Posted on January 1, 2021
Cosmic Fantasy is a now defunct JRPG series that never took off outside of Japan, mostly due to the fact that the second game in the series was the only one that actually got released overseas. Despite there only being around 4 or 5 games in the entire series, Cosmic Fantasy was actually kinda popular back in the early to mid 90s in Japan!
Despite being known best for essentially being “Dragon Quest in space with some fan service here and there”, the Cosmic Fantasy series was able to carve out its own niche at a time when JRPGs were dime a dozen in Japan – a sort of playful “Shounen anime” vibe with some pretty funny dialog plus some panty shots all whilst traveling through space!
Being the first game in a new series that was released all the way back in March 1990, as well as being released on CD (a brand new medium for games at the time), Cosmic Fantasy is a rough ride. Is the original Cosmic Fantasy a glimpse into the future demise of the series? Let’s find out!
Score – 26/40
Story – 6/10
Gameplay – 6/10
Graphics – 7/10
Music – 7/10
Style: Japanese Role-playing Game (Turn-Based)
Release Date: JP: March 30th, 1990
Publisher: Nihon Telenet
Length: 10～15 Hours
Table of Contents
Cosmic Fantasy PCE Review
The “Graphics” section has some very slight NSFW fanservice stuff in it. Nothing too bad, but figured i’d warn you anyways…
Cosmic Fantasy is a series that us Westerners only got a slight glimpse of back in the day when Cosmic Fantasy 2 came out in English for the Turbografx-16. While it is still a niche series even within Japan nowadays, it was actually a bit popular among the sea of JRPGs back in the early 90s when the PC-Engine was still current (the PC-Engine was the second most popular home console during the 8-16bit generation sales-wise).
Cosmic Fantasy was developed and came out at an interesting time. The PC-Engine originally released back in October 30th, 1987 – just a few years after the original Famicom/NES. The PC-Engine was originally released as an 8-bit system meant to rival the original Famicom, but at the end of the 1980’s NEC released new models of the system (PC-Engine Duo/Duo-R/Duo-RX) and attachable hardware for the original PC-Engine that enabled the systems to read CD-ROMs.
Cosmic Fantasy was one of the very first CD-ROM based RPGs in existence, coming out just a few months after Ys I/イースI and Ys II/イースII. Creating CD-ROM based games for home consoles was still an entirely new concept at the time. CD-ROMs gave access to tons more storage space which allowed developers to add things like CD-quality music instead of MIDI/Chiptune tracks, voice-acting was finally implementable (yes, voice acting was possible back on the PC-Engine since 1989!), and fully animated cutscenes were also a possibility.
With the newfound power of CD-ROM based games, players’ expectations were really high when it came to newly released JRPGs. One problem when working with new technology is that you don’t really know how to harness it in the beginning. The switch to CD-ROM based games allowed the PC-Engine to transition from a simple 8-bit system to a 16-bit system, lining it up against the likes of the soon-to-release Super Famicom/SNES and MegaDrive/Genesis.
Considering the fact that the Super Famicom and MegaDrive continued using cartridges, the launch window games played just fine and met the expectations of players at the time. While Ys I & II were perfectly fine early releases, in the case of Cosmic Fantasy, it becomes very apparent that the developers still didn’t quite understand how to develop a game using CD-ROMs yet. If I had to categorize Cosmic Fantasy, it’d almost have to create a new term and label it as a “12-bit” game – right smack in the middle of an 8-bit game and a 16-bit game.
One could argue that there wasn’t much competition around yet so there wasn’t any “Standard” of what a CD-ROM based game SHOULD be, and I would absolutely agree with that. That’s why I was able to overlook some flaws in the game when deciding if I should actually review it or not. In this review, you’ll see me mention some things being a product of their time. I review games on this site using “eyes and ears from that point in time”, so I believe i’ll still be able to do an objective review of Cosmic Fantasy.
With all that out of the way, let’s dive into the actual review!
Like I mentioned in the preface at the beginning of this post, Cosmic Fantasy plays a lot like an early Dragon Quest game. Not only in gameplay, but the way the story is told is extremely similar to Dragon Quest II and Dragon Quest III, where you get a general idea of your main goal but no real story progression regarding that main goal happens. Instead, the “story” is actually all of the little sub-stories that happen in each local town and dungeon.
Just like I did with my Dragon Quest III review, i’ll have to judge the game based off of the various sub-stories otherwise the simple “Defeat this person” story would already be a bit old by 1990 (I gave the original Dragon Quest I a pass for this due to being basically the first of its kind).
In Cosmic Fantasy, most local towns end up having essentially the same problem – some boss monster in a nearby dungeon is somehow terrorizing the local town either directly (killing/kidnapping people) or indirectly (causing more monsters to roam near the town). After beating said boss, the local townspeople thank you and you head off to the next town to do the same thing. This basically repeats until the very end of the game.
There ARE some personal character development cutscenes throughout the game but they’re very few and far between and don’t add much to the story itself, rather just between the two main characters Yuu and Saya.
I wouldn’t say Cosmic Fantasy is a game that you’d need to play if story is a big factor for you (it’s not a factor at all for me). Back in my Dragon Quest III review I gave it an 8 for the story, but that’s because there were times where there was a good amount of build-up before a certain boss, or doing things in one town had some type of effect on other towns so the “local stories” still felt connected at times. In Cosmic Fantasy, everything starts and ends in the same town – nothing you do in one town has any influence on things that happen in other towns. Except for the final boss and 1 or 2 mid-bosses, there wasn’t any sort of build-up for any of the boss fights or events that happened so nothing really felt “important”. A lot of the time it felt more like you were just doing stuff because you had some spare time to help the village elder.
All in all, there’s not really much to Cosmic Fantasy’s story. What’s actually there isn’t bad per-se, but it’s just sparse and uneventful. If they just decided to go super barebones like Wizardry I or even Romancing SaGa I could just ignore the Story section and Story score, but it seems like the developers kind of meant for there to be a story going on…so yeah definitely not much to look forward to!
Next let’s take a look at the main characters in Cosmic Fantasy!
In the “Characters” section, I always only cover the characters that are in the official manual. In Cosmic Fantasy, you’re limited to only two playable characters, so there won’t be a whole lot to cover in this section this time. Let’s check out who we’ll meet along the way!
ユウ (Yuu) – Yuu is the main character in Cosmic Fantasy. Yuu is part of a group called the “Cosmic Hunters”, who travel around space looking to help any planets that seem to be in distress. In desperate situations, Yuu is able to temporarily tap into his Psychic Powers which enable him to cast magic spells.
サヤ (Saya) – Saya is the lead heroine in Cosmic Fantasy and the only other party member in the game. A native to the planet Norg where the game takes place, she has inherited the ability to use magic. Saya decides to join Yuu on his adventure and becomes a Cosmic Hunter herself.
もんも (Monmo) – Monmo is a shapeshifting robot that was given to Yuu as a present from his parents when he was younger. Usually taking the form of a motorcycle (but can transform into other things), Monmo follows Yuu around on his adventure, usually giving advice on what to do/where to go next.
ニャン (Nyan) – Nyan is a merchant (a talking cat actually!) who travels to various planets in order to sell his goods. Though he sells items at extremely high prices and would probably run off with your money if given the chance, Nyan somehow always seems to appear whenever Yuu and Saya are in trouble – usually with just the right tool in hand to get the two out of whatever mess they ended up in.
Slight NSFW warning. This section has some pictures/videos of Saya bathing as well as changing her clothes. Very low impact stuff, but yeah…
As I mentioned above near the start of the review, if I could i’d call Cosmic Fantasy a “12-bit” game – something that’s a little more advanced that a Famicom game but a little less advanced than a Super Famicom game. The graphics are no exception – outside of the beautifully animated cutscenes, Cosmic Fantasy’s graphics don’t have much charm to them nor do they look particularly good from a technical standpoint.
To start with the good stuff, Cosmic Fantasy has full-blown pixelated anime-style character portraits which look really good in the main menu (shopkeepers have portraits too but they’re nowhere near as detailed). Though you’ll only be going into that specific menu to check your characters’ stats, it’s still a pretty good addition to the game and it’s something that never really got replicated on the Super Famicom as far as I know.
The absolute best thing about the game is the animated cutscenes. Similar to the Ys and Legend of Heroes games i’ve reviewed so far, throughout the game you’ll see some cool 1980s-1990s anime-style cutscenes that play at a silky-smooth 60fps. If there’s one thing the game needs to be praised for it’s definitely these cutscenes.
In relation to the cutscenes in Cosmic Fantasy, the series was known for having some light fanservice. The Cosmic Fantasy series became known for what Japanese players call “The Promised Scene”, which is basically a single guaranteed cutscene in each game where the female lead is either slightly naked or it’s implied that she’s slightly naked. Personally, i’m not even gonna lie, I love that kinda stuff in RPGs (the world needs more Rance), so Nihon Telenet and LaserSoft going the extra mile to try to get some of that PC88/PC98 stuff onto home consoles earned them my respect. Here’s the “Promised Scene” in Cosmic Fantasy, starring the female lead Saya.
This is also a good example to show off just how good the cutscenes look. There’s not a whole lot of animation going on in this particular one, but you should still be able to see the pixel art quality and how detailed everything is. Remember this is from 1990 – an entire year before Final Fantasy IV!
The graphics on the overworld/in towns/in dungeons are a bit more difficult on the eyes. While they probably aren’t even the worst of the system, there’s not really a whole lot to comment on. On the overworld, you have 3 types of environments – grassy fields, water, and snowy fields. I’ll be linking a video down in the Gameplay section that shows the first dungeon – that’s what 85% of the overworld looks like. The traversable “water” area in the game is literally just a 2 or 3 minute boat ride across a small lake with water that’s completely unanimated and a boat that is just barely animated.
Inside cities it’s mostly the same thing. With the exception of just a few cities, they all use the exact same tilesets and interior design is also pretty much shared between every house in the game. There is a slight variety in NPC character appearance, but even those are copied and appear in every town. Here’s a video of me just walking around one of the towns in the game, so it should give you a good idea what a typical town looks like. There’s also a really cool cutscene in the second half of the video so definitely check that part out at least (plus another bonus mini-Promised Scene)!
Last but not least, let’s talk about the graphics in battle since that’s where you’ll be spending the majority of your time (thanks load times!). Battles actually might be the next best looking part of the game besides the cutscenes (though there aren’t any animations for spell effects…). Battles play out in typical first-person Dragon Quest style. Thankfully, the developers at least decided to add environmental backgrounds during battle!
The battle backgrounds actually don’t look too bad. There’s not a whole lot of variety to them because the backgrounds are based on your current ENVIRONMENT, rather than being based off of the specific tile you were on when the encounter happened. While a lot of games would have a different battle background based on fighting on a dirt trail, on grassy plains, or in a dense forest, Cosmic Fantasy would show the exact same battle background for all 3 scenarios. This isn’t a real big nitpick, but again there’s so much wasted CD-ROM potential here. There’s no way the game was anywhere close to not being able to fit on a single CD-ROM, so they can’t blame storage space like a lot of old game companies did.
In battle, monsters look pretty good actually. Not only is there a fair amount of monster sprite variety, the sprites themselves are decently detailed for a game from 1990. Regular monsters aren’t animated, so while they look nice, there’s not much actually going on during battle. Here’s a brief example of what some of the monsters look like in Cosmic Fantasy.
Although regular monsters aren’t animated, SOME bosses are. I’m not entirely sure what the criteria was for a boss to be animated or not, as it seems like a lot of the “whatever” bosses were animated while a lot of the “big” bosses were static. For example, this boss here has a pretty big build-up as you can see with the amount of cutscenes going on and the double boss fight, but even then she isn’t animated. It’s really just seems to be hit or miss.
Down in the Gameplay section i’ll have a video of one of the animated bosses, so definitely check that one out (the video is only around 40 seconds long)!
All that’s left to mention is something that just reeks of low effort. As you’ll see in the first gameplay video down in the Gameplay section, both “open” and “closed” treasure chests use the exact same sprite. Yes, after opening a chest and grabbing the item, the chest just sits there in the closed state. Even primitive early Famicom/NES RPGs had separate open and closed chest sprites! Judging from the graphical quality in Cosmic Fantasy, adding an open chest sprite probably would have taken the artist an hour TOPS. This might not sound like much, but based on how maze-like the dungeons are you’ll definitely make a mistake and check chests you’ve already opened previously.
That should cover everything worth talking about in regards to the graphics in Cosmic Fantasy. Battles and Cutscenes aside, Cosmic Fantasy sadly looks extremely generic. Don’t play the game expecting bright and colorful worlds. Instead come in expecting 45% dark green, 45% brown, and a mix of other colors making up the remaining 10%.
For the most part, Cosmic Fantasy plays like your standard late 80s ~ early 90s Dragon Quest clone (right down to having to open a menu and select “talk” to talk to NPCs), particularly Dragon Quest 3 where the game revolves around solving some problem the current village you’re in is facing before being able to move on. This cycle repeats in every single area, so you already know what to expect when you cross a bridge and enter a new area.
Like every other JRPG at the time, the typical game loop is to go to a town, get a quest from the Village Elder to go to some cave and kill so boss, all while killing monsters for EXP to level up and get Gold to buy new gear. Anyone who’s played any Famicom/NES or Super Famicom/SNES RPG will feel right at home.
In Cosmic Fantasy, your characters level up at a fairly decent pace. At any given time you’re probably only 15 fights away from leveling, which doesn’t sound like much if you’re used to Final Fantasy battle systems. The battle system itself in Cosmic Fantasy isn’t really that bad – you have your typical Attack, Defend, Item, Spells, and Flee options, as well as a very useful “Auto Attack” command. The way the game is balanced, you end up killing monsters pretty fast. Ending fights is quick and easy, but there’s one gigantic flaw in Cosmic Fantasy, so much so that Japanese players jokingly call it “The Real Last Boss”.
Cosmic Fantasy is the slowest loading game i’ve ever played BY FAR, across all consoles/PC. Anytime you do anything that requires a loading screen (zoning into town, sleeping at inns, fighting monsters) you have to deal with at the very minimum a ~10-second black loading screen. You’re actually LUCKY if you get a 10 second loading screen – the longest load screen I got hit with was a minute and 7 seconds (JUST TO LOAD INTO THE BATTLE), yes I started timing the load times because it was getting ridiculous, after which the battle itself ended in less than 10 seconds. Loading back out to the overworld took another 20 seconds. So you have a minute and a half of loading to do a 10 second fight.
This is something you’ll notice straight away (I actually thought my game froze when I got into my first battle because I procced a near 30-second load screen) and something that continues until the very end of the game. I researched a lot of Japanese sites to find out what this was all about and the general consensus is that the game was designed to load everything on the disk at run time, which means that each time you go into battle the game has to load everything from the disk. Every time. Just talking about the load screens doesn’t do it justice, so here’s a video of a brief run-through of the very first dungeon in the game. I mean, look at this…
I’m not exaggerating when I say this. I don’t believe Cosmic Fantasy save files show your total game time so I have to make a rough estimate, but i’d say it took me around 15 hours to beat the game. Probably close to 8-10 hours of that was from loading screens alone. There’s probably only 5-7 hours of “actual” content in the game.
I feel bad having to rag on the game right at the beginning of the Gameplay section, but this game has absolutely unacceptable load times. Thankfully the encounter rate isn’t as crazy as games like Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes and Rudra no Hihou or else I honestly would have just dropped the game within the first hour or two. This alone is gonna be a solid minus to whatever score i’d originally give the Gameplay score.
Back to leveling, leveling up in Cosmic Fantasy increases your stats and lets you learn new spells. The stat increase themselves have barely any noticeable effect besides increased HP and MP. The real benefit of leveling up is learning new spells. Spells are extremely effective in Cosmic Fantasy – so much so that you won’t be able to beat most of the bosses in the game without using any. Cosmic Fantasy does something great that, for some odd reason, other games never seem to want to copy even to this day – spells that level-up but retain the original MP cost!
Here’s an example to get a rough feeling of what I mean. In a typical Final Fantasy game, “Cure” might cost 5 MP, “Cura” might cost 10 MP, and “Curaga” might cost 15MP. In Cosmic Fantasy, “Cure”, “Cura” and “Curaga” would all cost 5MP, even though “Curaga” would heal for 5 times as much as Cure does. I absolutely love this style of spell progression and wish a lot more games chose to use it back in the day. It really makes getting new spells tons of fun because you know that your overall damage or healing potential just doubled, instead of having to decide if you want to cast “Fire” or “Fira” based on how much HP you think a monster has left to avoid overkilling it and wasting MP!
In Cosmic Fantasy, the main character Yuu can’t directly cast spells. Throughout dungeons, Yuu will sort of get pissed off over what that dungeon’s boss has done and goes into a kind of psychotic rage, which temporarily grants him the ability to use a special set of magic only available to him. These abilities are gained by leveling up, just like regular magic, but considering they’re limited-time spells, they’re much stronger than any of the basic spells in the game.
Now that we covered the leveling mechanics in the game, let’s talk about equipment. Equipment is where most of your power is going to come from throughout the game (besides spells), rather than from leveling up. Equipment in Cosmic Fantasy is actually very cheap by old-school JRPG standard, you’ll rarely have to farm for Gold in order to buy the best gear in the next town.
This is where another part of the game’s unpolished-ness shines (smooth joke!). Cosmic Fantasy isn’t the only game to do this so it’s not specific to this game (Elnard/The 7th Saga also does this, if I remember right), but when buying equipment there’s no way to see if it’s weaker or stronger than what you’re already using until you buy it and check your stats yourself. Even something as simple as an arrow pointing upwards or downwards would have been nice. You’ll of course be right most of the time if you just assume that the more expensive an item is the better it is, but even then shops usually have weapons + limited-use items so you don’t have any way of even knowing if you’re about to purchase actual equipment or an item that’ll break after a few uses in battle.
To quickly follow-up on Equipment, there’s another questionable design choice the developers made. If you already have, say, a Broadsword, and you find a chest in a dungeon that has a Broadsword inside of it, you can’t pick it up. I could see if there were “Unique Items” that you could only carry one of, but this happens with every piece of equipment in the game. This means you can’t pre-buy good equipment from a town and then sell any extras you find in dungeons to recuperate some of the money you spent like you can in 99.9% of other RPGs in existence. Prices for things aren’t too bad in Cosmic Fantasy so you don’t really NEED to sell gear in the first place, but just as an overall design decision I don’t get what the developers were trying to go for.
Fighting in Cosmic Fantasy is fairly simple. Throughout the game, you’ll mostly be able to get by with just auto-attacks. While all Yuu can do for most of the game is Attack, Saya is the one who actually becomes a powerhouse later on. There are different elemental staves in the game that Saya can equip, which attack ALL ENEMIES at once, essentially a free high mana cost AoE spell. Towards the end of the game, Saya can clear entire groups of enemies within two turns, meaning you almost never have to worry about mana problems outside of boss fights.
Most boss fights also follow a simple formula. You either burst them down in a few turns with Yuu’s psychic spells or you dedicate Saya to healing while Yuu chips away at them. The boss fights end really fast – most of them don’t even last 30 seconds. I was really surprised by this considering some bosses have somewhat “grand” introductions (short cutscenes), only to be dead within 3 or 4 turns…here’s a boss fight from around the middle of the game that’s just like that. You spend around an hour/hour and a half trying to track this boss down only to beat her in 6 turns.
The difficulty balance in Cosmic Fantasy is okay overall. The beginning is tough because you don’t have any good spells or staves, but once you get a staff and some Tier 2 spells, the game basically becomes a cakewalk except for the final boss. Though the game looks, sounds, and plays “Nintendo Hard”, it’s actually not that hard of a game at all. The dungeons are pretty confusing though, especially some of the later ones, but thankfully the monsters usually aren’t that hard so rather than adding difficulty to the game, it just pads out your game time.
In terms of Gameplay, that’s honestly really all there is to Cosmic Fantasy. It’s a game that if you took out the loading screens, you’d be able to finish it in a single afternoon. In Cosmic Fantasy, you’ll be going town to town solving local problems until you get to the final dungeon of the game. There aren’t any deep systems or mechanics, no real character customization, and with a max party size of only 2 characters, there’s not really a whole lot to the battles either.
If you like straight-forward, sometimes even “bare-bones” feeling JRPGs, you’ll be satisfied with Cosmic Fantasy. If you’re looking for a somewhat deep game that requires strategy or you enjoy min-maxing your characters, i’m afraid you won’t find any of that here. This is basically a straight up old-school Dragon Quest clone with a very slight “Space” theme (it’s similar to how Star Ocean is a “Space” game), so definitely expect that going in.
Next up is the Music section. I feel bad saying it but Cosmic Fantasy has without a doubt the worst OST out of all the games i’ve reviewed so far.
To be honest, the music in Cosmic Fantasy is extremely average. For every good song there’s one or two bad ones just around the corner. Maybe i’ve been spoiled by all of the Nihon Falcom CD-ROM games i’ve reviewed so far at the time of this post (Ys I, Ys II, Ys III, and Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes) and imagined they were the rule and not the exception, but Cosmic Fantasy’s music is simple 8-bit sounding MIDI stuff. If Cosmic Fantasy was a Hu-Card game or a game for another cartridge-based system I wouldn’t care very much, but there’s so much wasted CD-ROM potential going on here.
The voice acting in Cosmic Fantasy is really good though actually – way better than the 4 Nihon Falcom games I mentioned above! The sound is very clear and you can tell the voice actors put in a lot of effort into their lines. There are quite a few voiced cutscenes in Cosmic Fantasy, so the voice acting definitely stands out among the rest of the game’s qualities. Thanks to the voice acting, i’ll be able to give Cosmic Fantasy a few more points for the “Music” score.
Cosmic Fantasy was also ground-breaking at the time for the mere fact that, as far as I know, it was the first game ever to have a song with actual human vocals (on home consoles at least, there’s so much PC-88 and PC-98 stuff that I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a game that did it earlier)! After Cosmic Fantasy released there were other PC-Engine games that eventually followed suit, but if you look outside of the PC-Engine, the closest game that I know of that also has vocals is Tales of Phantasia for the Super Famicom which came out a whopping 5 years later! It’s pretty hard to understand how a game that was either the first game ever or at least one of the first games ever to have a song with vocals ends up having such a lackluster OST…
One big thing I regret having to mention is that one of the dungeon themes in Cosmic Fantasy is the worst track i’ve ever heard in a game across all genres (except games that use real music like GTA, Gran Turismo) in my entire 26-year gaming career. I always post my favorite OST songs in this section, but this time I just have to add the garbage dungeon theme – it definitely deserves a public shaming…
Alright, so we’ll go ahead and get the terrible dungeon theme out of the way first. It might not have been bad if it first appeared later on in the game, but this song plays in the very first dungeon in the game (and many more throughout the game…), which you’ll probably reach within the first 15 minutes of the game…is it just me? Do you think this sounds like a dungeon theme at all, let alone a good one?…
Okay, now with that train-wreck of a song out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the “better” songs. To wash the last song out of our ears, let’s check out the overworld map theme. If you like it, you’re in luck because you’re guaranteed to hear at least the first 10 seconds of it after every battle thanks to the abysmal load times. I like it though, it gives off a sort of “happy-go-lucky” adventure feeling, which is what most of the game is!
Up next we have the regular boss battle theme. Not too bad, and considering how spread out the boss fights are in Cosmic Fantasy, chances are you won’t grow tired of it by the time you finish the game!
Like I said, the OST is pretty average so there aren’t as many songs that I want to show as there usually are. For the last one, we have the game’s Start Menu theme, “Into the Sea of Light”. This time I can actually post my own video which is nice for once! If only the rest of the game’s OST had this sound quality, it might have saved quite of few songs…
I know it sounds like i’m coming off pretty strict this time around. I don’t mind MIDI music (actually I love MIDI music to be honest – i’m a sucker for basically anything MIDI). If the developers purposefully decided to stick with MIDI music as a design choice then i’d be a lot more lenient with the “Music” score, but by just listening to the compositions of the songs themselves and how a lot of songs don’t feel suitable for the areas they’re played in, I personally think the OST just took the backseat during development.
Overall, besides that horrendous dungeon theme, along with a few other “blah” sounding songs, the OST is fairly average. Nothing to gush about and nothing I would really recommend someone to go listen to in their free time, but it’s also not an OST that’ll force you to play the game with the sound off. Dragon Quest XI is the only game that has forced me to mute the game so far…
Should you play it?
This one is a tough call to be honest. I personally did end up enjoying the game overall and I eventually plan on playing Cosmic Fantasy 2. My only piece of advice is to think of the game mostly as a PC-Engine Hu-Card game (the 8-bit cartridges for the PC-Engine) that needlessly got thrown onto a CD, or an either very high-tech Famicom/very low-tech Super Famicom game.
If you enjoy old-school games (we’re talking pre-Final Fantasy IV/ファイナルファンタジーIV) and don’t mind a complete lack of polish (this is a 1990 game so “Quality of Life” still wasn’t even a concept yet) then I think you’ll find some things to enjoy in Cosmic Fantasy. While it does have the PC-Engine perks going for it (animated cutscenes, voice acting), it really does feel like a primitive Famicom/Nintendo JRPG with a very slight paintjob. If you love the original 3 Dragon Quest games you’ll feel at home playing Cosmic Fantasy. Just, again, be ready for those 10 second ~ 1 minute load times before every battle…
Which version should you play?
As far as i’m aware, there are only two versions of Cosmic Fantasy – this version for the PC-Engine and a separate game called “Cosmic Fantasy Stories” for the Mega-CD that bundles Cosmic Fantasy 1 and 2 together in a single game. I haven’t played Stories and i’ve only seen a little bit of it on Youtube, but the rage-inducing load times seem to be gone and the graphical quality improved by quite a bit. These things alone would almost make it worth picking up, but I haven’t seen enough of Stories to know if there are any other changes such as more/less content and better/worse game balance.
Cosmic Fantasy is going to get barely just enough points to get reviewed on this site. That might sound “bad”, but the fact that it still has a high enough score to get reviewed means it’s still worth a play. Might be best to play it after you’ve finished your backlog though…
Final Score – 26/40
Story – 6/10
Gameplay – 6/10
Graphics – 7/10
Music – 7/10
If you’re interested, here’s a video of the game’s ending. It shows the last boss fight and the ending cutscenes/credits, so only watch if you don’t care about spoiling the ending for yourself!
! ! ! ! ! SPOILER ALERT – BELOW IS A VIDEO OF THE GAME’S LAST BOSS AND ENDING ! ! ! ! !