Top critical review
not a big secret- it's an adventure
on August 23, 2013
I remember in middle school when this game came out, my friends would talk about it all the time and often compare it to Illusion of Gaia. I couldn't contribute to the discussion since back then I wasn't familiar with either game but now, since I'm familiar with both, I think Illusion of Gaia is a superior game, if only slightly. I believe comparisons to Secret of Mana would have been more appropriate, though.
While I admire an action-oriented RPG approach instead of the turn based style (that I never understood the appeal of by the way- why am I *forced* to take damage if I don't want to?) Secret of Evermore surely feels more appropriate for the turn based audience despite the action. Perhaps this is due to the way the game feels- it feels strongly like it wants to be Chrono Trigger since Square's design in gaming, while fantastic, is a pretty predictable formula. I mean Chrono Trigger is turn based and Secret of Evermore doesn't feel significantly different than that game despite using two different combat styles. While playing Secret of Evermore, you realize that Square's specialty is turn based RPG's and they should leave any weapon-swinging action to Nintendo due to the tacky and unnatural way you swing your weapon, as well as the odd-looking animations afterwards when an enemy has been defeated. It makes me think Square was probably one step away from making Secret of Evermore a tun based RPG. Of course the characters, forest and castle backgrounds and overall set-up of both Chrono Trigger and Secret of Evermore resemble each other as well, but I don't really mind that.
Anyway, Secret of Evermore is about a boy and his dog who go an adventure retrieving diamonds, stopping the world from falling into a deep freeze, or whatever else the townspeople ask or discuss from our brave hero. Probably the most interesting feature of the game is that your dog can actually attack enemies by biting them, and sometimes he packs a mean bite and is quite the helpful little companion. The storyline is relatively simple. At least, in comparison to the elabrate Chrono Trigger storyline. This is due to such a small number of characters overall and the small number of actual dilemmas occurring throughout the quest. Chrono Trigger's land was so diverse and populated that it was enough to make me confused on several occasions so I welcome the change.
Overall the world feels alarmingly small and you often have to walk through the same areas you've just completed to retrieve, purchase or progress somewhere else. You also have to defeat several enemies in order to level up and advance. Not a bad concept, though occasionally repetitive. Some of the weapons are horrible. The bone weapon in the beginning with its limited range is quite pathetic though I guess understandable since it's your very first weapon after all, but the spear that you will soon get is a MAJOR improvement. You can also create attacks depending on your level and the one where a giant fist comes down and pounds enemies is a nifty way of damaging and eliminating any danger standing in your way. In fact the fist pound is highly reliable in boss fights and makes short work of them. Casting powerful attack spells is another trademark of turn based RPG's so it's a bit weird having them in a game like this but it's a pretty cool concept regardless. Some of the areas are fairly boring. Actually when you arrive to the desert, that's when the game gets sort of boring. You have to swirl around through quicksand for a few minutes to obtain hidden items on one occasion, talk to townspeople, purchase or trade items, and take a hilarious tour boat ride on another. This stuff takes a long time with little excitement in between.
Speaking of the boss fights, they're alright, though the one snake fight from the swamp area is entirely too long. Others are sometimes annoying due to shaking the floors and stunning our hero or darting off screen and coming back with a cheap attack, but otherwise they're fine. Filling your health whenever it's low is similar to Chrono Trigger which is weird in a more action-like game, but that's how it is. Enemies can be a bit repetitive at times. How many times did I have to battle those miniature frog creatures? Or the boney snakes that resemble the ones from Super Castlevania IV? Or those flopping slime balls? Too many times. The music is quite the surprise though. Quite often it's extraordinary and always fits the mood perfectly but more importantly, the notes themselves are memorable and enhance the fairy tale vibes of the fictional story quite often.
Overall, well it's a pretty good game. My 3-star rating is probably due to the fact I've played several Super NES games that entertained me more. It *is* a classic video game system after all. Still, Secret of Evermore is a nice change when I desire to take a break from the classics.