King's Field

Sony Playstation

Review by Kevin Oleniacz



I consider the SNES to be my “role playing” system of choice. Final Fantasy II and III and Chrono Trigger are my all-time favorite adventures. Sometimes I try to imagine how deep RPG’s can become and to how real the graphics would become on future, superior systems. After the astronomical $700 price tag had been slashed from the 3DO’s initial release, I purchased one and tried out a few of the titles. Although advertised as an RPG, Guardian War is really 95% action and 5% RPG. Hell utilizes sensational graphics but the agonizingly slow point- and-click system along with numerous lengthy conversations really bored me. Slayer is more of a hack ‘n slash type of game without a storyline. I had a tough time getting into Star Control II (although Joe loved it, rating it an 8 in a past DP). The Sony Playstation came along and I readily snatched it up along with King’s Field. Although it’s not a true RPG and falls short of my idea of the ultimate game, I finally found an adventure for a high-end system that satisfies my insatiable thirst for the genre.

Necron, an evil minion, stole the famed Moonlight Sword from the King of Verdite and hid it on the island of Melanat located in the center of the kingdom. Great treasure is rumored to have been buried on the island as well. Those who survive the voyage there cannot leave as their life is dependent upon the isle’s poisonous drinking water. Your mission, as Alexander (a loyal subject to the King), is to travel to the isle, defeat Necron and the entity which rules the isle, and retrieve the Moonlight Sword. Juicy!

Your adventure begins on the island’s shore. Armed with only a dagger, you must search for gold, communicate with the inhabitants, purchase items in shops, and slay a slew of monsters. The mysteries of the island slowly unfold through conversations, discovering hidden objects and exploring scattered locations. Both combat and exploration are viewed through a first-person perspective, a ‘la Doom. Only your arm and weapon are visible when battling the mindless soldiers and weird creatures. Magic crystals are obtained at various locations and contain several degrees of power. Many intriguing puzzles add a strategy element to the dominant hack ‘n slash tactics. The pop-up problem which plagued some of the early PSX carts isn’t apparent. Although jerky in a few areas the surrounding graphics glide smoothly toward and away from the player. Lighting effects are used quite often and really adds to the atmosphere. Your view can also be titled in four directions to suit your needs and to jockey into position to fight off foes, short or tall. The monster graphics are very well-defined. Generally, the creatures are scattered about, some regenerate, others such as the mini-bosses, reside in key locations but stay dead once you put them down. The graphics shin in the surrounding terrain, which range from simple brick tunnels to ice caverns to a castle complete with a moat filled with bubbling lava.

At one point I suffered total frustration and anguish. I was cruising along until I met up with a boss deep in the game. I was almost instantly slaughtered and needed to travel back and forth to build up a dozen levels before I was strong enough to stand toe to toe with it. Well, after celebrating my little victory I soon realized that I needed to defeat three more bosses, each one tougher than the last! After defeating the quartet (that took awhile) I saved my game, opened a gate to a new area and was promptly defeated by Necron. When I reloaded the game I discovered that I had to fight those bosses over again rather than starting out with Necron. Son of a....! If one could discover an Achilles’ heel with this game it could be the sounds. The effects are creepy, but they’re spread out too thin. The music changes with each new area that’s entered. It fits well with the mood but after a while you’d just as soon shut if off.

Complete with hidden traps, passageways and items, gamers will have their hands full with King’s Field. Considering the current lack of available titles in this genre for the Playstation, King’s Field is a prize find until Square begins to churn out games once again.

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