PS3 Reviews: Rainbow Moon Review

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Rainbow Moon Review

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Replay Value:



Overall Rating:       8.7



Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Traditional. Turn-based. Two terms that hardcore role-playing fans really miss these days, especially those who were more inclined to the JRPGs of the original PlayStation era. And while Rainbow Moon undoubtedly features a form of strategy combat, the blending of traditional and SRPG elements makes it a candidate for great nostalgic appreciation. Despite a couple glaring flaws, this one is destined to satisfy those who have lamented days long gone.

Graphically, the latest from SideQuest and Eastasiasoft is vibrant and charming. There’s a ton of detail in your surroundings; as you wander about, you’ll smile at the colorful, beautifully drawn landscape, which is infused with gorgeous hues and shading. The interior sections aren’t quite as breathtaking, but that’s mostly due to the fact that you spend a fair amount of time in darkness (unless you keep burning through torches) in the dungeons. Enemy design isn’t particularly impressive in my eyes, either. But overall, this is one of the most attractive digital titles available.

The sound complements that appealing visual style by playing along with the perfectly implemented atmosphere. Besides the narrator, who speaks very infrequently, there are no voices but rather some exclamations, gasps and sighs ala the LEGO games (not counting the last one, which used voices for the first time). The soundtrack is fantastic and the effects, despite being a touch repetitive due to the very nature of the game, are slick and solid. In short, the graphics and audio combine extremely well to provide the player with a supremely lovely package. It’s not often you find presentations that gel into such cohesive beauty.

Rainbow Moon features an intriguing blend of gameplay elements, although you do spend the majority of your time locked in a strategy/RPG style of combat. The story is a little weak (one of the primary shortcomings) and in some ways, it almost feels like an open-world RPG like The Elder Scrolls, where you explore, take quest after quest, get more powerful with each passing step, and ignore the main quests for the sake of even more power. …of course, the presentation and style is basically the exact opposite of The Elder Scrolls, but anyway.

Also, the “open-world” label isn’t entirely accurate. While it’s technically not a linear adventure, you can’t just wander about willy-nilly; there are various paths to take through the landscape, and the dungeons are essentially mazes. Furthermore, the developers take a Zelda-esque approach to certain aspects, as you will need key items to bypass obstacles, such as the ladder to cross over sinkholes and a saw to cut down a particular tree. So it’d be a mistake to say this is a sandbox world, but it’s still a far cry from your typical strategy/RPG.

That’s an important point, because most of the trailers you see show off the strategy-oriented combat while you often only catch a glimpse of the exploration. The latter really is a major part of the adventure, so it’s nothing like Disgaea, for instance. That being said, you really do spend a huge amount of time battling, so the SRPG part really feels like the core mechanic. And that’s where things start to get a little dicey, because the designers made one critically poor decision concerning the basic control. The worst part is that one never seems to get used to it.

In most SRPGs, you can use a character’s turn to move a certain distance and attack. Their movement is often dictated by their speed and other inherent capabilities, and they can attack – or perform some sort of “action” – once. Rainbow Moon tosses a wrench into the works by featuring a system of primary moves and “sub-moves,” which essentially allows a character to move and attack multiple times per turn. It’s an interesting system and adds depth, but I think they would’ve been better served to use the standard move-and-attack once mechanic.

But that isn’t really the problem. The problem lies in the simple movement. You can use either the directional pad or the analog stick to start moving, but it’s all too easy to move in the wrong direction given the view of the battle map. Furthermore, you can’t take back that move; in standard SRPGs, you’d select where you wish to move and the game would confirm with you before executing. In some SRPGs, you could even take back the move if you found it to be a bad idea. And here, no matter how careful you are, you will inevitably make a mistake every now and then.

The other problem involves the amount of grinding you have to do, which even on normal can be a tad tedious. This is especially annoying when you land a new character, because you probably have to spend a fair amount of time getting the newbie up to speed if you want him or her to survive. Now, the only reason I’m harping on these two major drawbacks is because I’ve long since been a huge RPG – and to some extent SRPG – fanatic, so I can be picky and even anal. I tend to see just about everything that could’ve been done better, even if just about everyone could spot these flaws relatively easily. But that doesn’t change one fact:

This is one great, great game.

The depth isn’t quite to the level of Disgaea but then again, I don’t think it should be. This feels just right; the micromanagement is just about perfect, as we can equip our characters (and see the new equipment on their person as well), learn new skills, take on side quests, explore to our heart’s content, and participate in extremely well designed combat. You learn a little later on that each weapon has a “counter” weapon, so-to-speak, in that if your weapon is the opposite of the enemy’s weapon, you’ll gain a 37.5% bonus. Check a special wheel to learn what’s “opposite.”

Then there’s the overall presentation, which really is second to none. You are immediately enveloped in this ultra-charming world that is amazingly addictive, and not only because you want to reach the next level. There’s always something to do, and although the grinding can cause the battles to seem a little repetitive and boring, the combat gets awfully deep. You will soon be looking forward to the challenge big battles provide, and the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you get when progressing is top-notch. There were just so many things that were done right.

You can save wherever you want, which gives the game even more of an open-world feel. You have a limit to the number of items you can carry, which enhances the strategy and adds to the challenge (in a good way). There are two types of encounters; the ones represented by foes you actually see on the map, and the ones where you’re simply made aware of the presence of enemies. You can press X to engage if you wish; if not, don’t do anything or hit Circle to cancel. They’ll even tell you how many and what type of enemies are in the battle, for extra help.

The bottom line is that Rainbow Moon is put together fantastically well. It really is a very solid and complete package from top to bottom. There’s enough depth to satisfy even the most hardcore, the blending of strategy and traditional elements is both innovative and extraordinary, the feel and style is just beautiful, and yeah, the hours can really melt away. The control issue and the all-too-common grinding are just too big to ignore and unfortunately means I can’t give this game the 9 it would’ve deserved. But trust me when I say, from one old-school RPG and SRPG fan to another, this could be the best $14.99 you spend all year.

The Good: Beautiful, lustrous visuals. Great soundtrack. Blend of traditional RPG and strategy/RPG elements is intoxicating. A total, complete package; the small details are appreciated. Engaging, rewarding, complex combat. Highly addictive.

The Bad: Grinding can make the game feel repetitive. Story is weak. Movement during battle can be erratic and frustrating.

The Ugly: “I moved where I didn’t want to…again…and now I’m fu****.”

7/12/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (22 posts)

Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 10:14:16 PM

I never understood the need for grinding in ANY GAME. Okay, maybe a little bit, but don't make me spend 3 days making it to a level so I can go to a special cave, kill a special boss, and obtain something that will help me level faster. Just save me the freaking time and make me level faster! It's like waiting for a light at an intersection to change when there's nobody else but you at the lights. Really wish I could level up MORE in Skyrim, but that's bout it.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 12:50:31 AM

Haha that was a LOVELY comparison. Just lovely.

I don't agree though. I like grinding (within reasonable amounts of course). For me it's like working out as preparation for a big fight. You whack those moles 'till they no longer stand a snowballs chance in hell, and then, THEN you take on the devil.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 6:03:50 AM

I get where you're coming from. I've just been whacking moles for 25 years now. Think that somewhere around Morrowind I just wanted to go see the devil and get it over with.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 5:39:44 PM

The grinding is kind of par for the course with these kind of things, and in some ways it's just an opportunity to get the most out of the core gameplay, but there's a fine line that many games cross over for me (FFXIII, for example, was 'orrible!) I also find that there's been a bit of an 'escalation' in grinding over the years - PSOne RPGs in general didn't require near as much as the 'faux' retro RPGs do these days, and going back to the old top-down character-sprite RPGs on PC, and it was even less required (text-based RPGs had almost no grinding, but they were a different beast). I do like how Rainbow Moon has difficulty levels, so there's some control over it at least :).

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Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 10:52:06 PM

I just finished a 29 enemy battle about half an hour ago. Trisha didn't make it through the whole endeavor, but BOY was it a tough fight. I almost thought I was gunna love a couple times, but I pulled through. I agree with most of the things in this review, but I don't really think the graphics are as good as you say they are. I'd give them maybe an 8, just because a lot of areas seem to look the same. I'm really impressed by the amount of battle layouts though.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 10:53:29 PM

I was looking forward to this game but SRPG are not usually my cup of tea.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 11:08:51 PM

I wouldnt really call it an SRPG its more like Arc the Lad.. SRPG like movement but very little S required

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 12:32:51 AM

Very little strategy required? ...that's really not entirely true.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 9:34:18 AM

Well it seems that way when you think of games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea.. I mean Im playing on Hard and Im having zero trouble whatsoever.. I havent even had to grind yet.. whereas in Disgaea 1 even on its normal default setting I couldnt even beat the first boss (mid boss) without extensive grinding

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Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 11:21:14 PM

lol Ben I agree with the movement and attacking the wrong enemies thing.. ive done that so many times it isnt funny. But other than that this game is beyond fun.. I was playing FF13-2 before Rainbow Moon came out.. when I got it I decided "hmm lemme play RM for a few minutes than go back to FF13-2" (since I usually play a game I start until I finish it and dont touch other games until then) I went to RM... two days later Im still playing it lol FF13-2 has been completely neglected and tossed to the side... SqureEnix needs to step their game up if their multimillion dollar to develop flagship series spotlight can be stolen by a 15 dollar indie game thats saying a lot lol.

Also as for grinding it snot that bad at all, Im playing on Hard and its still not very hard (yet at least) Disgaea 1 on PS2 on the other hand was a nightmare i HAD to grind LOTS of times to beat that.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 11:23:13 PM

I would love to play this on my vita.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 12:02:13 AM


Yes, that was all in caps because like me being totally loud, RM is SCREAMING to be put on the Vita. Honestly, love Sony, but this dev SQS needs to get RM on the Vita quick! Best part is the price, I am going to have to grab this. Nice review Ben!

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 1:01:05 AM

This! I'm waiting on the vita version that is rumoured to be coming.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 12:33:34 AM

For the record, the grinding isn't constant. It's only needed at certain points, so the idea that this is one giant grind-fest isn't accurate.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 6:22:57 AM

I agree whole heartedly with this review. In the comments of the other article I struggled to describe the game without making it sound like it sucked. It most certainly doesn't suck but as you more eloquently highlighted, it does have it's flaws. Minor enough that the game is still worth a recommendation, plus at the price it's a steal for the amount of hours you'll get out of it.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 6:42:52 AM

Well i m playing on hard/adventuresome and doing absolutely everything i can and i barely to any grind beside when i get a new character.

One thing not included in the review that i like a lot( i did nt saw it at least ) is that you can escape the battles anytime ( even boss battle ) .So if an enemy group/boss give you a hard time you can enter and escape until you get a speed bonus (get 2 turn sometime ) or until you get a terrain and enemy emplacement that will be to you re advantage giving the game even more tactic elements .

Another thing i love is that you can t miss you re atk . I always hate something like a 80 % chance to hit in srpg (don t like luck elements in games ).

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 8:31:34 AM

For $15, (less for + members) this game is a rock solid steal.

I have the exact same complaints about moving the wrong way or attacking the wrong person.

I went into options and changed the grid mode from A to B, and that VASTLY cut down on my errors, but I still do it from time to time.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 9:17:54 AM

Yeah A to B helped me a lot , made no mistake after the first 30 min of having it on B .

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 2:57:15 PM

This is great for 15 bucks. But DONT DENY that all of you bought the 36k gold and 50k orbs! If you deny it .... YOU LIE!!!!

Still though, FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: WAR OF THE LIONS is on sale for 9.99. Good lord what a deal.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 9:50:50 PM

I didn't buy either.

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Friday, July 13, 2012 @ 5:41:17 PM

Great to hear you enjoyed it Ben - I'd have felt bad if it'd gone any other way, with the dearth of games like this these days. Looking forward to playing it, thanks for the review :).

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Banky A
Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 5:18:47 AM

excited for this game. the feel from trailers reminds me sooo much of soldner x-2 prototype! the developers are good at this type of atmosphere in their games

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