Well what can I say? Team Andromeda, creators of the classic Saturn games, Panzer Dragoon and its sequel, Panzer Dragoon Zwei. These games have established Team Andromeda's tendency to push the Saturn to its limits, and maybe even further. The last two games were plain action/shoot 'em-up games, but can Team Andromeda hit it in the RPG section? Well most Saturn owners hoped so, because they needed something which can beat FF VII. And Team Andromeda gave them what they needed.
The graphics are some of the best graphics I have ever seen on the Saturn. Team Andromeda have yet again outclassed almost any other game in terms of hardware power. They have used it to the best of their ability to come up with this. The bosses are huge, as are most of the normal enemies, and the levels are massive with tons of texture-mapped polygons, but there is absolutely no slowdown whatsoever. Who said the Saturn can't do transparencies? I haven't ever seen better transparencies than this on a 32-bit machine. The huge lakes in early levels have some beautiful blue-green transparent water which looks simply amazing. I'm not overreacting at all, it looks really great but still, no slowdown. The graphics at the start look slightly grey and dull, but this is because it sets the scene for the first level and because the level in that place looks virtually all the same anyway. But move on and you will see a beautifully done game.
This doesn't really have levels. The only levels are those of your dragon, increasing in power as it moves on in the quest. Instead it is one big level all through. The only slightest 'level' hint in the game are the 4 separate discs, but remember this review is of Disc 1, not the rest, so I don't know if all the other discs are as good. But if the game progresses the way it does in Disc 1, I'm sure it is even better later on. The usual Team Andromeda over-grown boss feature is in, and they all need special tactics to get around them and defeat them, some tactics being dangerous but effective. The levels feature in-between cut scenes and FMVs which unravel the story even further, some of which last for ages. Trust me, if you're looking for a big game, this is it.
The music is a very cool feature of the game. Each level has some music which fits in very well with the scene and the speed of the section you're in. The title music is cool, and this is also used for Azel and her dragon, Atolm (I believe that Azel is the girl you have to save from the evil powers of Craymen). The music sounds very ancient (in a good way) but at the same time a bit mystic and spooky. The sound effects are also very good. You get things like cries of pain from the dragon, waterfalls rushing down and splashing at the bottom and machinery working away. All of this makes the game even more impressive and more realistic (although flying around with a funny shaped gun on top of a dragon is not anyone's idea of realistic).
Hum. Hard to say really, you can't exactly get options in a game like this. There is only one mode of play as you would expect from an RPG, and the only options are in-game options where you can change the properties of your dragon.
Undoubtedly the best RPG on the Saturn ever (in the UK). You might like Shining the Holy Ark, or Grandia for you import shoppers (that is probably better, but I don't know), but this is just amazing. Over-the-limit graphics, excellent sound, not to leave out the brilliant playability and you have a winner. The lastability got 70%, not because it's too short, but this is only one quarter of the game so it won't last that long. But overall, even the first disc is amazing and I would strongly advise you to buy the whole game - I will be.
Review By: Joel Stanier