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Illusion of Gaia

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Reviewed by Nu64fan Illusion of Gaia. Most people haven't heard of this game. It didn't sell very well in either the U.S. or Japan. If one were to ask me, however, to compile a list of the top 10 Super NES games of all time, Illusion of Gaia would defiantly be on there.

Graphics 9 out of 10

The graphics in Gaia represent the elite in sprite graphics. Only Rare's ACM graphics can out do what Gaia does on the system. While the graphics for most of the common people of the different cities are boring and repetitive, the environment graphics are rich and beautiful. No game released before Gaia had ever had environments with such detail and rich color. The game takes advantage the Super NES's color palette much more than most games at the time had done. The animation is also particularly well done. One can locate hidden rooms by watching Will, the main character one controls. His hair will blow around because of the draft coming from the room. Animation for the Freedan and the Shadow, alternate forms of Will, is also very well done. One can't help but think about how difficult it must have been to program the Shadow's fall from a ledge. Upon hitting the bottom, he liquidizes and then comes back upright, all within a split second. Another particularly neat graphic trick with the camera. The game is in 2-D, so the camera has a fixed angle on the action. However, the angle is such that the programmers can make stages which play as side-scrollers as well as stages that play as standard overhead adventure levels. Magnificently done.

Music and Sound 10 out of 10

When one first hears the title theme during the prologue, he/she knows what to expect from the game. The game doesn't disappoint, either. Although the title/prologue theme is the best in that it has both an A and a B section (best listened to as A-B-A), the other music is just as exciting. Gaia has it all. Upbeat town tracks. Mysterious tracks. Relaxed "we did it" tracks. Loud "mission in progress" tracks. Emotional tracks. One might be confused by all these names, but once he/she plays the game they will all become true. Here's the best part. Each one of the main levels also has its own track! The main level tracks are by far the most memorable. One will wonder why Nintendo never released a CD for the game. He/she may find his/herself humming these tracks throughout the day.

Game Challenge 9 out of 10

The game is challenging, but Nintendo included an Explorer's Guide in the instruction book. Don't worry, though, because it mostly only gives the answers to puzzles in the beginning of the game. Plus, there is a "My Secret" bonus level only truly advanced players will be able to complete.

Game Play-Fun 10 out of 10

This game rocks big time. There are some slow parts in the beginning, but when the action gets going you'll wonder why this game never hit it big. The main levels as well as the auxiliary levels are all about action. Unlike most adventures/RPGs, Gaia has no magic, and for the most part you do not need to hold down the attack button and charge your weapon. Instead, you blitz your enemies with continuous sword strokes. This is why the action is so intense. Gaia is the best sword play game ever except The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on N64.

Replayability 10 out of 10

The constant action, killer graphics, excellent sound, and great story will keep one coming back for more and more of Gaia.

Game Value 10 out of 10

Gaia is well worth the original MSRP of $70. Due to the take over for the next-generation system in recent years, however, you can probably pick up Gaia at anywhere from $5 to 20. The true tick is just finding it.

Play Control 9 out of 10

The control setup is very simplistic. (+) to move, (START) for inventory, (SELECT) for pause, (B) for attack/talk, (Y) for item, and (L) or (R) for attack. This scheme works perfectly for Gaia. The only reason Gaia got a 9 out of 10 was because this scheme must be set on the options screen. The default setup is much more cumbersome with (A) for attack/talk and (B) for item.

Story 10 out of 10

Gaia has the best story of any video game on any system ever. It's that simple. It is full of everything a great movie has. Gaia has action, suspense, romance, and several plot twist. The ending is one that is both particularly surprising and effective.

Overall 10 out of 10

Gaia is a must have game. One is forgiven if he/she misted it the first time. After reading this review, however, one should go buy it. The game simply has it all.

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