Name: Castle Fantasia (80.98% in 41 votes)
Company: Studio Ego!
Release date: 1998
Reviewed by: Lamuness
So, how would you feel when your girl leaves you and joins a cult that later on turns to be evil? This is what Studio Ego!'s debut Castle Fantasia (CF) is about.
You are Varu, the leader of the the knights squad, and you have an incredibly beautiful girlfriend (lucky). All is cool until when the kingdom had a war, and your girlfriend's parents died in it. Your girlfriend becomes very very sad until one day a religious community came to the town looking for new followers. Your girlfriend, because of her emotional condition (don't get it? go read the cult news), got interested in the group and decided to leave you and the kingdom and become a follower of that religious group. Now, it's your turn to get depressed. Since then you start to hang around bars all the time and do nothing but drink. However, soon you heard rumors that the group that took away your girl is abducting girls and is planning to revive the demons, and what caught your attention is that the leader of the group is your girlfriend! So you set off to a journey to find out what is behind all these events.
Seriously, really innovative plot. However, the ending is not as satisfactory. Anyways, if you are into non-H Japanese games and play Castle Fantasia, I'd bet that your first impression is "Hey, this looks like TGL's Farland Saga (FS)!" In fact, they are so similar that is not even funny. The design in CF is 99% similar to FS. It uses the 45degree battle field strategy concept, and the sprites, even though the ones in CF is more inferior, are very close. Not to mention that the CF character CG style are almost identical to FS. I would not be surprised if it's the same person who did the CGs for both CF and FS.
Sadly, even though it's very much like the infamous FS, it's not even half as good in gameplay. The sprites and battlefield design needs more work and are not as good as FS. Also, the attribute system, although original, has SERIOUS problems. When you kill an enemy, they drop a heart, if a member walks to the heart, you can choose to recover HP, raise your strength or defense or speed etc. The ending is determined by whoever who gets the most hearts in the game, so you better get them quick before the enemies do because if THEY pick them up they will recover HP themselves. Now, the problem with this is that this is very unfair for people who cannot walk fast and thus cannot reach the hearts (and this is the ONLY way to raise your stats). By the end of the game these people will be very weak. Also, instead of using a turn-based system in FS, CF uses agility system like in Final Fantasy Tactics: the faster you are, the more turns you get. This also causes a problem for slow people who cannot get the hearts in time. Also, the game is EXTREMELY unbalanced at the beginning when you have only 2 members and a bunch of enemies with good speed and stats. It is extremely difficult to beat some of the fields if you don't plan your stats carefully. Personally a typical EXP system is more better because it gives more balance to a character (otherwise, you can just literally boost a single person's agility, nothing else, and thus making the character very unbalanced).
However, the music and the CGs are very nice. If you like the CG quality in FS, you will not be disappointed with the ones in CF. Between battles are standard AVG text reading similar to To Heart with really beautiful CGs.
Overall, Castle Fantasia is what I would call a "cheap imitation" of TGL's famous Farland Saga, as well as (quoted by someone else) a "An H-Farland Saga". The battle system needs some serious work. However, the graphics are really really nice and the story is pretty innovative. Nevertheless, if you have played Farland Saga and loved it, but are unhappy that the cute girls in FS are wearing way too much clothes (hehe), then I guess Castle Fantasia is for you. But I am not too satisfied with it except for the graphics.
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