GAME NAME: Rainbow Moon
DEVELOPER(S): SideQuest Studios
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3
GENRE(S): Strategy RPG
RELEASE DATE(S): 04/07/12
Strategy RPG titles have been making a comeback on the Playstation 3 lately, with the latest in a string of releases being Rainbow Moon. It may be rather unimaginatively titled, but the SideQuest studio title hopes to bring about a more accessible but ultimately very rewarding foray into the genre, promising 100+ hours of content and rich worlds. It’s time to see if the German developed title can live up to its claims.
We start Rainbow Moon through the perspective of Baldren, a warrior on his way to the location of a famous annual tournament. When he reaches the supposed tourney location, he is pushed into a dimensional rift by his nemesis and teleported to the Rainbow Moon. With no clear route to go back the way he came and hundreds of monsters following you through the rift, there is little choice but to explore this new, strange world. The setting itself is extremely reminiscent of an older breed of RPG in which the background and story itself took a backseat to the gameplay, which is a really good thing because the story in Rainbow Moon is incredibly weak. I never once found myself caring for the characters or even taking notice of where the overarching story was progressing because it was all so incredibly bland. Anybody looking for some form of story driven experience would struggle to play through an hour.
Rainbow Moon indirectly but incessantly drills into us from a very early stage that it takes its cues from classic RPGs and to me was especially reminiscent of The Secret of Mana. This is especially obvious when you take a look at the art style with its isometric view and luminous graphical style that remains prevalent throughout. The original character design for Baldren looks astonishingly like a Dragoon, which is a really nice touch. Despite the graphics being impressive for the downloadable title, the sound design completely contrasts with this by managing to be extremely poor. NPC character sound bytes managed to make me cringe time and time again and the music left a lot to be desired.
The world of Rainbow Moon itself follows its original description; an unoriginal but fully functional RPG universe with all of the genre standards. Towns with all of the stereotypical vendors, dungeons and random encounters are order of the day here, with their own unique twists. The game world itself has a fully functional day and night cycle, forcing more elements of strategy into exploration as you need to light your path with torches while in dungeons or the wilderness at night, or camp at scattered Bonfires to replenish health and recuperate. The torches and hunger bar seem heavily influenced by Minecraft, which leads me to question the mentality behind putting it into the game as the mechanics themselves add nothing to the experience other than minor complications. Random encounters take on an interesting form with a mixture of both random encounters and enemies appearing in the field, giving you the choice as to whether you wish to initiate a random encounter or not. It sounds like a really strange system, but in-game it works extremely well. In all honesty it’s one of the better solutions to the RPG encounter debate I’ve ever seen and I’d love to see it utilised more often.
The previously mentioned isometric view feels extremely awkward for the first few hours of play due to the angled view, which can lead to some movement and placement errors in combat. After you adapt though, the combat becomes simple but immensely rewarding with a good amount of available strategies to combat different enemies. The combat is very reminiscent of the Disgaea titles; classic turn based SRPG battle systems with flamboyant special attacks and hordes of enemies on-screen per battle. However, due to the much smaller player party size it feels like the battles are finished at a noticeably quicker rate. This makes random battles feel much quicker paced and more manageable, which was really necessary for the combat to shine in the way it does.
I played through my time in Rainbow Moon on Hard mode, which wasn’t a massively drastic step up in difficulty from Normal, but did require me to grind a lot more before progressing in order to not be left behind by the enemies. Grinding feels integral in Rainbow Moon at any difficulty level though, because each new area offers a large shift in enemy difficulty from the last which can leave the player feeling underpowered at times. From winning battles and exploring your surroundings you can earn the main currencies in the game: Rainbow Coins and Rainbow Pearls. Rainbow Coins are used for the buying and selling of items and equipment, wheras Rainbow Pearls can be given to NPC characters called Savants to improve your stats, offering a slight twist on standard levelling system. Of course, levels are still present in a big way in Rainbow Moon, taking another nod from Disgaea by including rather bloated level possibilities; as an example, one trophy requires your character to reach Level 500. That could take a while.
One of the strongest selling points of Rainbow Moon is the sheer volume of content, though. For £9.99 you genuinely do get a 30/40 hour main plot in varied and interesting locations, constantly evolving enemies and a multitude of side content. I can see it taking me 80+ hours to fully complete the game, easily. Obviously this is absolutely phenomenal value for money considering that the gameplay mechanics are fun enough to rack up large playing sessions and there is more content than the majority of full retail titles in the same genre.
In summary, I feel that Rainbow Moon is a shining example of what a SRPG should be, albeit with some all too noticeable flaws. Despite having a select audience, the title carries itself well enough to deserve to be in the collection of any hardcore RPG fan. The incredible value for money and simple but enjoyable mechanics cater to a newer breed of player and allow them to enjoy a game they may have never previously experienced, but the sound and story aspects of the title especially prevent it from capturing those extended audiences. Essentially, you already know if you want to play Rainbow Moon and if you’re not certain one way or the other, it probably isn’t for you.
Check out the Launch trailer for Rainbow Moon below!