Shinseiki Odysselya (神聖紀オデッセリア)
Released 6/18/1993, published by Vic Tokai
Back to the Super Famicom, with a mythology themed game. Apparently this game was on the slate to be released in the US as Lost Horizon, and even got reviewed in Nintendo Power (by someone who didn’t like RPGs), but was cancelled before release. Nintendo’s release criteria could be a little slapdash, but it seems surprising to me that they ever considered this game. Not only does it have heavy mythology elements but it involves Old Testament figures and stories — perhaps this was not as “dangerous” as if it had involved Jesus or the New Testament. But it still suggests that the Bible stories didn’t actually happen like the Bible says. There’s also some nudity they would have had to censor.
|Nintendo of America would not have liked this|
The game takes place on Earth, in three time periods. The first two (prehistory and 1500 BC) are short and serve mostly as prologue segments. Most of the game takes place in 550 BC. The history is obviously not completely accurate, but they do seem to have taken some effort to fit the time — for instance, Rome is a tiny town, although someone in Athens tells you they have the feeling Rome is going to get a lot bigger later.
The opening tells us that the all-powerful gave various duties to the gods they had created, separated between light, darkness, and the in-between. Eventually the guardians of earth attacked the heaven dwellers, but were defeated and scattered around the world. Early people called them the Titano Guardians. Now life developed on earth, and about a billion and a half years later, the highly evolved dinosaurs, the Ryuujinzoku, were at the apex of their civilization. But they misused their technology and knowledge, and brought ruin upon themselves. This is where the game starts, with a young woman appearing among them.
Kyle, a dragon, finds our main character lying in a field after a fight with some monkeys. She doesn’t remember her name, but decides to use the name Kurisu. The Ryuujin are in big trouble; there’s an ice age, and they’re down to just a small number of them left. But Konlon, the leader, wants Kurisu to break the seal on the Holy Road so that they can defeat the apes.
The battle system is typical AMID, with a few innovations. There are several auto battle options, which is always appreciated (one automatically exits auto battle if you drop into critical HP). There are front and back rows, and with weapons like spears and bows you can attack from the back rows without problems. One interesting feature is that most magic has two forms, an attack and defense. For instance, Thor is a thunder attack, and a revive spell. As characters level, they can put more power into the spells (from level 1 to 8) at the cost of more MP. The magic is split between Talisman magic, which you equip, and special magic, which is learned with level ups.
There are a few other aspects of the system that aren’t much use. The back of the box trumpets the fact that you can control the stat gains on level up, but this doesn’t seem very useful — the characters come with settings that are pretty good to fit their fighting type, and I have never changed them. You can also combine two weapons to make a third. But it’s a frustrating process because there’s no way to know what the combination will be, and most combinations don’t do anything. Worse, there’s a glitch that makes the items disappear sometimes. The combined stuff isn’t even that useful anyway…I did a few combinations at the beginning with the recipes from the instruction manual, but not after that.
The leader, Konlon, wants us to find a statue that will supposedly enable the Ryuujin to unleash their true power and then defeat the monkeys (some of whom are primitive humans). But when we find the statue, it’s the god Naga, who tells Kurisu that part of her mission is to find the guardians who were defeated in the heaven war. Konlon comes to smash the statue, which he thinks will give him power — instead it kills all the remaining Ryuujin. We also learn that the humans and apes were genetically engineered by the Ryuujin to be slaves. But they will now inherit the earth. Kyle is still around, and wants to get revenge on Draken, the guardian that caused the destruction.
But it turns out Kyle is an avatar of Draken, and so attacking Draken also hurts Kyle, and eventually they are both defeated. Naga then appears to tell us we just witnessed the end of one civilization and the start of another; she will give the humans fire. Kurisu is now sent 100,000 years in the future, to 1300 BC, in the town of Doran (most of the cities are real-world but I’m not sure what ドラン is.) She quickly meets Loos, who is a reincarnation of Kyle, and wants to travel with Kurisu again. They hear that Naga is in Thebes and go off to find her again. Instead, we find Ezen, who seems to be filling the role of Moses. He also recognizes Kurisu and wonders what she’s doing “in that form” but won’t say any more.
|Go down Ezen, way down in Egypt land|
This section is a version of the Exodus story, with Ezen asking Pharoah to release the people of Zion. Of course he refuses, so we (along with Sarai) have to sneak into the labor camp and find Joshua, the leader of Zion. With his help the slaves escape, but Pharoah pursues us to a river. Sarai sacrifices herself to give Ezen the power to part the river.
|The red sea parts|
From here, Kurisu and Loos arrive in Babylon, then climb the Tower of Babel to reach a garden in the sky where they hope to find one of the guardians.
In the garden is Dappa (who I also don’t think is any real mythological figure). He mentions the world’s destruction by a flood many years ago thanks to the Heavenly Emperor, and sends us forward to 550 BC, which is apparently the original time for both Kurisu and Loos. This is where most of the game takes place. It turns out Loos is the son of the Persian King. The first task is to save Canaan from Babylon (the Sack of Jersualem was in 587 BC so I guess this is based on that). Loos is able to convince his father to send some troops at Babylon, and we break in and fight Nebuchadnezzar, who has turned into a monster.
The character on the right, the Roc, is a familiar. There are several of these throughout the game. You can’t control them, but they always go first and regain all their MP each battle so they can be quite powerful. I’ll end this post here — I should be able to finish the game in a few days but I’ll probably need two more posts about it. It’s a pretty average game so far.
This looks interesting. It may not be anything special gameplay-wise, but I am a sucker for this kind of mythological setting. Too bad there doesn't seem to be a translation patch around.
Odysselya II is being worked on by Dynamic Designs. I saw on their forums that the first game is difficult to hack or extract the text from so it may not happen.
The battle sprites look amazing! The overhead view also looks a bit like Elnard/Mystic Ark, in my opinion. Might have to look into this a bit more, thanks for the introduction!
Yeah they went all out on the boss art. Overall the graphics were pretty good.
It looks like they are indeed working on both games, but they're still probably years off, since the projects have just been announced pretty much. Still, that's nice, I like these settings as well, and the game doesn't seem bad. Even if it's average, I can see it being pretty interesting, at the very least.
It's definitely worth playing — nobody's going to put it among the crown jewels of the SFC library, but it's playable without too much frustration and has a fair amount of interesting stuff in it.