Secret of Evermore (1995 SNES)

Yes hello, I am going to review Secret of Evermore for some reason. Secret of Evermore is a action role-playing video game for SNES made by the North American branch of Square in 1995. It came out in Europe and Australia but never saw the light of day in Japan. I wanted to play this game because it intrigued me basically being a US JRPG.

Story

The story follows a Marty McFly looking protagonist and his dog as they accidentally enter the fantasy land of Evermore. The protagonist must travel the world and it’s different time periods in order to get back to his home town.

secret2
Does this guy look like Marty McFly or what?

Gameplay

I stumbled on to this game by accident and was interested in it since it was Square game and saw that it was similar to the Secret of Mana games. Gameplay and interface wise it is very similar to Secret of Mana I. The game consists of a aerial view setting where the player navigates the protagonist character through various dungeons and puzzles while occasionally stopping at towns to rest and stock up on items and gear.

secret3
The Protagonist fighting a skull bat of some sorts.

The Protagonist ( or Sluthunter as I named him ) can use three different types of melee weapons, swords, axes and spears. You can find a version of these weapons in each of the 4 time periods of the game which are prehistoric times, roman times, Victorian era and future. The more enemies you kill with an equipped weapon the more experience the weapon gets. Once max experience is gathered the player can hold down the attack button and charge a devastating  “super attack” that far exceeds the normal auto attack. Like “Secret of Mana I” when the character auto attacks, a cooldown period ensues. The player can spam the attack button but it is recommended to wait until 100% cooldown in order to do proper damage. The different types of weapons have different types of “super attacks”. The axe has a semi ranged attack that attacks in a 360° direction however I found that the “super attack” for the spear is vastly superior since it is the only projectile attack in the game. The character throws his spear at his enemies with amazing range and ridiculous damage and since the attack is ranged the player can cause serious damage with very little risk to himself.

The protagonist’s dog is a helpful companion during fights and you might say he’s a crucial part of the game. He can only use auto attacks which you can adjust the frequency of in the aggressiveness settings. You can switch playable characters and play as the dog but then the protagonist goes on autopilot. The dog is particularly useful as a tank to soak up the aggro while you flank the opponent. However while researching this game I saw that some players decided to overlevel the dog so that he does ridiculous damage and basically wins the game for them which is the complete opposite of what I did ( I actually did not decide to do this on purpose, I just didn’t know I could buy defensive items for the dog and he kept dying and became underleveled ).

You cannot discuss the gameplay of Secret of Evermore without getting into the alchemy system. The game features a magic system very similar to the Secret of Mana games but with a fun twist. Since the game is set in a more realistic world than the Secret of Mana world and the protagonist is not a wizard of any sorts the magic system is replaced with the alchemy system. This alchemy works the same way as magic but instead of spells you have formulas for things like “heal” and “fireball” but in order to use them you have to have the ingredients for the formula, such as 1 part water and 2 part root.

The more often you use a alchemy spell the stronger it gets so if the player wants to, he/she can skip using physical attacks and be a kick-ass alchemy user. This system is a fun counterpart to the melee battle system and when you use them equally then you kind of get a badass “Fullmetal Alchemist” feeling. The power of the spells increases with how often you use a particular spell. So you can pick and choose what your protagonist is good at, you can be a badass swordfighter that happens to blast a mean ass fireball.

secret4

The Good

What I really like about this game is the battle system and just fighting in the game in general. It’s weird since the battle system is very similar to the battle system of  Secret of Mana I  which I have openly criticized as being boring and feeling like a chore instead of being fun. You know a game is good when you encounter an enemy and you get pumped up and think “ahh fuck yeah I’m gonna fight the shit out of you” instead of “god damn it! Another one!?” and that is the case with this game. Like I mentioned above the alchemy system is totally tits. When I first started using it I thought to myself “well this is dumb! I’m probably just gonna run out of ingredients and never use these spells” but the game designers made it so that you either regularly find ingredients for spells or can buy them at villages. I also like the design of the protagonist character who like I said in the beginning of this review borrows his look from Marty McFly. As opposed to silent protagonists from similar games he gives humorous remarks and comments to the things that are said to him. I also like the design of the protagonist’s dog which changes over the course of the game depending on the time period he’s in. In prehistoric times he’s a huge savage wolf, in roman times he is a skinny Egyptian looking dog, in Victorian times he is a poodle and in future times he is a robot dog that shoots motherfucking lasers. There are many good things about this game but unfortunately they get weighed down by the negatives which I am going to go into next.

The Bad

My opinion of this game in short is that it could have been so much better. The game is fun to play but it is can get very easy at times. In my experience, once I had gained the “super attack” of the spear and leveled up the self healing spell I was practically invincible and that can get quite tedious. One thing that I must rank in the bad category is the visuals. Now the graphics are just fine for a Super Nintendo game but you have to take the year it came out into account. The graphics in Final Fantasy VI which came out the year before are considerably better and have a greater level of detail than “Secret of Evermore”. Another thing about the visuals that I found could be improved is the colour scheme and the tone of the colours.

secret5
I find this setting entirely too depressing.

As you can see the colour palate is very dark with a lot of earth tones which creates a rather dull and almost depressing atmosphere. Now obviously this is a design choice and not some sort of accident but I personally feel that this kind of atmosphere is a little bit too dark for a fun action adventure role playing game that doesn’t even have a dark storyline. It would be totally different if this were a survival horror game or a mystery solving game or something like that. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for a cartoony and over saturated Adventure Time colour palate but something in between might be nice.

secret6.png
Same screenshot with saturation

 

Something else that I didn’t like is the music. Good music can make a bad game much better and bad music can make a good game worse. In this case it’s the absence of music that is the problem. Often when traversing though a terrain there is just sounds of water running or birds chirping and I think that is a missed opportunity. Now I’m not talking about putting in a loud distracting symphony or anything but just a simple walking through a forest melody. And when there is actually music playing, like in a boss battle, it’s just a drum beat or a unremarkable guitar tune that loops continuously.

 

Another thing I have to mention is the fact that there were a few times that I got stuck during the game during moments where I was supposed to do a move which I had no idea I could do and then never had to do since. Let me explain, there is a moment in the early part of the Roman times portion of the game where you have to cross a small ravine and I had no idea how to do it. I saw that there was a rope across it but had no idea how to interact with it. I had to look it up and I found out that I had to switch to the dog ( that’s not the part I didn’t know how to do ) and jump over the ravine and ride a elevator over to the other side. Now I had no idea the dog could do that and there never came a situation where he had to do that again and to me that is bad puzzle making. It would have been different if a guy in town had said “My that’s a good looking dog you have there, he looks like he can jump great distances” or something like that. I always hesitate to talk about things like this in reviews because maybe there was a hint somewhere I missed or maybe I’m just a big dumb guy but for me the best puzzles are when you know all the moves your character can make and when you see a puzzling situation you think “hmmm maybe I can do this move here and activate that there” because in those instances you are actually using your brain and solving a puzzle instead of just guessing.

The Verdict

Although I have listed a lot of negative things about this game I must reiterate that I really liked playing it. When reading what I have written in this review I can’t help but think “well it just sounds like you don’t like the visual style and tone of the game” or “hey the music is alright, not everything has to have anime music” or even “hey loads of people like this game, stop being a pussy”. I fully expect angry comments on this article where people are taking my sexual preference or my mothers virginity into question. However I am going to maintain my disposition that it could have been much better is certain aspects, it’s entertaining but not great and I doubt I will be giving it a re-play anytime soon.

Gameplay 8
Visuals 5
Music 4
Lasting appeal 5
Is it fun 7

Overall 6 – A decent game that could have been better. 

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to like us on Facebook 😀

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s