There were a lot of RPGs I played for the SNES (and in general) and while some were weird from time to time, very few achieved the strangeness of Paladin's Quest. So what makes it so strange? Well to clarify, it's not strange in the same sense that games like Earthbound, some Final Fantasies, and a few other Enix RPGs. No, it's strange in that various gameplay concepts either don't make sense or seem to be there just because and because it's totally alien at times...literally.
First off, the game takes place on an alien world, so the alien architecture, forests, and so on look very different. Unfortunately, they're also relatively low quality. See, where Earthbound had a distinctive, sometimes coloring book-like look, this game looks like they rushed it and didn't worry too much about the graphics. Still, I do have to compliment them for the battle graphics; they're pretty nice and animated, too. Bad graphics are bad.
And let's talk about the battle system real quick. At first, everything seems to be standard RPG faire. It's first person and turn-based. Alright, except...everything can be controlled with the D-pad...and you can attack with EVERYTHING. Now, I never understood why they'd put this in, but it was a funny concept that you could not only attack with your held weapons, but also kick, throw your body at an enemy, and headbutt them.
I mean, once you figure out which one does the most damage, you should probably just do that. Even still, it was a funny, but again STRANGE concept to add to the game. But let's talk about magic. Most RPGs have a very simple MP system where you draw MP in order to cast spells and if you don't have enough, well, you just don't have enough. Not Paladin's Quest.
Now...I could hear you cringe. See, usually this means one of two things. It either means they have some bullshit system that doesn't make sense or is way too complicated and annoying like Secret of Evermore or Final Fantasy 8 or it means the spells are fucking weaksauce but there's no cost to use them. Actually, in Paladin's Quest, there's no MP...because spells use your HP. Is it just me or does it look like they ripped off Metroid enemies?
Now, the ramifications here are evident already. In order to grind spells (because there are proficiencies, which is a bonus), you have to use them over and over, at the cost of your HP. Yes, that IS a pain in the ass. But with the exception of later on spells, they usually have a very low HP cost requirement. Besides that, they start out relatively comparable to that of slightly more than your normal attack power, meaning if you put forth the time to grind, you could be completely overpowered in no time, but you'll have to keep your HP up.
And of course, this also means you could dictate how your character works. Will your character be an over-leveled, constantly wearing the newest armor badass or will he be a slightly lower level, mega mage? And of course, you can always just cast spells when you need to, try to keep up on the equipment, and level up frequently in order to have a good happy medium.
Plus, spell types combine in this game to create new spells, which means when you get new spells, they might already be goddamn powerful because one of the base spell types is already high level from your grinding. Another cool aspect of this game is there are probably 50+ people you can recruit. Some of them are recruited a la FF4 method, meaning they join when it's convenient for the plot and ditto for leaving the party. Behold the sage-like words of the NPCs.
Then there are several special characters you can find that operate similarly, mercenaries you can recruit temporarily, and so on. Also, as far as HP recovery, in this game you wear potion belts that you can fill in towns, so restocking items is actually a snap and fairly cheap overall, which is good because most of your money will be going to equipment anyway.
Ah, but you may have read this far to see about the story. Eh, it's okay. It's your standard idiot boy and his peer pressuring friends unlock an ancient evil that will destroy the world and for some reason he's the only one that can stop it so now he has to go globe trotting to look for people that will help him stop it yet he still has time to be bogged down with a bunch of random tasks in the interim.
Yeah. Nothing special, really. In fact, in my opinion, it's one of the weakest areas of the game. That said... Conclusion The Good
- Interesting level and enemy design, if only because it's alien.
- Spell type proficiency is always a good idea and while some may criticize the game for using HP, it comes off as a good idea in the end because of them transferring to new and better spells.
- Being able to attack every which way possible is strange and unnecessary, but funny.
- Being able to control everything in combat with your left hand is a plus for laziness. The Bad
- The graphics look cheap and NES-like, thus, the game comes off feeling unfinished at times.
- The music and sounds are relatively mediocre, but not to the point they're annoying.
- Using HP for magic causes a necessity for grinding and constant town trips to refill potion belts.
- Generic ass story. And The Headbutty
At the end of the day, Paladin's Quest isn't the most impressive RPG ever, but it should be noted for its interesting, though sometimes strange, concepts and graphics. It's definitely worth checking out, especially if you have nothing better to do. Verdict: 8.0
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