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