Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A plucky young boy embarks on a journey to collect three medallions that open the way to a legendary sword before traveling back and forth between two distinct worlds where actions in one have direct repercussions on another. If a glance at a screenshot for Crusader of Centy looks startlingly similar to a flagship franchise title on another system, actually playing the game removes all doubt from where the developers took their inspiration. While the game holds the mantra of “steal from the best” near and dear to its heart, it nonetheless manages to charm with its mechanics and its well-meaningly poignant tale once you get past initial appearances.
Crusader of Centy tasks you to travel across the world of Soliel, putting down monsters who have emerged from caves after what humanity assumed was their extinction. Not long into your journey, a fortune teller removes your ability to speak to humanity entirely, rendering NPC dialogue as extended strings of gibberish. When a 16-bit plot contrivance closes a door, however, it opens a window, and young hero Corona can now speak with the plants and animals instead, and the question of how monstrous the monsters actually are begins to arise. If the mechanics of combat and story structure mimic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past almost to a fault, then the game’s sense of morality and opinions from creatures outside of the human majority feel instead as though they’ve taken their cues from another Super Nintendo action-RPG, Soul Blazer.
With such esteemed inspiration, what could go wrong? Well, Crusader of Centy is short. It can easily be cleared in an afternoon. Not such a problem for the gamer with places to be and things to do, but the length of the game feels as though it suffers from a severe compression in its back half that comes from the result of a shortened development window. Throughout the game, your cursed tongue allows you to befriend various animal companions (the analogue to Link’s toolset, acting as various boosts and abilities to your sword and as the solution to the dungeon puzzles) at a steady pace. However, you receive the bulk of them all within the span of an hour or two right before the end, giving you a deluge of abilities and power-modifiers that never see proper use in the game’s puzzles. It’s a shame, as while Crusader of Centy’s box-pushing and sword-bouncing puzzles never dazzle with their brilliance, it’s easy to see where with more time, more polish, and more elaboration on the existing dungeons the game could have gone from fun curio to genuinely great game.
Still, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and brevity the soul of wit, then Crusader of Centy has a silver tongue like few others. The bittersweet tale has a bit more heft than you might assume from the opening few minutes that launch the story, and the gameplay builds on solid foundations with just enough of its own spin on to keep things interesting. There are worse ways to kill an afternoon once you’ve grown tired of re-playing A Link to the Past.
Article by Marc Host
GameSpite Journal 12: Crusader of Centy
9 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal 12: Crusader of Centy”
Always loved this game, especially how your abilities depended on the two animal companions active at any one time. The animation, music and graphics were top notch with many great little touches liek the footprints in the sand and the hidden Sonic lounging on the beach.
This game is a hidden gem. It beat Nier to the punch in subverting RPG tropes and questioning the genre’s morality, and has a good sense of humor to boot. Admittedly the actual game could be better.
I haven’t played this game all the way through, but when I check out or try replaying some more Genesis titles unavailable on Virtual Console, this one’s near the top of my list. While it was bewildering, I learned there was more to the whole “You lose the ability to communicate with people” thing a while back and it piqued my interest.
That Sonic NPC cameo was neat.
I love this one. It has a quite clever, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes unsettling story (in many ways comparable to a “Quintet”-game, like the mentioned “Soul Blazer”). Plus: you get to meet JOHN LENNON IN HEAVEN…
Moments like this make “Soleil”/”COC” so special that I can easily overlook a few rough edges.
And it it did not feel too short to me. On the contrary: the overworld-map-system (not unlike SMB 3) spares you some tedious backtracking, which artificially lengthens many other action-RPGs/action-adventures. And you get the ability to run pretty fast rather early, which might cut down play-time considerably too.
Wow, never heard of this one. Great write-up.
Dang Niku it’s like you read my mind: “ways to kill an afternoon once you’ve grown tired of re-playing A Link to the Past” is a list I am always trying to add some entries to.
(On the SNES side I played an hour or so each into Soul Blazer and the BS LttP and enjoyed them both enough that I’ll probably get back to them at some point. Gunman’s Proof looks like an interesting option and, getting back to Sega and OG Zelda, so does Golden Axe Warrior.)
I highly recommend Brainlord for all who want and alternative to Soul Blazer and as a light hearted alternative to Zelda, another SNES “cute” action RPG which actually has really robust gameplay and animation is The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang
I’m always on the lookout for Zelda clones and Genesis is my favourite console ever. This looks like a real gem that slipped my radar. Will have to check it out. The colour palette itself makes it look like a SNES game.
@Frank: Thanks, I’ll look into it!
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