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So Far East It Never Made It West


MagWeasel kicks up his best post to date by walking us inch-by-inch through the tortured history of one of those games you always wanted to play in English–in this case, Far East of Eden: Ziria for the PC-Engine–but can’t:

A lot of the window dressing in this game, from the voiced cutscenes to the in-game item descriptions to the way you can hold down the II button to walk faster, were brand-new to the genre at the time. The cutscenes, in particular, still work pretty nicely today — basically still images with animated mouths, but the voice work is top-notch throughout. Gameplay, on the other hand, is a bit unbalanced, no doubt due to its hectic development schedule. The start of the game is Phantasy Star-like in its unfairness — your stats are absurdly low, they get only the most miniscule of boosts when you gain a level, and the bosses all seem to heal themselves far quicker than you can deal damage. It’s more frustrating than challenging, but that all disappears toward the end, when your support magic finally kicks in and certain enemies start giving out experience like candy. (The way you’re warped back to town with half your gold seized if even one party member dies in combat is also pretty, um, 8-bit RPG in style.)

Please do click-through and read it all.

And: With all the fan translations winging their way hither and yon across the Internet, you’d think someone would have gotten to this milestone in gaming history by now–and you’d be wrong!

Categories: Video Games
  1. 06/17/2010 at 12:40

    The historical information in that piece is very cool, but I don’t agree with him that the cutscenes “still work pretty nicely today.” Those scenes come off as obsolete even when compared with interludes from PCE CD games released just a year later.

    Ziria is a good game, but if someone were going to do a Tengai Makyou translation, their time would be better spent on Manji Maru or Kabuki Den, both of which are in a different league entirely.

  2. 06/17/2010 at 12:59

    Wow, now that’s a lesson in development history — and it makes me want to play the game sooner rather than later! I strongly suspect the story behind the 360 port is far less dramatic.

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