Pier Solar – First Impressions

Ah Pier Solar, a game I’ve heard quite a lot about over the years when searching about RPG’s on the Sega Genesis (aka Megadrive outside North America). It started out in the homebrew community, and was released on the Sega Genesis in 2011. As with many homebrew games, it was released in small quantities, and all three runs sold out quickly. Though for awhile, there were only two runs. For the longest time, I wanted to play the game, but I neither owned a Genesis, and until very recently, there weren’t any roms to run on emulators. I did see a breath of fresh air though, they announced an HD remake of the game for modern consoles available on their download services (hell even the Sega Dreamcast). I found out about the release after the Kickstarter and all that pizzazz was already over, I had a release date.

So finally I get to see what this game is all about. The game has three settings to choose from: 16-bit, HD, and HD+. If you’re wondering what the difference between HD and HD+ is, HD mode basically is just the game world is HD, but the sprites are still 16-bit, and HD+ has the sprites in HD. There’s also a mode for the sound to be like the Genesis sounds, or the remastered soundtrack. Personally I went all 16-bit on the game, as I wanted to see what the original release was like. There’s also an option for scanlines to give it an even more authentic feel, but like most scanline filters for retro games on modern consoles, it looks like shit and muddies the whole experience.

Playing the game, it’s a bit rough around the edges in the story department. The game starts off with your dad being sick, and you’re going to find medicine for him, and we then discover some ancient ruins and get sucked into some adventures with supernatural experiences. I’m only like 5 or so hours into the game, but I’m not completely sure what’s going on just yet. I’m hoping you actually do find the medicine for your father, and hopefully doesn’t get forgotten in the grand scheme of things. It does seem very cliche to older JRPG’s, and I’m not sure if I’m too fond of the humor, as it’s kind of stale.

The gameplay experience is pretty standard JRPG for the most part. They do play around in the battle system that’s similar to Bravely Default (this game came earlier) where you can store power for several turns, and unleash it afterwards. Similar to Final Fantasy VII, there are some enemies that are levitating that can only be killed by magic or long distance weapons. There’s really not much to comment on, as it’s pretty standard turn based stuff here, it’s a tried and true format that’s really hard to fuck up.

I am mixed on some of the graphics, and I figured it was because of the limitations of the 16-bit mode, but even the HD version has it. There are times I get confused on where I can and can’t go. Some of the graphics for the towns seems kind of muddled together, and there are times where I can’t tell where I can and can’t go. Then there’s things like the save spot in the first town, where I had no idea existed, as it kind of blended in with the environment. It’s not so bad in dungeons, but there’s a desert cave dungeon where I was pretty lost for a bit. Maybe I’m just terrible at the game?

So far the game shows promise, and I don’t intend on dropping it anytime soon. It’s a good curiosity for RPG fans, and something you should definitely check out. I am wanting to go farther into the game to see how this all unfolds.

The Legend of Dragoon Question

Legend of Dragoon, a game despite with a very large fanbase, to this day is claimed by many to be an obscure or hidden gem. It begs the question of how obscure or how underrated this game is when it’s consistently listed as one of the top games on the original Playstation or even among the best RPG’s of all time. As of 2007, the game sold close to a million copies (hell by now it probably has sold a million copies), so it’s even commercially successful. With all this, it seriously makes you wonder how “unknown” this game truly is.

Well let’s explore this alleged obscurity involving this game. Back when the game was first released, it was Sony’s attempt at trying to cash in on the Final Fantasy VII craze on the Playstation. When it came out, it received very mixed reception from game critics, many of which heavily derided the game, claiming it was highly generic or tried too hard to be Final Fantasy VII. This is probably the root of the claims towards the game being underrated, though gamers ignored the critics leading to its commercial success.

Though that doesn’t solve the question of many claiming it to be obscure. It’s definitely quite puzzling with how many people owned (or still own) the game. It seems like everyone and their grandmother who owned a Playstation owned a copy of this game. Did everyone that owned the game just never talked about owning it until recently? It’s easy to assume that, since every time the game is mentioned people say “there’s this game nobody has ever heard of, it’s called Legend of Dragoon” and there’s a score of people responding back “omg you had that game too?”.

It’s still a mystery with not only how many people bought the game, but with how it’s still considered obscured, despite still being talked about constantly by RPG and Playstation fanatics and being on countless top 20 and top 10 lists.