Before you start reading this review, I want to tell you that this will be a spoiler-free review. In order to compare the graphics and a few features, I will just use the first section of the game (where I created a new save).
The story of Pier Solar and the Great Architects is basically the story of three friends, Hoston, Alina and Edessot, where after searching a medicine for Hoston’s father, different events make this trio start a new journey in which they will discover a lost civilization.
The story can be a hit-or-miss depending of the player, and despite some weird lines in the dialogue like in many games, it’s well done. The character writing is excellent and manages to give a personality to both playable and non-playable characters.
Still, there’s a little flaw that will confuse most of the players at the start of the story, being about the relationship between the three heroes giving a wrong impression about a topic until you notice it’s just the way the characters talk.
Pier Solar aims to honor the golden era of RPG, being on the 90’s side for both 16-bit systems: the SNES and the Genesis. Actually, they did a great job since the game actually feels like it was released twenty years ago, but meanwhile it does a great job taking the good aspects from those classic titles, it also copies the flaws.
The interface is really basic, and while it works, it has some flaws. It uses a spin menu where rotating it will give you access to different options, once entered a window will pop-up in order to change settings, equipment, etc.
In the inventory option, you are able to use items and equip your characters (weapon, accessory and two armor slots), just like most games… if we ignore the fact you can sort your items: these appears from the first you get to the last unless you use an item or change an equipment, and it’s just a mess.
Another flaw is that I was never able to find an explanation for magic spells or abilities, neither in the menu nor during the battle, being really frustrating since the player needs to figure out what the move does and also, remember it.
Being exclusive to the Wii U, you can use the Gamepad as a map including an easy interface in order to see your characters’ status and also use certain items and spells (for healing purposes mostly), where you only need to drag it (with the stylus) to one of the characters. It’s really useful, but while perusing it you can’t even see the item description. This feature is called the Lossa Screen.
The battle system doesn’t feature any innovation in terms of gameplay; you need to battle by issuing different instructions in each turn, such as attacking, defending, using a skill or item, escape or moving to another section of the battlefield.
There’s a unique point: the Gather feature. Being a reference to the Supersaiyajins (if you know about the Dragon Ball series), you need to spend your turn in order to collect one point, with a maximum of five, allowing you to use certain abilities or just stronger attacks and healing during the battle. You can also send one character’s gathered points to another one as well.
One of the battle features is the auto battle, and it’s just bad. I tried several times and the only thing it does is set defense to all the players, with that said, the character won’t do anything if they’re not attacked, being a waste of time instead of a time saver.
Now, the audiovisual aspect of Pier Solar is pretty interesting, since there are two different themes you can use: the original Sega Genesis release and the HD remastered version, that can be easily changed by just pausing the game. The options you have graphically are 16-bit, HD and HD+, while the soundtrack is divided in FM and PCM.
In order to play the original release you need to activate the 16-bit and FM releases, where everything is composed of sprites, including the text. The artwork is really nice and the environments detailed, though it can be confusing, and the soundtrack is same one from the Sega Genesis release (expect some 16-bit guitars!).
If you want to enjoy the remastered version, go with PCM and HD in order to view new high definition artwork and environments, better texts meanwhile it keeps the same sprites for the characters and NPC ones. The soundtrack is the remastered OST made for the Sega CD version [the add-on CD-ROM device for the Sega Genesis], but its execution can be quite generic.
PCM Battle Theme:
FM Battle Theme:
In my opinion, I highly recommend the retro soundtrack with the HD+ graphics… Oh, I never explained the difference between HD and HD+ right? The plus version is a smooth filter being excellent for big screens, and for some flaws with the Gamepad as well. For some reason, the character artwork boxes features an unfinished transparent work (the white lines you will see) and the sprites for the battles are really blurry, being quite annoying if you prefer the quite-portable option. You can also enable a scan-line effect (it only works on the TV) and the volume for the audio.
Now, the presentation is well done, and the only stuff I still need to mention are a pretty simple looking manual that does a nice explanation for starters, the chance to revisit the minigames, once unlocked, at your leisure and the achievement system it includes. The rest, I already explained in the review.
Pier Solar isn’t a masterpiece and has some flaws, but it’s still enjoyable. Despite the big nostalgia factor, it’s lengthy, featuring a nice story; the enhanced art is great and the Gamepad is nicely integrated overall. Not a good option for starters, but those who liked the 16-bit era this title will be hard to ignore.