Crusader of Centy
  • Genre:
    • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
    • Genesis
  • Developer:
    • Nextech
  • Publishers:
    • US Atlus
    • JP Sega
    • UK Sega
  • Released:
    • US 06/16/1994
    • JP 06/17/1994
    • UK 1994
Score: 80%

This review was published on 12/23/2013.

Crusader of Centy is a 2-D overhead action adventure game developed by Nextech and originally released for the Sega Genesis in 1994. It's rather reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Game magazines at the time claimed that this was the Genesis' answer to A Link to the Past, and they weren't wrong. Both games play very similarly, which should be a boon for those who enjoyed A Link to the Past. There are, of course, many differences, and even a couple of interesting twists. It's worth it for any Zelda fan to check this game out, especially if they missed out on it back in the day. Games like this are few and far between, so they should be savored. Crusader of Centy isn't quite as good as the Zelda games of yore, but it still manages to hold its own.

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Upon booting up the game, you're given some back story about the world of Crusader of Centy. It talks of a time when everything was overwhelmed by darkness, and scary creatures were running about. The humans referred to these creatures as monsters, though their true origins were unknown. Fast forward to many years into the future, you take control of a boy on his fourteenth birthday. He has a birthday party at his house with his mom and friends. In the village that the boy resides, it is a tradition for all boys to receive a sword and shield on their fourteenth birthdays. Shortly after the boy receives his gift, all his friends abandon him to go do something else. The boy's mom tells him to stop being such a loser and report to the king about his birthday. In order for a boy to truly be recognized as a warrior, he must be christened as such by the king. Before the king is willing to do that, though, the boy must go train for a bit. The boy then goes on a long journey to become a hero, stumbling onto many interesting things along the way.

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Soon after embarking on his journey, he gains the ability to speak to animals, but loses the capability to communicate with humans in exchange. This is an interesting plot twist, to say the least. As cool as the story's premise is, the quality of the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. The dialogue is either poorly translated or poorly written, resulting in a lot of the story being unintelligible. That has the side effect of making it hard to figure out what to do next. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what was going on half the time. Even when I knew where to go, I never really understood the story. The overall goal is never made clear, and I was still confused after beating the game. Crusader of Centy makes up for the lack of story with a fun game, but it would help if things made more sense.

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Just like in Zelda, the game is viewed from overhead, with exploration being a key element of the game play. Unlike Zelda, however, there is no interconnected overworld. Instead, you've got a world map with spots to pick from, kind of like Super Mario World. This makes travel between areas a fair bit more convenient than it is in the Zelda series, but it does lose a little bit of something in the process. The areas on the map are generally divided into towns, danger zones, and dungeons. As you'd expect, towns are safe havens with people and animals to talk to, while dungeons and danger zones are filled with monsters that will wreak havoc on your face. Danger zones are typically paths that bar your way from other sections of the map, requiring you to slash your way through a bunch of monsters to get to somewhere else. If you get through a dangerous zone once, you'll then be permitted to travel through it instantaneously on the world map. That's a very convenient feature.

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Part of the game's experience is figuring out where to go, by talking to animals for hints and secrets. The game does very little hand holding, so you can get lost easily. There are frequently many spots open to you on the world map all at once, making exploration and careful detective work the key to progress. The game has a distinct lack of direction that can get irritating at times, as you may find yourself going through long, treacherous areas only to realize you lack a necessary ability to advance. As far as optional secrets go, there are golden apples hidden throughout the environment that permanently increases your maximum health, but that's about it. As nice as the open ended nature of Crusader of Centy is, the potential bewilderment it can inspire is a serious drawback.

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Zelda games feature progression in the form of acquiring new items and tools, but Crusader of Centy does it with animals. Animals are this game's tools. Different animals will offer different abilities that can help you out on your quest to greatness. You can equip up to two animals at a time, and they'll follow you around wherever you go. Pressing a button will make each of them do their designated ability, though they'll sometimes do other stuff, too. For example, having the penguin equipped will allow you to charge up an icy sword attack that can freeze enemies and lava. You can combine the effects of two animals, too, like there's a flying squirrel that gives your sword the ability to ricochet off walls when thrown, and this can be stacked with the penguin's ice ability. Some will bestow automatic effects on you, like having the cheetah out will make you run faster. There are even animals that act as expendable items, like a cat that heals you once after you've been killed (think fairies in a bottle from Zelda), or an egg creature that explodes to damage all enemies on the screen. These expendable creatures can be "hired" at special huts in various animal towns, provided you have the money for it. That's about the only use money has, so you may as well use it. The animal companion thing this game has going for it is pretty darn cool.

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In addition to the animals' abilities, the main character also learns a few abilities of his own as he progress through the game. These abilities include things like being able to throw the sword like a boomerang, being able to jump, being able to lift things, and some other stuff. Most of these abilities are necessary to advance in the game, and they'll usually be given to you right when you need them. The most significant of all these abilities is the jump, because it's something you'll be using every chance you get in virtually every situation ever. That's also one big thing this game has over Zelda, as the vast majority of Zelda games don't allow you to jump. Jumping is not only useful for getting past pits, spikes, and lava, but it's also a good way to dodge enemies. All the non-animal abilities are given to you early in the game, which means you'll be able to do plenty of stuff right out the gate. The game does focus on animal abilities more than the protagonist's innate abilities, though, so you still have a lot of progression to go after learning all the regular stuff. There's not much else to say about this, other than Crusader of Centy is awesome for letting you jump.

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Puzzles are a common thing you'll be dealing with in Crusader of Centy. The most common type of puzzle in this game involves moving blocks. Actually, just about every puzzle in this game involves moving blocks. The few puzzles that don't feature block pushing are about stepping on switches instead. Not very exciting when compared to A Link to the Past, but this game does do a few intriguing things with the block puzzles. The most intriguing puzzle in this game is the fuse blocks. These blocks are divided into red and blue varieties; the blue blocks need to be connected to the red block, forming a chain. After that, you strike the red block with your sword, and voila! A chain reaction is initiated, usually destroying a massive wall that's in your way. Any blue blocks that are connected to the red block that was struck will also be destroyed, and this is handy in many situations. There aren't very many other puzzles, though the game does engage in the cardinal sin of overhead jumping segments. Thankfully, these segments are all pretty easy to pull off, and they're also few and far between. Crusader of Centy never quite gets to the level of sophistication seen in Zelda puzzles, but they're good enough.

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Every so often, the game will throw a boss fight at you. Bosses tend to be big and slightly more worrisome than normal enemies. You know, like in every game ever made. This game has a tendency to throw bosses at you unexpectedly, as it doesn't follow a strict dungeon-by-dungeon structure that Zelda does. Defeating most bosses will increase your maximum health capacity, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has played a Zelda game before. The boss music is great, and the bosses look great visually, but the actual fights themselves aren't anything special. A lot of the fights consist of the same type of stuff. The strategy to defeating almost every single boss in this game is to throw your sword at its face. Many of the bosses are either totally immune to regular sword swings, or normal swings just aren't effective enough, so your sword throw move is the way to go. It's also a long ranged attack, enabling you to keep your distance from the boss. There a few bosses in the game that are slightly clever, such as a boss fight wherein you must defend your mother, or another fight that plays like a game of Pac-Man. Crusader of Centy's bosses are can be a little on the dull side, but they're far from bad.

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I have to make a separate paragraph for this: Crusader of Centy has a massive game breaking bug. There is a point later in the game where you need an animal to get across a large pit, but it's possible to get over this pit without the required animal, provided you have the cheetah and a bit of skill. Doing so permanently locks you out of getting the required animal, which means you will no longer be able to complete the game. That's right; you'll need to begin a new file and start the game all over again, unless you have an earlier save to revert to. This is a major oversight, to say the least. What's more, it's really easy to miss the required animal, so this is a game breaking bug that many people are bound to accidentally stumble into. My first time through the game, I used the cheetah to get over the pit, because I had no idea that I needed to acquire a special animal to do so. I was lucky in that I hadn't saved yet, but if I had, it would have been an unmitigated disaster. No matter how good the rest of the game is, an oversight of this magnitude is inexcusable.

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Crusader of Centy is a solid adventure for those wanting to play another game like Zelda, but don't actually want to play Zelda. It has pleasant graphics, fantastic music, and you can jump! What more do you need? There are a couple of problems, though. First off, while the music is indeed good, the sound effects aren't. Another problem is that the poor dialogue makes the story a confusing mess, in addition to making it extremely hard to know where to go without a guide. In addition to that, the game is somewhat short; I clocked it in under ten hours on my first time. The last and biggest problem is that game breaking bug, which is something I have to deduct a few points for alone. What saves this game in the end is the marginally innovative animal mechanic, and also, it's fun to play. It's true that this game isn't anywhere near as good as A Link to the Past, but not many games are.

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