With a name like Rainbow moon, one would be forgiven for thinking it was ‘that’ lost My Little Pony episode, or perhaps where right wing homophobic Americans wish that ‘all the Gays would all go to’. However, it is in fact, neither of these things (Although seriously, Republicans, you’re embarrassing yourselves. It’s 2012 for goodness sake.) Rainbow Moon is one of those rare PSN titles that is not only reasonably priced, but incredible value for money.
Straight out of Germany’s SideQuest Studios, and published by East Asia Soft, Rainbow Moon boasts a 40 hour “story” that I promised myself I’d finish before attempting to write this review, and at £11.99, this is one that Hardcore Grind RPG fans shouldn’t miss out on. The core mechanics are sound; in fact, they’re what’ve really kept me motivated to carry on playing. You begin with one solitary character, and unlock more are you progress, walking around a large world that you gain more access to the further along the quest chain you progress. The NPC interactions are very simplistic; you’ll usually find a healer, general store, and a savant in an average town, with armour and weapon shops cropping up in the bigger towns.
One of the great things about Rainbow Moon is how the encounter system works. While there are monsters physically roaming the wilderness, and walking in to them triggers a battle, random encounters also occur, but are completely optional. There are occasional issues where you’ll be trying to interact with an object and accidentally trigger a random encounter, although that’s not a frequent occurrence.
The battle system itself is where most of Rainbow Moon’s attraction lies. Sporting a grid system and turn based combat; fans of ‘old school RPGs’ would be hard-pressed not to feel right at home. As you progress levels, you’ll unlock more ‘sub-turns’ allowing you to make several steps across the grid, and still attack in the same turn. Different attacks, which can be purchased from retailers across the game world, have different ranges, and differ in the paths they take across the grid system. The player is free to progress along the board as they see fit, and schematics for starting positions for your characters can be found and purchased. HP and MP are an integral part, as you would expect. Both of these can be topped up by either a Healer, or the abundance of healing items found literally everywhere. Vanquished foes drop all manner of items, from potions to new weapons. Once you beat an enemy, you’ll get experience, and this is where it gets interesting.
Rainbow Moon doesn’t feature a conventional leveling system. While you still gain XP and level up, in order to increase your skills, you need ‘Rainbow Pearls’. These are gained at the end of each battle. Your characters receive pearls based on the number and difficulty of the enemies the defeat. The pearls are not shared, they’re not all given the total of the spoils each, they’re distributed proportionally to how hard one character works. The more kills a character gets, the more pearls they get. However, this is a little unbalanced. Get the final hit on the majority of the enemies? Sucks to be the rest of your team, because their work isn’t getting rewarded. As your lead ‘kill-poacher’ walks ahead proudly, pockets positively bursting with rainbow pearls, their team mates are more than likely trudging disgruntledly along behind them shooting dirty looks and gesturing rudely in their direction.
When you’re ready to properly level your team, it’s time to visit your local Savant. The Savant takes your pearls in exchange for skill advancement in the general areas of Strength, Luck, Speed, HP, MP etc. They vary in cost, and scale in cost as your levels increase. Initially you can just about keep up maxing out all your skills before you level up and the skill cap increases. This gets much, much harder. However, a lucrative business decision has allowed players to purchase bundles of Rainbow Pearls, coins and rare items for a small cost. You can buy 500 pearls for £0.79 for each character, or spend £1.49 for 50,000. Yeah. Needless to say they’ll make a fair bit of money through this method.
The astute of you may have noticed that when I mentioned, “Story” earlier, I did so in speech marks. This is due to the noticeable lack of it. Thrust onto Rainbow Moon without much explanation as to who you are, or what sort of universe the game resides in, you instantly receive the blame for unleashing monsters onto the peaceful Moon. In typical RPG fashion, you must prove that you’re not the bad guy by killing stuff. From there you’re sent from region to region killing bigger things and in far too many instances, delivering items from one person to another that reside less than 5 paces from each other. I was very close to what I assumed was the end, so I could finally write this review, but I was lulled into a false sense of security and suckerpunched as an NPC literally told me to go and explore the entire rest of the world and collect a huge list of items. Ugh. So I’m taking a break from it, and here we are. Who’s to say it doesn’t have one of the best endings of all games, ever? Who’s to say? Hmmm? Unfortunately not I, for arsed, I cannot be. Based on what I’ve played so far, story-wise, I’m not impressed.
Visually it’s rather bizarre. I think it would’ve been suited to a more ‘sprite-oriented’ design style. But we’re presented with odd, 3D, top down and awkwardly animated characters that seem out of place in their setting. The music, while initially quite impressive for a PSN release, quickly becomes tiresome as the hours pass and the same four tracks continue to repeat. Fortunately there is an option to turn off the music and keep the sound effects on. A really bizzare aspect is the strange sound clips with which NPCs greet and bid you farewell. Saying the same thing every time, they grunt hello’s and whisper goodbye’s. Really, go and look it up. As Rainbow Moon hails from a German studio, there are some rather brilliant translation hiccups, but these don’t diminish the experience, if anything, they’re highly endearing. Ever been called a ‘Son of a bath duck’?
The more I played Rainbow Moon, the more difficult it was to keep interested and continue playing. It’s PERFECT for the PlayStation Vita, and I hope their “thinking about it” turns in to a reality. While I highly doubt ‘Grinding RPG Noobs’ will progress past the 10 hour mark, there’s an immense amount value for your purchase. This is a fantastic RPG debut from SideQuest Studios, the combination of ‘Old-school’ and logical genre progression is bound to appease anyone willing to take the plunge.