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Rainbow Moon Vita Review – Nothing Like a Good Ol’ Grind

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Rainbow Moon is a wondrous title developed by Sidequest Games and published by the Eastasiasoft company, harking to the core strategist and role player. Although this title does hit that particular mark there are still some things that it misses to create a superflous experience for anyone to adore.

To start off, you play as the main character Baldren, as he is on the hunt for his rival Namoris. In the midst of his trail he stumbles upon a beautiful and jaw-dropping portal unknown to any of his kind. As Baldren is enamored in the blue light, his enemy pushes him through the portal, transporting him to an unknown world called Rainbow Moon.

He is greeted with disdain from the nearby inhabitants as being the reason monsters are now roaming the lands, as he brought them to their world. While his quest to hunt Namoris is on hold, he tries to figure out a way to return home, to escape from Rainbow Moon.

For the story of this title, I will say it’s presented in heavy-dosed text manner. It’s very similar to old-school rpgs like Baldurs Gate, which to some who aren’t accustomed to; might take the great writing and begin breezing by as if accepting a quest in an MMO. With this title constantly in an isometric view, again similar to Baldur’s Gate, it’s easy for a disconnect to allow the game to communicate the story easily to the gamer with no changing of camera angles or anything. This dynamically keep the viewers attention; similarly to how you would think when watching a tv show or movie.

How I believed titles such as the Baldur’s Gate or the Neverwinter Night series still maintained viewer attention was the fact that choices a player made strongly affected the plot and your particular character’s story, which enforces the player to pay attention. With Rainbow Moon it’s pretty straightforward, going quest to quest littered with text. By no means is this a huge setback for the title, but it is something that could help get more attention to the plot of the title more willingly.

Minus the somewhat archaic design of presenting and progressing the story, the world and its characters are fun and vibrant. When reading other character’s monologues, it’s nice to feel the lightheartedness of the title as it doesn’t take anythng too seriously and allows for some humor to come through, which I felt helped connect more to the world of Rainbow Moon.

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Gameplay in Rainbow Moon is both fun and difficult. This is where the game triumphs but also has most of its faults. As with previous reviewers on the PS3 release of this title and the sarcastic review title, this game is ridiculously grind-based. If you do not power level, you will die very easily in this game.

The way the player gets leveled, however, is pretty cool. When you see a physical enemy on the screen, you will see their name and level highlighted in a color, which displays the difficulty of defeating the enemy.

This is based off level red being high danger, green with low danger and grey’ed out meaning they don’t present as a challenge. After battling the character will gain moon drops that can be taken to a villager named “Savant”, and based off your character each stat requires a certain amount of moon drops to upgrade a particular stat by one.

When a character levels up through experience, this will increase the allowed cap of each stat that is available to be upgraded. Each stat being upgraded by just a single digit does feel pretty weighty to the outcome of battle, which made visiting the Savant feel extremely beneficial.

The battle system itself is presented in grid based format into which the player can only do one action at a time based off the amount of AP they have. The player can end up doing three attacks if you were inclined to do so. Each move a player makes is a permanent decision and cannot be retraced, which is my biggest nitpick of the title.

This is not from the idea of a permanent move, but rather the navigation of the character in the grid format and the overall functioning of that system. Since the view is still isometric, when the player hits the move function, a blue highlighted grid will show where the player can go and what D-Pad selection they can perform. The prompt to move the character will come up as soon as the d-pad is hit, there is no backing out, and an AP is used up.

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You can also use the left analog stick but often I found that it is easy for the game to misinterpret the motion, leading to a crappy move. By playing a lot of strategy RPG’s I’m used to the notion of permanent moves, and when making bad calls its definitely due to being dumb and just generally making a bad decision.

In Rainbow Moon, it felt like a shoddy mechanic that created problems in navigating, leading to large missed opportunities. This issue could’ve been solved with an aim and press function so it can feel that if you did make a mistake, it was your mistake and not the game with how it receives inputs.

Now that my biggest nuisance of the title is out of the way; The battle system is fun but it is really slow in the beginning. When starting out you only have one character with one AP so planned navigation of the map is a necessity to avoid having a rude beginning to the game’s difficulty. When reaching certain levels, the character’s AP cap will increase creating more freedom and even better dynamics in battle.

Each awarded AP increase or party member acquisition is a huge shift to the game and player dynamics which makes the title fresh throughout. However, this causes the beginning of the game to be very slow while later on, battles become slightly faster and a bit easier to a point, the more one can move around.

Battles also follow a strength and weakness formula, which in turn follows two formulas. One formula is a triangle effect, where sword beats ranged, ranged beats axe, and axe beats sword – each advantage or disadvantage giving either a 33% bonus or reduction in damage.

I believe the color choices were not strong in showcasing that, with blue being the critical hit and yellow is the reduced hit text. The second formula of strength and weakness is also if the character is a magic type or a melee type. Both do more beneficial damage to each other but are reduced if fighting the same type.

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AI is okay if not predictable after one or so encounter with a type. Enemies have certain priorities to a character, whether it’s to take on the strongest ally or the weakest, as it’s not always by type or even by distance.

This was weird to me, as an enemy will go across the entire map to reach one ally, even though there is one right next to it. I’ve been trying to see how it was determining priorities and I was close to grabbing my third party member before testing further as to how it was established.

Either way, as soon as you figure out the priorities of the enemy, its pretty simple to just move back and forth while an ally weeds them out. This is key because the enemy shares the same amount of AP, if not less then the character would.

If the enemy does manage to get a couple hits on you, generally your ass is kicked pretty hard. What also doesn’t help is that enemies later one will have funky areas that can be reached for special attacks which does add to the challenge of memorizing techniques to survive.

Ailments and effects weigh extremely heavily in Rainbow Moon. A simple poison effect can decimate your ally quickly and other effects like slow and bound can really screw up your match, which also has the difficulties of numbers not being on your side.

This is also factoring in the restrictive limit of your restoration bag, so cures and potions get used quickly in just one match. Before you know it, you’re back to the doctor curing everything and restocking on supplies for later.

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On top of a restoration bag you have a miscellaneous bag that holds trinkets, status increasing items and more importantly, food. On top of the harsh difficulty from the combined mechanics of the game and the enemies you battle, the player is responsible for feeding each character in the whole team.

This can easily be a nuisance. Failure to stay on top of this will lead to the hunger status, which just becomes a heap of issues, so its best to still fill their stomachs. The bags get easily filled up with food and little room for other items or vice versa, when you really need a little extra.

It’s a mechanic that just adds to the multitasking difficulty, but I don’t see the huge benefit of adding that system in, other then to punish players for having the extra help of allies. Another similar mechanic is that the player will more then likely be running through a few caverns or dungeons, so the dark places need light.

You can utilize a torch to see things clearly, but the light goes away very quickly. This concept is a bit more pertinent to the food system, but the longevity of the torch usage needs to be tweaked slightly to last longer. This is because the dungeons normally take a good amount of time to traverse, and the lack of light just gets very annoying but to me, makes a bit more sense in context.

Another mechanic that is a bit bland is navigating the world itself. Each step that is taken takes one second on the clock which also correlates to different days of the week. It’s not a big deal, but it adds to the idea of being dragged on as movement is performed at a steady walk pace, with no running or anything like that to speed up navigation.

When navigating dungeons this feeling doesn’t feel as strong, as most labyrinths traversed have a semi puzzle effect because the areas revolve when passing through a collider.

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This can be described as similar to crossing on the sides in a Pac-Man game, which leads to some cool exploration. Quests that utilize time and day can be extremely vexing if you miss the deadline, whether it’s due to being in a fight or from distance itself. If you already used a campfire to pass the time for the day, this can lead to the player just walking around in circles for the time to arrive or to gain access to use the campfire again.

Rainbow Moon on Playstation Vita  is a fun title, and yet it’s one of those titles that is not for everyone. Even if you are a core RPG or strategy fan, there are things in this game that can turn those players away from this title. For those who can really pass the grind portion (which is its biggest setback). Most people playing through this game will be rewarded with a fun and quirky world, and the satisfaction from beating a title that is very difficult. Pick it up if you guys are up for the challenge and enjoy!

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Chris Gollmer

About

I have been an avid gamer since I was a child, playing Legend of Zelda on the NES and began true niche gaming during the SNES/Genesis battles.