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The Top Shelf:
Septerra Core

Vol. 2, Issue 5
December 9, 1999 


As far as the rest of the gameplay goes, I think the developers did a fair job. The UI itself is pretty simple (you can do most things with your mouse and the left mouse button – and nothing else). Some parts of the adventuring are fun – and all will be reminiscent of past console RPG’s. Most things here rely on tried-and-true designs from the past; doing little innovation, but maintaining the “it worked before, so it should still be okay now” stance. Characters can be controlled and swapped – so your party members will change as you progress through the game, and spells (using “fate cards”, which I’ll talk more about in a minute...) can be combined for unique attacks between multiple characters. Does this ring a bell for anyone? If not, you probably never played Chrono Trigger – a classic in the console RPG world. Unfortunately, the combat system tends to (in my opinion) cripple this a little bit; making it less effective or fun than in Chrono Trigger. I’ve been down a lot on this game to this point, and I do have more issues with it that I’ll explain in a moment – but I wanted to pause and make sure that the reader understands that this game does have positive aspects. Some of those tried-and-true RPG methods are still fun; and the CG sequences are really pretty.

click to enlarge!

Woo..pretty CGI (66k)

There are, however, a few gameplay choices that the developers made that irk me – for example, the fact that one of your first tasks is to find your class at some temple. I must’ve wandered the city you start in for an hour, before finding out that the city had an exit to a larger map area (in the game, buildings have obvious entrances and exits; but there are no such signs for exiting from larger areas, unless you happen to pass your mouse over the area of the screen that forms the exit). then, after finding no Temple around this larger map near the area of the city, I decided to charge into a wasteland area that I just knew would have monsters in it. After combating one of them, I made my way through to the large map again – and lo and behold, there was the Temple! Now, pardon me for being a little overly analytical of a game... but what rational parents would send their kids to school (children of all ages attend this temple/school), if it meant trekking through a monster-infested area each way, every day?

Another bothersome situation arose later when I was just trying to complete an errand, and got thrust into combat against 3 men with swords! I had no options in this. The moment I entered this area from the larger map, a sequence played out and I was dumped into this situation... forced to kill people I didn’t want to, or might’ve explained my way out of. Instead, I died. Which is another issue I have: no difficulty settings in the game. There’s one way through this game, and if you can’t master it, you’re S.O.L.


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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. This review is © 1999 Noel Wade. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, goldarn it.