|Platform Reviewed||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Genre||Role Playing Game|
|Number of Players||1|
|Difficulty||Easy to Moderate|
|Skills Required||Decision, Interpretation, some Hand-Eye Coordination|
|Interface Devices||Nintendo Joypad|
|Game Design and Playability||The basic game engine is excellent, but terrible to actually play|
|Type Of Fun||Fighting and very limited Problem Solving|
|Replay Value||Little to None|
|Quality||Low to Moderate|
|The Best||Some visuals, use of ambient sounds, usage of Secret Of Mana Engine|
|The Worst||The story and dialogue is pathetic, character art is weak, there is no basis for interest|
|How much would I be willing to pay for this||-70 Bucks. They would have to pay me.|
Secret of Evermore is Squaresoft's attempt to 'Americanize' their Role Playing Game format. Based on the brilliant Secret Of Mana engine, the game is a sad and pathetic effort. Essentially a slipshod and uneven reworking of the Secret Of Mana program code, the lack of good writing, uneven and mixed art styles, and utterly moronic dialog both insult and offend the player.
Four scientists create a parallel reality based on their own dreams, and then disappear into it. Decades later a listless young boy stumbles into their artificial universe and must fight both to get home, and to correct the evils of the created world.
Squaresoft, perhaps the finest producer of Role Playing Games in the history of the world, has made it's first truly terrible mistake. Under the inaccurate assumption that masterpieces such as Final Fantasy (you pick the number), Secret Of Mana, and Chrono Trigger are both too highbrow, and too 'Japanese' for American tastes, created an American division to build 'American' Role Play Games. The result, in The Secret Of Evermore, is a simply abysmal and insulting construction. Using a reworked version of the wonderful Secret Of Mana game engine, the Squaresoft Of America team has introduced a very mixed bag of Haggis indeed. The writing is of the very worst sort imaginable, with insipid dialogue spouted from a central character who seems incapable of feeling or believable motivation. Typical dialogue consists mainly of references to nonexistent B-grade sci-fi and horror movies, with a typical statement being "As Commodore Leaf said in 'Mars Needs Lumberjacks', I wood do it!".
I only wish I were not exaggerating. Apparently, the American team who made this awful bomb has the assumption that the average RPG player is about 8 years old, with a limited attention span, and almost no education. In point of fact, the average game player is between the ages of 18 and 36, generally enjoys both Science Fiction and Fantasy, and commonly is a fan of Japanese Animation and Comics. Squaresoft could have given us Secret Of Mana 2, Front Mission, the incredibly wonderful Romancing Sa-Ga, or even Final Fantasy 5 (our FF3 is actually the sixth installment of the long running Japanese series).
The artwork in Secret Of Evermore is a mixed bag. Some sections are attractive, and the use of rendered graphics in places is not entirely bad, but the mix between rendered and hand drawn art is often jarring. The character sprites have no real style or art, especially when compared to other Squaresoft titles designed by great artists such as Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball Z, among other things). Much of the art is dark and limited in color. This is in part based on the belief that Americans do not favor bright colors and prefer harsh and moody tones. This belief was generated as a result of poor marketing research performed in the eighties, involving pre-adolescent boys, who rejected 'girlish' or 'childish' coloration and imagery. This poor research haunts the game industry to this day. Some sections of Evermore are quite striking, in all fairness, and the use of ambient sound is often well done. Some of the music is also appealing. Overall, though, The Secret Of Evermore is the first time I have ever been disappointed by a Squaresoft release. Do not blame Square Of Japan, Americans did this one to themselves. Hopefully, Square will wake up and smell the billion dollar appetite for imported Japanese games, animation and comics, recognize the adult audience that consumes it, and give us what we want and deserve.
Avoid this lame and insulting product at all costs. If you buy it, you will regret it.
Jennifer Diane Reitz is a Game Designer and Computer Artist, and one of the founders of Happy Puppy. She is the creator of numerous games and software products, including Boppin' , Shark Chums, Elsewhere, and many others. She has worked for such companies as Activision, Sculptured Software, Epyx, SRI, and Electronic Arts, and founded Accursed Toys. She has been active in the computer gaming industry since it's earliest days. She considers games to be works of artistic merit and achievement, and views computer entertainment as the most important media of our era.