Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    That line comes from the lyrics of the song that plays during the end credits. Since I played this game back in 1994, I'm not sure if those are the exact words, but nevertheless, this song (and some other things in this game) will always stick in my mind.

    You see, in 1994, the TurboDuo system was being discontinued, so I picked this game up for $9.95. But despite the clearout price, _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ turned out to be a great RPG for this system, along with _Ys Book I and II_ and _Dragon Slayer_. As with those other two games, this was largely because of the recorded music and cutscenes that the TurboGrafx / TurboDuo CD-ROM drive made possible. Unlike the contemporaneous Sega CD system, whose games relied heavily on full motion video, the Turbo CDs featured lots of anime-inspired cutscenes, with brighter colors to boot (the Turbo could display 256 colors, compared to the Genesis / Sega CD's 64). The gameplay was very standard fantasy RPG stuff (wander around, fight monsters, cast spells, etc.), but the CD music and watching the story unfold through the cutscenes made these games memorable. In Japan, the PC Engine (the original Japanese version of the Turbo) was very successful, so many anime-inspired games (many based on actual anime) were made, but the Turbo never quite conquered the market over here, so very few of these games were translated into English (and it didn't help that very few Americans were familiar with anime back then).

    The American (TurboGrafx / TurboDuo) version of _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ was made and distributed by Working Designs, who both translated the story well and hired good voice actors for the cutscenes. Most of the voice actors are relative unknowns who mostly worked on other Working Designs anime games (although one actor, Ashley Parker Angel, has gone on to become a member of the band O-Town and star in some minor live-action roles). Yet they do a great job, and are comparable to the voice actors who do the English dubs of regular anime. They bring the characters to life and make you actually care about them, much as you do with the characters in your favorite anime shows. Personally, as much as I like _Ys_ and _Dragon Slayer_, I don't enjoy the acting in those games quite as much: _Ys_'s voices are a little too straightforward and serious (although appropriate to the story and cutscenes), and _Dragon Slayer_'s often fall flat.

    *** CAUTION! MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD! ***

    But what I'll always remember most about _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is the big plot shocker that comes at the end of the game, after the battle with the main bad guy. If you don't mind having it spoiled, here it is: Laura, the main character's (Van's) girlfriend, dies (it's been almost 9 years since I played this, so I don't remember how or why). All right, maybe you've seen this kind of plot twist before, but it was the first time I'd even seen one in a video game; it certainly distinguished _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ from the other RPGs at the time that wrapped everything up so neatly. The brief cutscene of Van's devastated reaction mirrored my surprise, and Laura's death is particularly sad when you recall the flashback cutscene at the beginning of the game, where Van and Laura (as children) have carved their names into a tree and sworn undying love. Finally, those lyrics ("Maybe someday we'll meet again") in the ending credits song obviously allude to Van and Laura. Man, this game really rubs it into you! I admit that I haven't played many RPGs, so the ending probably affected me more than it would most other gamers, but I liked seeing a game that wasn't afraid to take a chance in its plotline. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but the ending alone is almost worth playing through this game. _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is the only game in a series of about five games that made it to the US, so I have no idea whether Laura somehow gets resurrected in any of the sequels. I'd appreciate it if anybody would let me know if she does.

    *** END OF SPOILER ***

    So if you ever pick up a TurboDuo (or TurboGrafx with the CD-ROM attachment; _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ is a regular CD game, so it'll play on either one), be sure to check this one out. The packaging on the American version is awful and looks very unlike the actual game (again, back in 1992, anime was mostly unknown here, so game companies didn't want to put anime-style characters on their packaging), and the failure of the Turbo kept most gamers from playing this, but this game is a hidden treasure. You could even say that it "wasn't properly appreciated in its own time." I'd really like to see an update of this game, but I would still insist that the original version be included on the disc (of course). Maybe someday _Cosmic Fantasy 2_ and I will meet again. . .