Cosmic Fantasy 3 is a game that I have searched for and only very recently found. So why hunt down a game that is over ten years old? Because the Cosmic Fantasy games have a legacy on the PC-Engine, or the Turbo Grafx 16 / Duo for the uneducated, and is probably one of my all time favorite game series. Mainly because of the brilliant character designs and scenario by Kazuhiro Ochi, does this rich RPG series come to life like few other RPG's do.
Back in the Hey day of the old Turbo Grafx in Japan, Telenet Japan published five Cosmic Fantasy games and one multimedia movie disc. The Japanese ate this series up, and it was probably Telenet's most lucrative property. Unfortunately during the English conversion and translation of Cosmic Fantasy 3 by Working Designs, Telenet effectively went belly up. Not having there own in house programming at the time, Working Designs was forced to drop the game. While Telenet is still around, they are nowhere near the company they once where during the heyday of Genesis and Turbo Grafx 16.
And how unfortunate that circumstance is, we English speakers where lucky enough to get Cosmic Fantasy 2, but to me Cosmic Fantasy 3 has always been the series high water mark. The main story arc for Cosmic Fantasy 3 puts you into control of Rei, a youth set out on a quest to rid his planet of evil like in so many other Cosmic Fantasies :) But what makes this game so interesting is the numerous flashback's and tie-ins with the other Cosmic Fantasy games. This game really did make the whole series feel like a cohesive unit. Events like revealing who Nyan's wife is, pretty clever actually, and showing Yu's parents and revealing how he received Monmo. And throwing in all our familiar and favorite Cosmic Hunters into the mix only completes an already excellent formula in this game.
The game is still played through the tried but true turn based RPG formula. There are only slight cosmetic differences between this game and the previous titles. The menus have been reorganized for simplicity and ease of use, there are now character portraits in the battle screen which change depending on what is happening, and the enemies have been given a MAJOR facelift and now seem to fit into the design of the game and series much better. There is still an obscene amount of random battling, what would Cosmic Fantasy be without it, but most of it is necessary to get enough money for items and of course to level up your characters.
The graphics in this Cosmic Fantasy are once again MUCH improved over previous incarnations of the game. The character sprites represent there respective characters well, with distinguishing features that give each one personality. The towns on a whole seem to have a lot more personality as well in this game. The cinemas or movie sequences are also worth noting for there extremely high quality presentation for this time. This game, as well as the other Cosmic Fantasies, truly did help pave the way for the kind of RPG's we are playing now. Instead of using compressed full motion video, the designers chose a series of stills with various animated bits put to digital CD audio. It sounds like an odd combination but it works extremely well.
The music is also worth noting. Cosmic Fantasy 3 is probably the first in the series with an extremely diverse and entertaining soundtrack. Cosmic Fantasy 2 had an excellent score but it was FAR too limited, it had only about seven songs if I remember correctly. Cosmic Fantasy 3 comes with well over twenty songs, all of an extremely high quality. Of particular interest for me was track eight. The voice acting is also once again of an extremely high caliber, all of the actors play there characters perfectively EXCEPT Nyan. I am sorry to those fans of his voice; I found the English voice for Nyan in Cosmic Fantasy 2 to be MUCH more fitting than his high pitched whiny voice used for the Japanese versions. Other than Nyan however great voice acting abounds through out! And as I side note I do not hate Nyan's Japanese voice, it has grown on me over time I just prefer the English version :)
All in all if you can track down a copy of Cosmic Fantasy 3, which at this point is doubtful, I fully recommend you pick it up! It is probably one of my favorite RPG's of all time, and even to this day holds up extremely well. Why ? Because after years graphics and fluff fade, and what you are left with is the real meat of the presentation the game tries to give. And it succeeds magnificently in all the areas that really matter. Such as characters, plot, and storyline for instance. Cosmic Fantasy 3 comes highly recommended by the Gamer's Edge.
Telenet Japan 1992
Gamer's Edge score: 9 out of 10