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Updated November 20, 2004

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The Dark Phear
(CMC Productions)

"An adventure in the spirit of Phantasy Star and Shining Force"

Alicia has disappeared from your town long ago. But last night you saw her glowing among the stars, beckoning your name and praying to be saved. Then you wake up. It was only a dream! Or was it a vision?

As you open your eyes, you discover that King Theos has been cursed. Your only hope of saving your benevolent ruler lies is a golden fruit hidden in the northwestern peninsula. So, you leave your hometown as duty to your king, while secretly searching for your lost love...

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Whoa?! I couldn't believe just how much Dark Phear captures the console feel of Sega's popular Phantasy Star series with such captivating, well-drawn graphics! If you know all about Phantasy Star, then you should feel right at home with the moderately tiley worlds and awesome looking battle sequences.

While Dark Phear doesn't try to be flashy, there was a lot of effort put to make sure the game is well-rendered and flicker free. The Japanimation-style art is also pretty good, though there are some creature decapiations here that give this game an automatic "T" rating.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Casali and Jeremy Eller really give this game a 1-2 punch when it comes to sound and music. Eller's original soundtrack could easily rival some of the best Phantasy Star tunes I've ever heard, and Casali's sound effects mix well with the game's pace. I found myself really immersed and I was almost convinced that I was playing on a Sega Genesis, not a PC!
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
(Very Good)
This is one of the few QBRPGs you will find that uses both the keyboard and mouse interface for the game. This can be a blessing and a curse. You can use your mouse to zip through the menus, which allow you to cast spells and perform with the greatest of ease. However, the mouse system is still a little flaky, and I had a difficult time talking to people and opening treasure chests. 

Many of the game's concepts are also original. In particular, you customize how each character gets stronger when he or she reaches a new experience level. In addition, the game has a "monster hunter's guild", where you stop by to get your gold for the number of creatures you exterminate. The battle sequence works a la Phantasy Star III, with a selection of spells and attacks. Even the "Defend" option, hardly used in QBRPGs, has it's applications because the enemies range in speed and in power.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
(Very Good)
While the plot twists in Dark Phear are reminiscent of Breath of Fire II, there are many demo sequences that either introduce new characters or further the story, much in the style of Sega's Phantasy Star IV.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
I found playing Dark Phear a joy to play from beginning to end, and I won't hesitate to play the game again. The reason for this is simple. First of all, the game is very well-balanced from the beginning. The game itself is always challenging, from the depth of the dungeons to the battles with the creatures. However, neither of these things get in the way of Dark Phear's clean-cut interface. Also, Dark Phear really rewards you for forging ahead, giving you characters with new abilities and giving you new powers that give the game's intricate battles even more depth. A lot of strategy has to be used here, and you really have to know the towns you've been in and keep track of the story to win the game. The ability customization feature of Dark Phear really solidifies it's Replay Value.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
(Very Good)
There is a lot to be said about the game's challenge, since it consists of so many ways. The dungeons are not lengthy, but they are labyrinthe. Buying good armour and items will be your key to success here. But at the same time, whenever you gain a new level, how you customize your character greatly affects your strategy within the game. Sure, increasing the strength of your character all the way will let you kill enemies quickly and efficiently. But you'll also need magic to heal and agility to give defense and allow you to run in the event that raw bludgeoning fails you. MP also plays a major role in this game, though healing spells are often more important than offensive spells.
Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
(Very Good)
All in all, Dark Phear is a mixture of Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force II for the Sega Genesis. Certainly an honor for a QB game! When I last reviewed this game it didn't have any music, but I did see through that and realized that game had some serious potential. Now that it has been updated, you can really see just how deep and beautiful this universe that CMC Productions created has become. Not featured in many QB Sites, The Dark Phear is certainly the golden fleece of QBRPGs. If you haven't played it yet, this is the great QBRPG you've been waiting for.
Players 1 player Genre: Role Playing Game
Rating To solve: 4-6 hours Final Rating: 31/35

To download Dark Phear (1.32MB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wThis game is mouse-compatible. Make sure it is hooked up when playing this game.
wModifications must be made on "DPHEAR.BAT" if you wish to get music or sound effects on an Ensoniq Card.
wTo play Dark Phear, run "DPHEAR.BAT".

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Game Summary
Coding Group
CMC Productions
Homepage URL
Final Rating
31 out of 35 points

The Highs: Excellent control. Original gameplay elements, intuitive battle system, and hours and hours of fun for RPG fans.
The Lows: Not all graphics are original, originating from Phantasy Star IV.

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