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Magical Fantasy Adventure: Popful Mail

version: usa - year: 1994 - developer: falcom sims - publisher: working designs - format: sega-cd, cdrom - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

Similar to Cadash but with "cute" graphics

 

An awesome action-RPG still fun to play today

 

Some maze-like levels can be very disorienting

 

Bosses are often hard to defeat

 

The level of detail in the graphics has been enhanced over the original Mega CD version

 

Cut-scenes are very well drawn and manage to bring some great humor to the quest

Review - It is no secret that from the Sega CD onward, the popularity of Sega as a hardware maker started to decline simply because the Mega Drive add ons such as the Mega CD and later the 32X didn't deliver what they promised.

A lack of 3rd party support also hindered the success of these upgrades and people who bought them felt somewhat cheated by Sega. This somehow influenced the success of both the Saturn and the Dreamcast (which were much better platforms) and ultimately, it pushed Sega to quit the hardware market altogether.

Despite this sad tale of decline, the dedicated player can find an impressive amount of excellent games that were produced for these systems, and in particular Popful Mail is not only one of the best examples of how to develop a great 16bit game that wonderfully takes advantage of the CD format, but it is also the best available version of this game across all platforms.

From the competent translation, to the hilarious dialogues and the outstanding anime cut-scenes, this game oozes quality from each and every angle you look at it.

The in-game graphics are very nicely characterized as backgrounds are colorful and include several layers of parallax scrolling (some of which was added for the western release). Popful Mail is one of the finest examples of 2D side-scrolling action/adventure RPGs you can hope to play.

Its gameplay includes real-time fighting, platforming and puzzle-solving elements. You can hot-switch between characters (up to 3) who each have different abilities. Successfully defeating bosses will often depend on how well you use each of your parties' abilities.

The quest is pretty long (about 6 hours) and you'll obviously be able to save your progress on the internal Sega-CD back up Ram (or on the Sega CD Backup RAM Cart if you bought it).

The audio part of Popful Mail has been masterfully taken care of, with lengthy dialogues which differ depending on the character you are controlling.

Also, the localization effort has been outstanding with many characters sporting some unbelievably funny accents (such as favorite boss SVEN T. UNCOMMON homo-german sounding accent to name one that pops to mind, but there are many others!).

The only problem with voice acting is that if you die during a boss fight, you'll have to listen to the dialogues over and over as it's impossible to skip them. This could become annoying in the long term but it is a small imperfection in a true killer application for your Sega CD.

Working Design (the now defunct company which localized the game) took great care for the packaging which features an exceedingly beautiful color-manual which is very informative and includes plenty of beautiful drawings.

In a word, Popful Mail is without doubt one of the flagship titles of the Sega CD. If you enjoy games such as Monster World IV, you will not be disappointed by this gem.

Bottom line: the best port of an excellent action rpg with top production values. 9/10

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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