The long, long-delayed Working Designs RPG Magic Knight Rayearth has many ups and many downs and after playing it I have to ask myself why did Working Designs ever port it. Sure it looks flashy, but isn't gameplay the most important aspect of a game? Anyway, read on to find out why I think Rayearth is one the most disappointing RPG's from Working Designs.
Magic Knight Rayearth had the potential of being one of greatest RPG's ever created. Just looking at the screenshots will make your mouth water with delight, not counting the fact that it is based off of a very popular "hyper cute" anime, but after you get over the eye candy and the Rayearth cast, this RPG is just a sad waste of space. From gameplay to level of difficulty to the intro song, almost everything in Rayearth is wrong. To make this easier for you to grasp I will break this review up into sections.
The first category I want to get off my chest is the music. The music during the game is very lovely and soothing and was a very enjoyable part of Rayearth. Each town's music fit perfectly and each dungeons' as well; however, what I didn't like about Rayearth's music was the intro song. Now, most people would listen to the English version and think that for a video game it was awesome, but if you heard the Japanese version it would blow you away! Why did Working Designs touch the song? It didn't need to be changed into English, it was perfect the way it was. Now I'm not one of those people who prefer subs to dubs, but in this case I do. And the translation (ARGH!) was awful, whoever translated this song did a shoddy job. The first part of the song uses the phrase "a bold daring dream" twice and even a five-year-old poet knows you don't do that. Maybe it was written that way, but I doubt it. Most of the music was good, but that intro brings the score way down.
I'm not the biggest fan of Action/RPG's, but I know when a game's gameplay is good and Rayearth's gameplay is very poor, but it has a few high points. Rayearth's gameplay is like a mixed bag with good attributes, such as multiple character players (ala Lost Vikings), but terrible ones too like easy bosses and small dungeons. Most of the towns in Rayearth are way to small and most of the dungeons are too small AND too easy. The only game that I have played with smaller dungeons is Linkle Liver Story and it's not just the small dungeons that make Rayearth weak, it's the easy bosses as well. The only hard boss you run into in Rayearth is the end boss and that's it. All the others are weak pushovers, even average RPGer's will slaughter them in no time flat.
With Rayearth's many flaws in Gameplay aside, it has a few unique features like collecting Rainbows crystals to get some cool stuff (like little Mokona shoes), but most of the stuff isn't needed to beat the game so the crystals aren't that important. Maybe I'm being too harsh here, but I just can't think of many good things about Rayearth's gameplay and I think I've covered enough of the bad.
The story revolves around three young girls who are on a school vacation from different schools. They get warped to a strange land by Princess Emerald and must become Magic Knights to save and return home. That's Rayearth's beginning in a nutshell; the story has a lot of twists and gets very good near the end, very enjoyable and Mokona makes it even better with a pu pu every now and again (if you didn't already know, that's who my staff character is). Rayearth's story is another mixed bag. While Rayearth's story is very good with great characters and character development, it has a nasty downside. If you play the game it will ruin some of the anime (the anime is way better than this game) and if you ask me, that aspect alone is enough to never play Rayearth. But if you don't care than by all means, enjoy!
Rayearth's Graphics are very good with sprite characters and the most beautiful background colors you will see in a game. The character boxes in Rayearth are also excellent with high quality shots of all the main characters (even Mokona!), awesome stuff. My favorite part of the graphics was the fire effects in the burning house. The fire looked as good as the real thing. The graphics are the best part about Rayearth, I could go at them all day long and never get tired of them.
Overall, Rayearth isn't an awful game, it just isn't that good. I hold Working Designs games to a higher standard because Working Designs is excellence, but Rayearth is far from excellence. You can argue all day about which game is Working Designs' worst, but I would say (for now at least) that it's Rayearth. Mixing "A" graphics with "D" gameplay is not my idea of a good game, and I really can't recommend it to anyone. If you want a good Action/RPG from Working Designs get Alundra, and if you've played that then save your money. As hard as it is for me to say it, Rayearth was not a very good RPG and I didn't enjoy it very much at all.