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Name: Kuro No Ken (70.00% in 1 votes)
Type: RPG
Platform: DOS
Company: Forest
Release date: 1994
Reviewed by: Lamuness

Even though it says Forest (the same people who made Metal and Lace), this game is NOT a H-game.

Kuro No Ken is a very very old RPG game. It was first made for PC-98 and Dos/V platform, but the game was extremely popular that it's considered as one of the best pre-windows PC RPG game ever made. A win95 port is made during 1996, and recently a PSX port is made too.

The legend stated there was once a Black Dragon who burned lots of kingdoms and killed lots of people. Gathering all human forces, a mystic sword is made, known as Kuro No Ken or Blade of Darkness. Using this sword, man was able to defeat the Black Dragon.

The game starts off with the heroine Shinobu who set out on a journey to look for the legendary Kuro No Ken. While going to a foreign continent via ship, there was a shipwreck. Of course, being the heroine, she will always be saved somehow. When Shinobu woke up, she found herself in a continent where everybody is blond/brown/red-head and considers Shinobu as an "alien/foreigner" (because Shinobu is the only person who has black hair). After gathering some info on the sword, she sets out on her journey. As she gets more info, she becomes more aware of the legend of the Black Dragon. Later, suddenly Shinobu finds another black-haired girl....then immediately the scenario changes to the hero Kaiesu. He is told by the oracle to look for the Kuro No Ken as well. Soon both Kaiesu and Shinobu's paths will meet....I find the split scenario at the opening to be pretty original because you rarely see this in RPGs.

You walk in a planar field like in the SFC Final Fantasy, but it is not as restricted in a "grid system" as FF are. Like other RPGs, you go to town, gather info, buy equipment etc. Battles are "landmine-based," and the battles is prolly one of the selling points of this game. Battle view is on a shifted-axis like Sega's Shining Force or Dynasty's Flame Dragon series. What is amazing is that for such and old game, there is a lot of animations (and they are smooth) for all characters and enemies. All attacks, magic spells and sword skills are pretty exciting to watch, and what's really good is that all of them (including the enemies' attacks) can have critical hits, and when it's a critical hit, a slightly different animation is shown, unlike Final Fantasy where it just shows a larger # of damage and that's it. Although the battle resolution is a bit low, I think it's good enough when all the cool and smooth animations make up for it. The music is in MIDI, but it's really nicely done assuming that you have at least a SB-32 sound card. However, the sound effects are a bit cheesy and definitely need some more work. Although the game does not support mouse in the win95 version, it does support keyboard and gamepads, so that's a good thing.

Seriously, there isn't a lot of bad points about this game (which is what makes this game popular and good), but I am not saying there are none. Obviously the graphics quality is not as good as current ones, but it's pretty good considering that the game is made at least 5 years ago. The game is slightly too short (I finish in 2 days or so), mainly because the map is very small, which makes you going back to the same places for exploration a few times, which can make the game a bit repetitive. Because of the same reason, in order to make the game's life span longer, quite often enemies suddenly grow stronger too quickly when you enter a new area. Sometimes these enemies are just impossible to defeat. This is prolly done so that it forces the player to spend some extra time to insanely level up so that the game lasts longer. This may be good for crazy level-uppers like me but it may bother other people. However, considering that this game is 5 years old and considering the memory problems back then (the game does not exceed 10megs!), this issue of short life span is not too much a big deal.

Overall, Kuro No Ken is a really really good and impressive RPG game, even better than some of the recent ones I played. Multimedia-wise it is of course kinda out of date, but if you don't mind that, I am sure any RPG-fan will love this game. Considering that there isn't a lot of mainstream PC Japanese RPGs out there, I highly recommend this game to all Japanese RPG-fans if they don't mind the game being too old.
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