SFC Game 1 – GDLeen Review

Story/Characters: I suppose by the standards of the Famicom games that came before it, this isn’t bad. But it promises so much and delivers so little. The characters are thin. Most of them barely have any dialogue, and the ones that join you have almost no motivation or characterization. Only Fana gets some dialogue and story, but it’s very basic.The story has some development but with such a potentially interesting setting, they could have done better. This is especially disappointing because from what I can tell, the PC-98 game that preceded this (Digan no Maseki) was heavy on story and character.

World: The world is a constructed ship-planet with a mysterious god and two warring races that don’t know why they’re fighting. Once again this is an interesting setting that was mostly squandered. The explorable world is quite small, and you don’t learn that much about the different races even if you talk to everyone. Perhaps they meant for players to be familiar with the novels? I don’t know how popular they were in 1991.

Game Flow: You make decent progress until the latter half, when the game pads out the length by requiring you to go back to many previous areas twice. Revisiting old places isn’t always bad, but when there’s nothing new to find there but a single locked door, it gets old quickly. 

System: The system is best described as a bare bones RPG system with a veneer of complexity. There are a lot of unusual options — you can capture monsters and then call them up later, you can do a counterattack, and there are three different ways to run. But none of these really have any purpose since they are less effective than simply attacking, or too much trouble. 

The game shares a problem with many RPGs of this era — magic is generally pointless except for healing and in some boss fights. The magic users have too few MP to use magic in the random encounters, and MP heal items are very rare. Even in the boss battles, you have to save your MP for healing, and the magic users do OK damage with their attacks.

What all this means is that just for fun you can try to do various things, but in the end the most effective tactic tends to be just mashing attack.

I also complained enough about the status effects in earlier posts as well.

By far the worst thing about the system is the critical hits. I don’t know what they were thinking giving any monster the ability to potentially do more damage than your characters’ max HP. Anyone can beat the final boss just by getting lucky and doing 4000 damage with one hit. This is a mess.

Side Quests/Optional Content: As far as I know there is none.

Interface: I complained about the interface enough in the actual posts — the short version, it sucks. For the long version refer back to my rants at the top of posts 4 and 2.

Graphics/Sound: This is one area where this game is actually pretty good. As you can see for yourself in the many screenshots I posted, the graphics are not simply the slightly upgraded Famicom graphics we’ll see in several upcoming games. The world could have used more color variation, but other than that I don’t have much complaint. The music is also a high point of the game. I posed the title music in the last post, but here are a few other good tracks:

Despite my harsh evaluation, this game must have made an impression on early Super Famicom players because it seems like a lot of Japanese players who grew up in that era have a fond memory of this game. Maybe it would have been worth it in 1991 when it came out, but in 2017 there’s no real reason to play it.

5 thoughts on “SFC Game 1 – GDLeen Review

  1. The Time Mage

    Thanks for the review. Was interested in this because of the art / it's scifi but if the story/characters are thin I'm gonna pass.

  2. Kurisu

    Oh, I actually meant the reverse — when I was a kid, I could only get a few games a year, and maybe some rentals on the weekends. So I played a lot of games that really weren't that good, and I liked grinding a lot more when I was a kid.

    I have a feeling that if I had been given a game like GDLeen for Christmas I would have played it to the end, although I don't know for sure.


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