Millennium: A New Hope
Secret rooms to find
A fairy sidekick who helps you out during battles
Most monsters don't drop money
Too many party statuses that don't seem to affect much
You miss out on certain sidequests if you don't play on the hardest level
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Despite what the title might have you think, this game has nothing to do with Star Wars. Instead, this is the first in a five-part RPG series about a young peasant woman and her plans to bring a better life to her people.
You are Marine, a peasant from the land of Myst (no relation to the classic adventure game), who lives in the poor village of Green Grass. After her father is injured by the ruling city of Mystrock, she sets out to gather thirteen warriors to invoke martial law - if her warriors can best Mystrock's best warriors in martial arts combat, they will be legally able to overthrow the current government and appoint more compassionate rulers in their place. This feat will take five games to complete, but the first chapter gets you excited for what's to come.
As is typical in RPGs, Marine's journey involves plenty of battles, sidequests, and interesting locations, but there are also some unique elements in the gameplay. For example, Marine has the ability to jump across cliffs and even up mountains. Equipping a certain item lets her jump even higher to reach special items and hidden areas. It may be simple, but it's plenty of fun.
The battles are in the typical turn-based style found in most RPGs, but they have a unique element as well. Early in the game, Marine meets a fairy named Jeanne, who takes a liking to her and settles down in her earring. During battles, Marine can summon Jeanne to help with the fighting, essentially adding an extra fighter to the party who can either attack the monster party or heal your party members. You can also choose strategies and equip certain items to give your characters special battle abilities.
RPG's thrive on exploration, and Millennium certainly excels in that aspect. There are many locations to explore with plenty of hidden secrets, including secret rooms that hold treasure and hidden animal bosses. There are also lots of sidequests, some of which are difficult to find. In addition, the music is drop-dead gorgeous. Flutes, pianos, and even choruses create a magical atmosphere.
The flaws in this game are few, but they still exist. For one thing, most of the monsters don't drop money. Only enemies like bandits (who might logically be carrying money in real life) drop money. I assume that the logic behind this is that animals and animal-like creatures have no reason to be carrying money in real life, but since in most RPGs your main source of income is battle spoils, this can be a bit of a problem. Fortunately, you'll find plenty of moneybags and treasure chests as you explore, but you'll still likely find yourself low on gold at some point when you might really need it. Also, if you buy the game from Big Fish Games (as I did) and possibly some other third-party sites, you'll be forced to play with random monster attacks. I hear that Aldorlea's official site has since added the ability to choose between random attacks and visible enemies, though, so I recommend getting the game from there.
Overall, this is a fun, atmospheric, addicting game and a great start to an epic series. Any RPG fan should definitely try it out. Just be warned - you'll most likely be wanting to buy all five games after you play this one.
Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars.