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The Sega Saturn has got to be an RPG lover's dream machine. Working Designs is porting many great Japanese Saturn RPGs to the U.S., and Sega is following suit with some great adventures themselves. Dark Savior is one of these.

DS is Sega's latest RPG, by the same team that worked on Landstalker for the Genesis. The Climax team combines action elements with strategy gameplay to create an involving story line into a game that is like nothing else available.

The graphics in DS are set into a 3/4-perspective isometric viewpoint that is reminiscent of Landstalker.

The game's highly detailed polygon landscapes are put together well. The graphics compliment the mood of the game well, creating a realistic world in which to interact. Some scenes are as bright as Sonic, while others are dark and eerie. There is some slowdown present when there are lots of background elements on screen, but it's over quickly and doesn't detract from gameplay at all.

The game is divided into Parallels, which each has its own subquests and worlds. As Garian, you start aboard a cargo ship bound for Jailer's Island keeping watch on Bilan, a maximum security prisoner. The monster escapes and you go running after it. The plot is full of action at every corner. While the story line isn't quite as involving as Square's Final Fantasy series, it's got some great twists and turns. Backing you up is Jack, your mechanized feathered friend who serves to help you figure your next move.

Mixing up the quest are DS' unique battle system. Instead of menu-driven battles, they are set up much like that of a fighting game. The details are there all the way down to "Round 1...Fight!" The action isn't as fast and furious as your average SF2 battle, but it's a welcome change from the passive mold that RPGs usually fall into.

The gameplay is more action-oriented than many of the RPGs that land on the market today. Gameplay is more like that of Sonic or Mario-you don't only need to worry about battles, but also jumping over obstacles and crossing lava-filled lakes. The isometric perspective lends itself well to this kind of game. The only minor problem in this is that sometimes it's difficult to tell where you're going or jumping, if there's something blocking your way. There are parts of the game where you need to toss crates across chasms, and with the perspective, it's hard to line up exactly where you're throwing things. This becomes part of the strategy of the gameplay. Instead of being frustrating, it's fun to try to figure out how to pass the game's many puzzles.

Like other 3-D games, you can manipulate the camera angle to see areas not visible in the regular perspective. Unfortunately, the camera is limited, and you can't see a full 360 degrees around your character.

During the first Parallel, you must rescue Drizzit, a rebellion leader, from the jail. Once inside, you have to carry him out. This presents more than a few problems. If you leave him and go on, you'll end up failing the mission you were sent on. Some areas are impossible to pass through while carrying him. This is just one of the puzzles present in the game, and it's a welcome change from other RPGs that rely more on the battle system than puzzle solving.

A game so reliant on puzzle solving has to make sure that the answers aren't obvious.

The way Dark Savior's puzzles are laid out, it's easy to overlook hints in the background-objects in the background that you didn't think did anything special have a purpose.

Finding these and using them to pass each area is key. The designers have put a lot of thought into each of DS' areas. Moreover, each area of the game has a completely different look. Rooms filled with lava, the inside of the jail, the mines, the emergency exit-all have new environments and obstacles to tackle.

Garian carries along with him his handy-dandy planner book. This lists all of the items he's carrying, his vital stats, and what weapons he has equipped. Later on, it will be necessary to keep a close watch on the stats.

The game has changed a few key points from the Japanese version that makes it a bit unrealistic. In the Japanese version, the currency of Jailer's Island consists of cigarettes, booze and magazines (what kind of magazines?). In the U.S. version, the prisoners would much rather go for a bar of chocolate and an empty bottle than anything else. The magazines are still there-some of the prisoners love those. The only thing the changes accomplish is to make the game more humorous than the Japanese programmers probably intended.

Jack follows you around, but doesn't provide much useful information outside of the game's story line dialogue. There's an option to get hints from Jack, but rarely do any of his hints help with the area your in.

Experience points can be used for a lot of different things. If you die, Jack will resurrect you for a price of 20 or so experience points. You can up your experience level once you have enough points, and use them to avoid battles. Gaining experience points is done by fighting and trading in items like bottles and chocolate for points.

Dark Savior will appeal to role-playing and action fans alike. There's more to this game than simply clicking on the right Battle Option. There's enough here to keep any gamer busy for hours on end with an amazing amount of puzzles to solve. Sega is doing the right thing in releasing this game to the U.S. market.

Continue: Double Switch (adventure/rpg)

Sega is billing Dark Savior as a role-playing game, but the title's varied gameplay appears to encompass more than RPG elements. Your character-who's out to avenge the death of his friend-walks, jumps and attacks in all directions through a scrolling 3-D world. The graphics resemble those in the Genesis RPG classic Landstalkers, except you can position your viewpoint anywhere you want. You'll wander through swamps, forests, caves and castles. Dark Savior also includes elements of fighting games. You fight bosses in one-on-one bouts.

Fans of role-playing games, side-scrolling platform games and fighting games will all find something to like in Dark Savior. The game contains elements of all three genres. Dark Savior has you wandering through an immense, texture-mapped world, which is full of forests, castles and caves. And you can view this world from any angle. Your character is out to avenge the death of his friend, and he spends much of the game walking and jumping across the scrolling terrain. He can even climb trees to escape enemies. Battles with bosses are handled Street Fighter style. Health bars appear above the combatants' heads, and you can pull off special moves and use weapons.

There's a little something for every gamer in Dark Savior. The game has RPG elements for sure, but it's just as much a side-scrolling platform game (and. to a more limited extent, a fighting game) as it is a role-playing adventure. It's definitely not your typical console RPG.

But then. Dark Savior is being created by Climax, the same team of Japanese developers who created the equally atypical and highly acclaimed Shining in the Darkness and LandStalker action RPGs for the Genesis. Those games, too. combined action-game and role-playing elements in a pseudo 3-D. isometric environment. but neither had the type of interactive world made possible by the Saturn. Dark Savior has that world.

The game places detailed. 2-D bitmapped characters into a true 3-D texture-mapped environment. Now unlike the rigidly isometric Genesis predecessors players can pan the game camera around the hero to find hidden items or safer approaches across platforms and over obstacles.

This extra help from the adjustable camera is needed to get through Dark Savior's lengthy quest. Players control a bounty hunter who is searching for an escaped, shape-shifting murderer. Early in the game, the escapee makes it to an isolated prison island, and it is on this island that the hunt-and the game's plot-takes place.

Unfortunately for the bounty hunter, the island is loaded with lowlife criminals, many of whom owe their imprisonment to the player's character. Some of these inmates offer hints to the player, hut others are just itching to get a little payback. When the bounty hunter gets into a scrape, the game switches to an isometric. Street Fighter Battle Mode. It becomes very much a fighting game, complete with the traditional health bars sitting above each combatant and the win-two-rounds-to-win-the-fight rule.

Fighting moves are simple enough pulling back on the joypad blocks enemy blows and the Attack button swings the hero's sword. In some matches, the bounty hunter can capture his opponent and control him in future fights, thus gaining.

People say:

8.5

I'm a big fan of Landstalker that was on the Genesis way back when, so Dark Savior is a title that brings back a whole lot of memories since they're very similar. What makes Dark Savior even better Is that It's a gigantic step up from any three-quarter perspective adventure I've seen. DS is huge (level-wise), and it has a giant cast of characters. The inventory system Is easy to use and most of the special attacks are awesome fighting system is very unique for an adventure RPG, but it works surprisingly well--the graphics could have been a bit crisper in these sequences though, Nils is a sure buy for those who want a solid title.

8.5

At the risk of sounding like a pop (or soda for you non-Midwesterners) commercial, Dark Savior offers a refreshing alternative to the mainstream RPGs. It's a playing experience that lies to be...well, experienced. It has a three-fourth perspective, the characters are very large and the levels are huge and varied (exploring them is half the fun, although sometimes you'll go through periods of inactivity because of the large level size). I did not enjoy the combat sequences at all. I felt that they were the biggest black mark on this otherwise great title. If you are an RPG/adventure game fanatic, put Dark Savior on your wish list.

8.5

This action-packed title (from tire developers who created Landslalker for the Genesis) is as much a platform game as it is an RPG. It certainly has you leaping onto enough platforms and over enough obstacles. The 3-D, isometric graphics are detailed, and you can pan the view around your character to determine the best route through an area. Yet you can't move the camera completely around the hero, so some leaps are hard to aim. I'm also not too keen on the battle system-which uses a stripped-down fighting-game engine. Fortunately, combat is infrequent; most of the game is spent exploring and solving puzzles.

8.0

Boy, Dark Savior takes me back! It's been a long time since anyone has attempted and succeeded with the 3-D action/puzzle game like this. The only improvements I would have made is to the lackluster fighting sequences, which seem out of place here. The puzzles are nicely done, and the levels are very large--a big plus for games of this type. Many people will automatically categorize this game as a straight RPG, but it isn't. The problem-solving aspect Is the majority feature here. To top It all off, the story Is Intriguing, with a mysterious enemy, and multiple plots that all converge slowly without giving away anything.

Dark Savior rating

Dark Savior system requirements:SystemP-200.

Systems: Win9x Windows 9x, Windows 2000 WinXPWindows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.

Game modes: Dark Savior supports single modeSingle game mode

2016-06-16 Dark Savior game added.

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