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   Light Crusader - Reader Retroview  

Light and Fluffy, Floats Away With Ease
by JuMeSyn

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Middling
COMPLETION TIME
4-6 hours
OVERALL

2.5/5

Rating definitions 

   Treasure has quite the reputation among a certain class of game players. Treasure’s titles tend to be innovative action, with a premium placed upon player performance. Though this is their forte, Treasure’s titles have upon occasion strayed into the RPG realm. Guardian Heroes, released only on the Saturn, is assuredly the best title they released that can be classified as an RPG. Light Crusader was a little earlier, an action-RPG on the Genesis. And while it isn’t terrible, the game just doesn’t stand out in any way.

   There is a story in Light Crusader, but even in 1995 it wasn’t very good and now it stinks. Essentially David, great swordsman, has been asked by the King to stop the kidnappings of his citizens. There is some further interaction with people, and eventually it turns out that (gasp!) a Bad Guy is responsible! This Bad Guy™ has a motive worthy of a daytime soap opera, also. Oh, and there is also an Ancient Evil™ the Bad Guy seeks to unlock. Fortunately the story is accorded minimal time. At least the translation is pretty good, as if it mattered for this type of title.

Varying verbiage is not necessary for such a masterful monarch's ruling writ. Varying verbiage is not necessary for such a masterful monarch's ruling writ.

   Light Crusader plays out almost entirely in a dungeon that stretches below the castle and city ruled by the King. David does spend a little time in the city and castle, where he can talk with people and use a little money. Everywhere the game is presented in the isometric view, which is minimally invasive (for isometric views) thanks to the camera being highly placed. As usual however, the isometric perspective will cause unavoidable frustrations.

   Within the dungeon David will spend far more of his time seeking to progress from room to room than fighting. Fighting is done in the usual action-RPG fashion of no menus and nothing but player reaction deciding the contest. Jumping, direct attacking via a sword and use of magic are each assigned a button on the Genesis controller. The magic to be used is decided by the player from the Start menu, and it works by way of four basic elements being used either individually or in combination to create spells. Each variant has a different effect. Each element also drains at a separate rate, and can be recharged either via finding elemental recharge orbs dropped by enemies or by buying more in town.

   Far more than fighting, the player will experience the game’s puzzles. Some are pretty basic ‘push the block onto the switch’ stuff, others take more thought (partially thanks to sometimes vague hints). Many of them will take quite a bit of trial and error to conquer, sometimes thanks to the isometric perspective making locations difficult to decipher. Aside from gigantic balls sometimes being overly sensitive to pressure (and thus rolling too soon), the puzzles work pretty well.

   Interaction is interesting in Light Crusader. Equipment has no visible statistics, but the stronger swords and armor are arrayed to the right on the equipment screen, making numbers unnecessary. Items that heal and cure poison are automatically applied unless the player turns off this feature, making menu usage less vital during heated combat (generally boss fights). Such a time-saving feature is quite handy. Controls are otherwise tight, except for the isometric perspective’s sometimes irritating the player.

Aren't gargoyles supposed to guard AGAINST evil spirits? Aren't gargoyles supposed to guard AGAINST evil spirits?

   Visuals are pretty good for the Genesis, which was not known for handling even an isometric perspective on 3D well. Bosses are fluidly animated, David has quite a few animations, and enemies move pretty well. The dungeon manages to vary its appearance quite a bit also. That said, Light Crusader somehow shows the Genesis’s limited number of simultaneous color display capabilities badly; some variety in color would be nice.

   The music sounds good while the game is playing but fades from memory after the power is turned off. The Genesis could and did do much better than this. Sound effects are annoying, but that description still applies to much more advanced console software. There are actually a few vocal samples, though understanding what is being said may take the player awhile.

   For a Treasure game, Light Crusader isn’t very challenging. Boss patterns are pretty easy to figure out, although the isometric perspective sometimes makes dodging their attacks harder than it has to be. The game is rather short though – the dungeon has six levels. There is only one dungeon in the game. A gifted player could probably breeze through in under 5 hours. Though finding some hidden items and maxing out the health orbs might serve as inducement to replay, there is nothing else that would prompt one to play it again.

   Light Crusader isn’t terrible, but it is incredibly unimpressive. Coming from a developer known for doing different things with each new title, this game seems unaccountably bland. It is moderately entertaining while being played, nothing more. At least the short length means it does not have time to grate upon the player.

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