Wait a minute... I made this game! How about that.
I haven't replayed this for some years, but I love its minimalism as well as how stripped back all the song instrumentation is. There's a 'novel-esque' negative space to how the game lets the player piece together what they're exploring. I don't think that was 100% intentional, but it's an effect I'd like to explore more...
The way the postgame blends into the main game is still eerie how memorable it's been, even moreso given that it was kind of added in over a few weeks near the end of development.
The puzzles and combat are kind of ho-hum, but I think are engaging enough to do the trick in terms of balancing out the more quiet, free exploring of the non-dungeon areas. At least I had the sense to not include block pushing puzzles! I feel like Anodyne still has a good direction in terms of its dungeon design, and I think the levels are creative. I've secretly been hoping to see another weird Zelda-like at some point. I like the genre.
Marina and I talk about how we sort of got 'lucky' making this with the limitations it had - the game being tile-based, and gameplay being a minimal version of Link's Awakening - meant it was relatively easy for us to put together.

The first thing to note is this game's composer, Masamichi Amano, was an actual orchestral, film and anime composer! This was his first stint in games. The music is generally excellent - a lot of times in games, classical-influenced music gets stuck in cliche (think of your typical mediocre town song from a JRPG). You can tell he's drawing on a wide range of experience and that makes it a fun listen
What's neat about Quest 64 is how it's sort of prototypically 'open world', its world an imaginative mix of MMORPG open-ness, 3D towns, dungeons translated from their 2D counterparts. Is it repetitive with its endless battles? Yes. Is it tense in uninteresting and interesting ways? Yes! There is sooo little relief going through long areas like boil hole or blue cave, where one fuck-up means redoing it...
I think the hiding level-ups around the world and towns is really neat still. Also, the game not being hampered by an equipment system helps bring the battles into focus, as does the limited inventory and items in the game creating a unique texture. There's the sense of being a young, underprepared magician.
Sure, you can also use skill points in the wrong element and get stuck with bad builds! That's kind of the fun... and everyone just does the earth avalanche + magic barrier build in the end, so...
The battle system isn't executed perfectly (lining up attacks is tough, dodging is sometimes counterintuitive), but it was experimental and pretty fun most of the time! Not to mention 'seamless'..that buzzword.
I actually think the game is quite beautiful at times, using the low-poly and texture limitations to its advantage. The beanstalk at the end of Cull Hazard, the blues of Nepty's HIdeout, the expansive caverns of Blue Caves. They have an imaginative painterly quality that would be replaced by realistic lighting half the time nowadays...
On top of it all, there's such a quietness to how you progress in this game - only getting a few lines of dialogue from bosses, kings of towns, and the game being quiet otherwise. There isn't much going on in the story, but the point of Quest 64 is the quiet, difficult adventure, and I think the bare story works well in that way.

Hey, I made this game... nice...
...It's been a long time since I played it, actually. The way it pivots from a traditional, straightforward adventure, to small 2D worlds that defy expectations of the opening hours, to thought-provoking revelations of Nova and bizarre turns in the Outer Sands! Is pretty unique to think about. Actually I learned a lot from playing this game too, since I didn't write most of the script.
My only nitpick would be that there should have been 3 NPCs in Cenote, not 4! I think that part of the game goes on a little too long.

(Edited to add some positive things about the spatial concepts of the dungeons and towns)
Would you put a health bar into a 3D block / hidden object game, so if you die at the end of three puzzles, you have to redo all of them? Probably not!
Now imagine that there was a game that did this - and in fact, it sold well - not only that, but it became so unimaginably popular, that its idea - adding a health bar to a 3D puzzle game - became considered 'good practice' in thousands of games, and in fact, this game went on to have dozens of sequels with the same idea: put a health bar in a puzzle game.
Ocarina of Time strikes me as absurd. Having played through the water temple, there hasn't been a single truly interesting idea in any of the dungeons. The base mechanics are so flat and uninteresting - imprecise combat (even with the Z targeting), finicky auto-jumping, slow climbing, a camera that almost always points into the ground, and the need to walk slowly everywhere. When the atmosphere and setting do work, it feels more like a welcome distraction against the task of trying to play through the game.
Every room in OoT boils down to:
- Get oriented, see the obvious thing you need to do, and then do it.
- Sometimes doing it is hard: you might die (often from an enemy that's incidentally in the room, and not the conceptual focus of room puzzle), you might fall and need to re-do rooms. Sometimes it's slow and boring: you need to push a block around some ice.
(One room in the Water temple carefully makes you shoot a water-level-changing crystal 5 times to make it through. Nothing about this idea is interesting, the solution is obvious from the get go!)
Or worse, it might be a combat room, where you're subjected to a camera and combat system that's impossible to aim with, with enemies whose design concepts tend to be "invincible 90% of the time, maybe vulnerable in a weird, awkward window".
Every dungeon is dozens of these rooms stitched together, in a way where it's easy to miss a key you need, only to find you need it later - after completing 10 minutes of boring puzzle rooms. Then, you get to backtrack, and do the boring puzzle rooms again.
In this way, OoT feels like it was a 2D Puzzle game on paper, naive concepts hackily translated into 3D with a combat system grafted on.
Each new item you get is a failed answer to 'how do we make this interesting?' Pointing your bow around the room, bombing a dodongo, equipping the iron boots over and over. These new items are never fundamentally interesting, they just create a new paint job for a switch sitting on a ledge.
To OoT's defense, I think it succeeds with interesting spatial setups and dramatic pacing (deku tree web, etc, water temple water level) but the moment to moment execution of how you traverse those setpieces just really doesn't work. It's super cool to think about the process of climbing to the ceiling of the Fire Temple, but it's kind of shrug when you think about the moment to moment process of getting there.
The layout of the world is cool (on paper), it's just a slog to walk across. Likewise with the execution of the towns like Zora's Domain or Goron City - they're neat to be in, up until you need to Do Something.
If you knew exactly what to do and when to do it (to avoid backtracking or costly dead-end-investigation), I think this game would be a lot more tolerable. I can see why it became people's favorites if you're intimately familiar with it - breezing through dungeons and slowly making progress is actually a little fun.
Unfortunately (for this review) it doesn't make sense to review something in such a context of having played it 10 times...
--
In some ways, OoT fundamentally feels like a mix of Hidden Object games, the puzzle genre, and even mystery games/JRPGs. It's less a visionary step into 3D than it appears, it's more a hackjob of genres whose saving grace was the production value, hang-out-vibes and atmosphere.
It's very easy to get stuck or lost in the sections between dungeons. E.g., stopping the goron and waiting a minute for it to uncurl, in order to get into the entrance to the Fire Temple. And it's all hampered by slow movement and easily getting disoriented, making what might be a fairly straightforward puzzle into a nightmare.
--
What angers me about this game the most is how much Nintendo - and nostalgic developers - doubled
down on the travesty of mechanics the game has. Having a terrible core moveset, tons of stupid items with one-off uses has become 'good practice'. You can probably find a dozen youtube videos on what makes OoT's dungeons "work". None of the fundamentals here are 'good' - they're merely passable ideas that can become palatable through fancy art or story design.
To me, every game reproducing these ideas feels like a child-like grasping at recreating the magic of childhood favorite. And they ironically miss the point: what does manage to work about OoT is NOT those fundamentals of bad puzzles and combat and poor level design, it's the atmosphere and tone, it's the fun of uncovering a dungeon.
Even future Zelda games do this. I don't know how they became so fixated on this uncomfortable mix of tedious puzzles and sloppy action.
Most of what is required in OoT to progress the game is at best calmingly repetitive (it can be fun to breeze through a dungeon and slowly uncover its treasures), and at worst offensively tedious.
What's good about OoT is the strange NPCs, the quiet little subplots on how parts of the world change over time, the random horror, the way you can kind of just hang out and roll around in it. The sense of inhabiting a grand myth. But even that, to an extent, feels cheapened by a story that's too willing to make everything you do as an adult easily fix every single problem. The Kokiri Forest comes back to life! All the Gorons are safe! Zora's Domain melts!
As far as Japanese Anime story set-ups go, Young Link's stuff was not bad. But the follow through in Adult Link's repetitive romp through dungeons, at least through the Water Temple, feels like it's just going through the motions.
--
Overall... the execution is really messy and it's hard to give that anything above a 2. But the atmosphere is well-done, so I feel like it deserves at least a 3...

Pleasantly surprised at parts with Metroid! Dark Souls bonfire runs have nothing towards the run through Tourian, or making your way through ridiculously precise rooms of Kraid or Ridley's Lair before having to win at equally ridiculous fights.
The silence of Metroid's world works great - the art feels creepier and more organic as you go deeper into the planet, only to at times be replaced by the metallic architecture of Ridley or Kraid. It really conveys the sense of being in an alien planet, one that we'll never see all of, and one that wants Samus dead.
I found the moveset to be really well designed - not being able to shoot down and Samus being two tiles high means you have to really be aware of what's at your feet as well as how that distance affects where you shoot and jump. The screw attack adds an interesting (if chaotic) extra layer of strategy to later levels - although it feels powerful at first, it has an element of the unreliable against the flying beetles, and can feel slightly stiff to pull off in certain situations.
Enemy patterns can be very difficult but I feel like every room had some kind of 'solution', even if it was very hard to pull off. I found some of the timing windows too intense - the very long, narrow corridor in Ridley's lair with endless flying beetle pipes come to mind. Likewise, it can be hard to get your bearings as your health meter quickly depletes, with the game severely lagging when multiple enemies are on screen, and Samus's slightly limited movement conflicting with enemies that are somewhat too quick.
Health is hard to come by: this feels balanced throughout brinstar and Norfair, but takes a turn for the worse in Ridley and Kraid's areas. Part of this was that I never found the Varia suit (50% damage reduction!), but I do think that some of the long runs from the elevator to the bosses were just Too long, especially when you have to grind your health back after dying.
I thought the long beam, bombs, ice beam, missiles were all great additions to the arsenal, having their place within combat. Having the ice beam the whole game led to a really weird dynamic of having to be more precise with shots so as to not unfreeze enemies.
Room designs were generally pretty varied, and I liked that! It really felt like I was just stumbling across loot that the pirates left around - not as much like it was just a big world full of upgrades to find, designed just for me. That worked thematically with the setting. I liked that some rooms had an element of humor - the hidden hole near an energy tank, the secret morph ball passage beneath an otherwise very hard gauntlet, etc.
The copy pasted rooms felt a bit cheap, but it did add to the sense of being in a maze. I had a lot of fun drawing out my own maps for this game.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised! There's a lot to this game that could be improved, but I don't think improvement looks like Super Metroid. Key to this game are the arcade-y, yet nonlinear, stretches of making it to the next elevator or boss, and the way the game demands you to intimately know how to handle enemies and be on your guard. Things can go south really fast relative to other metroid games.

Good example of a game that is badly in need of both design craft and narrative theme. On paper, the game sounds interesting enough: revive a town through shops and farming, adventure the nearby landscape with shopkeepers, dive into dungeons..
Customizing the town (at least a few hours in) only involved placing a few shops and some other items to optimize their income. Restocking shops involves a process of farming for particular materials, walking into the shop and restocking. As the game gets bigger you have more shops to restock. I guess the idea is that the player was supposed to be sort of a supplier for the town, but the NPCs' dialogue didn't feel particularly interesting.
Made worse is that grinding for these items is a little boring. The combat isn't that interesting, the environment you find enemies in ranges from empty large maps to dungeons filled with boring mechanics reminiscent of the 3D Zeldas' boring puzzles. So if you need to restock, it means going to a dungeon and finding an enemy that you easily kill. Because there's SO MANY materials, I would assume this kind of gameplay loop would occur a lot through the game.
The dungeons are bad - for some reason the Zelda Items needed to do the (boring) puzzles are tied to party members, so you need to bring a mining person to mine ore, etc... puzzles seem simplistic or perfunctory, the combat doesn't really use 3D in an interesting way...
So overall, you have a combat/exploration loop whose combat isn't fun, nor exploration interesting. And that feeds into a town management loop, which is tedious, simplistic and slow (to farm you have to walk to the farm screen...load.. etc). The Town is 3D and explorable, but there isn't much to explore or see (like in a harvest moon town), it would have felt more efficient to merely make everything into menus? Or to shrink the size a lot more or improve fast travel.
Simple town management could be cool, but it would only work if it was feeding into an adventure experience with more well-designed and interesting things, or narrative hooks. But Ever Oasis feels like spending time in one flat system in order to make the numbers in another flat system go up.
I think the number of shopkeepers could be way lower. Lean into making them actually interesting characters, tie them to the environment in some way so that there's a desire to go out into the world. Create some kind of motion that makes it actually interesting to run around. Make the shops interface in more interesting ways with the combat/exploration systems, etc...
Ever Oasis reminds me of why 'lots of game systems!' games can fail, in that if none of them are given ample design thought, there's a risk of nothing interesting happening - sure, the systems feed into each other and make numbers go up, but there's not much meaningful outside of that. (And there's already a genre for 'number go up' that streamlines and gives lots of thought into making number go up - clicker and idle games!)
Anyways yeah. I guess I like the spirit of this game, but it doesn't do anything particularly well, which is sad. I think the setting of exploring outwards from a town, going to the countryside, etc, is really interesting!

It was nice to learn about Hiroji Kiyotake, one of the directors of Metroid II, and probably a leading force in the sheer personality and fun that a run of good GB platformers have - Metroid II, Super Mario Land 2, the Wario Lands...
Despite having played most Metroid games I'd never played Metroid 2. I bounced off of it a few times, but after roughing it through Metroid 1 (another brilliant game), I went ahead and played through 2.
At first I was hesitant about the structure of the game - seeming to move away from the chaotic maze of Metroid 1 for a more linear experience. But I think the structure of Metroid 2 - that of burrowing into an ant farm, exploring smaller labyrinths budding from a main path - works well. It enforces the narrative of Samus as this bounty hunter, cold bringer of death, her triumphant "overworld medley" song being replaced by the quiet nature and sounds of Metroids merely living at home.
The black and white graphics look amazing at times - especially level 3 with its mechanical sand maze and the vertical, overgrown shafts. At its best there's a real sense of encroaching into disturbing territory, the way it feels to peer from a safe path into a deep patch of forest. The variety of 'nests' the game manages to convey is inspiring! The game fully understands its visual format and how to exploit it. Metroid fights remain tricky to cheese, with the metroid becoming invincible offscreen, always feeling claustrophobic and chaotic, thrilling.
There are a handful of rough edges (the lack of save points, occasional missile/energy grinding) but I think the rest of the game makes up for it. I love the setpieces with the Metroid counter resetting in the lair, or the omega metroid attacking you after killing the alpha, or the lair of the omegas. I do think that the art could have been a bit more interesting at parts, especially with all of the vine background layers in level 3 - some later levels feel a bit empty .
That being said, the atmosphere never feels overexplained. It was fun to stumble upon the massive Chozo compounds, with dangerous robots, butted right up against Metroid caves and lush caverns.

Shoutout to the ambient music, which works really well! Unsettling, dark stuff, really understanding the 'texture' of the game boy sound palette.
--
Overall, it's a very strong game, but I can't give it the "5 stars'... I think it might be related to the economy of ammo and energy and how they inevitably shift way in your favor as you progress through the game - enemy encounters always feel a little less exciting once you have the screw attack, plasma beam, etc. It feels a bit counter to the narrative they're setting up with you diving into more dangerous lairs. The Omega metroid may look spooky, but it's not much of a threat with my 150 missiles, varia suit, and 500 energy.

Visually this game is very pretty - lots of early 3D spaces, interesting color palettes, especially the overworlds. I played the first hour here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxhU8zYErJ8
The game uses 2D sprites in 3D areas to neat effect, I love the cactus towers (sabokuri), and it was fun to see what areas each new kingdom held.
The writing was... pretty bare bones. The arcs in each kingdom feel sort of like a broken JRPG - you might stick a thorn into a train to slow it down. Or rescue a clan of chickens from an invasion. Or fix a rainbow bridge by finding 7 items, or help a marriage that's going to go wrong... most of the time it's fairly unremarkable, but occasionally some situations are surreal and unique - a guesthouse owner in the middle of a jungle, with a single guest - a man who can't wake up. Other humans trapped in the storybook, forced to work as clowns forever.
Due to how the game works, it's possible to miss entire kingdoms based on very unnoticeable decisions (I did). I might do a playthrough again to see those areas. Which leads to my next point - as an adventure game Fantastep... sucks lol. Puzzle solutions range from obvious to impossible to guess (one involves you having to return to the same room 5 or 6 times to find a different clue in the same spot). At one point I beat the final boss before saving each kingdom, and it set flags in such a way that some kingdom's quests were automatically completed. It's possible to miss items to complete quests! The game requires you to find 5 flower rings. The game actually has 7 or 8, relying on clues from hidden fairies to decipher which are the ones you want to use. I used the wrong rings and got the bad ending, but at that point I was locked out of the good end, and didn't really care...
Overall a pretty rough game with some great art and music. I really like the strange storybook fantasy atmosphere, even if it's roughly and poorly rendered. Definitely makes me want to check out similar vibe games from the mid/late 90s, like Napple Tale.

One of my earliest memories of this was renting it, loading up a save file at the last boss and letting the music loop. It's interesting - "Fight Against Smithy, Who Likes Transforming", is arguably a sped-up techno-influenced song (try slowing it to 75% speed), in the way that Kirby Super Star's Cocoa Cave is. I feel like that kind of stylized experimentation is getting rarer amongst game music nowadays, sadly... but that aside!
I replayed a lot of this last year. There's nothing really to the battle system, and it does feel dull after a while, but overlooking that, the pacing of the game's dungeons and scenarios feels breezy despite the 10+ hour playtime.
The story is serviceable, the subversion on Bowser's character is amusing, as is Mallow's arc. Mario's gestures are humorous, making great use of the limited visual vocabulary they had. But depth isn't really the point... it's just a very chill, cozy game to hang out in with some great art direction. The small details with the hotel, bizarre minigames that lead you to new areas, those details all work great here without feeling like they slow the pacing.
You can see a lot of this design thinking in future paper mario games - Origami King comes to mind. But I feel like those games are hampered by slower pacing, and some kind of restrain on creative control (endless Toads).
The influence of future love-de-lic (and alphadream) members is noticeable here in the game's eccentricities. I think it's a great testament to how letting AAA games be a little weird can actually lead to other interesting games down the line!

Gave up at the final boss, but I really liked the arcade-esque difficulty of this game before dodge rolls came along and poisoned every single action game ever.
Most bosses feel unique and require you to pay attention to the moves, usually there's something really subtle about how you need to move to avoid the attacks. Things like bullet movement or boss limb movement actually matter since you need to not touch them! (Vs. just roll through it)
I like that harder difficulties add in new moves, too. The dungeons are simple and some have a few platforming ideas to them, they generally had a good pacing even if the structural ideas weren't that profound. I guess if I have a complaint it's that due to the leveling system (which mainly serves as a kind of dynamic difficulty for bosses - if you're too weak, grind a bit to have an easier time). The regular enemy designs are all neat too, but I feel they rarely get to shine because you're either too low-level to engage them safely (there are like, no checkpoints in this game so you almost never want to take risks in the long dungeons). OR, you easily outlevel and just spam your way through fights.
In that sense, this feels like an arcade game that's kind of ruined by RPG mechanics - even if you try to engage the enemies in a fun way, you naturally level up and everything dies too easily. I think every Ys game has this same problem. Sure, you can feel more powerful as you level up, but I think they could have limited that to just the bosses (some kind of thing you can grind for to power up slightly if you really want a slight edge against the bosses).
All the bosses were cool, but bosses have a few issues - like ones who don't have openings until you get a certain sequence of random moves (final boss!) - these are kind of tedious to fight because there's a lot of waiting.
This game has a ton of additive-blend particle effects, which makes reading the arena particularly confusing, especially when the attacks use huge particle effects - the hitboxes are vague and imprecise and you have to just intuit where you're moving (the fire serpent felt particularly bad here.) I also don't like the 'really fast rat human' type bosses like Chester 2 where you either boringly skirt around ridiculously fast attacks until you get a tiny opening, OR you just grind to get more DEF/HP and spam attacks when you know you won't take as much damage.
There's an unpleasant imprecision to flashy boss attacks - part of why this game is so fun is that enemy attacks and the top-down 3D perspective feel really readable - and those flashy attacks feel like they go against what makes other parts of the game good.
Anyways, I like this Ys the most out of the top-down 3D ones (Oath, Ark, Origin). I wish there were more made like this! (Rather than going down the dark, RPG-heavy dodge roll path, like Celceta, 7 8 and 9 did... not really interested in playing those (I played a bit of 8))

EDIT: (See bottom. Finished the post-game)
--
Finished the first playthrough. There's a lot of extra story stuff in the 2nd playthrough, so I want to do that at some point.
Overall this is a pretty brilliant and personable feeling children's adventure game. You live in a place called Color town - which is a 3x3 grid of different villages, with separate themes: "Old Japan", "Modern Japan", "Future", Desert, Downtown, Jungle, etc. In order to have the carnival, the town needs a lot of power, so it needs 8 stars - which you have to get from the dieties at each of the 8 towns' shrines. To get the stars you need to give them their desired offerings (a red hat, a laptop, etc), and finding those items is the meat of the gameplay.
Finding the items involves meeting shopkeepers, doing simple minigames or tasks, and exploring the townsfolk's home pages, sometimes looking for clues on who to give what item, or how to do something (e.g. there's a minigame where you need to cook a dessert, so you need to do some reasoning to find a recipe for it in the game's internet).
Exploring characters' home pages is pretty fun - they link to each other's, so you can see who's friends with who. People even have little blogs, so you get a sense of their humor, quirks, personality in a rich but succinctly stated way.
Every NPC in the game (about 70 in the first playthrough, and about 50 more in the 2nd) can be invited to the carnival - sometimes through just speaking to them, or by doing other things first (often bringing an item, or clearing some other condition). Since every NPC is named and has a unique design, it's actually manageable to faintly remember each person's job or role.
I loved the little stores and shops - you can't buy stuff, but you get a sense of the types of places in a 70s-90s-inspired japan. Dagashi stores, shoe stores, libraries, tailors, fireworks, bakeries, etc.
Anyways I love the scope of the game - the first playthrough took me about 8-10 hours, which is a reasonable length. Some repetition does set in by the end (e.g. in each of the 8 towns you need to answer a 5-question quiz about the town in order to get the golden star - which can be kind of cute at first but eventually feels repetitive), and there start to be a lack of any interesting item puzzles, but for the most part it's a strong game, and it's fun to just poke around and read the webpages. Or to receive e-mails or BBS requests from people.
The 2nd playthrough involves a lot more puzzles relating to the webpages (e.g. finding hidden links, solving quizzes), so I'm curious about that.
--
Other than that... the game features a lot of "Monpi", these monster/object humanoids. E.g. a talking eggplant. They're quite quirky and represent maybe a relation to the lives of inanimate objects? There's some 'lore' to the world of Uki-Uki regarding these natural ecosystems outside the borders of the town you never visit. Like a lush jungle, or a mountain range with no humans, or a desert that was once an ocean. They're not the focus of the game, but they give this simple depth of fantasy to the game's atmosphere that's appreciated. In some ways, the 2nd playthrough of the game can be seen as trying to 'mix' this inaccessible world of the Monpi with that of the humans.
Finally, this game was directed by Noriko Miura, older sister of famous manga artist Sakura Momoko. I wonder what she's up to now! Seems like she didn't do any games after this, unfortunately, although the studio, indieszero, did go on to make some cool games (electroplankton, sennen kazoku).
Makes me pine a bit for this era of Nintendo games, where around 40 people would make a short and unique game. Oh well!
----
POST-GAME ADDENDUM
The post-game is a fairly different-feeling experience. What happens story-wise is that you are chosen, once again, as the carnival organizer. This time though the goal is to have a night carnival! Luckily everyone you invited last time is still up for it. What happens this time around are the following:
- Under-construction webpages of monpi are now open, and thus there are a couple dozen more monpi you can invite
- There are more monpi to chat with (chat works by choosing between two conversation options until you manage to invite the monpi - it's fairly trial and error to pick the right choices)
- Various new events are triggered once you've invited the correct monpi.
- These new events include interesting things like: visiting the "hidden sides" of the towns' webpages to find clues that will open up a storeroom under a statue (Which gives you confetti for the fireworks lol)
- Finding a hidden maze underneath a "stone circle" in the town square. Here you meet a queen who allows the carnival to happen at night. There's a (simple) mystery hunt to open up this area involving angel NPCs and new links on monpi's webpages
- You start to get deliveries from Monpi, which can be used in small quests. Likewise, a big sidequest involves collecting candy box stickers to mail in for prizes.
- You're free to explore all 8 towns from the start.
Despite some of the events and the newness of some monpi webpages, it's more repetitive than the first playthrough. Because you don't have the discovery of new shops and towns to balance out the simple quests, you're pretty much doing simple fetch quests in between meticulously sweeping the web for monpi pages.
The monpi have an assortment of webpage-based minigames to play - they're often luck based, stuff like, "Simple Blackjack" or solving a timed maze, or a sliding tile puzzle. There are some that even require coming back on multiple days, like planting and watering a seed. The worst require massive amounts of luck (winning blackjack 5 times in a row) while allowing you only one try per in-game-day, meaning they're missable.
Overall it's something I think I'd have liked as a kid, but I really was just grinding by the end for the sake of it.
In the end though, you're greeted with an even livelier carnival than the first round! That was kind of neat.

Much more of a 3 if someone were to release this today but gets points for being from the mid-80s. What stuck out to me the most was world 2 - and how the art and platforming challenges would smoothly change over a level. It reminded me of those giant , horizontal wall paintings describing an epic myth or the like - world 2 being like a contracted narration of Pit's journey across the world. The vertical worlds were okay, but not as visually interesting imo
The more glaring missteps aside, I like how precise Pit's movement and the economy of the arrows feel. At some times the enemies are a bit too fast and nimble to mesh well with the movement (the 'money rooms' with 8 of those quick-moving enemies often face this problem), but at other times the movement really shines (like the world 2 boss - I think that was an amazingly elegant application of the game's rules). Reminds me of some of the gunplay from later games like Cave Story or Kero Blaster.
I actually like the ways the vertical section's platforming gets trickier and trickier - world 3's areas where you need to shoot those demons while going back and forth from different sides of the screen were a highlight. (Even if the punishment of dying from falling is way too high...)
The money economy sort of made sense. I liked how you're encouraged to take a bit of risk to clear out screens of enemies so that you could buy health potions later. I feel like the healing springs were a bit overpowered, though...
That being said, this game reminds me of modern roguelites, especially Kid Icarus's room mechanic. The way you get a random assortment of items in the stores. As the game goes on and it gets easier to maintain a safe amount of health, the rooms become less interesting, although I appreciate the fortress levels removing your (overpowered?) weapon/armor upgrades.
The fortress levels were a cool twist, although they never amount to any kind of interesting spatial feeling - merely a labyrinth that feels randomly generated (despite being hand-authored). The need to buy the mapping items is a mistake - smaller dungeons without maps or automapping from the start would have been more interesting.
Other than that, I do love the kind of structural play Kid Icarus does with the labyrinth, vertical and horizontal levels...even if it's not executed great all the time
The finale was disappointing - to me, turning the game into a poorly executed shmup was not the best way to make finding these 'three great treasures' feel exciting. Pit's movement is slow and imprecise, the level often boring with lots of waiting, the only reasonable Medusa strategy (hanging to the back of the screen) feels like a cheese more than anything. If you removed the flying and made it a high or double jump, then built some enemies around pit's Light Arrow and the Shielding Mechanic, that could have made for a fun twist on what the game had been building up the whole way.

Cool interactive fiction that is the fallout of what one could see as an large-scale JRPG where the heroes failed. Instead of being told from one perspective, we get to hear about the failure of this quest from 5 different perspectives (each told with a different grammar of interactive fiction). What results is a number of conflicting, emotionally varied stories, revealing different facets of characters. A cool experimental work!

2005

i once found god in this game
i played it again as an adult and god was gone