With the success of tactical role-playing games like Fire Emblem and Advance Wars, it isn’t surprising to see more games using similar gameplay to find success. Rainbow Moon is somewhat of a hybrid between Fire Emblem’s combat, and the world exploration of old Final Fantasy games.
One of the first things you may notice about Rainbow Moon is that it’s incredibly vibrant. Even something as simple as grass pops out with its lush color and helps give a sense of a more fantastical environment. Character models aren’t as crisp or impressive as the environments, but they’re serviceable, and the slew of by-the-books monsters you’ve probably seen in every fantasy game are still as entertaining to fight as ever.
While Rainbow Moon borrows some elements from more modern tactical role-playing games, it has a very old-school feel about it. It feels strikingly similar to an RPG you may have played on your Super Nintendo or PlayStation 1, because it includes elements – like unchained exploration and hardcore level grinding – from that era.
The story in Rainbow Moon is pretty much filler, as it seems it’s only here to give some sort of context to be crusading around and fighting monsters. Your main hero’s name is Baldren, who is deposited on an area known as Rainbow Moon. Baldren was forcibly sent here by his arch-rival, and a dimensional gate opened sending leagues of monsters who are now attacking Rainbow Moon. By recruiting allies and fighting the monsters, your quest, as Baldren, is to send the monsters (and yourself!) back home.
Combat is handled in two ways: you have randomized battles, as well as encounters you can trigger. When either happen, you’re dropped on a grid with up to three characters you’ve chosen from your party against anything from a couple to over 20 enemies at one time. With each turn, you can choose to attack, move, defend, among other commands to give to your units, but you can generally only do one action at a time, unless your characters have ability to do more. The combat is fun and simple, and at first it can be incredibly fun, but after continuous play it can become a little dry, especially since you’ll be doing a lot of it over and over again. Characters will have their strengths and weaknesses that will have to be matched up against enemies for maximum combat efficiency. Some characters will have skills that will aid you in attack and defense, while others will have the ability to move multiple times in one turn.
Grinding levels isn’t something you do to have a nice cushion against tougher enemies in Rainbow Moon – it’s a necessity to progress along. You can replay battles to help level up your characters, and I found myself doing this constantly so I could stay somewhat competitive with the enemies throughout the game. With the somewhat tiresome combat, the song and dance of grinding is that much more of an issue, and it really drains the overall experience in the game from a fun tactical battle to a chore.
Characters can be upgraded in a couple different ways. You can use the Rainbow pearls you’ve earned through gameplay to upgrade your character’s base stats, or you can use the more common Rainbow Coins to purchase weapons, armor, and consumables to give your units another upgrade. Equipment can also be upgraded further though drops found in exploration and battles, too.
If you do find yourself enjoying Rainbow Moon, you could spend hundreds – yes, that’s right – hundreds of hours in the game to complete everything, so if it’s a game that suits your taste, you can really sink your teeth into it and get a lot of bang for your buck at $15, and those looking to play at home and on the go can use the cross-save functionality between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, though no cross-buy means you’ll have to buy both versions of the game.
Rainbow Moon is a solid title, but with some tweaks, it could have been a much better title. The decision to warp old and new gaming styles is a risk that paid off in some instances, but brought with it old game design issues of the past that have been missing for good reason, specifically hardcore level grinding; however, Rainbow Moon can be a great choice for those with patience and love for an old-school style RPG with some modern twists, and those that are fans of more modern tactical role-playing games may take interest in the offbeat way Rainbow Moon goes about things.
This review is based on the PlayStation Vita version of the game Rainbow Moon by SideQuest Studios and distributed by EastAsiaSoft.
- Pretty Visuals
- Lots of Content
- Too Much Level Grinding
- Can Become Tiresome