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Name: Rhapsody of Zephyr - Genesis Saga (92.11% in 19 votes)
Type: ADV
Platform: WINDOWS
Company: Softmax
Release date: 1998
Reviewed by: Lamuness

Rhapsody of Zephyr is a Korean game which is a "Gaiden" (side story in Japanese) to the famous War of Genesis series. It is translated to Chinese (which is what I played and made screen shots from), and was also released in Japanese a while ago. Currently, Falcom is remaking the game in Japanese and adding improvements to it. Zephyr is basically an aristocratic story filled with love, sadness, hatred, betrayal, and revenge.

The story starts off with the player controlling Roberto de Meditch, the leader of the famous anti-empire rebel group Zephyr Falcons. Roberto and his brigande attacked a heavily guarded jail in order to free the innocent people. The last person who Roberto saved from jail was a young man called Cyrano Bernstein, the son of the noble Bernstein family (also the hero of the story). After Cyrano regained freedom, he recalls what happened 13 years ago...

13 years ago was the engagement ceremony between Cyrano and his fiancee, Mercedes (Benz?!) Borgia, who is the daughter of emperor Cesare Borgia. Just as the ceremony was about to begin, the empire police invaded the Bernstein mansion arresting Cyrano for "worshipping the demons" by reading forbidden literature about the Genesis War. Cyrano's friend Reuben (sandwich?!) was the one who told the empire about Cyrano's actions, and Cyrano was sentenced life imprisonment. Within a week after Cyrano's arrest, Mercedes dumped him and married a powerful and rich man called Alfred Prederic. At the underground jail mine, Cyrano unknowingly and secretly met Deimos, the god of chaos of the Genesis War. They each shared their knowledge and their past. One day, Cyrano became very sick and was about to die. Deimos, in order to save his life and because he trusts Cyrano, gave his remaing power to Cyrano, which made Cyrano feel strong. At Deimos' last breath, he told Cyrano to find his other source of power, which is sealed at the Island of Tempest inside the sword of darkness - Ashura. Such was Zephyr's really detailed prologue. Now that Cyrano regains his freedom, he has to travel to Tempest Island to get Ashura, and seeks revenge to those who betrayed him 13 years ago.

Zephyr is totally different than most other RPGs on the market because it has some very nice and innovative designs. First, battles take place right on the spot, unlike the "typical backgrounds" in Final Fantasy. Incorporating FF's Active Time engine, Zephyr turns the battlefield into a chess-grid map where you have to walk near an enemy to attack. For those who like SLGs and RPGs are in for real treat. Due to this battle system, weapons play a major role in this game. There are no armors in this game. Your main item of defense is your weapon. Like the characters, weapons have their HP or endurance. Once a weapon receives critical damage, if the weapon is not durable enough, it will weaken and possibly break. There are weapons that are high in power but weak in defence and vice versa. Therefore, it's best to carry a couple of spare weapons with you in battle and change your weapon according to the battle situation. Otherwise, be prepared to see your beloved and powerful sword shattered into pieces when powerful enemies attack you. There are also magic spells, skills and limit breaks to use.

There are many other very nice designs in Zephyr. First of all, the game is in 3 CDs, each having different music and data in it. The graphics are really really great, one of the best. The characters are really detailed, and they don't use ellipical shadows for characters too. All animations in the game, major or minor, are very nicely and smoothly done. Lighting, multi-scrolling and transparency effects are also incorporated and they are beautifully done. There are several 3D cut-scene movies and they are just insane. Battle effects, audio and visual, are really nicely done. The Ice effects are just crazy! Music is really good and fits into the game very well. Another nice design is the cost-difference supply-and-demand design. Every store in every town has a different selling price for the same item, depending on how big the town/village is. So if you know some economics, you should be able to earn money easily based on this principle. Nevertheless, this design makes the game more realistic, unlike most rpgs where a single item costs the same everywhere. Other nice designs include multiple dialogues between people, and plenty of side quests to encounter.

If you want a bad point about this game, then there is only 3 minor ones I can find. First, sometimes dialogues run on auto, and it's easy to miss out important information. Second, it would be nice to see weapon's defense rating on the status screen (because we can't) so we can more easily make a wiser decision on equipment choice. Third, there are several minor bugs in the game. However, these very very minor issue can't even affect Zephyr from being one of the BEST PC RPGs ever made.

Overall, Zephyr is what I would call a "holy shit" game. This game just ROCKS and just TOO INSANE. This is probably the best Asian PC RPG I have ever played in my entire life. It even succeeds some of the best chinese RPG titles such as Guardian's Sword and even Wind&Cloud. If you are literate in either or all of Korean, Chinese or Japanese, you are eternally condemned if you don't play this game!

Sigh...come to think of it, seeing such excellent and near-perfect quality of Korean games, why can't Chinese games get to be this good? Shame, shame, shame....sigh.

PROS: The best RPG I have ever played. Pros? Everything! Everything from in-depth story to excellent and dead-smooth animations. This game has some of the most innovative designs I have ever seen.

CONS: Sometimes dialogues too quick, minor bugs.

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