In times beyond memory, people fought for their lives in a world
Where monsters and magicians held sway in places of power and mystery.
In those days, heroic adventurers went forth on perilous journeys to
prove their courage against their foes in battles to the death.
They were called......... SORCERIAN ~ From the game’s intro
Sorcerian is an action roleplaying game produced by Nihon Falcom, first released in 1987 for Japanese home computers (like the PC-88, PC-98 and MSX 2). It features several standard ARPG gameplay elements which are later included in some of today’s Action RPG video games: customizable parties, a dynamic statistic and level-up system, upgradable equipment, and plenty of dungeon-crawling challenges. This game lets players lead a group of two to four, embarking in fifteen scenarios. It has become one of my favourite games because of its easy gameplay and its legendary soundtrack. The game was such a cult hit in Japan that versions of it were released for 16-bit home consoles at the time (with additional new scenarios exclusive to them), and two PC-exclusive titles were released in Japan as well, in 1997 (with original scenarios, as Sorcerian Forever) and in 1999 (as Sorcerian Original) respectively. None of these later versions (after the DOS version) were released outside of Japan.
Sorcerian consists of three mission suites with five scenarios each, which can be selected in any order. These scenarios have names like “The Stolen Scepter” (which is my favourite scenario), “The Lost Talisman”, “The Dragon King” and “The Cursed Oasis”. These scenarios can be played with the four characters; however, some scenarios can only be played within a three character limit, because they are joined by a non-player character. You can play these scenarios with two characters as well. Although the scenarios have no plot whatsoever, you can read about them in the scenario descriptions before choosing them, and talk to NPCs while you are adventuring.
For beginners who are playing Sorcerian for the first time, character creation must be done first, with a maximum of ten characters to choose from. There are four character classes: Fighter, Wizard, Dwarf and Elf, and sixty occupations, ranging from farmer to hairdresser, to choose for any character. Occupations may help in each character’s stats and progress, and gives them additional gold.
All characters, before going on a quest, must go to a town and buy items, equipment, learn some abilities, enchant items with herbs and elements to combine them into powerful spells, and so forth. You can listen to the in-game music in towns as well. Afterwards, by selecting Organize Party, the player can choose four members (as I've said before, some scenarios need only three) from the ten characters to form your party, and then they are ready for adventure.
To level up a character he/she must go to the Throne Room in the town, after gaining the amount of experience required for the next character level. Before you go adventuring, selecting Advance Time in the main menu, which will cause a year to pass and make the characters grow stronger until they reach their maximum age (60 for human characters, 100 for dwarves and 200 for elves; the default age for every character is sixteen or higher). It is also done after adventuring and disbanding the party as well. To start the adventure, create a party of four (Create Party) then choose Start Adventure and type in the number of the mission suite, from 1-3. Then select one of the five scenarios included in the selected suite.
Now let’s take a look at the game itself:
Sorcerian’s graphics were quite average in the late eighties era, since it was based on the original PC-88 release. The graphics are faithful to the original, but downgraded for this version. The backgrounds are beautiful and wonderful to see. The character and enemy sprites and animations look good, and the screen size is native to the original releases as well.
The gameplay in Sorcerian is easy and balanced, not too hard or gruelling; however, the difficulty gets harder on each successive scenario. Every scenario in the game is like a maze, so that exploring each scenario without an in-game map can be confusing sometimes. The monsters don’t appear much in each scenario, and only in some areas of it. The scenarios also have some puzzles that test one character’s strength in order to finish the scenario. You will spend hours figuring out each of them! Also, the controls for this game are very simple; while the arrow keys are for moving and jumping, you have two buttons for magic and attack, and a button to change the character order.
The music in this game is truly wonderful - in fact most of it was done by the legendary videogame composer Yuzo Koshiro (known for his work on the early titles of the Ys series), and has been released in several Sorcerian music soundtracks. The sound effects are similarly good - they are the same as in the original Japanese versions, too.
Sorcerian, in overall, is really worth a play. I give it a 4 because of its innovative RPG/side scrolling game play and excellent controls. I really recommend this for all of you who want to experience why this game was the inspiration for some ARPG titles.
Arrow Keys – Movement, Jumping
(The Up button can also be used to search, open doors, and to take items.)
Z, Enter – Magic
X, Spacebar – Attack
Shift – Sprint for only a few seconds
C - Change character position
For a list of other controls, press F1.
It is sometimes better to play the game by loading and using the prefabricated party, by selecting Load Characters and pressing 0.
To play the game, run sierra.exe.
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