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CONSOLE: SNES DEVELOPER: Square USA PUBLISHER: Squaresoft
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 1995 GENRE: Action-RPG
// review by SoyBomb

The world of Evermore will freak you out!

A boy. A dog. A world dreamt up by a maniacal scientist, and constructed upon the innermost desires of his closest acquaintances. The boy, the dog -- trapped in this world with no immediate means of escape. These are the circumstances that have been placed before you, and it is up to you and your canine chum to find a way back home. You will have to travel through many different lands (and for some reason, your dog will change forms as you progress through them) in order to find your way back home to Podunk, USA. But there's more to your adventure than meets the eye as you search for...the Secret of Evermore!

If this game reminds me of anything, it's Secret of Mana. However, unlike Secret of Mana, I actually had the ambition to finish this game -- and I did! Joy! Basically, it's an action-RPG of sorts, where you control either a boy or a dog (and you can switch between the two characters freely with the Select button). While the dog uses remains unarmed for most of the game, the boy (which is the main character and does most of the conversing) fill get a nice variety of weaponry, including axes, swords, and the almighty spear, suitable for attacking from a distance! Great stuff! You level up your weapon by using it often...so expect to have to deal with plenty of enemies if you want your particular weapon to reach a level that is up to snuff. But the fun doesn't stop there: alchemy also plays a vital role. As you progress through the game, you will learn new and more potent spells, powered by ingredients that can either be found upon your travels or purchased from a licensed product salesperson. Of course, to increase their potency, you have to use them often so that they, too, can level up! This can get costly sometimes... ingredients aren't always cheap (but Water certainly is).

As far as gameplay goes, it is pretty much like Secret of Mana, where you control the actions of one character, while the other is controlled by the computer. The computer-controlled character does a pretty good job keeping up with the action and delivering their fair share of the damage to enemies. And your secondary character will not fall behind if you happen to run ahead (a problem that Secret of Mana suffered greatly from). Overall, it's a general hack'n'slasher with some nice experience points to rack up. I will admit that there won't be too much time spend on leveling up your character, which is a definite plus in my book. The gameplay is pretty solid in this game, but I still advise you, if you decide to play this game, to learn to aim well. A missed swipe of the sword is not a pleasant one; the hit detection could use some tweaking.

The soundtrack of this game is occasionally sparse, but when you get a nice tune, you'll be glad to hear it. Worth particular mention is the music heard when you first enter Ebon Tower. It is rather beautiful, and more than makes up for the lack of background music in other scenarios. The sound effects are often fun to listen to. Killing a mouse or a bug, for example, will result in a humorous squishing noise which seems to have been lifted directly from a cartoon setting. And of course, your dog barks, your sword swishes, etc. Standard stuff for the most part, but I still adore the SQUISH!


Expect to be freaked out many times in Secret of Evermore.

Secret of Evermore also has a visual style all of its own. The NPCs themselves are somewhat blobby and forgettable (in fact, it's very easy to locate people who look exactly alike in the same village) and only a select few major characters have unique sprites. The various environments are detailed well enough, if not a little clunky. They are slightly mediocre in comparison to such eye candy SNES games as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III (both by Squaresoft's Japanese counterpart). Admittedly, however, the boss fights deliver unique-looking foes -- no game will ever match the amazing stature of the giant bug Thraxx! Nevertheless, I believe that more time could have been spent on "prettying up" the graphics.

Yet overall, the game delivers an ultimately satisfying experience, even with the lackluster concluding sequence. Although it probably won't last as long as other standard RPGs (Secret of Evermore can be completed in about 20 hours or possibly less), it is still worth taking a look at, for it possesses some rather unique qualities and cheesy but lovable humour.


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