Moon Over Rainbows
Rainbow Moon is a tactical RPG, but with light emphasis on both. Originally released for the PlayStation 3, the game feels like from the start that it would actually be right at home on the PlayStation Vita due to its simple pick up and play gameplay. Your character transitions between an overworld for exploration and a then to a battleground for combat, a formula you should be pretty familiar with if youíve spent time in this genre. I feel that if nothing else, combat in an RPG has to be solid; That is what carries these games for me. Everything else, even story, ends up being secondary because if the combat is not good, then the game just cannot hold my interest. Rainbow Moon could have done so much more in this area. The combat takes place on a flat plain, no obstacles, just you and some enemies looking to show you whatís what. I got sick of staring at these dreary battlefields all alone in my misery. Eventually you will add NPCs to your party, as you level up you will get more moves per turn, and you will gain new abilities. In the first few hours however, combat moves at a snails pace, and really never picks up as the fights get harder and enemies are balanced to match your new abilities and powers.
Here is what combat ultimately comes down to by the time you reach level 4; hit an enemy, then go into a defensive stance for your 2nd move. Youíre going to need it once you run into enemies that make 4 moves per turn and hit for a lot of damage if you are not defending. Rinse and repeat these steps endlessly while gaining only a few experience points per battle, and watch that experience bar slowly rise to award you another level. Hopefully youíve just dropped out of school and have plenty of time to spare. Yep, this is one of those RPGs, the ones where grinding is a very large part of the game. To Rainbow Moonís credit however, stats can be raised in between battles via points that you earn during combat that can then be spent at a NPC trainer; this allows you to increase stats such as strength, defense, luck, speed, health, and mana.
Like I said earlier, if the combat canít hold my attention, then chances are neither can the rest of the game, and sadly it doesnít. Barebones storyline and presentation that is weak even for a Vita game (double so as a PlayStation 3 title). Not a lot of detail in the world, which looks like it used the most generic fantasy artwork imaginable. The camera is zoomed way out and everything is so small that you donít get a good look at the creatures, your character, or the NPCs you will interact with. To Rainbow Moonís credit, the presentation gives me nostalgia flashbacks to the old top down RPGs from the early 90s, before Baldurs Gates but with higher resolution sprites. I get Ultima VII or VIII vibes from the look of this game, but Ultima always had this rich and charming world that was a treat to look at. Iím hard pressed to remember much of what I saw in Rainbow Moon because it failed to make a mark.
Despite that, there are some reasons to recommend Rainbow Moon; As a PlayStation 3 title, I absolutely say avoid it. There are way better games. As a Vita title I am going to tell you to actually give the game some consideration and here is why; with any Vita game, pickup and play gameplay in my opinion is key. Like any mobile system, gaming sessions of hours at a time are not really ideal. Yeah you can do it on the Vita, but if I had to take a wild guess, I would say that is not what most people are doing with their gaming time on the device. Rainbow Moonís gameplay ends up being both a blessing and a curse in this regard. The simple combat means Rainbow Moon excels at quick encounters. So if Disgaea, a game that does require a large time commitment, is something that you are interested in, but you want something you can zone out with while watching the latest episode of ďHomelandĒ, Rainbow Moon might be worth looking into. Battles never take long, you can do a few at a time and then set it down and still make progress. If you wanted a game that you were to put a few hours into at a time, I feel like you are going to feel fatigued very quickly. For $15 it is not a big investment if you are not picky and just want any RPG you can get on your Vita.
What we have here is a strange game that I want to recommend but find it difficult. Like all games it comes down to a matter of taste and what you are really looking for. Donít mind a shallow, slower paced RPG with light tactical elements that take titles such as Final Fantasy Tactics, and Digsaea, and strip them down to their bare bones? Want something that can be played in short doses? Do you have $15 to blow? Then you wonít hate Rainbow Moon by any means, nor will you find it a chore. Just know that going in that there is a steep grind and that you are going to be playing Rainbow Moon for a long time to come, which might not at all be a bad thing.