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Tengai Makyo: The Apocalypse IV is the latest installment of the extremely popular Far East of Eden series (also known as Tengai Makyo) which spans from the Super Famicom (TM Zero), to the PC engine (TM Ziria, TM Manjimaru and TM Gaiden ~ Kabuki Klash) and the Sega Saturn (TM The Apocalypse IV). The Tengai Makyo series has a tradition of stunning cinematic, solid game-play and its own original style of humor. The Apocalypse IV continues the tradition.

The Apocalypse IV is actually based on the writings of a fictional author called “P.H. Chada” who chronicles an over-the-top, bizarre and downright crazy version of 19th century America. This game is as historically and politically incorrect as you can get and it makes for an original and entertaining setting for an RPG. The Apocalypse IV is also one of the darker RPGs ever made, dealing with topics such as The Book of Revelations and Satanism. That, combined with the insane setting gave this title little chance of making it stateside (sadly).

The story of Apocalypse IV follows the story of a young Demon Hunter named Rizing and his quest to rid America of the plague of demonic evil that infects it more and more each day. Along the way Rizing will encounter memorable allies, insane, ominous villains and other characters that seem to be the product of smoking reefer and paint-chips. The Apocalypse IV’s cast is incredible, from the colorful and deep main characters to the villains who range from hilarious to satanic. I enjoyed TA IV’s story from start to end and it had some very memorable moments that I won’t mention to risk spoiling the surprise for people who haven’t played it yet. The story is also pretty easy to follow even if you don’t understand Japanese (I know about 3 words of Japanese, heh) and combined with a game guide found at gamefaqs.com you’ll be all set.

The battle system in The Apocalypse IV is pretty traditional and basic in its scope, mirroring the battle system found in the Phantasy Star series with a few alterations. For instance, the time of day affects your enemies’ strength and your whole party uses one MP pool. You are also able to pull off combination attacks ala PS 4 and Chrono Trigger. As you progress in the story you receive more techniques and you earn new magic spells from various Indian chiefs spread throughout America. The game-play offers nothing groundbreaking, but it provides a solid and fun experience.

The Apocalypse IV is a 2D lover’s dream, from the incredible anime to the colorful towns/battles, this is definitely one of the finer looking 2D RPGs on the market. The anime FMV in this game is amazing and pushes the Saturn to the limit. There is little to no pixilation to be found. Not only is the quality of the anime compression amazing but the art is great as well. Once you see the opening sequence with Rizing ice surfing through the Alaskan tundra you will know that you’re in for an anime experience that few games can compare with. The battle scenes are played out in interactive first-person anime scenes, think Phantasy Star with 100 times the animation and effects. The town and dungeon graphics are your basic 2D style but the attention to detail is very impressive, it may not be in the same league as some of the newer 2D RPGs detail-wise but it gets the job done.

The Apocalypse IV’s soundtrack is solid and has some of the best Saturn PCM I have ever heard. In fact the music played during the anime scenes is incredible. Toshiyuki Sasagawa’s score combines techno, rock and atmospheric tracks for a unique and above average soundtrack that fits the game perfectly.

The voice acting in this game is high quality and there are over 20 different voice actors used. This is usually a given in RED co. games since they take pride in top of the line voice acting.

If you are looking for an original and fun RPG to eat up your time look no further. Tengai Makyo: TA IV’s original story, memorable characters, colorful graphics, great music, low language barrier and solid game-play make it a good buy for Saturn importers. Lets hope we see Tengai Makyo on the Dreamcast in the near future.