Soul Blazer came out in 1992 in Japan, North America, and had a late release date in 1994 in Europe. It is the third game to be developed by Quintet, and is the first game in the Soul Blazer trilogy. While technically Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma aren't a real trilogy, they share so many overtones, similar themes, and other things that basically make them one.
The game starts you out by letting you name your character and throws you into a world that has been taken over by an evil spirit named Deathtoll who has incarnated the worlds animals and population into monsters. It is up to you, a deity, who was sent down by "The Master" to rid the world of Deathtoll and turn population back into what they really are and ultimately bring down Deathtoll. The plot sounds simple, but it goes deeper than that. You see, these are overtones of god (The Master) sending you (an angel) to rid the world of a devil (Deathtoll). When I first pieced this together it blew my mind, seriously! IT GAVE ME COLD CHILLS BECAUSE OF HOW UNIQUE THIS IS FOR ITS TIME. From what I have read, pretty much every game for the SNES from Quintet is similar to this, and that is totally badass and pure awesomeness in my book.
"Soul Blazer, the epic hero"
The way this game plays out is your standard zelda-esque game. You swing your sword and use magic to kill enemies, that is really how simple the gameplay is, and it's great. I love that they didn't try to out do Nintendo's flagship titles, instead they came up with their own ideas to make the game unique. How did they make the gameplay unique you ask? Well, everytime you kill a certain amount of one enemy type a portal opens and when you step on it you bring back a person or animal back to life in the dungeon you're at. The thing that makes this even more unique is that certain people you bring back will have a fully fleshed out backstory so you can connect to them. This is a great way that gives the game more depth and just overall more enjoyable. Sure, the bosses are a good challenge, and slashing at enemies over and over until they're dead feels rewarding, but none of that would be nearly as enjoyable if the people you saved barely had any emotional impact at all.
Just the overall feeling of how complete this game is just makes you feel happy playing it. The gameplay, the characters, the depth, the immersion, the leveling, the pacing, the emotions, the overtones, the level design, the bosses, the challenge, it's just all wrapped into a fantastic game that I will never forget.
It's sad that this game was overlooked when it came out in North America and Europe, but it's not that surprising. At the time Squaresoft were king, while anything published or developed by Enix was shoved into obscurity for the most part. A lot even looked at this game and just saw it as a Zelda clone, but that is far from the truth in almost every way other than the fact that you swing a sword at enemies. No, this game IS an action-JRPG. I think it has more in common with Final Fantasy than it does with Legend of Zelda, but that's just my opinion. Some people might see it the other way around, and that is perfectly fine.
As soon as I finish Soul Blazer I'm going to boot up Illusion of Gaia because I cannot wait. I gave Illusion of Gaia a try a few years ago, but I was too young to really care much about it and thought it had "bad graphics"....ugh, my younger self was stupid. The game actually looks pretty good on the good ole' SNES.
I know this was a lengthy blog, but I really just had to say why I love Soul Blazer so much.