Neugier/The Journey Home

Neugier/The Journey Home

I remember wanting to play the Journey Home so bad but fate decided it was not meant to be.  An interesting bit of history behind this game.  Once scheduled for release in the US it was cancelled when Sega bought out its publisher, Renovation.  Man what a dick move.  There were a few reviews of the game, notably Game Informer and Gamepro, so somewhere out there an English ROM of the game exists.

 

Exiled from his country long ago, when Prince Duke hears about the mounting problems plaguing his homeland he resolves to return and offer his assistance. On the way his ship is attacked by pirates, setting in motion events that will enlighten him as to how far the kingdom has fallen and the role he will play in its salvation.

Neugier: Umi to Kaze no Kōdō was released in the beginning of 1993 in Japan.  It was due to be released in the US as the Journey Home: Quest for the Throne but was cancelled although complete due to the above mentioned factor.  Thanks to Rom hackers online an English patch was released allowing everyone to play the game.  I remember being intrigued upon reading the reviews of Neugier but having played it now I have to be honest, what happened to it was a mercy killing.  While it’s a decent action RPG the game’s inhumanly short length would not have justified it’s $50 or $60 price back in the day.

The closest comparison to Neugier would be A Link to the Past or oddly enough Lagoon. You have a throw chain that can be used to push enemies away, push or pull objects, and to carry boxes for later use. The chain is used primarily to solve puzzles throughout the game as it does not cause any damage to enemies by itself.  My Lagoon comparison comes from your standard attack; in both games the protagonists suffer from a ridiculously short attack range but at least here it can be upgraded.

Leaping attacks and normal attacks are tracked separately and level up the more they are used. Annoyingly there are platforming sequences with increasing frequency the farther you progress in the game.  Due to the viewpoint aligning your jumps can be a disaster.  While it does get tedious it isn’t necessarily a problem you’ll have to deal with for long; while the game as a whole is competently made it suffers from one critical flaw: it’s too short.

 

Yes that really is my total playtime.

I wish I were exaggerating when I say I finished it in an hour and a half but I’m not.  Upon completion you are given a rank but these have no real benefit.  Because of the length (or lack therof) none of the gameplay ideas are fully exploited.  There are a few tricky areas that require creative use of the chain but I can count these instances on one hand.  You don’t even keep an inventory as there are only a few items in the game.

Another consequence of the game’s brevity comes in its balance, namely its flying enemies.  Late in the game there are segments in which you’ll face flying enemies exclusively but because you’ve never encountered them prior your jumping attack skill is not sufficient to deal with them, creating moments of frustration.  The game as a whole moves at a brisk pace, largely because there is so little of its content do dwell on.  If the game were longer its puzzles and combat could have been greatly expanded on.

For a game that would have been called The Journey Home that trip is all too brief.  While it isn’t necessarily a bad game it would have retailed for $60 back in the day and there just isn’t enough to have justified that price.  It almost feels like a demo more than a complete game.  I suppose there are worse ways to kill an hour, especially since playing it in English will cost you nothing.

6-out-of-101

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