I was moving some games last week and this one fell on my head, so I had to see if my memory still works by recalling what it’s about. Well, other than being a collaboration between the generically named Game Studio with ToysPress and May Music, Airs Adventure for the Sega Saturn is pretty dated if you judge it by today’s standards. Granted, it was probably dated by 1996 standards because the game isn’t all that complicated or challenging save for some wandering about necessary mid-game to solve a puzzle. Despite the language barrier It was one of the first imports I was able to complete it twice without understanding any Japanese thanks to the simple combat system, only two party members to deal with and for the most part, fairly linear progression.
What I liked about the game was the medieval setting and art direction that (other than lead hero Henry’s weird hairstyle) intentionally went away from the more common generic anime/manga look found in more familiar JRPGs. Sure, the mixing of pre-rendered and polygonal assets is a bit archaic and as noted, the game hasn’t aged well at all. However, there’s also a certain charm to the the visuals that works throughout (well, except for enemies exploding into bits when they’re killed). Even the music goes along with the European vibe, lending a nicely regal air to the game.Some people hate the game quite a lot because of the graphics and the sad fact that they can’t get out of the first town, but those are people who can’t read Japanese (or do a bit of trial and error for about 20 minutes). There’s actually a short FAQ on Gamefaqs about getting out of that town, but it’s a bit oddly biased because the writer can’t speak or read Japanese either and uses that to bash the game around a bit.
As with most turn-based RPGs of the time, random encounters and simpler battles are the order of the day with “grinding” for levels being a great thing to do. Each village or town you reach has increasingly stronger creatures lurking about, so finding a loop to exploit outside to farm up levels and gold close to somewhere with an inn is key. I recall getting stuck at one part mid-game near a strange mountain, but I think a bit of wandering about and fiddling with one of the helpful faeries that can be used as magic around led to a solution. There’s also a bit of sea travel in the latter half of the game, but I don’t recall it being a long trip. Er, anyway, if memory serves me correctly, I didn’t pay a lot for this when I got it and it’s always been cheap when I’ve run across it online. So, not a must-have, not a treasure, but a decent daily grind if you happen to like the genre and are looking for an entry level experience. OK, back on the shelf, you – my memory seems to be working just fine.