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Traverse: Starlight & Prairie Game Sample - SNES/SFC

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Published on Apr 25, 2010

Original Air Date: July 31st, 2009

As stated to an extent in the character creation/intro vid, Traverse:S&P is a deep RPG. The fighting isn't overly complex, but the general gameplay mechanics are very technical in nature. Traverse is like a combination of Romancing SaGa and Harvest Moon with a dash of Ogre Battle. The game oddly enough has some English dialogue in the game. Besides items and menus being almost entirely English, the short intro that describes the moral of the story is in English (or Engrish) with Japanese subtitles.

This game offers a great deal of freedom and exploration (even more so than the Romancing SaGa titles) and there is no leveling system. Instead, you build your abilities through repeatedly using them and gain the majority of your stats through events and miscellanous actions. For example, you may reach a library and read a book, which can raise your intelligence or wisdom. As the intro suggests, this game isn't just sending the message to journey, it encourages it, as you'll only get the best ending through clearing most of the games events.

Where does Harvest Moon come in? The micromanagement. This game moves in what one could probably call semi-realtime. The time of day changes as well as the weather and seasons. Not only that, but your characters age and some characters change cosmetically as they get older. Magic is affected by weather and the sun and moon. For example, Light magic is stronger at day while dark magic is stronger at night. Water magic is more powerful when it rains and fire magic is weaker when it's wet, etc. Oh yeah, this game has many different endings through the "Marriage System". Wha?

Yup, like Harvest Moon, you can marry females you meet on your travels if certain requirements are met, and there are a lot of strange characters in this game. A lot of them are useless (such as a cook) or have very limited uses. Some others can't really fight and their sole purpose is to be wed. The strange thing is, once you're capable of marrying after a certain amount of time, you can end the game whenever you like through Marriage, which gives the game a rather unusual edge. The developers knew that the game could get long and drawn-out, so you can end your journey as you see fit. This also means that there are a lot of endings in this game. However, the best ending revolves once again around journeying the heck out of the game and then marrying Sonia, the main heroine (the only one you name).

Navigation in this game is a combination of traditional (isometric?) travelling, "flat" travelling, and map travelling, where you move your character SLOWLY across the map by positioning his location like you would a unit in Ogre Battle. Areas typically have to be discovered before you can enter them, but you have a useful map that can toggle between different modes. One mode highlights quest areas (if you have any available). You can also jump to different regions later to save time. Moving moves time in forward at varying intervals. When you're in normal areas, time moves fairly slow. When you're travelling on the map, time moves very quickly (to somewhat demonstrate how large the world is) and time even moves when you're standing still and doing nothing, but very slowly.

The last thing I want to talk about are the battles. They're pretty straightforward. Characters have magic, summons, and special skills that they can use which differ depending on the many different weapons one can be proficient in. Swords, Spears, Axes, Staffs, Bows, Claws, Whips, etc. Magic is stored up a bit like the original Final Fantasy or Suikoden series in the sense that it is very finite. Special skills consume FP. Characters take turns fighting, though speed and other issues can result in getting more than one attack in a row. The icons are pretty self-explanatory and you can gain items and new skills and such after battles. The game may look easy in this video, but it's not.

This video shows snippets of the town, the map, and the battles from the beginning of the game to handling Sonia's request. At the end, I demonstrate that you can even fight when standing still, as time is always moving except in menus. Enjoy.

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