I’ve played quite a few games based on anime/light novels for this blog. In general, they’ve been cheap cash grabs with none of the charm or interest of the original series. Slayers is a popular light novel series that was made into an anime; I remember watching all three seasons in college. The Slayers video game is different from some of the others in that the original writers of Slayers was involved in the project and it fits in with the series better than games like Ranma or Fist of the North Star.
Often the difficulty the creators have is how to transfer the original context to an RPG. For instance, Fist of the North Star involves people who can kill others with a touch, and who can only be matched by one of the few people who also have skill in these martial arts techniques? How did the Fist RPGs deal with this? By completely ignoring it and having Kenshiro and the others fight grunts with nunchuks or regular punches.
Slayers has a similar problem — in the original series, Lina Inverse is supposed to be one of the most powerful magicians in the world, able to use devastating magic attacks that can destroy towns. So this game begins with Lina having lost her memory, as well as all but a few of her magic spells. This allows for the growth that you expect in an RPG without violating the storyline of the original. It may seem like a cheap way out, but it is involved in the story more than you might expect at first.
There are a large number of characters from the series in the game, including a number from the novels that I was not familiar with. Other than Lina you can’t choose who you want to have until very late in the game. Each character has the same basic RPG choices but with a special move. Sylphiel can use her magic on everyone, and Lemmy does an all attack, to use two examples. Most of the time the characters do what you tell them to do, but certain characters (particularly Naga and Amelia) will do their own thing from time to time.
The graphics are good in some parts, like the character portraits in the status screen:
The battle graphics are relatively good too.
There are also occasional cutscene style graphics.
But the map sprites are really disappointing; they could have done a lot better with these.
The equipment system is pretty disappointing as well. There’s no money from battles, only from chests, The equipment upgrades are fairly limited (and as usual you can’t see the stats of items until you buy them.) On the whole, the RPG elements are not as robust as they could be. The battles tend to be quite simple; you regain your MP whenever you level up so you can use spells a lot (which I always appreciate). The bosses are typically highly resistant to magic so you basically have to buff and heal for them. Resurrection, which heals 9999 HP and brings characters back to life costs only 10 MP so you rarely have to worry about a game over except in a few fights. By the end your party is three level 99 characters plus Lina, which makes the final battles quite easy.
The story gains some interest later in the game when you learn more about why Lina’s memory is missing; it’s nothing amazing but it’s entertaining enough. Then once you beat the main game you get a short post-game storyline where you can choose any party, giving you a chance you use your favorite characters in the end part.
This game has a translation patch. It’s definitely worth playing if you are a fan of the Slayers anime (or light novels); as an RPG it’s somewhat lacking but it’s a smooth playthrough and doesn’t have anything that will frustrate you.
Next up is Sansara Naga 2.