Name: Farland Saga ~Toki no Michishirube~ (83.64% in 11 votes) Type: RPG Platform: WINDOWS Company: TGL - Japanese Release date: 1997 Reviewed by: Kyubi Fox
After the success of Farland Saga, TGL didn't waste any time and pushed out Farland Saga Episode 2 ~Toki no Michishirube~ in 1997. In fact, it's only six months after the original FS was released. One might think this is the kind of rush product to squeeze the money out of a successful franchise. Fortunately, with that additional six months, TGL didn't only matched the quality of the original, it has also fully realized the potential of the original FS engine to create one of the most successful strategy RPG's in years.
It is 8 years after the war in FS. Kalin (the fire kid in the original) went on a ship to a new town to look for a job because Brian (who've been taking care of her after the war) passed away. There she "picked up" Al, who wanders around looking for his past (he couldn't remember). In that town they start doing jobs in the local guild and gather more and more members. There is Alice the runaway girl, Sara the shaman girl, and some more (all girls interestingly). Until one day they went out to sea to bust a pirate who is a...
From there the story enters the second phase where the main storyline lies. Series of strange things happen and you finally know the meaning of the subtitle (roughly translated to be "Roadsign of Time"). You will also find out that Al is not as simple/stupid as he seems (isn't that obvious). The whole story just keep going and going until the end. The ending is pretty touching.
The major difference between this game and FS is the added RPG element between battles. You can now go around town to go to the guild and buy things and some more. It is not exactly interactive because the events are all scripted and you have to go to certain places, but it does give you a sense that you are there controling the team as opposed to FS where you just fight battle after battle. This adds alot to the overall atmosphere of the game.
Gameplay: 10/10 I am not kidding. The battle system is still the same (please refer to the FS review), but this time it is much more optimised which makes it runs alot faster. The enemy AI is greatly improved and the difficulty level is also raised (good news for strategy fans). Unit power and magics are also more balanced which makes every member in the team essential to the successful completion of the game. Although most of the missions are still kill all monsters, this time the story is much more relevant so what you are doing makes sense. In FS it's almost mindless killing...
The added RPG element is the most important addition to the whole gameplay experience. As I have said before it feels like you are there as one of the team members. This makes the story alot more touching than FS.
There are also tons of little touches that makes the gameplay better. Now in between some battles you can allocate experience you earned to different members. There is option to equally share the experience or make everybody equal or you can just do it yourself. This takes a lot of pain out of raising levels because you know after battles you have a chance to bring low experience people back up to standard. In the second part of the game you can only do this a few times but by then your units are powerful enough.
Also in shops now you can browse your units and equip them as you buy the weapon, which is quite a improvement from FS.
Storyline: 9/10 In the first part of the game when you go do jobs for the guild, there isn't much main storyline. There are hints here and there which makes you more interested about what's going to happen next. Every stage is well designed and the way they present the story is extremely funny. There is one stage where you have to find the cat of a rich woman, but that cat turned out to be the wild cat leader of the town so you have to fight tons of cats. And then there is a cool (hot to be exact) swimsuit contest not to mention the thing about Alice's father...
In the second phase things just keep happening and happening. The love affair between T. T. and Sophia is well designed and you will say "oh!" when you know what really happened. There are several places where the game looks like it's going to end to tease you. The place where I take off 1 point is that the last boss is just not that cool. It would be nice if some kind of "higher" things come in instead of that cheap little bastard in the end (ok he's the highest rank possible for his class but there's even something "higher" I want to fight).
Graphics: 10/10 The original FS got a 9 and there is quite alot of improvement. The magic graphics are remade to be much better-looking. The character spirites now has much more different kinds of animations. They can now look left and right, sit on chair and lots more. As usually they are funny as hell like Kalin's pointing finger.
Another thing is that almost every stage uses a different set of tiles. The scenes are very very varied. There is ship level, lighthouse level, cave levels and some more. There is one stage where you are on a mining cart in a cave rolling down and you have to fight some flying monsters. The rail and background is actually moving which is very fun to watch.
There are also alot more special CG's and animations. They look very good and does convey the storyline really well without disturbing the already good spirite acting.
Music/Sound: 8/10 Choice of CDDA and MIDI as usual. There are many background musics. The only music I can remember is the town music because it is so varied. The sound effect is nice. The most often heard will be the thunder sound because in the end...
Overall: 9.5/10 One of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. I will recommend this to anybody who wants great gameplay and good story. There is also wallpapers on the CD but there is no bonus scenerio this time so you will feel pretty sad when the game ended.