Action-Adventure, Sega Genesis
Here is yet another that had fallen under my radar for over a decade (almost 2, actually). If I were to synopsize it, I'd say Crusader of Centy is a Zelda clone with lingering RPG undertones. How this game went relatively unnoticed for so long is beyond me, but the fates have brought us here so let's take a nice long look at it.
After a 30-second blunder of a birthday party in which all 3 guests leave before it even starts, our hero Corona is handed a sword by his mother and sent off to conquer the evils of the world. Yep, that's about as thick as the plot gets in this one. I'd argue that for a very RPG-styled game, this one wastes no time getting to the point.
|Hey, Super Mario Bros. 3! No, wait a second...|
I wouldn't consider a sparse plotline to be a mark against a game, but when the plot is so sparse that it actually becomes an impediment to gameplay, then we have a problem. And to a degree, that's the case with Crusader of Centy. We are given the whole set-up of a RPG style game: a humble starting town, a king to give you orders to save the world, a worrisome mother who thinks you'll die adventuring like your father did, and a world map. But missing is a bare minimum of dialogue and plot development to keep the player in the know.
At the start of the game, the king informs you that you are to go to a training school for heroes, which will provide you 3 medals after completing 3 obstacle courses. With those 3 medals, you have proven yourself to be a worthy hero and that you can conquer...whoever it is that you're supposed to defeat. Going to the school reveals you can only complete one of the three courses without further special abilities. But no one tells you where to go to learn them. Wandering the world for a while will reveal an inexplicable Red Riding Hood boss, whose defeat yields you...nothing? Well that's because you're supposed to go talk to the witch! What witch? The witch in the plaza of course! What plaza? Oh, it's hidden in a back alley of the start town. You see where I'm going with this? Nothing in-game tells you how to do any of the above, and even with a guide I had a tough time.
But complaints aside, we have the game mechanics. This game has sharp graphics and smooth player movement, paired with some quality 8-direction character sprites. It adds a noticeable degree of polish and life to a world that, aesthetically, seems to lean on titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Harvest Moon. There's also a unique animal sidekick system that offers a multitude of special combos and abilities to the player. In a lot of ways, the mechanics introduced in this game are similar later action-adventure titles like Alundra for the PS1: especially the inclusion of towns, collection of special "hidden" items, and quirky character interactions. When it comes down to it, it plays well.
The VerdictI like this game. It's visually sharp, the controls are simple as can be, and it's a lot of fun. But with that praise I have to attach the disclaimer that I would not in any circumstance recommend playing it without a walkthrough handy. You'll just spend too much time wandering aimlessly. A Genesis Zelda-killer, it is not, but a fun game it most certainly is.