Game of the Week (1/15/17) – Neutopia

Neutopia is a fantasy adventure game for the TurboGrafx-16 with more than a passing resemblance to The Legend of Zelda. Released in 1990, several years after Zelda was released for the NES but a couple years before Zelda: A Link to the Past, the game takes place in the land of Neutopia and you play as the chosen one, Jazeta. Jazeta must save Neutopia from the evil demon Dirth, who has kidnapped Princess Aurora and stolen the eight spiritual medallions. The medallions are hidden in eight different crypts spread across 4 different spheres (land, subterrain, sea & sky). Notice any similarities to a certain green hat wearing boy and his search for the triforce? Anyway, Neutopia’s gameplay is simple to learn for anyone who has played Legend of Zelda. You possess a sword which you can ultimately increase the power of and you can also equip a number of weapons, shields and items to use either with the second button (bombs, fire rod, life bar filling potion, etc). You have your overworld sections of the game where Jazeta is meant to gather clues from the people hidden in caves and in staircases under trees while also gathering his special items and money to buy other goodies that the enemies don’t give him. Once he’s prepared and has all the necessary items to advance, Jazeta is expected to enter one of the crypts in the underworld and traverse the mazes in search of more items, the crypt master’s key and ultimately a battle against the crypt boss. Defeating the boss will give Jazeta a medallion and another bar or life (not a heart container mind you). Once all 8 of the medallion’s are gained, the final crypt opens and the battle against Dirth begins.

As I’ve already stated, this is an obvious clone of the Legend of Zelda to the point where it feels like a bizarro world version. There are too many similarities to even list here and the differences are few and subtle but the biggest one is the use of the fire rod. It acts somewhat like a combination of the fire and the wand you use in Zelda but its more of a weapon than just an item that is used to burn down bushes. Jazeta’s sword is never powerful enough to shoot from a distance, so the fire rod is your best bet when you want to defeat enemies without getting too close. Not all enemies can be defeated using the fire rod but many can so it’s your most valuable weapon. You will also need a constant supply of bombs to blast open the many obvious bomb points in the rock walls and vitality potion is another necessity as there aren’t as many opportunities to refill your life as there is in Zelda.

Despite being a blatant Zelda rip-off, I can think of worse games to mimic. At least Neutopia does Zelda almost as well as Zelda itself which many clones that came out in the late 80’s and early 90’s can’t claim. Neutopia is a much more straight forward game than Zelda and as a result, is easier and can be plowed through fairly quickly. There are way fewer obtuse puzzles that must be solved, which is either good or bad depending on how you view your nostalgia towards the original Zelda or Zelda: A Link to the Past. I think most would still consider Neutopia a fun game and one of the best titles for the TurboGrafx-16.

Rating: A-

Currently in my collection: game in case, manual

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