Full of original ideas but ruined by flawed gameplay.
This game contained a lot of original and creative elements. It plays as a one character RPG using an overhead map, but all combat occurs as side on kung-fu fighting. The storyline is that one of Moebius' disciples has stolen the orb of celestial harmony. You must travel through the four elemental realms to recover it.
Each of the four realms has two shrines which are guarded by evil monks. You have to kill the evil monks, rescue two priests and guide each of them to the shrine to liberate it. Finally you have to kill the realms overlord - rather than being a tough fight this is easier than attacking the evil monks.
The graphics were a cut above anything Origin had produced before and better than the likes of Ultima 4. Each tile overlaps the one behind it creating a minor isometric 3D effect. To spoil this effect somewhat, all characters are depicted using their top halves. This does give the advantage of having recognisable characters rather than little stick men.
There are a lot of unusual touches to the gameplay. For instance, the water on the map all has currents, meaning you have to pick and choose your routes carefully.
The 4 worlds the game takes place in are quite large and the game takes around 7-8 hours to complete even if you know exactly what to do.
There are a limited number of different enemies to fight (only 4 in total). This makes combat very, very repetitive. The same strategies have to be adopted for each type of opponent every time (usually low kicks) and by the time you have gone through a few hundred fights the novelty has long worn off.
Movement around the map is slow and painful, yet it is still easy to miss your turn and waste your very limited water and food supplies. This is added to by having to cut through foliage all the time. Further still you often can't see what you are cutting at. Due to the overlapping tiles a rock in the middle of a forest will just look like another square with a tree on it. I was forever blunting my sword this way when trying to chop through rocks.
The storyline in the manual isn't expanded on at all throughout the game. The game is more a collection of tasks. Each realm doesn't add enough new to keep your interest going and apart from a couple of tasks on the third realm it boils down to doing the exactly the same thing as on the previous map.
The Bottom Line
This has all the elements to make a good game, yet fails miserably due to tedious, slow and repetitive gameplay. I'm very surprised that this game got a sequel.