God Medicine (Game Boy) review
"In my mind, this scenario had all sorts of potential. You have three video game geeks transported into a video game world. And we all know how RPGs are chock-full of cliches — leading me to believe God Medicine would be loaded with all sorts of snarky inside jokes capable of eliciting gleeful guffaws from real-life video game geeks like me. "
The God Medicine wound up being a bitter pill for me to swallow. While it first seemed to be the perfect balm for the growing sense of lethargy and apathy that tends to consume me during those pesky days of the week that end with the letter “Y”, it wound up inducing side effects that threatened to make that condition worse.
Let me explain. God Medicine is a Gameboy RPG released by Konami back in the mid ‘90s in Japan that was translated online for the amusement of dumb folks like me who have enough trouble remembering English to learn another language. Overall, it’s a pretty generic game that is way more linear than one would expect of virtually any RPG released after the first Dragon Quest....but it had what seemed to be a pretty neat twist.
Three kids in some Japanese town are eagerly awaiting the release of some super-ultra-cool game called Phantom. Sadly, the company making this game gets a hurting put on it by forces unknown and is destroyed. Since they don’t have their ever-so-desired game now, the Snerds....I mean kids....have no recourse other than to *gasp* go outside, where they eventually find an abandoned shack. Opening the door, they’re shocked to see a gigantic demon wiping the floor with a trio of heroic-looking folks. After his decisive victory, the demon goes through a portal back to his world and the dying heroes magically transfer their souls to the children, who find out they are now characters in the unfinished Phantom.
In my mind, this scenario had all sorts of potential. You have three video game geeks transported into a video game world. And we all know how RPGs are chock-full of cliches -- leading me to believe God Medicine would be loaded with all sorts of snarky inside jokes capable of eliciting gleeful guffaws from real-life video game geeks like me. And for a brief period, this did happen. Mika Arden, the leader of the original group of heroes, comments on how her demise was a result of rushing through her quest and not powering up enough. As soon as my party reached the first castle, one of my characters noted that to gain the trust of the skeptical king, they should look for an easy mission because early-game kingdoms always have a fetch-quest or two for novice adventurers.
And for the most part, that was the end of the fun stuff. After my party got started, I found myself played a pretty bland RPG that offered little to set it apart from the crowd. I guess it could be considered a cool twist that my quest took me from the “Phantom World” to that of my characters and back again, as they found themselves in a quest to save both from the demon and its lackeys, but the storytelling didn’t do anything to keep me interested in that plot. When my party members got powerful, they were able to equip special Maphu gems into their weapons to gain special powers, but I’ve seen that sort of thing done better in tons of other games. After a while, all I could think of were the ways in which God Medicine let me down.
The main problem was that this game is way too linear for a 1990s RPG. While I don’t like how modern games tend to have so many diversions that it takes away from the actual story, I also have a problem with them having nothing -- especially when the game itself isn’t captivating. All it felt like I was doing was going through one simply-designed dungeon after another with an occasional stop in a town to upgrade my equipment. There was nothing to spice this formula up.....not even the plentiful boss fights.
This is because virtually all of these battles are little more than conflicts with normal enemies possessing more hit points and one or two more attacks. Any player able to get through an entire dungeon’s worth of persistent random encounters should have few (if any) problems topping the vast majority of the bosses. Making things easier, a number of the most pivotal fights are located very close to healing spots, so I entered many supposedly “tough” battles at close to full strength. Then again, I don’t remember ever being behind the eight ball as far as my characters’ hit and magic points went. Every time someone levels up, those numbers are boosted to their new maximum. Obviously, this makes it very tough to get into trouble, as a free HP/MP recharge is always a few fights away. Even if a character does succumb to enemy attacks, they’re brought back to life after that battle, only needing a heal spell to be cast upon them.
All of which means that God Medicine is both boring and non-challenging. While a few dungeons might have had a decent puzzle or two, there just wasn’t much out there to intrigue me. The game’s premise held a good deal of potential, but the execution just wasn’t there, leaving this a vanilla RPG that offers little, if anything, to recommend it over the average retro adventure.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (November 10, 2006)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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