studio’s third game on the PS3 and their first SRPG. If you want to learn more about the studio, go check out our interview. For now, let’s see why SideQuest developed a game in a genre that is usually dominated by Japanese developers and how it went.
GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
Grand World Exploration - Rainbow Moon isn’t your typical SRPG. Most SRPGs have a point to point overworld that leads the party to the next battle/encounter. This leaves little to no exploration to be had in the world around them. In Rainbow Moon’s case, there is a grand world for players to explore, ranging from forests and plains to dank dungeons and arid deserts. This is a really nice chance from being led on a path and not being able to look around, take in the scenery and partake in an encounter or two.
Simple/customizable Leveling Systems - The leveling system in Rainbow Moon is one of the simplest and customizable systems that I’ve seen. It’s easy to understand and gives enough room for players to be able to play how they want to. Players use Rainbow Pearls and exchange them with a savant to raise the attributes of the characters, letting them choose how they want to shape their characters play style. The BIAS system also adds in to how players want to play. This shows the affinity of how players are using their character; whether they are physical, magical or a balance of both. For example: if a character is leaning towards using more physical attacks, skills and melee weapons, then they will be stronger against those physical aspects. This will also leave them weak against non-physical attacks, magic and non-melee weapons, though.
Optional Random Encounters - Most of the RPGs that I have played this year have been moving towards having encounters visible on the field. While it does move the game at a faster pace by letting players avoid encounters, not having random encounters takes a bit of the suspense of not knowing what is coming to attack you out for me. With that in mind, Rainbow Moon has optional random encounters that your party can face. When these encounters show up, players can initiate the encounter by pressing X or simply walk away from it.
Awesome Soundtrack - Even before booting up the game, Rainbow Moon lets you know you’re in for a grand adventure. From the moment you start the game, I couldn’t help but smile while listening to the music. The game has 30 dedicated tracks, each one different from the rest and they are never recycled. Even the different overworlds each have their own music track that also sets the mood of the adventure. The music never got old and I found myself sometimes just wandering around the map just listening to the background track.
Fusing Other RPG Gameplay Elements Together - As I ventured deeper into Rainbow Moon, I started to notice that the game had borrowed different elements from different RPG types. At its core, Rainbow Moon is built around a turn-based grid battle system, like most SRPGs. But within the game there are elements such as dungeon crawling, world exploration, a hunger meter, and level/stat grinding. These elements are fused in with the SRPGs elements of Rainbow Moon and work quite well with each other. They work so well that at first glance, you wouldn’t think that Rainbow Moon wasn’t an SRPG at all but a traditional RPG. This is a pretty smart design decision: taking different gameplay elements that are familiar to players and fusing them into the SRPG mold so that everyone can play and understand the game.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
No Camera Controls During Encounters - With most SRPGs that I’ve played this year so far, when going into battle encounters I’m able to change the angle of the camera to get a better view of the field and to see where I should move my party. As the camera moves, the directions that I move the character will correspond to the camera placement. For example, if the camera is facing my unit’s back, then pressing up will make it move away from the camera; if the camera if facing the front of the unit, pressing up will make the unit move towards the camera. In Rainbow Moon the camera is static and movement would get inverted depending on which section of the field the party is in. This is more of a nitpick, since after a few hours you get used to the orientation of the units on the field and it doesn’t detract from the game overall.
Rainbow Moon is an indie game gem on the PSN that shouldn’t be missed in this summer of triple-A titles and shovelware games. With grand world exploration, an awesome soundtrack and a fusion of a variety of other RPG gameplay elements, SideQuest Studios managed to shine in a genre that is traditionally dominated by Japanese developers. My only nitpick was with the camera controls during battle encounters. Rainbow Moon is a game that shouldn’t be missed.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*