The Vita has become my new home for RPGs on the portable market and Rainbow Moon is one of the latest adventures to grace the system. Originally released for the PS3, Rainbow Moon makes its way to the Vita with a several new features exclusive to the system. Most importantly many of the games bugs that were present on the PS3 version have been fixed. For those who already own Rainbow Moon for PS3 and are interesting in taking your progress on the go, the developers are offering a discount to those that already know what fun there is to be had in Rainbow Moon. These players can make good use of the added Cross-Save feature between systems.
Rainbow Moon follows Baldren, a hero that is banished to the world of Rainbow Moon when he is attacked by his arch-rival. Much to the chagrin of the inhabitants of this unknown planet Baldren also accidentally opens a portal to a dimension full of monsters which spill out into the peaceful world and give our hero something to fight as he tries to shut down the monster-spewing gate and find a way back home. Depending on your choice of play style, Rainbow Moon can offer a varying degree of difficulty especially at first.
Starting out players must choose from one of two difficulties (normal or hard) which cannot be changed after you start. One of the things that I really liked is that you next must choose if you want start with a basic set of equipment for your heroes for beginners or get absolutely nothing but a basic toy weapon by choosing the adventuresome setting. Playing your character as adventuresome is definitely a challenge in the beginning but things get better once you get some decent gear things start to look up a bit. Like any good strategy role-playing game, you won’t be alone throughout your adventure as you will meet up with 5 other main characters to share in your pain including the valuable archer Trisha or the always ready to fight dual axe wielding Gorodo.
Rainbow Moon takes place on a beautifuly created isometric world both in and out of battle. Since combat is where you will spend 80% of your time, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the fight system, which SideQuest helps you with one of the best tutorial systems for an RPG that I’ve seen in some time. New elements are introduced over time though the general basics of turn-based SRPGs are firmly intact here. Players can move their character(s) around the isometric battle grid, attack, use special skills, defend and if the stakes get too high escape from battle to fight another day if you’re running low on things like restoration items. You even get the option to change your gear mid fight though not until later in the game. Battles will vary greatly when out and about and are more abundant during nighttime. You are not exactly allowed to freely roam around in the wildernesses as most of the time you are shoehorned down somewhat narrow paths where enemy encounters are impossible to avoid which really stinks when you’re desperately low on health and are out of potions when trying to get back to town or a wandering healer.
There are some battles that are completely avoidable such as the random encounters that offer you a prompt to enter. You can also completely avoid some enemies in larger areas by avoiding their patrol patterns though this may hinder your ability to beat a tougher group of foes down the road as grinding is something that is a necessity at points in this game especially during the dungeons and later battles where your three-man party is facing 10-1 plus odds in a single battle. Certain enemies even have the ability to explode or split themselves shortly before death as well as the extremely annoying ability to merge themselves with other enemies literally doubling everything they can do or have such turns and hit points. In the sheer Everest level of opposition that you’ll undoubtedly face, the one feature that makes even defeat a little less painful (if only slightly) is the ability to save anywhere in the world including dungeons.
Battles not ending in death for your party award you with XP and often drops to aid your party. Gaining enough XP earns you levels and an increase in stats namely HP and MP though other attributes must be raised by the use of Rainbow Pearls which are gained only by the personal defeat of enemies. Players should focus their pearls into strength and speed first to aid in making fights a little easier as I found out. Like several RPGs that come to mind each of the main characters specializes in one particular weapon like Dozeru’s penchant for lances or Balden’s love of the sword though they can use other weapons. There is also an in-depth system in place in Rainbow Moon that affects weapons and magic effectiveness against other enemies and their weapons respectively. For instance, a physical attack heavy character like Dozeru will do some serious damage to magically aligned enemies though not so much damage to attackers of similar attack style. Weapons also have weaker or stronger counterparts and you always going to find someone with a weapon type stronger or weaker than your own as you traverse sea and mine to find the means to get back home.
They always say that the journey is always better than the destination and Rainbow Moon definitely lives up to its name in the graphics department as your journey throughout its lands. The once peaceful lands of Rainbow Moon feature beautifully detailed locations and animations shown in 3/4 perspective. The Vita’s vibrant OLED screen really brings out the colorful nature of the world like the gentle waves of the water and the flickering lights of a campfire. The game also features a day/night cycle that makes it harder to see enemies and paths. The dungeons are always dark though you can always use a torch to light your way both outside and indoors which gives off a glowing aura of light for a short time. Rainbow Moon also features a nice map screen that draws in new locations as you visit them, and this also applies to dungeons as well. A good RPG should also have a great score and audio.
While Rainbow Moon has next to no voice acting outside of a little narration in the opening moments it does have a rather nice score featuring over 30 musical pieces as well as sound effects. The lack of voice work for our heroes also triggers another issue that I have with the game. The story is mainly not there outside of trying to find a way home and fixing the hell you created for the land’s inhabitants. Character introductions for the 5 other main characters are done through text and suffer from a lack of characterization outside of “well she’s good with a bow” and so forth. It would have been to see some sort of interaction or shred of emotion to show that these characters aren’t nothing more than specialized fighters.
There is one unavoidable fact about Rainbow Moon and that is there a lot of content to be found in the Vita version. There is easily a 100+ hours of gameplay to be had here. There’s even a trophy for playing that long which I’m sure I’m going to hit thanks to the 50+ hour campaign and tough battles. There are a ton of side-quests as well as the main quest and areas that can only accessed later with the proper items. Rainbow Moon may not be the most portable friendly in scope, but its save-anywhere function allows gamers on the go to get a console sized RPG on a portable system even if it’s in short bites. Rainbow Moon is another welcome RPG in my collection and a fun but frustrating adventure. Check out Rainbow Moon via the PlayStation Network today.