SideQuest Studios’ Rainbow Moon is something of an oddity on the PlayStation Network. It’s a videogame that promotes long established gameplay values through a very modern attitude, mixing old and new via a console digital distribution service. This may be fairly common in genres such as shoot-‘em-ups and fighting videogames, but in the catalogue of role-paying games (RPGs) you’re either one thing or the other; retro or modern. Rainbow Moon is neither.
The videogame confirms to many standard conventions of the RPG genre: as a young hero on a quest to defeat a great evil, our hero fails. His defeat results in him finding himself in a distant land, in which you’ll encounter friends and enemies, dungeons and sanctuary. When visiting the dangerous labyrinths the player will often be engaged in combat with enemies which using a tactical RPG design akin to the Disgaea and Final Fantasy Tactics series, and in doing so the player will earn new rewards and strengthen their units through gaining experience points. So far, so normal.
The real magic in Rainbow Moon comes in the form of Rainbow Pearls. Earned in addition to experience points (XP), Rainbow Peals are dealt to the character who delivers the finishing blow to each enemy. They are used as a currency that can be used to increase a character’s attributes in addition to the health and mana boost gained through XP. This allows you to customise your characters to a surprising degree, turning a basic fighter into a tank or a spellcaster into a powerful warlock. It’s easy to create very effective groups of units which are flexible for each different encounter, and the videogame actively encourages you to do so.
Coupling with the Rainbow Pearls is the opportunity for characters to learn skills from three categories, adding special effects, new anilities or spells to their repertoire. Again, the amount of customisation allowed is impressive, but when combined with the fact that different character classes may share certain skills and the Rainbow Pearls can be used to boost related attributes, you can create fallback characters able to provide support to your units should the tide of a battle not turn in your favour. Once such depths have been realised ensuring that your band of characters is well represented is undoubtedly one of the most engaging aspects of Rainbow Moon. Of course, players can always make use of upgradeable armour and weaponry throughout the lengthy campaign, just as would be expected of any RPG.
In most other areas Rainbow Moon performs as would be expected. The menu design is oddly identical to a Final Fantasy menu and the animated cutscenes do well to present an interesting high fantasy story. The in-game visuals are brightly coloured and often charming, with some remarkable effort having been paid to animating the even the simplest additions to the world. However, the localisation will occasionally leave players wanting; this isn’t a big issue, but is disappointing compared to the attention paid to detail elsewhere.
For fans of the strategy RPG design, Rainbow Moon is an easy recommendation. It’s charmingly eccentric presentation coupled with its deep character development system make for an enjoyable adventure that lasts in excess of thirty hours, making for an undeniably engaging experience. It doesn’t rock the boat too much – gamers who have not warmed to genre with prior titles will be unlikely to change their minds here – but as one of the few titles daring to incorporate something new with the formula on PlayStation Network, Rainbow Moon is more than worth the financial investment for its many hours of entertainment.