Lore has it that leprechauns leave pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. Seeking out the end of the colourful arch will bestow vast riches upon the adventurer – the reward for a dangerous and long journey, where the goal is often hidden from sight. Similar treasures can be uncovered in the PlayStation Vita port of Rainbow Moon, a strategy role-playing game crafted by Söldner-X developer SideQuest Studios.
We actually had the opportunity to play through this title last year when it was released on the PlayStation Network, and deemed the affair a pleasurable experience on the console, projecting some incredibly difficult battles and long, arduous walks onto our televisions. Unsurprisingly, however, it scales well to the five-inch screen of Sony’s flagship portable format.
The narrative revolves around a young man, originally named Baldren, but you can rename him in true RPG tradition. At the start of the game, the protagonist heads into a forest to fight his nemesis Namoris, and is subsequently sucked into a portal into a new world – Rainbow Moon. As he falls into the new planet, a hoard of monsters follow him, infesting the world with danger in every nook and crevice. It’s therefore up to you to save the planet from the monster invasion, while also trying to return to your own realm.
The game ships with several new updates on the Vita, with many of these expanding to the PS3 version, too. Most notable is the ability to cross-save between the two versions, allowing you to continue your progress on the move. Sadly, there’s no cross-buy option, but there are bundles and discounts available if you’ve already splashed out on the console game.
As already alluded, we’re big fans of the original release – but there’s no doubt that the Baldren’s adventure feels at home on the Vita. The music is just as engaging and exciting. The sound effects are just as pleasurable. However, the portability of the package makes it far more appealing on the pocketable platform. This is a long game, but it’s nice to be able to pause your progress while you toggle between apps or put the system into its low-power state while you switch trains. Furthermore, the save function is built around pick-up-and-play sessions, as you’re able to record your progress anywhere outside of battle and continue in the exact spot that you stopped.
The core gameplay loop lies in turn-based battles. These reward you with experience, offer items and money, and help to advance the plot. The attack order is dictated by the speed of your character and the opposing monster, and having low statistics can mean that you take damage early in battle before you’re able to attack or defend yourself. However, when it’s your turn, you’ll be able to perform a number of moves, such as a standard attack and a magic attack. You’ll also have the option to use an item, change your gear, or flee from the fight. As your level increases, you’ll be able to perform more moves per turn.
These battles do drag the experience out, but the length of the campaign does not detract from its enjoyment. The plot involves a lot of travelling and battling, and you can make the adventure last longer if you want to spend additional time exploring and participating in skirmishes. While publisher eastasiasoft states that the storyline will take around 40 hours to complete, the title actually holds hundreds of hours of exploring, side missions, and more.
At the start of the adventure, the plot directs you a lot. While you find your feet, you’ll be given quests that take you to specific locations, making it quite easy to settle into the flow of the game. However, as the game progresses, you’re given the freedom to explore without quite as much guidance. This can be a little overwhelming at times, but it makes the title perfect for those who want to immerse themselves into a long storyline and massive world.
You’re also given the autonomy to customise your team. For starters, only three characters can be chosen to fight monsters in battles, but some of these heroes will be more effective based on their attack bias and weapon affinity. Because of this, brawls require skill (and sometimes trial and error) to obtain the best possible outcome.
Of course, you can tweak individual stars, too. As with many other RPGs, each character’s statistics improve as they level up, but you can also use items to boost their traits. For example, finding a mouse will increase your speed points, pandas will give you luck, and storks will boost your tally of magic points. As an added bonus, each monster that you defeat in the title rewards you with rainbow pearls, which can then be used to upgrade your hero’s abilities when you talk to the savant. Depending on your tastes, you can stack your character with whichever skill points that you think are relevant.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, you can adapt your weapons and armour to allow for a little more personality. During battles, monsters will drop materials when defeated. While some of these resources are only valuable at certain shops, others can be crafted into weapons and armour at a smith to add stats. The sheer wealth of upgrading options available throughout the campaign is mouth-watering.
Incredibly, it represents just a small portion of the title, too. The entire open world is available for you to explore, and as you complete quests and reach new districts you’ll be able to battle fresh monsters. Using a boat – and, later, a ship – to venture out across the great oceans and discover new lands is great fun. Plus, there are many dungeons to explore over the course of the campaign, providing even more scope for adventure.
If all of this sounds tough to track, though, SideQuest Studios has crafted a detailed help section that will keep you up to speed. Tutorials, quest information, game statistics, and an extensive bestiary offer a plethora of facts about items obtained from monsters, how many battles you’ve fought, and key information on quests. Furthermore, the map – accessed by pushing the square button – offers marked locations of merchants, healers, savants, boat rentals, quests, and more. With such an outrageous amount of content to explore, there’s no danger of the game lacking replay value – but it’s worth mentioning that there is a ‘Hard’ difficulty tier available if you want to really test yourself.
Rainbow Moon is a memorable game. Its compelling RPG elements and careful attention to detail will leave you wanting more – despite its already extraordinary length. Beautiful landscapes, enjoyable music, epic battles, and endless customisation ensure that this release remains a joy for many, many hours. It also happens to be a perfect match for the Vita, and a great travel companion.