Traysia - Staff Retroview  

Midvale School for the Gifted
by Mike "JuMeSyn" Moehnke

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Very Easy
Less than 20 Hours
+ Very low random encounter rate
- Clunky, aged interface
- Slow, boring battles
- Cryptically tiny visuals
+ Catchy music
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   Nihon Telenet published a wide array of titles that have mostly been forgotten by gamers today. One of them is a game, developed by Riot and localized for North America by Renovation, called Traysia. Ambitious by the standards of 1992, the game hasn't aged well at all, and even when brand-new was filled with problems. It nevertheless is interesting in certain aspects, plus its short and easy nature makes experiencing the game no great trial.

   Roy is a young man in a peaceful village who wants to see more of the world before settling down with his sweetheart, the eponymous Traysia. Roy's journey finds him deciding to join several good fighters in a quest for the answer to why many people have been vanishing near a cave. One of the people who joined this quest turns out to be a nefarious fellow named Floyd who is responsible for the disappearances, and Roy follows the hunt for him through many tribulations, as his initial wish for self-discovery seems to find its expression via the righting of wrongs all over the world.

   Traysia's plot is problematic in multiple ways. A big problem is that the game gives the impression of being a painfully-edited take on a story that was meant to encompass much more territory. Huge events take place entirely offscreen and are only talked about in passing, while by the end of the game a great deal of time is supposed to have gone past, but since there is no evidence provided other than a few lines of dialogue the player will have to take the game's word for it. Attempts seem to be made to give the protagonists more complex identities than were standard at the time, but so little dialogue is uttered by them that the efforts fail. At the time it was made, Traysia's story seems to have been an ambitious attempt to combine a coming-of-age arc with a revenge scenario in a fantasy setting. It failed miserably, but the underlying idea was sound.

   Renovation's localization is a mixed bag. The raw material wasn't the strongest, but at least what makes it onscreen is comprehensible. Typos and inconsistent spellings are rampant, however, with one of the most egregious examples coming from the misspelling of Floyd's name when he is fought, though another blatant misspelling is visible every time a character goes up a level.

Here Here's hoping you like moving that little target box manually, because it has to be done every time.

   Traysia's combat system also seems to have been overly ambitious for the time, which makes it far more interesting to contemplate abstractly than to use. The goal seems to have been a more tactically-oriented version of the standard random battle, in which characters need to move around the map after mobile opponents, which bears comparison with Lunar: The Silver Star only as an example of a contemporary of Traysia that did this much better. The unfortunate result is a time-consuming affair that becomes boring almost immediately. All participants in a battle do need to orient themselves properly, and movement does take place on a single screen where combatants need to be next to each other in order to hit. Doing this is already somewhat tedious because the cursor that determines a target does not scroll when the D-pad is held in a direction, forcing the player to press it multiple times until a target is reached. Once blows are being exchanged, the player must nevertheless select targets anew after every turn, and this makes an already time-consuming business even slower. It behooves the player not to change targets unless absolutely necessary, for characters are remarkably stupid and will almost invariably dogpile onto each other instead of proceeding one extra space to the enemy's location.

   The idiocy of characters in battle, along with the complete inability to use any restorative powers until combat has ended, could have made Traysia incredibly difficult to complete, since Roy's defeat earns an instant Game Over. An equipment oversight on the part of the programmers makes this game amazingly easy, however, as unlimited accessories can be equipped provided each character's inventory allows it. With sixteen inventory slots per person, filling up on defense-boosting items called Sticks is simple and highly recommended, as characters with enough protection take no damage from enemy attacks. Battles may take awhile, but when the enemy is steadily losing stamina while the protagonists do not, the result is simple to predict. The ease with which defense can be increased also makes the game's very low random encounter rate quite welcome, since it cuts down the time spent in thrill-less combat.

   While essential for quick progress, managing equipment is extremely time-consuming due to the undesirable menu. Every time a character's inventory is accessed, be it for selling, equipping, buying, or simply investigating, the game boots proceedings back to the central menu instead of streamlining things. Far more annoying things also lurk in Traysia's programming, such as the inability to observe the prices of items in shops before purchasing them, the invisibility of statistic changes to characters when equipping new things, and some issues with the text. One of these is that the game pauses for a moment after every text exchange, which becomes very annoying in a hurry. Another strange issue is the presence of a text box onscreen at all times, which shrinks the available screen space and makes discerning whether a character is actually finished speaking quite difficult. The game is also absurdly sensitive when it comes to getting NPCs to start conversing, forcing players to make sure Roy is centered on the person with whom speech is desired. All of this compounds to produce an interface that was unpleasant in 1992 and hasn't gotten any better in the intervening years.

Having a text box open all the time is certainly different. Having a text box open all the time is certainly different.

   Traysia's graphics would be okay on the NES in its middle years, but are simply a waste of potential on the Genesis. The screen is constantly cluttered with a text box and character statistics taking up a great swathe that could be used for enlarging the main display, and the developers at Riot seem to have compensated by shrinking everything within the area for visuals. Leaving the miniscule size of most objects aside, the palette swaps of enemies are often so similar that determining when a new type of opponent is on the screen cannot be done from a distance. Dungeons later in the game look identical to those near its beginning, the color scheme employed is too small, and architecture remains the same throughout.

   While not among the greatest ever heard on the Sega Genesis, Shinobu Ogawa's score is quite pleasing to the ears. Each chapter of the game has a catchy theme of its own, and even the battle music does not become grating, unless one has a severe dislike of Genesis drum sounds. The ending is bland and unmemorable, but most of the music during the game itself is compulsively listenable, making the audio component one of the best elements in the game.

   The RPG remake machine has been operating for a long time, and it often improves the original product. Traysia seems a long way down the list of games with the cachet to bankroll a remake, though, and the most likely way anyone will ever again hear of it is via download services. Its current form is certainly interesting, but as that adjective applies equally to a home invasion, its use is no guarantee of satisfaction for any who dare to delve into the depths of the Genesis library.

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