Magic Knight Rayearth (魔法騎士レイアース), released 9/29/1995, developed by Tomy
This is our second consecutive RPG based on a shojo manga. Magic Knight Rayearth was a series by the famous Clamp group that ran from 1993-1996. It had an anime adaptation, and there were a bunch of video games released in 1994 and 1995 for the Game Boy, Game Gear, Saturn, and this one for Super Famicom.
I never saw or read Rayearth so I do not have the nostalgic connection to the series that I do to Sailor Moon. I thought this game was greatly inferior to Sailor Moon, but some of that is probably that I’m not a fan of this series.
The game involves three 8th grade girls who get transported to a fantasy world and have to become the Magic Knights to save Rayearth. The game is an adaptation of the first half of the manga (the first storyline). It ends very abruptly because of this.
The three girls (from left to right above) are Ryuzaki Umi, Shidou Hikaru, and Hououji Fuu.
Because of the nature of the series, there is no equipment. Instead each girl has a weapon and an armor, that change a couple of times during the game and can be levelled up by fighting battles. Each girl will also gain the ability to use magic during the game; new spells can be gained by levelling up, and there are also a few powerful spells that are granted at certain points in the story. The battle system is normal DQ2 style, and there’s really not much to it — levelling is fairly quick and you can buy MP restoring items so the game goes smoothly. It’s also quite short.
When the story begins, Princess Emeraude has used Cephiro’s Pillar to summon the magic knights from the real world to Rayearth to defeat Zagato, a priest who was supposed to be her second in command but has turned against her and wants to reduce the world to nothing. (NOTE: I am not going to look up the official English romanizations for the names)
This magician Clef tells the three girls why they’ve been summoned, and tells them that the only way they’ll be able to get back to Earth is to defeat Zagato and have Emeraude send them back. First, they need to find the smith Presea so they can get their magic weapons.
At Presea’s, a little magic creature called Mocona joins up. Mocona can become a campsite where you can heal and save on the map, and will also perform various other helpful functions as the story progresses.
The girls need to find some Escudo so that Presea can forge their weapons. Meanwhile they meet a knight named Lafarga who was one of the Princess’ guards and wants to defeat Zagato, but he refuses to join the girls. On the way to find the Escudo, Clef reappears and gives Umi her water magic — unfortunately he doesn’t have time to give the rest of the girls theirs, because Alcione, one of Zagato’s servants, attacks.
Now you do a scenario with each of the three girls where they confront their weaknesses, and after that they gain the Escudo and their new weapons. I’m not entirely sure what the effect of getting these new weapons and levelling them up is, but I assume the attack increases.
The next goal is to revive the three legendary Mashins, which will give them power to defeat Zagato.
You have to go to three areas that represent one of the three Mashins associated with each girl (water, fire, wind). In each one you have to demonstrate your strength to the Mashin; it’s always by dealing with one of Zagato’s underlings and converting them to good by some method. Once all three Mashins give you their power, the girls reach their final upgrade.
Finally, we head to Zagato’s castle. First we have to make it through a mirror maze cave.
We then reach Zagato’s castle. It turns out that Zagato really just wants to break down the world so he can create a new one where Princess Emeraude doesn’t have to be bound to the Cephiro pillar. Once we beat him (and his Mashin form), there’s a final twist — Emeraude is in love with Zagato, and can’t deal with her anger that Zagato has been killed. She actually summoned the Magic Knights to kill her. This is the danger of the Pillar; the person who is chosen to pray for the world may have their thoughts distracted by things like love, causing problems.
Emeraude attacks you with her own Mashin form. Once killed, the girls get transported back to Tokyo Tower. Hikaru says “We have to get back!” and the game ends abruptly.
All in all this game was rather disappointing; it’s very short, with a high random encounter rate, and almost nothing to do other than just go straight through the story. Since it’s only the first part of the story, it has the most abrupt ending I’ve ever seen in an RPG. I suppose at least it plays smoothly (if you have a speedup key for the battles), and if you are a fan of Rayearth it should be worth a play. But it pales in comparison to the care with which Sailor Moon: Another Story was made. If any of the commenters were fans of this series, maybe you can tell me if that makes the game any better.
There’s a well regarded Rayearth ARPG on the Saturn. Plays kind of like Seiken Densetsu. Though the English version had Wrecking Designs working on it unfortunately.
I played this game many years ago and quite enjoyed it. It’s nothing special but thought it was an easy play.
I will say that you actually got the bad ending (Same one I got first time I played the game) – I forget the requirements, but if you do some extra things during the game you’ll get an extra fight with Emeraude and a more proper ending.
Interesting — I just watched the other ending on Youtube (in this one, beating Emerade releases her spirit or something so she can be with Zagato in the spirit world. The other people resolve to guard the Pillar themselves, and the girls get sent back to Earth.)
Apparently to get this ending you have to get an orb and talk to some people in the last dungeon. One Japanese site I saw said it also has to be your second playthrough; the gamefaqs walkthroughs didn’t mention that but maybe they had already played it once so they didn’t realize.
I hadn’t realized it was so short. Makes me feel silly I never finished it back in the day…
More recently I played Rayearth on Game Gear, which is a charming, if also short and simple little game. It doesn’t follow the main story. The gameplay involves a reel system, of all things, which is actually more fun than it sounds.
I’ve been hoping for a translation of Rayearth 2 on Game Gear, the only game that covers stuff from the second season until Super Robot Wars. It’s a Princess Maker type game.