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Forums > Submission Feedback > overdrive's Illusion of Gaia review

This thread is in response to a review for Illusion of Gaia on the SNES. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: October 05, 2012 (11:36 AM)
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You have a very similar response to the game as I do, Rob! I don't know if you read my review, but some things we both mention in almost the same exact way. See my section on Freeja, the rose city, for instance.

Interesting catch with the translation! I missed that in my review. I guess it never crossed my mind that the translation might be to blame for some of the stilted dialog. I recently learned a similar thing about the Secret of Mana translation: apparently a good 30-45% of the dialog was just plain lost from that game, which pisses me off because the only thing keeping Secret of Mana from being an all time best RPG is the stilted dialog. And the lack of online co-op. Can't really blame them for that one.

Anyway, you're absolutely right about translation issues in the 90's—but i was so unconnected to the reality of where video games came from that I never even considered as a child the possibility that these were remakes, releases, and ports. Even as an adult, this has carried over into my nostalgia/retro reviews, where I sort've just think of game text from those days as being whimsically primitive.

Of course, recognizing this also means credit has to be given to some of the exceptional translations made in those times. I would say Chrono Trigger was one of the greatest translations, losing nothing from the original feel of the game (except maybe alcohol) and even adding some sentiment where the "entity" was concerned.

Probably the most impressive translation, though, is Earthbound. Considering that they had to translate not only the words but also the cultural sentiment and humor of the majority of the script (in various font packages, no less) and somehow make jokes work that relied on a phonetic based language—look, that's just effin' incredible.

Back to point, I personally can't score Illusion of Gaia lower than a 10 simply because every time I think about it—in particular that long section which leads flawlessly from Nazca to the Angel Village—I get a rush in the center of my chest. That game really had a strong impact on me, in some ways more lasting than any other RPG I played at the time. With, again, the exception of Chrono Trigger and Earthbound. I think, too, the music had something to do with this. The game certainly has its orchestral moments, but what's really impressive is when it goes for the subtle feel, using woodwinds to play incredibly melancholic melodies.

I have yet to play Terranigma. That and Mother 3 are two games still waiting from the shadows of my childhood. Mother 3 I did get about half way through on emulation, but I just am not a fan of emulation. It doesn't FEEL right. Not in a legal sense, I mean I want a console sitting in front of me and a controller in my hand. None of this save state crap.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: October 05, 2012 (01:29 PM)
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I think when I play 16-bit games now, I can't help but notice the quality/lack thereof in translations. When I was initially playing them in the mid-90s, I'd occasionally wonder why a game (looking at you, Robotrek) was littered with horrid Engrish. Robotrek was the worst -- there were points where I had no f-ing clue what was going on. And then found out that a big part of it was just because it takes more memory to have English-language dialogue because it takes more space than Kanji, which made me interested in things as to how well companies did with the translation. Chrono and Earthbound are great, as far as doing excellent jobs, like you said. Mana is weaker, but I don't think I get bothered so much there, as the story isn't really as dominating as Gaia's can get at times. More of a "look, someone's trying to talk...this oughta be good" sort of thing than a "this was really bastardized and poor" sort of thing.

I think the difference for me in giving it an 8 or a 9 came from a bunch of smaller things that added up that I didn't want to mention due to not wanting to ramble on about the entire game or getting into spoilers (so I just touched on a couple things, such as the length of the raft session or the guide-dang-it nature of the Red Gems if you don't have the instruction book). A few of them are:

1. Great Wall is inferior to the other dungeons. Repetitive with a weak-sauce boss. It wasn't a bad place, but compared to the awesomeness of Mu, Angkor Wat, Pyramid or the first one, it was kind of lacking. Hanging Gardens wasn't super-great, but pretty fun and I liked the reverse garden idea, so it was still leaps and bounds ahead of Great Wall.

2. Well except for the dungeon in Angel Village. That area could have been really interesting, considering the subplot aspects of the soulless people presumed to be the Mu survivors and the ability of Ishtar to lock them in paintings (kind of fitting, all things considered, since they claim to not feel anything...him doing that to himself made a lot of sense in that context...as a release from a static, unfulfilling existence). So, you get a simple maze of long, dull caverns with a bunch of generic monsters culminating in a series of "what is different between these rooms" puzzles.

3. Boss-rush at the end. There's just something lack-luster about an end-game dungeon that's nothing more than a boss rush. No other enemies, just go up a floor, fight a boss and keep doing it until you've taken out all five of them.

Overall, an excellent game, but for me, I couldn't overlook things like "Alas poor Hamlet...to eat or not to eat?" It is a great diversion to come back to.

I'll have to make a run at Terranigma soon, so I can finish off that trilogy of action-RPGs. I've messed around with it a bit and it seems to be just as good. A bit under the radar in the grand scheme of things, but possibly as good a trilogy of games as you'll find out there. At least the first two are at some level of excellence, which makes them fun to pick up from time to time.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: October 05, 2012 (01:54 PM)
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I'm on a mac, so finding emulators takes a little extra effort. It's getting less so, as Macs become more of a mainstream computer, but they still haven't really broken into the gaming world in a big way. Anyway, that's my story with Terranigma. In addition to all the other stuff I said about emulators earlier.

On a design level, I completely agree with you. I was actually thinking about that boss rush while reading your review, thinking "Rob probably hated this." And you're right about those dungeons being weaker. I love the Hanging Gardens, and I do like certain aspects of the Great Wall (jumping off the wall is fun and for a while you don't know where you're going to land), but I completely see your point and even agree with it.

Mu is a great dungeon. So is the Aztec temple, even though it's one of the earlier dungeons. And Angkor Watt left such an impression on me that even into my college years my eyes lit up whenever anyone mentioned it. I always thought it had to be haunted or something...


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: October 05, 2012 (02:05 PM)
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Yeah. I'm playing StarTropics 2: Zoda's Revenge right not. Up to the 7th of 9 chapters. And all I can think of is the simple fact that Chapter 9 goes like this.

1. Short dungeon based on the first dungeon of the first StarTropics, culminating in a skeletal version of that dungeon's snake boss.

2. Boss rush of a bunch of them you fought throughout the game.

3. Final boss.

It can be hard to motivate oneself to play a game daily when one knows that each successful day brings them that much closer to a boss rush. As I only seem to like them in shooters, where odds are that you'll be fighting 3-4 bosses you haven't seen before as in shooters, a boss rush just means they're designing a level without much to do other than fighting a bunch of cool bosses they designed but didn't have levels for.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: October 05, 2012 (07:44 PM)
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I think the only place I've appreciated boss rushes is in action games like Devil May Cry. I still don't LIKE them there, but they do serve to drastically test your skills.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: yamishuryou
Posted: October 08, 2012 (09:48 AM)
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I figured without even opening the review the translation would get highlighted here.

To be fair, I was spoiled. I played Terranigma first, so Illusion of Gaia in comparison is basically mincemeat in comparison. Will just seems to move slowly, and yes, his inability to attack, although being a thematic part of the game, gets annoying at times.

The translation to me isn't really even "Engrish". Rather, it seems like it is a very, very literal translation, and I mean very literal. What sounds all flowery and stuff in Japanese sounds horrible in English. I'm sure the raft trip was all nice and touching and romantic and everything in Japanese but in English it's MAKE THE PAIN STOP OH GOD PLEASE

It would be nice if this game got a 'retranslation' project much like Breath of Fire 2 did. The part about the comet really does not happen until the end, along with the thematic differences between Will and Kara. The character Neil was also fairly interesting, especially with his confrontation of his parents. Other moments that strike me clearly that I recall are Will's friends getting picked off one by one by misfortune, the ship's illusions disappearing to reveal its true form underneath, having to turn in a slave to get one of the Gems, and the Russian Roulette game.

EDIT: Oh yes, and The Jackal. One of the biggest gaming disappointments I've ever had. The Jackal is one of the few villains the game actually hypes up a lot ahead of time, and then when you confront him...grrr


At 9:55:00 PM MST on April 5th, 2005, Venter finally defeated Phantom!


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