Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Pier Solar is a modern Mega Drive RPG
Chalk it up to pure, unbridled personal preference, but classic RPGs are much easier to fall in love with than modern RPGs. These games have evolved over the past couple of decades, but evolution isn't indicative of quality. It's also not indicative of awesomeness, which is a key factor that you always have to take into account when playing/talking/writing about games. That's why a project like Pier Solar is so exciting — the potential for a great throwback RPG is there, and developer WaterMelon could very well have a winner on its proverbial hands.
I think most people would take an older Final Fantasy game over some of the more recent entries. Then, of course, there's EarthBound, which is totally the best RPG ever created. Well, at least in my mind. (I'm right, by the way.) Pier Solar is one of those games that wears its nostalgia on its sleeve (also proverbial, like developer WaterMelon's hands). The game looks and sounds like something you'd play on the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive for those of you outside of North America). Here's the thing, though: Pier Solar is actually a Mega Drive RPG.
After creating a legit Mega Drive cartridge (which I got to see in person and actually held for a few precious seconds), WaterMelon has decided to bring the game to a much wider audience. It's not enough for this to be the only Mega Drive game to be created in the past several years. No, this is the type of game that should be played by a larger RPG fan base, and soon it will be, as several ports for different download platforms are currently in the works.
I had the opportunity to play Pier Solar at IndieCade back in October. (Yes, I'm just barely recounting that experience. Lay off me.) Sadly, all combat sequences were locked, but I was still able to walk around different areas across the game's map. I truly wish I would've been able to check out more of it, but even the small bits that I experienced were telling of the bigger adventure that RPG fans can look forward to.
At the risk of using the tired term, Pier Solar is indeed a love letter to lovingly crafted RPGs of old. Actually, I don't feel bad using that term, because this game kind of earns the right to be called a love letter on account of it actually being created on a ROM cart. Of course, there's also the retro-flavored gameplay. You've got an old school overworld map, random encounters, and turn-based combat. Speaking of combat, even though I didn't get the chance to engage in any battles, here's a screenshot of a battle sequence. You know, just because:
Pier Solar looks absolutely gorgeous. The pixelated, colorful style of the environments lends itself to that charming Mega Drive look that became prominent on the console in the '90s. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, however, some tweaks are being made to the overall look of the game. Pier Solar has received an HD coat of paint that helps it look even prettier. That's not to say that its old school charm has been sucked dry. This is still the same game, but it's received a noticeable overhaul to help it look cleaner and just nicer overall.
If you dig old school RPGs, Pier Solar is one of those pleasant little nostalgic throwbacks. Well, I say “little” in an endearing fashion, because at 35 to 50 hours, there's absolutely nothing small about this title. The game is planned to hit download platforms in early 2014. Watch out for Pier Solar on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, PC, and Android platforms.
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