August 31, 2015
NES30 #18: Crystalis
One hundred years after the Earth is decimated in a terrifying war, a lone survivor is revived from cryogenic suspension. He finds a world completely changed, and now filled with strange monsters, magic and small pockets of human civilization. Discovered what has happened to the world, and defeating the evil Draygonia Empire, forms the story of Crystalis - a 1990 action-RPG produced by Japanese publisher SNK.
The RPG genre only really took off in Japan towards the end of the NES/Famicom life-span, and flourished on their successor consoles. As a result solid RPG titles are often few and far between for the NES, particularly since most of the games that did get produced didn't get ported over from the Famicom. Crystalis is a rare and highly enjoyable exception. It's a game that feels a good three or four years ahead of its time, and still presents an enjoyable challenge today.
Sadly, while the game did make it as far as the USA a European port never eventuated. It was re-released 10 years later for the Gameboy Color, allowing many of the players who missed out the first time the chance to buy and play a copy of their own. Still more have discovered this game long after the fact via emulation. It's worth tracking down: it's a really enjoyable game.