Monday, September 7, 2009

Cosmic Fantasy 3

Laser Soft / Telenet
Super CD-ROM

Cosmic Fantasy 3 does everything it can to move itself along at a fast pace and make the player's life easy. It prudently provides a dash button, so you needn't lurch your way across the countryside. As your fleet-footed characters proceed from one area to the next, they partake in random battles that occur at appropriate intervals (i.e., frequently enough to keep your warriors at an adequate experience level but not so often that they drive you mad during environmental reconnaissance). The combat system is simple and effective and grants you many different ways to go about slaying your enemies, enemies who can be taken care of quickly and painlessly if you bother to learn the advantages particular to each weapon you wield. And rather than having you focus on single objectives for long stretches of time, CF3 continually charges you with fresh tasks. You'll go from challenging the local fistfighting champion to donning an animal mask and making friends with the neighborhood felines.

And as you'd expect from a Cosmic Fantasy title, CF3 features cool characters, emotional moments, hilarious bits, and lots of great cinemas.

The game does have some flaws though, mostly minor things:

Field and town screens are no longer kept separate, meaning that a close-camera view is maintained at all times. Most of the overworld environments are simple in design and appearance and look similar to one another, and since you can see only a small segment of terrain at any given time, it can be a little difficult in some spots to figure out where exactly to go next. Sometimes, you just need to stumble about blindly in the hopes that you'll happen upon something interesting.

The game doesn't feel as epic as CF2, which features lots of large dungeons to explore and plenty of people to meet and recruit. You do encounter some interesting folks in 3, and a few of them do tag along with you for a while, but the adventure seems shorter and less expansive on the whole than the one that precedes it.

The monster art is cartoony, which doesn't sit well with me. The creatures aren't drawn poorly by any means, but smiling tomato-like things and such are not the sort of fiends that are much fun to fight. At least your own characters look pretty cool in their battle-screen portraits.

Maybe I've always had my characters at super-high levels or I've just happened to use all the right techniques and equipment, but I've always found the bosses to be ridiculously easy to beat. And there's a terrible "Cosmic Fantasy" vocal number that plays during the boss fights. Most of the game's other tunes are pretty good, but as is the case in every other CF game, there just aren't many tracks to listen to.

Despite the issues I have with it, Cosmic Fantasy 3 still rates in my mind as an excellent RPG, one that provides a fairly short but very sweet questing experience.

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