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Shadow Madness

Will Crave find success with the first ever U.S. produced Japanese-style RPG?

   Shadow Madness is the primary offering from Crave Entertainment. Crave, as most RPGamers already know, was founded by former member of Square Soft Inc. (when it was based in Redmond, WA). Former Square members would certainly be familiar with RPGs, and Crave has high ambitions: to not only be the first American design team to successfully produce a Japanese-style RPG, but to improve upon what they perceived to be (inherent) shortcomings of the genre. Shadow Madness is their two disc RPG that hopes to break all the rules - and set some rules of their own.

   The battle system shows some immediate changes from the traditional RPG battle system. One problem Crave had with traditional RPGs was the way all of your characters were lined up on one side with all the enemies on the other. For this reason, characters are able to move around the battle field and influence their power. Put heavy hitters up front where they'll do the most damage, or a medium distance for more damage but less danger. Healers, magicians, and ranged attacks should stay in the back. The ability to alter character position during battles may increase battle depth. You don't just "attack" and "defend," either: you have powerful attacks that may fail, light jabs that are almost sure to connect, medium swipes that do a fair amount of damage but may leave you defenseless. Battles won't just randomly occur, either, as you will be able to avoid battles before they occur. It's nice to see that Crave isn't just accepting the RPG battle engine as a "given."

   Story and plot are also more "American" ... but in a purely Japanese-RPG sort of way. Crave believes, however, that writing in English by native English-speakers can help create a story and characters that English speakers relate to more easily. In fact, Crave stresses that the character development and design as one of the game's highlights: RPG fans should find these characters interesting and easy to become attached to. There's Stinger, the orphan pirate kid; Windleaf, the female elfin girl; Harvester-5, a comical robot; and Jirina, a female bruiser. The story involves two mirror worlds and a mysterious disease ... not much else is known at this point.

   Many RPG fans are watching this project, wondering how the first product of these ex-Square Soft exployees will turn out. Shadow Madness is due to be released in November; in just a few months, the world will see the fruits of Crave's labor.

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