Mythology. Fables. Tall tales.

It is not un­usu­al for an­cient items to have in­cred­i­ble sto­ries sur­round­ing them, how they came to be, how they be­came renown, why they are held in con­tempt, and some­times why they must be avoid­ed. More of­ten than not these sto­ries ex­ist be­cause of the deeds they were used in. Sometimes, how­ev­er, these sto­ries ex­ist be­fore the item, and ac­tu­al­ly bring the item it­self into ex­is­tence. It’s ex­is­tence com­pound­ing the sto­ry and al­low­ing it to grow more and more as a re­sult.

Such events can be rare… But I’m also a hunter of such items, and when I find them they wind up here in my Reliquary.

Today’s top­ic of dis­cus­sion is a ti­tle that holds a spe­cial place of rev­er­ence even here in my Reliquary, and if you are fa­mil­iar with an­cient mythol­o­gy then you might un­der­stand what I mean when I say this is my Sisyphean chal­lenge. That boul­der that I at­tempt to push up a hill every so of­ten.

It is a ti­tle of re­mark­able qual­i­ty and pedi­gree. But the sto­ry of its ori­gins are rather con­fus­ing, as it served as a test bed for tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies that would be im­ple­ment­ed in oth­er ti­tles lat­er. Allegedly it was not meant to be re­leased in the West at all, but it some­how still made its way here.

This is the sto­ry of Parasite Eve.

The tale about how I chanced across such a won­der­ful thing is not a very in­ter­est­ing one I as­sure you. Call it fate, des­tiny, kar­ma, or sim­ple dumb luck. A friend loaned it to me be­fore the se­quel re­leased and while I was fa­mil­iar with RPGs be­fore this, the only one I had re­al­ly de­vot­ed any time to be­fore was Super Mario RPG. But I was a Resident Evil fan and it looked like Resident Evil, and that was all I need­ed. The rest, as they say, is his­to­ry.

Now let us be­gin.

OST cov­er used be­cause “It looks cool­er”

Legends say that short­ly af­ter the renown ti­tle Final Fantasy VII was forged by the mas­ter weapon smiths of the Holy Church of SquareSoft, some of the smiths dis­cov­ered there was enough ma­te­r­i­al left over from the me­te­orite they had melt­ed down to make a whole oth­er weapon. Thus the forg­ing of an­oth­er fi­nal fan­ta­sy would be­gin short­ly. However the sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing of game smithing had im­proved since the forg­ing of the fa­mous ti­tle, so some of the ma­te­r­i­al was re­forged into a less­er known leg­endary blade. This is the sto­ry of that blade.

It was mold­ed in the like­ness de­scribed in a sto­ry by a lo­cal au­thor, some­thing he saw in a dream. And thus it was giv­en form. Imitators and com­pan­ion blades would come at­tempt­ing to achieve what it did, but none would ever come close.

As you can ob­vi­ous­ly tell, I am very fond of this game. While this is not the very first JRPG I ever played, it is the very first one I ever let my­self get swal­lowed up by, and in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in to. Funny enough I’ve nev­er ac­tu­al­ly com­plet­ed it even though its a short game, com­pared to JRPGs of the time which av­er­aged 30 hours, Parasite Eve can be wrapped up in ten to twelve hours.

I prob­a­bly con­nect­ed so well with it ini­tial­ly be­cause it’s so much like Resident Evil. I was a mas­sive nerd about that game in the days of my youth. But I think there is some­thing more go­ing on, be­cause as far as I know, any­one who plays it ends up lik­ing it. Much like Armored Core, there may be peo­ple who don’t like it, but I’ve yet to hear of them.

Parasite Eve man­ages to mag­i­cal­ly blend the lines be­tween Sci‐fi ac­tion, sur­vival hor­ror, and JRPG in a sin­gle tasty pack­age that you can’t help but come back to. The weapon and ar­mor cus­tomiza­tion sys­tem is pret­ty in­ter­est­ing if you sit down to learn it too, and we’ll go over that in a bit.

Prepare for mas­sive spoil­ers. Stop read­ing here and play the game first be­fore con­tin­u­ing if you care about over 20‐year‐old spoil­ers. Through the pow­er of time trav­el, I’ll be here no mat­ter when you come back to con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion.

 

Getting Started

Upon boot­ing up you may no­tice the orig­i­nal SquareSoft logo. It’s like a breath of fresh air. This game is from a time when that logo meant some­thing; it was usu­al­ly a stamp of qual­i­ty. The sec­ond thing you’ll like­ly no­tice is the or­ches­tral rock sound­track com­posed by Yoko Shimomura. And yes, it is in­deed sexy. (in­clude yt link to open­ing Primal Eyes by Yoko Shimomura)

Booting up the game will greet you with a cut scene in­di­cat­ing you are in New York City, cir­ca 1997. It looks kind of like what Final Fantasy 8 would even­tu­al­ly be­come. Yes, this is a JRPG that takes place in mod­ern (for the time) NYC, and as your strong fe­male pro­tag­o­nist char­ac­ter steps out of the limo in her evening best, you be­gin to un­der­stand that you are in for a wild ride.

Image via Power Up Gaming

You find your­self out on a date with a wormy rich guy, the kind that nev­er worked a day in his life, but will make sure to re­mind you that his dad to­tal­ly owns a BMW deal­er­ship. Don’t walk away just yet, I promise you things get bet­ter.

Our hero­ine, and your con­trol­lable pro­tag­o­nist, for the sto­ry is 25‐year‐old Police Detective Aya Brea, who is about as thrilled to be here as you are, which is not very. They are here for a night of opera at Carnegie Hall. Apparently they have the best seats in the house in the mid row.

Things go fine and it seems to be a mid­dling pro­duc­tion of a witch burn­ing love tragedy. The lead ac­tress be­gins a vo­cal solo, a vo­cal op­er­at­ic solo that is so good it be­gins melt­ing faces off of peo­ple.

Wait, let’s back up. As she sings, peo­ple are dra­mat­i­cal­ly burst­ing into flames and the lead ac­tress of the opera seems to know what is up, and she is rev­el­ing in it.

Aya then pulls a gun from nowhere (be­cause there is no place she could have hid­den that thing in her dress) and de­clares the NYPD are go­ing han­dle this. She knocks the wormy shit man away and he runs like a bitch to es­cape dan­ger at the com­mand of our strong fe­male lead. Wormy guy is nev­er seen again, thank­ful­ly.

Now the game tru­ly be­gins.

 

The First Hour

The first thing you’ll do once you have fi­nal­ly start­ed the game prop­er is start the first boss fight. No I did not stut­ter. Pretty much every­thing you need to know about com­bat go­ing for­ward is taught to you in this first fight. You rush the stage and pull your gun on the ac­tress who is ad­mir­ing her handy work. She de­clares her­self to be Eve, and that hu­man­i­ty is go­ing down and she is the har­bin­ger of its de­struc­tion and the lib­er­a­tor, but this is get­ting so bor­ing let’s fight!

The boss doesn’t go first, and while I can’t con­firm this, I be­lieve the bat­tle is set up so the boss has a slow­er ATB (Active Time Battle) re­gen than you do, mean­ing you get 1.5 – 2 turns be­tween at­tacks here com­pared to usu­al. So ba­si­cal­ly this is your tu­to­r­i­al to the ac­tion of Parasite Eve.

From here you learn that in bat­tle you can move around freely with­in the com­bat area. You can fire your gun when it’s your turn and a translu­cent green cage shows you the range of your weapon. Your abil­i­ty to move around gives you the abil­i­ty to dodge freely to the best of your abil­i­ty. However upon re­ceiv­ing that first hit (which seems par­tial­ly script­ed, like you are sucked into it) your body un­der­goes a rad­i­cal change, and now you can cast mag­ic.

A sep­a­rate me­ter is added to your HUD and you gain the abil­i­ty to heal your­self. Eventually you shoot the ac­tress enough times that she will laugh at you for suck­ing so bad­ly and run away. You chase her back stage and find out she tore open a hole into the base­ment through a met­al door and es­caped right as your back­up ar­rives.

You may now choose be­tween pro­ceed­ing into the base­ment to Charlie’s Angel the fuck out of things, or go­ing to check in with your back up. Naturally you go check in with back­up be­cause you are a good cop and they might have some good­ies for you.

At the en­trance you will find a friend­ly medic, some NPC win­dow dress­ing, and a guy who will give you 50 free rounds if you talk to him enough times. Upon re­turn­ing to the base­ment you are greet­ed by a mys­te­ri­ous ghost girl that pro­lif­er­ates Japanese hor­ror sto­ries and var­i­ous oth­er works of Japanese fic­tion be­fore you of­fi­cial­ly be­gin Random Encounters.

This then presents what the bulk of the game will be: ex­plo­ration, ran­dom en­coun­ters, lev­el­ing up, man­ag­ing ammo and items (which gets stu­pid­ly easy past the sec­ond chap­ter, you will nev­er not have enough ammo), find­ing keys, check­ing lit­er­al­ly every thing that looks like you might be able to in­ter­act with, and fight boss­es to a mem­o­rable techno‐orchestral sound­track that sticks with you. Then at the back of the base­ment you fight the first boss again, but this time she starts mu­tat­ing and the game gets a bit more Resident Evil-es­que than at first glance.

After fight­ing your way through the base­ment, and then the sew­ers as the evil Boss Lady thing makes its es­cape, you fight a gi­ant mu­tant al­li­ga­tor with thun­der and fire pow­ers. And fi­nal­ly Best Dad Daniel, your part­ner on the po­lice force, dri­ves you home and makes fun of your wormy date who booked it when shit got squir­rel­ly.

That’s Chapter One, and it presents a great slice of what play­ing the rest of game will en­tail, mi­nus weapon and ar­mor cus­tomiza­tion that get in­tro­duced in just a bit.

 

Story

The sto­ry of Parasite Eve is kind of in­sane, but in that clas­sic sexy Las Vegas kind of way. The mid-90’s was a pe­ri­od of ‘out there’ High Concept Sci‐fi, and this game re­flects that.

After the events of the first chap­ter things only get worse as a se­ries of bi­o­log­i­cal hor­rors be­gin ap­pear­ing and swarm­ing the city, and cryp­tic mes­sages from the Police de­tec­tive on cam­era re­veal that the cul­prit re­spon­si­ble is some­one call­ing her­self Eve, and that this is all be­cause “The Mitochondria are re­volt­ing.”

For those of you who haven’t been in Biology class for a while, the Mitochondria are the pow­er­house of the cell, and are ab­surd­ly im­por­tant to growth, ag­ing, and death. Horrifying mon­sters be­gin to ap­pear as Eve reeks hav­oc and kills thou­sands by har­ness­ing them, re­duc­ing some peo­ple to a mass of in­dis­tin­guish­able sludge.

The po­lice are un­able to fight this threat, but our plucky and at­trac­tive Super Heroine Aya Brea is able to fight them off, and some­how her cells are pro­duc­ing a type of en­er­gy called Parasite Energy that al­lows her to seem­ing­ly cast mag­ic spells. With the help of her Partner Daniel (the Best Dad) and a mys­te­ri­ous Japanese sci­en­tist who comes to you when he learns the news, our un­der equipped crew will wage war on the street, in the sew­ers, and de­mol­ish build­ings while fight­ing against bi­o­log­i­cal ter­rors spawned by this hor­ri­fy­ing Mitochondrial re­bel­lion.

Eve has come to New York City to give birth to the Ultimate Life Form, a be­ing that will crush and rule over all life on Earth. But what’s more, all of this has hap­pened once be­fore in Japan. Because as it turns out the great and mighty twist of the sto­ry is that Parasite Eve is ac­tu­al­ly a canon­i­cal se­quel to a book/Film of the same name (that it out­shines). Only Aya seems to have the pow­er to stop Eve and her mon­strosi­ties.

But how does this all tie into her past? Because it’s a JRPG and every­thing al­ways ties into a character’s past.

The sto­ry is one part Sci‐fi ac­tion thriller, and one part bi­ol­o­gy les­son. I ac­tu­al­ly got an A on my Biology exam in High School thanks to Parasite Eve and all the in­ter­est­ing bi­ol­o­gy in­for­ma­tion that pep­pers the sto­ry as in­ter­est­ing fla­vor text. The ma­jor­i­ty of those fac­toids check out, which seems like a feat for the time the game was made.

 

Technicals

As you can tell from the on­set, Parasite Eve bears great re­sem­blance to Resident Evil, a game that came out two years ear­li­er, while still push­ing for­ward vi­su­al styles ex­plored in Final Fantasy 7. This is most ev­i­dent in the use of scal­ing to al­low 3D mod­els to walk over pre‐rendered im­ages to pre­tend they are in a 3D space. And just like Resident Evil, this game fea­tures fixed 3rd per­son cam­era an­gles, and what the com­mu­ni­ty com­mon­ly refers to as “Tank Controls.”

The graph­ics are about on par with Final Fantasy 8, which I think Parasite Eve also worked as a pseudo‐tech demo for in terms of work­ing with more re­al­is­tic hu­man pro­por­tioned char­ac­ters. Many of the video ef­fects, SFX, and more are bor­rowed from Final Fantasy as well with some of Aya’s Parasite Energy pow­ers (spells) be­ing dead ringers for some clas­sic Final Fantasy spells (Haste and Barrier, for an ex­am­ple).

Controls are ba­sic “Tank Control” lay­out pi­o­neered in‐game like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider, how­ev­er the cam­era an­gles are more akin to those of Final Fantasy 7, with high pulled back an­gles as well as low an­gles that are much more fa­mil­iar. The in­ter­face and menu are very sim­ple and the item man­age­ment is eas­i­er than Resident Evil since you gain more stor­age space in your in­ven­to­ry as you progress.

So If you are com­fort­able in Resident Evil, or games like Galerians, you’ll be right at home. For those of you not fa­mil­iar with the term “Tank Controls,” they are as fol­lows: Up on the D‐pad (and lat­er, ana­log stick) moves your char­ac­ter for­ward in what­ev­er di­rec­tion they are fac­ing, left and right ro­tate you so you face a new di­rec­tion, down moves you back su­per slow­ly in a way that makes it im­prac­ti­cal to ever use but we can’t have a noth­ing but­ton there. Tank Controls were how de­sign­ers worked around faux 3D en­vi­ron­ments when the cam­era was fixed and be­fore Analog con­trol be­came the stan­dard. Mostly this was due to fixed cam­era an­gles in 3D spaces.

You also have the abil­i­ty to cus­tomize your char­ac­ter and make im­prove­ments to var­i­ous parts of your stats such as your ATB recharge, PE recharge, item ca­pac­i­ty, or dump those up­grade points into your weapon as apart of the weapons up­grade sys­tem, which is the most “AMERICA!” gun man­age­ment sys­tem I have ever seen.

Image via SwitchRPG

The weapon cus­tomiza­tion looks ab­surd­ly com­plex and con­fus­ing at first since they don’t ex­plain it very well in‐game or in the in­struc­tions. But ba­si­cal­ly you take a wrench and duct tape and up­grade your gun by stick­ing oth­er guns on to it. If your gun isn’t strong enough then you just need to at­tach more guns to make it bet­ter. ‘MURICA!

But all jok­ing aside, you es­sen­tial­ly need to fu­sion dance your weapons to­geth­er, as re­ly­ing en­tire­ly on the very fre­quent equip­ment drops will leave you ill‐equipped to tack­le parts of the game. You can quick­ly find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion where you are trapped in a sto­ry event that you can only leave when you com­plete the boss fight, but you lack the DPS to get past the chal­lenge, a fate that has be­fall­en me dur­ing one of my far­thest runs of the game be­cause I didn’t un­der­stand what was ac­tu­al­ly a stu­pid­ly sim­ple sys­tem.

Each gun has three stats: dam­age, range, and how much ammo each holds be­fore it must be re­loaded. You will nev­er have to wor­ry about re­load­ing re­al­ly be­cause your char­ac­ter will au­to­mat­i­cal­ly re­load as a free ac­tion but it takes a few sec­onds de­pend­ing on the weapon. You can add to these stats us­ing Bonus points (BP) that you earn each lev­el up, which you also use for your char­ac­ter stats. Or you can rip stats off  oth­er guns and dump it on the gun you ac­tu­al­ly want. The best part is, they just stack for­ev­er (up to a max­i­mum of 999 per stat).

Each gun also has spe­cial abil­i­ties, such as el­e­men­tal dam­age, sta­tus ef­fects, shoot two or even five times per at­tack, or even at­tack mul­ti­ple ac­tions per turn which you can split be­tween at­tacks and spell cast­ing. Armor is cus­tomized in a sim­i­lar way. And al­though not rec­om­mend­ed, you can even stack all the ef­fects onto a sin­gle weapon if you want­ed to, with the fact that the stats just stack for­ev­er, you can do any­thing with enough time. And the truth is you have to. More on that at the end.

Using guns in RPGs is al­ways kind of a has­sle to set up. Especially if you are us­ing real guns, knowl­edge of how they ac­tu­al­ly work ver­sus bal­anc­ing them out for game play al­ways seems to be a bat­tle, and guns ei­ther wind up un­der pow­ered, or op­er­at­ing in a way that makes no sense for a gun to work with­in bal­anced game play. Parasite Eve’s bat­tle sys­tem man­ages to strike a good bal­ance be­tween cus­tomiz­abil­i­ty, uti­liza­tion of gun me­chan­ics and real‐time RPG bat­tle sys­tems. It’s still a bit rough, if the sys­tem could be pol­ished a bit more or re­fined a bit more, it could be some­thing pret­ty won­der­ful. But it does bet­ter than oth­er games, es­pe­cial­ly in the cus­tomiz­abil­i­ty de­part­ment.

 

Is it worth playing now?

Dear sweet God, yes. Parasite Eve is eas­i­ly one of my fa­vorite games, con­sid­er­ing how many times I have made at­tempts to play it to com­ple­tion and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence every time. This is prob­a­bly helped by the fact there isn’t re­al­ly much of a grind to speak of if you don’t want there to be. Utilizing weapon and ar­mor cus­tomiza­tion, en­e­mies will very rarely prove to be so un­god­ly dif­fi­cult that you dread the ran­dom en­coun­ters, even just play­ing through with­out grind­ing out lev­els, and they are very gen­er­ous with lev­els and new spells.

There is no usu­al grind to speak of, that caveat is un­less you want to as­sem­ble one of the se­cret weapons which re­quires get­ting sev­er­al hun­dred in­stances of a spe­cif­ic item that only drops from 1 – 3 mon­sters en­coun­tered in three lo­ca­tions through­out the game. Naturally the re­wards are worth it if you pur­sue such a grind, but they are whol­ly un­nec­es­sary for a nor­mal play‐through.

Parasite Eve car­ries a very loy­al fan base and there are many who even ap­pre­ci­ate the se­quel, even if it isn’t as good. Very few tol­er­ate the 3rd Birthday be­cause it’s just aw­ful. However this first ti­tle is most cer­tain­ly worth pick­ing up in any shape or form, and I have bought this game four dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions via dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal pur­chas­es.

You re­al­ly can’t go wrong with it, un­less you ab­solute­ly hate RPGs.

 

What can we learn from it?

We can ac­tu­al­ly learn quite a bit from Parasite Eve, which sto­ries al­lege was noth­ing more than a Tech Demo for Final Fantasy 8 that got pol­ished and re­leased some­how. And de­spite that, it some­how rose up to great­ness through the va­ri­ety of things it has go­ing for it with its var­i­ous sys­tems and unique RPG pre­sen­ta­tion.

-Graphics and Visuals‐

By today’s stan­dard the graph­ics aren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly great. However for their time they were on par with Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. The use of pre‐rendered graph­ics to make up for lim­it­ed mem­o­ry space in games was a com­mon prac­tice, and it’s not a bad idea. If your im­ages are pret­ty solid‐looking, lay­ered prop­er­ly and your col­li­sion set up, you can make some pret­ty nice vi­su­als. Once again graph­ics aren’t every­thing, de­sign and pre­sen­ta­tion are. The cam­era an­gles em­ployed, which of­ten give you dis­tance from the char­ac­ters and crea­ture 3D mod­els let them look bet­ter than they would up close. Some of the scenes are also framed and kind of flow like a movie scene. graph­ics are good, but pre­sen­ta­tion is king.

-Story and Plot‐

Parasite Eve is ex­treme­ly loose­ly based on a hor­ror thriller nov­el of the same name in Japan. A nov­el that it out­shines by far.It even had a movie based on it and the game even man­ages to out­shine it, which should tell you some­thing about how it was han­dled. This is more than like­ly why it is de­scribed on Japanese and NA box art as “The Cinematic RPG.” Parasite Eve takes a li­cense, and rather than mold a sto­ry that has al­ready been told into a shape that its fans (if any) rec­og­nize sim­ply to make a game play sto­ry, they chose to make it canon­i­cal and the game a se­quel. this al­lows them to take all the parts they like from the book or film, and lit­er­al­ly do any­thing they want with it and treat it as a sep­a­rate in­stance.

Too many games, movies, TV adap­ta­tions, etc make the mis­take of bring­ing a prop­er­ty to a new medi­um and de­cid­ing that the best ap­proach to bring in fans is to tell a sto­ry they have al­ready seen be­fore but bad­ly, just look at Ghost in the Shell which had oth­er prob­lems, but that’s not im­por­tant. Instead of telling a bad­ly adapt­ed ver­sion of a sto­ry we’ve al­ready seen to bring in the ex­ist­ing fan base, they nev­er con­sid­er sim­ply telling an orig­i­nal ad­ven­ture with the char­ac­ters peo­ple like. This would al­low you to do pret­ty much any­thing you want­ed so long as you don’t vi­o­late canon, and would make it so you don’t need every char­ac­ter, and can do just enough back­ground to let the new au­di­ence know what’s go­ing on. While this ap­proach isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble, it is an op­tion that should be more of­ten con­sid­ered.

If you are adapt­ing me­dia to a new medi­um. If you con­nect it to the source ma­te­r­i­al as op­posed to adapt­ing it or bas­ing it off of it, you will have a much eas­i­er time get­ting fans to flock to it, and not be forced to work with­in ex­ist­ing ma­te­ri­als. This can cre­ate a cir­cu­lar re­la­tion­ship where the book sends fans to your project, and your project sends fans to the book and both ben­e­fit and grow. This isn’t al­ways the case how­ev­er and should be eval­u­at­ed on a case by case ba­sis. Some sto­ries are very con­fus­ing and in­tri­cate and re­quire the ex­tra de­tails in their orig­i­nal sto­ries.

-Game Play and Controls‐

Tank Controls are wrong­ly de­spised I be­lieve, but they are tried and true, and proven ef­fec­tive for a time be­fore ana­log con­trols. Don’t be afraid of tank con­trols, how­ev­er if you have fixed cam­era po­si­tions with tank con­trols you must al­ways make sure the play­er is aware of where they are and do not lose aware­ness of their po­si­tion when chang­ing cam­eras lo­ca­tions. The rea­son is that dur­ing sev­er­al mo­ments of the game, no­tably in Central Park it is re­al­ly easy to lose track of where you are rel­a­tive to every­thing else and get lost in what is ba­si­cal­ly an open air en­clo­sure at the Central Park Zoo. Thankfully be­cause the ran­dom bat­tles take place on the screen you are on (like Chrono Trigger), they do not add to the prob­lem by caus­ing dis­ori­en­ta­tion. In some cas­es the ran­dom bat­tles show items hid­den in the back­ground in ar­eas that are not lit as well as they could be.

The weapon cus­tomiza­tion looks more com­plex than it ac­tu­al­ly is and that can be a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing. It is also not ex­plained very well in my ex­pe­ri­ence, and you are ner­vous about ex­per­i­men­ta­tion be­cause when you use parts of one gun to im­prove an­oth­er the gun you stripped is de­stroyed. Explaining this bet­ter, or a tu­to­r­i­al where they walk you through it and make it plain and clear what is hap­pen­ing, what the rules are, and how to get re­sults, would work a lot bet­ter and would fa­cil­i­tate a sim­plis­tic stat ap­proach as seen in Parasite Eve or even more com­pli­cat­ed stats in oth­er games.

Your cus­tomiza­tion sys­tem can be as com­plex as you want it to be as long as you are able to con­vey it clear­ly enough to play­ers how it works, what it does, what the con­se­quences of us­ing it are. I’ve played sev­er­al RPGs where the cus­tomiza­tion or up­grade sys­tem is so con­fus­ing that I don’t even both­er with it ei­ther be­cause it isn’t well ex­plained, it isn’t ex­plained at all, or it makes no log­i­cal sense and you can’t re­al­ly fig­ure out what you are do­ing. As a re­sult I ei­ther pow­er through and try to brute force my way through the game as best as I can, and I ei­ther win or I stop play­ing from hit­ting my head on the wall too many times.

-That Important First Fight‐

The first real fight or bat­tle of your game re­gard­less of genre is an im­por­tant one, but prob­a­bly more so in RPGs. The first bat­tle must con­vey the type of bat­tle sys­tem the game uses as it will re­flect the game play go­ing for­ward. It must be easy to un­der­stand at first glance, or be well ex­plained in a stream­lined tu­to­ri­als. It’s ok to not in­tro­duce all of your game play me­chan­ics at once, how­ev­er if you are able to set up the bulk of your fea­tures with­out over­load­ing the first bat­tle or drag­ging it on for­ev­er, you like­ly have a very stream­lined ex­pe­ri­ence. Since most peo­ple have usu­al­ly played at least one RPG, most peo­ple go in with some knowl­edge as to how things are sup­posed to go down, but you al­ways get the oc­ca­sion of a per­son mak­ing your RPG their first. Keeping things sim­ple but in­tu­itive isn’t easy, but Parasite Eve is a good ex­am­ple of how it can be done well in some ar­eas but not in oth­ers.

-Music and Sound‐

The mu­sic by Yoko Shimomura com­pletes what is al­ready a mem­o­rable pack­age. She cre­ates a theme for the en­tire game and the sound­track is lit­tered with styl­ized and emo­tion­al remix­es of the main theme and it’s so good. Parasite Eve’s OST is the first game sound­track I ever bought, and I al­ways keep it in my car. While an ex­pen­sive, high qual­i­ty, sound track is not al­ways nec­es­sary for a game, hav­ing the right kind of sound­track can def­i­nite­ly make a dif­fer­ence and el­e­vate the pre­sen­ta­tion of a game.

The mu­sic is still com­posed in‐house at SquareSoft here, so it was still cheap­er than li­cens­ing mu­sic from fa­mous or main­stream artists. Music doesn’t al­ways have to be specif­i­cal­ly tai­lored for the mo­ment they are used in, but if you can pull it off it is al­most al­ways to your ben­e­fit. Also nev­er ever deny the pow­er of a fan­tas­tic and catchy theme. Don’t put it every­where, but hid­ing it in oth­er tracks and mak­ing that con­sis­tent through­out is a way to have it be present with­out wear­ing out its wel­come. Someone who is an ex­pert on mu­sic the­o­ry would know more and be able to com­ment more thor­ough­ly on this. [Editor’s Note: 8‐Bit Music Theory on YouTube is a great place to start on video game mu­sic the­o­ry]

The sound­track also ben­e­fits from the fact that each track dou­bles as a de­cent song on its own and is def­i­nite­ly worth ca­su­al lis­ten­ing to.

The sound ef­fects are car­ry­overs from a va­ri­ety of oth­er SquareSoft ti­tles, as are some of the vi­su­al ef­fects And much like in the case of vi­su­als, as long as the pre­sen­ta­tion is good, it is per­fect­ly fine to reuse as­sets if you can fit them into your new game world.

Extra Credits

I men­tioned be­fore that you re­al­ly have no choice but take ad­van­tage of the weapon cus­tomiza­tion sys­tem in the game, and I re­al­ly mean that. You have to go through the game and be ac­tive­ly try­ing to make the prover­bial Super Armor and Unlimited Gun Works. The rea­son be­ing is that be­fore the fi­nal boss fight, which has 3 – 4 phas­es, a char­ac­ter of­fers to en­grave your weapon and ar­mor of choice, let­ting you re­name them to any­thing you want. When the game ends, you start new game plus, but you start it with your re­named weapons.

But here is the kick­er. The end­ing you got is not the true end­ing, and to get the true end­ing you must at­tack the Chrysler Building in New Game+ which is a 77 floor Super Dungeon. Where you will find even more weapons with which to ‘Murica! even hard­er against one an­oth­er.

If you don’t have a cus­tom weapon, you will not sur­vive the Chrysler Building. Hell, you need to play through part of the game to get some lev­els be­fore you can at­tack the first floor just be­cause the mon­sters there are that tough. I tried at­tack­ing them with a Game Shark mod­ded weapon once when I cheat­ed to un­lock it with­out tru­ly beat­ing the game, and at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble point you can at­tack the first floor, with a max mod weapon with all buffs, you still get one shot­ted if hit be­cause the mon­sters are such a high­er lev­el.

I’ve seen the top of the moun­tain thanks to Game Shark, but I nev­er beat it the right way, and it’s some­thing I make an earnest at­tempt at at least once a year, but some­thing al­ways seems to in­ter­fere and I nev­er get to fin­ish. One day I hope to not only build my­self a Super Gun and Super Suit, but to com­plete both game modes and get the true end­ing, the right way. Because even though I saw the end­ing with Game Shark, there was no sat­is­fac­tion in it.

Thus the rea­son I say I have nev­er tru­ly beat­en it, and be­cause I nev­er com­plet­ed the Chrysler Building prop­er.

This, how­ev­er, is where we must bring things to a close. Parasite Eve is most cer­tain­ly a prod­uct wor­thy of your time and at­ten­tion, and it is avail­able on PS1 and through PSN. If you like RPGs it’s a must play. If you have nev­er played an RPG be­fore, this is ac­tu­al­ly a good one to start with since it isn’t very com­plex.

Parasite Eve will now be re­turned to its place of rest with­in the Reliquary un­til the next time I deign to chal­lenge it, which will like­ly be soon since I’m feel­ing the itch af­ter this retelling. I thank you for your time, and I hope to see you again soon.

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Xavier Harkonnen

Xavier Harkonnen

Game Dev work­ing on ac­tive project at [Undisclosed Studio], Center‐Left, I post ran­dom thoughts and goofy shit that amus­es me. Support Spacenoid Independence.
Xavier Harkonnen

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