Name: Hin-Yuen Sword 3 (97.50% in 4 votes)
Company: Softstar Information
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Lamuness
In the Chinese PC gaming industry, the Hin-Yuen Sword series is prolly one of the classic chinese-style PC game series out there. So what is Hin-Yuen Sword, you ask? There is a chinese legend where in around 3000 BC the very first Chinese king forge this legendary sword to fend off monsters and evil spirits and make the chinese culture prosper. As time pass by, this sword has been passed down to various chinese heroes who use it to save the chinese world from destruction etc...
To make this game of the series more interesting, the company decided to merge foreign cultures with the mainstream chinese culture. This game takes place in around 750 AD and them hero of the game is a French knight called Septre, who has one brown eye and one blue eye, signifying his mixed blood between the French and some other Eastern ethnic group (Chinese), and he does not know where or who his parents are. Despite the discrimination the general public gives him, Septre, because of his foreign face, is able to go to enemy terrain as an undercover or spy to get info which saved France from destruction. One day, Peppin III, Septre's boss, told Septre that he wanted to find a way to end wars and bring peace, and that he learned from an Arab trader that a place in the far far East has this solution. As a result, because of his mixed-blood, Septre is asked to secretly travel to the far East to find this method to end wars and bring peace. At first, Septre thought that it's Arabia's knowledge of astronomy that he is looking for. However, he later finds out that it's the Chinese way of prosperity (which is the Tang Dynasty at that time, the most prosperous dynasty in Chinese history) that he is actually searching. However, where ever Septre goes, there is war, and it appears that it's one particular "person" that is causing it, known as Satan from Hell.
Through this game you get to travel half of the world. The game starts off with Septre in Venice Italy finding someone to take him to Arabia through the Mediterranian Sea. He will later travel the deserts of the silk road through Baghdad (Iraq) and India, climb through (presumably because it's a bit subtle) Mt Everest and the plateaux of Tibet and into the Tang dynasty of China where the Yellow River flows. Throughout the game you will meet people of various culture, plus some real famous historic characters as well, and of course you get to learn a bit of each of their culture too (architecture, poems, songs, religion etc).
In the field you walk on a map that is very similar to the actual geography of that particular area. In towns and dungeons etc, it's like FF where you move a sprite in a **gorgeously** full-color 3d rendered backdrops. Battles are active-time, and art style it's quite noteworthy. 99% of the battle graphics are drawn in Chinese watercolor style, no matter it's the enemies or the background. Magic effects are pre-rendered 3d effects and they are really good. Battle animations are lovely because enemies "disappear/die" differently depending on what type of attack you use to kill them. If you use fire-based attack, they will get burned; if you blast them, they will shatter into pieces. In addition, there are FMVs (although they are done in 320x240 which is slightly disappointing), and full animation 640x480 cut-scenes, and the latter ones are awesome, especially the Shaolin martial arts-related cut-scenes.
The battles themselves are pretty interesting. Sometimes there are situations where the enemy ask you to give them an item to end the battle, sometimes you argue with eneimes and sometimes you save one enemy from other ones. Of course you can decide whether or not to do those. As part of Septre's chinese background, he carries a chinese ceramic bottle which is his only chinese heirloom, and he can use it to capture monsters and summon them later to help him in battles. In addition, you can use these captured monsters and mix with other stuff to create stronger items or monsters.
Each character has 3 "main values" - HP, MP and Stamina. HP is life, MP is used to cast magic spells (both western and chinese spells), and stamina are used to execute special commands (such as steal, invisible, throw etc) and summon monsters you captured before to help you in battles. Throughout the game, you will collect various "treasures" which will give you those special commands. However, you need to master these items through battles in order to use them effectively. For example, once you master steal, your can steal successfully all the time; once you master invisiblity, you period of invisibility during battles will greatly extend. In addition, there are various side "jobs" (can't say quests) you can voluntarily perform, as well as various math-related "brain" questions, which are pretty interesting and makes the game more fun.
Graphics-wise, it's a "wow!" Music-wise, it's also a "wow!" Why? because you get different types of music when you step on different ethnic terrain; you get Western music in Venice, but you get Chinese music when you are in China, and ditto for Arabia.
Baddies? A few but they are not that important. The idea of multi-culture is gorgeous, but now the game does NOT have enough emphasis on the Chinese side. It's perfect as a stand-alone game, but if it's placed as an installment of a game series that is ancient-chinese style, there's not enough material in the Chinese culture to be considered "part of the series". In addition, game balance is not too good in terms of physical attack power. Although occassionaly you get various NPCs to smack your enemies, by the end of the game a typical enemy has around 2000-3000 HP but on average your guys can only do 300-400 average each turn (which means you have to heavily rely on magic in the later half of the game). The battle animations are nice but if the battle gets too "crowded" it starts to get pretty slow, even on a 475mhz computer. Finally, Hin-Yuen Sword 3 is a whooping 4-cd game, and the game is *a slight bit* short. A normal person without any insane level-upping should be able to finish the game in 20-25 hrs, more on the lower side.
However, despite the baddies which aren't a big deal at all, I must say that this game is a must play and prolly is the best chinese game released in the xmas period of 1999. With gorgeous multimedia effects and a interesting cross-cultural plot, anybody who knows chinese should not miss out this game.
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