Game of the Month December, 2002:

System: Super NES Developer: Software Creations
Few games have achieved the level of ingenuity and challenge as Equinox. As you may know, Equinox is the sequel to Solstice, an innovative puzzle/adventure game for the NES. Unfortunately, Solstice had play control that was difficult to get used to and limited continues with no save feature, making it very difficult to play without use of a cheat code. Equinox not only improved the play control, but also offered a save feature, which would have been good had the game's designers stopped right there, but that wasn't enough for them. They took the entire concept of Solstice, embraced it, and improved upon it, turning what was once a simple room puzzle game into a gradiose adventure! You play as Glendaal, the son of Shadax, who was the hero of Solstice and has now been capture by the evil witch, Sonia. You will travel across the world, conquering dungeons, while searching for a way to reach Sonia's frozen palace of ice.

Four ghosts, one skeleton, and one Arabian Knight...together, they would party like it's 1999.

It was then that Glendaal realized his gym instructor was not wearing any clothes One of the biggest differences between Solstice and Equinox, the one that completely changes the mechanics of the game, is that in Equinox you actually get weapons. Since you can now fight your enemies that allows for, you guessed it, boss fights! And what incredible boss fights they are! The final boss fight is truly one of the most challenging I've ever faced and conquered. But before you reach the bosses, you will need to conquer each dungeon. This is accomplished by finding twelve hidden tokens and then taking them to the boss's room. Finding the tokens won't be so easy. There are numerous puzzles, traps, and monsters in each dungeon that will test your skills and your brains. Puzzles often consist of pushing blocks, making tricky jumps, or finding hidden objects, and believe me when I tell you the designers stopped at nothing to squeeze every last way to push a block or make a difficult jump out of this game!

The view in Equinox is a 3/4 overhead perspective, similar to that of Diablo or Super Mario RPG. The graphics are huge, bold, and colorful with almost a "3D" appearance. The overworld map, which connects all dungeon areas, rotates with a dazzling Mode 7 effect. The music is soft and ambient, ofting incorporating sound effects such as footsteps and creaking doors to add to the eerie atmosphere. The most obvious inspiration for this style of play was Zelda, but Equinox is much more intense than any Zelda game I've yet played. You have a life bar in Equinox, and if you take a hit from an enemy, spike, or other dangerous object, you lose a life block and must start the room over again. So if you were to grab a token or key in a room, and then die before getting out, you'd have to try all over again for the coveted object. Aside from the twelve tokens, you will find a new weapon and new magic spell in each dungeon. Magic spells give you some limited powers, such as damaging all enemies in a room, slowing enemies down, or saving the game without having to leave the dungeon. Dungeons start out small, but get progressively bigger until you reach the Sonia's Palace, which has more than 100 rooms!

It's MY turn to be on top of the big pile of mushrooms!

Equinox's controls could take a bit to get used to, since you're always moving diagonally. But once accustomed to it, I wouldn't have it any other way. Equinox is also one of the few games I've played in which I didn't think walk-through walls weren't "cheap", since you're almost always given some subtle clue. All-in-all, Equinox is a very underrated game that is worth a try. If you even remotely liked Solstice or had any interest in it, I highly recommend giving Equinox a spin.

Equinox Links

  • My Equinox Review - A complete review of this fantastic game.
  • My Equinox Shrine - A shrine dedicated to Equinox and Solstice.


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