So...what do we have here?

Black/Matrix [Strategy RPG Game]


Japanese Game Case Front

Alternate Print of B/M

Alternate Case Front For B/M

Remake of the original B/M

Black/Matrix Advanced (or A/D) Is
A Remake Of The Original B/M

B/M 2 for the Playstation 2

I Own This Game, But I Can't
Play It Yet Since I Don't
Have The Tools Needed To
Play PS2 Imports. I Wanna Play
This Really Bad...

-General Information-
Version: Japanese
Year: 1998
Publisher: NEC Interchannel
Developer(s) and Others: Flight-Plan
Color Rating: Green (I'll say "Teen" on this one)
# of Players: 1
# of Save Blocks: 60 Blocks per save
# of Discs: 1
Estimated Market Value as of 10/26/2007: $10 - $20 (USD)
Other Info: NEC Interchannel was sold (see NEC link above). Abel (the hero of this game) is sometimes also known as Cain. Both are seen as biblical references.

Once upon a time, a war of biblical proportions was waged between angels and demons...between the light and the darkness...between the almighty and the devil. This horrific battle lasted for 666 days...until the demons ultimately gained the upperhand. With the forces of light defeated, the angels' only choice was not a pretty one...for they must submit themselves to the demons and live life as pawns of the darkness, being used as tools and mere playthings...their worth meaningless, and their flesh & mortal souls expendable. The demons basked in their victory and made it perfectly clear that they did not know the meaning of mercy. All that was good became evil and everything that upstanding citizens knew to be right was wrong. Angels were eaten alive by parasites and worked to death, and life was ideal for the forces of darkness...and then one day, an wounded white-winged man named Abel was taken under a kind black-winged masters' care. This master nurtured Abel...cared for Abel...and loved Abel. However, "LOVE" is one of the worse sins a demon can commit, so Abel and the master are eventually found, taken away and punished...Abel by death and your master by somewhat different means. However, Abel won't give in so easily, and even more so, he wishes to save his master...and he will be given that opportunity in Black/Matrix.

Black/Matrix can be called many things, but I would call it a Gothic tour-de-force. The game is brimming with darkness and class, and besides a few of the obvious cliches and biblical references, the game's story is a refreshing change of pace. The best part is that it's not so much about some guy trying to right the wrongs in the world, it's about a guy who wants to save the one he loves while occasionally doing "good" deeds on the side. The strange and badass characters mixed in with the morbid scenery and "interesting" soundtrack (to say the least) makes this strategy RPG (or "simulation" game) appeal to me more than the average strategy game. I originally didn't like the game too much, but it has admittedly grown on me.

While the game easily captures the eeriness and mood of the game with the Gothic architecture (and Gothic subculture in general), the environments are far too much of the same, and are a little unimaginative. The colors are dark and the detail of some locations (such as an underground prison with bloodstained walls) are fairly well done, and as a whole the game looks good. However, I also gotta crack on the cutscenes in this game...seriously. They are AWFUL...worse in quality than a majority of the FMVs I've seen in Sega CD games, and even worse than a few of the "semi-FMVs" that I've seen in Genesis games like Subterrania and Red Zone! I'd much rather the game not have ANY cutscenes than the ones present in this game. Fortunately, there is a Dreamcast version of this game where the movies were completely redone and are beautiful, but there will be a time and place for that version of Black/Matrix.

Next, I might as well talk about the audio and music in this game, which was done by a group known as "The Hustlers Concept", and they must have really been hustling indeed. The composition of the tunes sound like they were tossed up at random and the quality is questionable. From typical anime-esque tunes to rap/hip-hop battle tunes where some guy who sounds like my homeboy keeps blurting "Check it out, y'all!", it's both unforgettable and downright laughable. No, my buddy's voice isn't funny, but considering the game, you wouldn't see it coming. Still, as strange as it is, I actually accepted it for what it is (and for better or worse, it oddly fits in with the theme of this game). The game also has spoken Japanese dialogue, which is pretty typical (but good).

The gameplay is flawed, but also fairly interesting (which helps me forget just how flawed it was). While battles are fought in a standard overhead/isometric view and while battles aren't particularly TOO different from other strategy RPGs like this one, it does have a number of intriguing innovations. For starters, each side takes turns with no speed priority, meaning you can move who you want when you want, on your turn. Secondly, each character can strategically manipulate three different fighting tactics, which are defending, countering, and evading. This doesn't mean you can't fight with the character, but it determines what the character will do when they are struck. Defending characters block attacks to lose less damage, countering characters...counterattack, and evading characters attempt to dodge counters altogether (but suffer more if struck). You generally keep characters in defensive mode to prolong their lifespan (unless they are strong enough for counter battles) and set them to evasion when they can't take another hit guarding or otherwise.

Another system that was implemented was "permanent deaths", where sub-characters (those not vital to the story) die forever if they are thoroughly whacked. You also have "Blood Points", which can be used as "MP" and for powering up equipment with special abilities. You can also summon powerful dieties from special armor that requires a great deal of BP. Characters must be within a certain range of the caster of the summon and the total BP of characters within the summon range must equal to a certain amount. As an example, assume that a summon costs 400 BP. Lets also say that all of your characters have 100 BP each. If a character was to cast said summon for 400 BP, the summoner would have to have three other characters within range to have the 400 BP necessary to cast the summon. While expensive, they can make some fights much easier than they should be. There are a number of other abilities such as switching weapons with an enemy (good if they have a powerful weapon), draining HP, turning enemies to zombies (and using the zombies as bombs), and more. While there are a few more perks, B/M has some ups and downs in the gameplay department.

Overall, B/M is pretty decent, but I wouldn't play the Saturn game more than once. While I like certain aspects of the game (like the "summons", which look cooler than the ones in the Dreamcast game), the game has a lot of glaring flaws such as the AI (which can be incredibly dumb) which doesn't really even challenge you on the hardest difficulty level (though the stat limitations do) and the screwed up ability bugs which lie dormant inside of certain weapons. I consider the Dreamcast game (Black/Matrix Advanced) better than the original B/M. Still, the game has its moments and is a good buy for any Sega Saturn collector who can score it for cheap.

- Written by Bel Cain The Eternal -

Game Screenshots

Title Screen The FMVs are pretty lousy... Dominna is the first master on your list for a reason... Your smile is nice...but what would be better is for you know... Holy orbs of light, Batman! He's going crazy! Some of the characters slightly lean towards the erotic side of the spectrum in this game.

This review has 30 extra images.

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