Rainbow Moon. The name alone hints at a fantasy style role-playing game. Offered up by SideQuest Studios, Rainbow Moon is available on the Playstation Network for a cool fifteen bucks. It’s not shocking to say the game is worth the price tag, but a better question might be, is the game worth the time invested? That depends on what kind of gamer you are.
Rainbow Moon picks up where turn based RPGs left off about a decade ago, maybe longer. In those days, the heyday of the Playstation and PS2, tactical RPGs abounded and offered more battle time than cinematics. Rainbow Moon marches along to the sound of this drum, which is a good and bad point for the game. For starters, the main story is sparsely recounted and done so in brevity. The main point of this game is not the story or the side quests (as is often the case in many RPGS), but in leveling and developing your characters and party. You’re given a few options upon starting a new game, all of them uniquely tied to a specific gameplay style. You can choose to focus on having a surplus of survival items, great gear, or you can forgo all the helpful options and decide to start with nothing. There’s a hint that there could be a possible reward later in the game if you choose this. Even outside of what the game allots you, the main menu offers a shop option. This shop allows you to buy experience points, money, and other things that will help you in the game. The price tag for these options is pretty small, so it might not be a bad idea for people who don’t have as much time to grind. Because let me tell ya, this game is grind central.
If you can’t stand games that force you to spend hours leveling, you’re in for a world of hurt. The game has a unique option of allowing the player to confront enemies on the field that are visible and even avoidable in many cases. There are also random battles, which occur more frequently at night. Entering a random battle is completely optional, but highly recommended if you don’t want to get demolished when you get to boss fights. Grinding itself isn’t really the issue for Rainbow Moon. I would say the weakest point of the entire game is how slowly the introduction progresses. Players start weak (obviously) and must grind heavily to progress to the parts of the game that get the player excited because they are actually interesting. Too much time is spent simply running through the same attack and single learned skill, and this is a problem for Rainbow Moon. If the rest of the game were as boring as the early part, I’d say this is fine. But it’s not. It’s really not, and each part you unlock adds to how fun and creative the components can be when they start to piece together. Impatient players, however, might grow discouraged before they reach the truly strategic game.
Pick up a few skills, a few characters, progress across a few parts of the map, and you finally get an idea of how fun and varied this game can be. Players can also upload their stats to the internet from inside the game and compare their achievements to others. The art strays a bit from the typical rehashing of cutesy anime style. Bright colors in the game compliment the environments and miniature characters, adding a whimsical element to the fantasy gameplay. Rainbow Moon’s reverence for the early titles in this genre is further cemented by its musical score, which creates wonderful atmosphere. The melodies are original takes on a very familiar style of RPG music, even calling back some memories of 80s anime at times.
Dungeons and world maps are limited, and the storyline is linear. The game prefers to focus on battles and small tasks rather than a sweeping story arc to encourage the player forward. The money found in the game is on the scarce side, most likely to encourage gamers to buy more funds through the PSN. If you’re not willing to spend the extra dough, it just leads back to milking those random battles. Side quests do not abound to the same degree of newer RPGs, so handling everything on your plate is more manageable. Characters provided fill restricted roles and have very specific sets of skills. The player is left to decide which attributes to level on each character, so straying from what is typically beneficial in a game like this is probably not wise. The constraints on character types and skills really shines in the battle style. This first plays as arduous and drawn out, but becomes the framework for a more satisfying battle experience past the early game. Adapting to the limits of the battlefield and how each character must work within those guidelines is part of the fun here. (For example, a character can seem almost worthless if not moved in the proper formation and taught specific skills in some instances.) I’m sure many different gameplay styles can emerge even within those restrictions.
Rainbow Moon is an RPG for fans of RPGs, which sounds silly, but hear me out. If you’re not interested in playing a game that pays respect to some of the best attributes in the genre while also dealing with a couple of the biggest frustrations, don’t bother. But if you can overlook a slow build up to strategic battles and the incessant grind session in store for you, (or afford to buy your way past it), Rainbow Moon packs a punch far beyond the tiny price tag.
- Whimsical art and music create an inviting world to explore.
- Abundant playtime and features.
- Slow start makes it feel like the tutorial mode spans too much of early game play.
Summary: For fans of tactical RPGs and those who can push past the lackluster beginning, Rainbow Moon offers many hours of fun and challenging battles.
- Format: PlayStation 3,
- Developer: SideQuest Studios,
- Publisher: EastAsiaSoft