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Rainbow Moon (Vita) artwork

Rainbow Moon (Vita) review

"Bronze at the end of the end of a rainbow"

Rainbow Moon (Vita) image

Where heaven and hell collide, you'll find Rainbow Moon.

For instance, it's paradisal how the game forsakes a grandiose plot in favor of a minimalistic narrative that hearkens back to bygone RPGs. For the most part, its storyline unfolds in a manner similar to role-playing titles from the 8-bit era. Rather than a talkie adventure full of melodrama, familiar plot devices, bouncy-breasted schoolgirl warriors, and recruitable allies with chips on their shoulders, Rainbow Moon's playable cast exchanges only a few words with the protagonist. Mainly, their purpose before joining him in his mission is to provide you with a series of quests designed to pad out the game's campaign.

By skimping on dialog the game grants you more of an opportunity to explore its colorful world and destroy its myriad ruffians. Moseying off the beaten path often leads you to hidden locales, usually in the form of dungeons or tiny nooks holding NPCs with special requests. Delving into these dungeons and providing succor to the out-of-sight downtrodden usually nets you improved equipment, loads of items that provide stat bonuses (both temporary and permanent), and a chance to fill your backpack with a veritable trove of treasures gained by offing monsters. Some of the pretties they give you can help you secure a fair profit at shops or aid in completing fetch-quests. The most important items, though, strengthen your equipment when taken to a blacksmith. In this way, you can tailor your entourage to your tastes. Do you desire a gang of speedy slashers? Or perhaps some magical maniacs? Farming for crafting materials can help you achieve those ends, but only if you're willing to devote the time to doing so.

Rainbow Moon (Vita) image

Unlike most RPGs, leveling up alone doesn't strengthen your troops. In order accomplish this, you must gather "Rainbow Pearls," which are unique items obtained through terminating foes. Once procured, you can take the pearls to a special merchant called a "savant," who will exchange permanent stat boosts for pearls. Unfortunately, you can't farm pearls for hours and dump boat loads into one stat, as each stat has a cap. Gaining levels, though, increases each stat's cap by a few points, allowing you to further improve them.

I know this might sound cliche, but battle is a reward in itself. Entering a scuffle takes you into a separate screen similar to a tactical RPG (think Tactics Ogre), wherein each combatant spends his turn marching about the battlefield and exchanging blows with other targets. Before engaging an encounter the game gives you a few details, either displaying the enemies present in the brawl or the size of the contingent you're about to eradicate. Sometimes there's only a single villain to dispatch, but other altercations pit you against thirty or more targets, with a fair variety of monstrosities baring their fangs. It's fights such as these that the game really comes to life, where you put your party management and customization to the ultimate test.

Rainbow Moon's battle system combined with its freedom and great customization elements make it a charming a title. However, they don't entirely make up for the game's nearly crushing deficits, which can make the experience more chore-like than one would imagine.

Rainbow Moon (Vita) image

Although the game is a digital budget title (starting at around $15), you get a lot of bang for your buck. My own playthrough, for example, took eighty-five hours to complete. While that might sound like a sweet deal, you must consider the events that transpired in the interim. Since there isn't much of a storyline, the game sports a minimalistic campaign. It all kicks off with a mission to locate an old man who sends you on a lengthy fetch-quest to acquire seven artifacts. Once you've gathered those, he sends you on another fetch-quest to gather ingredients needed for a magical adhesive. With those two events out of the way, all that remains is to fight the final boss and watch the end credits. No, I'm not kidding. The game's campaign consists of a handful of dull voyages that involve either recruiting a character or finding an object. More than anything, each adventure feels like the developer stalling so that the game's conclusion doesn't arrive too quickly.

It gets worse, especially when you take Rainbow Moon's many dungeons into consideration. They're all quite elaborate and drawn out to the point that completing one can take a few hours, which taxes your patience after a while (thank goodness for the ability to save anywhere). Though the dungeon layouts can be fairly complex, their overall designs are bland. Mostly, they consist of the same environments and puzzles such to the point that you can't differentiate one stage from the next. Honestly, I grew so sick of encountering familiar brick walls and riddles involving either switches or teleporters that I rued entering dungeons. By the end of the game, I found myself skipping non-essential locations.

Honestly, though, it's not just Rainbow Moon's dungeons that are banal, as you can spot vapidity all throughout its world. From the main quest line--and even its collection of sub-quests, almost all of which are of the "fetch" variety--to its overworld design, the game lacks imagination. For instance, one teensy quest offered in the storyline requires you to speak with a badass soldier hacking up monsters outside of town, in the hopes of counting him adding him to your entourage. He has one request for you before joining up: to deliver a toy to someone in the village because he's done playing with it. There are contrived missions and devices in games, and then there's this. I would write this exchange off as ironic comedy, but the truth is this is only one of very, very few instances of ill-fitting cuteness in the campaign.

Rainbow Moon (Vita) image

The towns you visit, battlegrounds you enter, and world you explore is commonplace. It's the same overworld you'll find in almost any pre-Final Fantasy X RPG, covered with mostly stock goons like bees, scorpions, and skeletons. True, the game does have its share of original creatures, such as musical undead foes decked out with trumpets jutting from their mouths and tuning fork arms. However, the vast portion of what the game offers is either so plain or hackneyed that most developers have abandoned such concepts ages ago. We've ventured into ordinary deserts, plowed through frozen wastes, and leaped into forbidding swamps countless times before, and doing so in Rainbow Moon serves only to further exhaust these overused environments. You might think I'm nitpicking, but I don't think expecting creativity from a fantasy-based title is asking too much.

I'm not saying that Rainbow Moon is awful, or even mediocre. It's definitely above average, but only just. Mechanically speaking, the game is a powerhouse highlighted by a unique character-building system and slick, addictive combat. Even after you've completed its ho-hum plot, there are plenty of divergent pathways to explore, specialty bosses to eliminate, and even side events that allow you to shatter the experience cap several times. Unfortunately, the events, regions, and peoples you experience in this quest are nothing to write home about. The game doesn't need to include a touching storyline or engaging characters to be an effective RPG experience; it just needs to be memorable instead of forgettable.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (June 24, 2014)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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