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Super Derek introduces a relatively unknown Super Nintendo Action-RPG, Soul Blazer, the first in the Soul Blazer series by Quintet! Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma reviews are planned, stay tuned!
Quintet is a pretty mysterious game development company. It was founded in 1989 by director Masaya Mashimoto and writer Tomayashi Miyazaki.
Quintet is perhaps best known for their work in Act Raiser, which is widely considered one of the better launch titles for the Super Nintendo. However, a candle that burns brightly doesn’t burn long, and the company fell silent in 2002.
But before being lost to the annuls of time, Quintet bestowed upon us a parting gift; a loose collection of excellent games for the Super Nintendo, which some refer affectionately to as: The Soul Blazer series.
This Collection includes Terranigma, Illusion of Gaia (Illusion of Time) and Soul Blazer. Soul Blazer is a post-apocalyptic action RPG. It was developed by Quintet and published by Enix. It was released in the United States for the Super Nintendo in 1992.
The game only sold 70,000 copies in the United States, which is only about half the number Earthbound would go on to sell three years later. Unfortunately, not much else is known about the development of Soul Blazer.
In the Empire of Freil, King Magridd has been manipulated into summoning Death Toll, which is a supremely malevolent being. Upon being released, Death Toll wiped out all life on Earth as we know it. In this game you play as a silent protagonist known only as Blazer. Blazer is a divine hero sent down by The Master, a supremely benevolent being, in order to restore life on Earth and defeat Death Toll.
This sets the stage for a classic battle of Good Vs Evil, which is a refreshing change of pace from today’s modern RPGs that often get muddled down with details and complex shades of grey.
Now don’t get me wrong, every once in a while a good drama is in order. But sometimes it feels good to have clear objectives and motivations.
The simple plot is punctuated by dark moments that serve to emotionally sucker-punch the unsuspecting player. These dark moments are another staple in the Soul Blazer series. And though I’ve said that the plot of the game is simple, that is not to say that it is without subtext.:
King Magridd’s name is probably a reference to Megiddo, a hill upon which a Biblical battle took place. From which the word Armageddon comes, which is exactly what the king brought about when he summoned Death Toll.
Alternatively, his name could be pronounced “King MaGREED” which could be a reference to his greed, which is what was manipulated in order to summon Death Toll. Also “The Master”and “Death Toll”are a pretty obvious Duality. And Death Toll is a corrupter of men. Meanwhile The Master sends his angelic warrior down to Earth in order to wipe out evil. This is reminiscent of the Christian God’s sword-slinging Angel of Death credited with such things as the Passover, and later slaughtering 185,000 Assyrian warriors in defense of Jerusalem.
To top it off our hero prays to “The Master” in order to save the game. But despite all of these heavy-handed references to at first might be considered middle-eastern religions, the game throws in the monkey-wrench that is reincarnation. That, coupled with the fact that the spirits you are reviving belong to plants and animals as well as people? Kind of points to Shinto or Buddhism.
Just the same, it’s interesting to see all of these religious themes and references in a Super Nintendo title, because Nintendo of America in the early 90s had a habit of censoring any and all religious references.