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Rainbow Moon (PlayStation 3) review:

Rainbow Moon (PlayStation 3)

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Like exploration, fights have an isometric perspective, though the view isn't zoomed out quite enough to let you take in the entire arena in one shot. Combat plays out in a predictable, yet enjoyable manner. Once it's your turn to move, you can position your character elsewhere, attack an enemy with a standard attack, use an item, or execute a skill. Skills are the most important abilities in your repertoire. These are powerful attacks and handy buffs which can be bought at stores and given to specific characters. Using this framework, you and your enemies circle the battlefield, moving in for attacks when the opportunity presents itself or retreating to heal when your health gets low. There's a sleepy rhythm that elicits some satisfaction when you conquer your foes, but rarely provides the energy to be exciting.

Disappointingly, there's little depth in the combat mechanics. In other tactical RPGs, you gain attack bonuses based on your position. For instance, clambering to higher ground might improve your range or striking a foe in the back might yield more damage, but such intricacies are absent here. Positioning is a simple consideration, so as long as you're lined up with your foe, the door is open to whale away at them. Furthermore, your enemies rarely present a challenge. Outside of the hardest boss battles, enemies are pushovers, so you cleave through them without having to put much thought into your actions. Although the core of Rainbow Moon's combat is fine, it's so shallow that it fails to engage for long.

Rainbow Moonscreenshot
A basement is no place for ghoulies and blobs.

Further problems arise in the leveling system. By defeating foes, you earn experience points, and you gradually become a more adept fighter as you gain levels. Although this process is automated, there's a separate system that lets you fine tune your attributes. Characters earn rainbow pearls when they deliver the final blow to an enemy. Earn enough pearls and you can directly upgrade your strength, speed, and other attributes. Problems crop up when new characters join your group. New party members are frequently lower in level than your veteran characters, so if you want them to match the characters you've been playing as, they have to finish off enemies. Because they are often weak and slow, you have to wait around in battles until they can snuff out an enemy's life. This is a tedious process. Juggling your lineup wastes valuable time, dragging the quick pacing down. And because characters only level up when they're active members of your party, experimentation is kept to a minimum.

It's a shame there are so many problems with the core components because Rainbow Moon is quite enjoyable at times. Powerful enemies (usually part of a side quest) roam the land, some much stronger than you, so there's a constant pull to become stronger so you can finally stand in the same arena as these creatures. There's an undeniable rush when you finally topple a being who has hounded you for hours, and that blood lust pushes you forward to see what new beasts there are to slay. This lure is present in many role-playing games, however, and there's nothing Rainbow Moon does to separate itself from the crowd. Even with dozens of hours of content, Rainbow Moon is a flawed and uneven adventure that stumbles as often as it entertains.

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