Friday, December 16, 2016

Brandish (SNES) Review

Received: December 25h, 2015 / Written: December 11th-16th, 2016
Year: 1994, 1995 | Developed and Published by: Koei
Licensed by: Nihon Falcom

Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here, passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit; and what say we end 2016's StarBlog run with a bang=D

On October 1991 Nihon Falcom created an A-RPG by the name of Brandish for the NEC PC-9801 and FM Towns computers, which would eventually be followed up with an NEC treatment on the PC Engine CD-ROM² System on June 17th, 1994, culminating in a Super Famicom port handled by Koei that June 25th which would see an American release for the first time in NTSC SNES format on February 1995.  It did pretty good in native Japan, but in America... not so much.  =(  But why?  What turned (and is still turning) them away?

A long time ago there existed the kingdom of Berimya, with its tall tower that was quite magnificent that it symbolized world peace.  Many people were happy, but the greedy Berimyan monarch King Berebus (Gadobistall in Japan) wasn't content as he dreamt of ways to become stronger in power.  One day he caught wind that the answer he's been searching for lies atop the tower, wherein resides a dragon who's protected the kingdom which Berebus learns days later after a spy disguised as a priest brings back a book which revealed its secrets.  But that would not last.
At once the evil king commands his Imperial Army to storm the tower and seek the dragon; King Berebus' archbishop Baltus tried to stop them, but was sentenced to death for trying to get in the way of the king's wishes.  Once they reach the top of the tower they stumble upon a stone statue of a dragon that comes to life; Berebus orders the Berimyan protector to give him all the power or die.  The dragon, sensing the king's inner greed, replies that he will curse and turn him into a monster reflective of his evil heart; the dragon opened up its wings that began to emit a vibrant light and curled its long neck and body into a ball.  Not resisting the soldier's attempts to slay it, the dragon's full power was released in exchange for its life.
King Berebus, unable to control the power, transformed into a grotesque monster that reflected his contaminated heart.  He wasn't the only one that was punished, for the whole of Berimya began to crumble and disappear into the dark depths of the abyss.

A thousand years pass following this tragedy, in the desperate land of Bavalya which once was a nice and happy place until King Beryx devised a get rich quick scheme by placing bounties on criminals and collecting money by taxing said rewards.  Bavalya was now a wealthy place, made all the more uninhabitable by criminals who began to stalk each other rendering it a violent place that few dare to step foot to now.  One day arrived Varik (Ares Toraernos in Japan), a wandering and mysterious bounty hunting swordsman who's got a big price on his head, who overhears at a bar word of a large hole where people fell into and never came back from and apparently monsters popping out from it.  Intrigued, he decides to investigate the hole for himself.
As Varik climbs down the hole he's caught up by the sorceress Alexis (Dela Delon in Japan), who for five years has been trailing and following his tracks to exact revenge on him for the murder of her master Balkan (Balcan in Japan) which Varik had been falsely accused of.
Taking her chance, she begins to conjure a blast aimed at him,...
but misses as he evades it.  As she fires her second blast which flies down the hole an earthquake suddenly occurs and crumbles the ground beneath them, sending Varik and Alexis all the way down the big hole with little to no hope to get out.  Your quest to try to escape the depths the hole led to
(and try to evade a vengeful Alexis) has just begun.

Just got here, so it's time to take the long
route that leads outside
In the bird's eye viewed action-oriented RPG Brandish you take the controls of the bounty hunter Varik (as Ares was known in America) whose gameplay is rather involved and may take a bit to get used to, so please bear with me as I go over them in detail.  With the B button you can jump ahead by two steps (one if an enemy or edge or wall has stopped you), with the A button you can hold the shield in front of you by holding it and press it to swing a sword once you've equipped it, with the X button you can use the secondary item you have in stow once you've selected it from your inventory via Select button (or while in inventory mode press A as the hand is on the item you desire as an alternative), and with the Y button you can open doors and press switches on walls and pick up items (in inventory mode Y will dispose of the item you selected which can be picked up again if you wanted it back); and should you hold down either of the shoulder buttons as you press Y you'll be using a magnifying glass to look at your surroundings in front of you.

Prepare to face monsters galore
Since you never get a clear glimpse of Varik's face (and are refused the chance to know what his profile is like) you only see his back in-game; so how do the movement controls work exactly you might wonder?  You can move forwards and walk backwards, but once you make a clockwise or counterclockwise turn the whole playing field will change perspective as you will see what that side looks like from his point of view.  This element alone made American gamers nervous and apprehensive to play it as a result, and yeah, while admittedly it can be a bit disorienting at first on account of it being a top-down A-RPG (the only other RPGs at the time where you could face North, South, East, and West were the first-person ones of the turn-based variety) it does become second nature if you give it another hour or two.  Brandish is also one of those games where you can strafe by holding down either shoulder button as you move without having to change facing direction, provided your L/R Keys are set to Lateral (whereas Rotate will do the opposite of that) whenever you feel the need to maintain a constant perspective.

That wall's cracked... let's break it down and search
its secret corridors!  =D
With the Select button you can access the inventory which only allows up to twelve items to store but luckily for you there are a few Dimensional Boxes which will enable you to carry another twelve additional items for each ones you find and procure.  Monsters do not leave money behind as you defeat them but they do grant you experience points; the only way to get money outside of finding some inside chests is by selling items that you do not deem useful to you in shops you'll occasionally stumble upon (whether it be item shops, weapon shops, or magic shops) which may have stuff that will serve you greatly if you can afford them (you can even talk to them the first time you enter).

Ohhh nooo, Alexis!
Next to most items you carry are a number count, not only for sledgehammers and master keys, but also for most swords.  With each swing that your sword makes (regardless whether the monster took a hit or blocked it) your count will go down by one for which its usage can be augmented when you use a hardening potion which you'll sometimes find, but use up the whole sword and it'll break; you can still fight, but swords are more powerful than punches (swinging your sword many times will increase Varik's arm strength as you go along).  Another alternative to fight most monsters in your journey is with the diverse magic scrolls (preferably fire for long-range attacks), and with each particular number of enemies contacted by your magic Varik's knowledge will increase (plus, with each particular amount of times you sustain a monster's magic your magic endurance will increase gradually); be careful which monster you use the magic against (should you have enough MP to use) for some of them might reflect back at you, so get out of the way if that's the case.  Pressing Start will grant you access to the map of the current segment you're in which shows where you are at, your stat screen, the options, and you can save your progress in any one of two save files anywhere your heart desires (just like in Nihon Falcom's other A-RPG series Ys).

Spider-like monster battle
Brandish has received a lot of flak for its in-game visual structure compared to the cutscenes.  No, it's not the best-looking game out there, but the fact of the matter is that this is a Nihon Falcom RPG!  Do you honestly walk into a Nihon Falcom RPG and expect pure visual brilliance to come from it?  Of course not, you go in for the intuitive gameplay, great music, and engrossing story!  Personally I don't find the visuals to be that terrible as I find them to be nicely simplistic in their own way, plus there's a sense of design regarding each respective areas' layout that adds a sense of atmosphere.  It's also refreshing to play a Nintendo 16-bit A-RPG where each of the four different sides sometimes actually look different from each other depending where you are facing during some segments.

Always exciting to find a set of stairs
The Ruins segments look old and abandoned, the Tower segments have a blue-bricked pattern, the Dark Zones are aptly named with the darkly shaded walls and the fact that you can't immediately discern the ground from a hole, and the Fortress has got a grotesque and somewhat organic look and feel to it.  To be fair though, the visuals are derided by many on account that each main setting has several segments with the same floor and wall color and design so because of that this aspect gives off the vibe that it's visually lacking, but there is new scenery if you stick with it and finish each main setting.  Varik is designed and animates decently in-game, as does Alexis in the handful of moments that you see her; among the enemies you fight are imps, zombies, knight variants, bats, barebreasted Medusa creatures, creatures enshrouded in shadow (such as one that swims with frog legs through Dark Zone), manticore lions, winged grim reapers, and mimic chests to name a few, and it's cool to see them viewed and animated from four different angles (including legitimate treasure chests and at a couple points corpses) with the weapons being carried in their proper hands without resorting to the left-right spriteflip bullcrap (like the skeletons with swords and shield).  The bosses are decently designed as well (many of them are huge while one is about on-par with Varik's size), and I like that they flash in yellow any time they sustain damage.

Fighting electric jellyfish with fire
The best part of the game on a visual sense are the anime cutscenes during the introduction and ending sequences for they are beautifully colored and detailed, particularly the downfall of Berimya and Alexis confronting Varik which are visually striking (culminating in the two falling down the hole via this A-RPG's rare moment of Mode 7 scaling effects); and the file loading screen has got a well-designed Varik whose face is purposely shaded to maintain his face's anonymity.  =)  Every once in awhile you do see some anime designs (albeit as stills) like when you talk with a merchant inside their shop, Alexis in the few moments you stumble upon her, certain NPCs, and when you're done with a main area and moving on to the next one as an inbetween narrative sequence.  The ending anime cutscene is richly well-deserving as you finally made it outside after all this time, plus the anime stills of the moments leading up to the ending are very welcome.
The box unfortunately crops off the dragon's head at the top which you can see on the manual and the cart's sticker
Another thing of note is that the cover art is absolutely gorgeous.  Just look at the colors and the dynamic touches, wow!  =D  Really eye-catching stuff, one of the best covers for any game ever, Nintendo 16-bit or otherwise!

Thanks for the helpful tip  =)
The soundtrack to Brandish was composed by Falcom Sound Team JDK as well as Atsushi Shirakawa who's best known as Tenmon (Popful Mail, Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II) and Mieko Ishikawa (MSX Legacy of the Wizard, Popful Mail), and while there's not a huge amount the music that is present works perfectly for the respective areas you're in as they manage to make these locales more atmospheric than they already are, and it's one of those things that make me press on.  =)  The Ruins theme is quiet-sounding at points but also imbues a sense of mystery and intrigue to it for the way it's composed makes listening to it enthrallingly entrancing.

Ooh, hole, jump over it
Things really get good once you reach the Tower segments where its theme is really catchy and makes you feel like you're progressing forward, the Cave theme is highly atmospheric and catchy, the Dark Zone theme is sinister-sounding, and the Fortress theme absolutely rocks.  The sound effects are decent (like when any of Varik's stats increase, when you use your fire scroll, and when you break down a wall), the two shop themes are nice (one purely atmospheric, the other bouncy and fun), and I love that each boss has their own themes composed specifically for them (including Berebus' theme when you face him in the end which is epic in its own right)--you'll never hear the same battle theme more than once--that pumps up the action.  Even Alexis has a theme dedicated to her.

Hell-lo, Judaism symbol
I only played the American version of Brandish, but I must bring this up as a music-lover: the introduction themes for both the Japanese and American versions are different.  Apparently from what I gathered: in the versions up to the Super Famicom edition in 1994 there was a case of "accidental copyright infringement" as the opening in those versions had notes that sounded very similar to Joaquín Rodrigo's 1939 Adagio movement of his well-known Concierto de Aranjuez, and when the public put two and two together due its widespread exposure this forced Nihon Falcom to change the opening theme for subsequent versions beginning with the NTSC SNES release to avoid a potential lawsuit (I think).

Beware of magic warps
Having listened to both the Japanese introduction theme and Adagio recently, there are similarities here and there (hell, even the Spanish-like instrumentation is the same) and as a song by itself the former is a good listen but in-game it probably would not have been as effective as the American introduction theme that was used here.  Admittedly sounding different than anything else in the game (due to it being done by a composer whose identity to this day remains a mystery, blame the lack of in-game credits for that), it combined with the opening visuals works sublimely as it is extravagantly haunting and successfully draws you into this world to the point where you want to explore it; sadly it never got used again in subsequent versions of Brandish, which is a shame because it's a really powerful opener.  =(

A three-way?  Where should I head to?
The essential goal of this A-RPG is to progress your way to the next areas, however you are going to have to be very careful and alert if you want to prolong your survival and make progress.  Exploring your surroundings is key to advancing forward in your journey, as you never know if you'll stumble upon a secret path (which the map reveals when you look at it)--there might be a dark spot which means the wall in question can be broken with a sledgehammer or there might be a magic wall you can walk through.  Checking the map often will serve you greatly throughout (the compass in the upper right corner lets you know which way you're facing), but another thing that will serve you well is the magnifying glass which is a total lifesaver in many a situation (especially during the Dark Zone that lets you know whether there's a hole in front of you or not).

Platforming, my favorite
Mainly there are master keys you'll find that will open certain locked doors and treasure chests, but occasionally there are special keys that are required which you have to find; sometimes you'll find them after defeating a group of the same monsters or a boss while other times you may have to do some backtracking.  Latter sounds too overwhelming for you?  Don't fret, for at any point in the game you can change the game's speed setting: there's the default speed which is normal, the low speed which reduces the game's speed, and the high speed to make the game go at a faster rate.  The normal speed is perfectly fine for the most part, but if there's a boss fight or tough monster coming that might seem too challenging it's okay to set it to low, but if you wish to rush if you've leveled up enough or want to backtrack faster the high speed setting is always there to select.  Good thing for choices, am I right?  =)

Oh no, I'm frozen!
Brandish also has its fair share of puzzles here and there which you have to solve in order to unlock doors without keyholes or make nearby shortcuts to certain parts of a segment suddenly appear; nearby are plaques which will tell or hint at you as to what you have to do and it's up to you to find the solution--some ways of doing it are by stepping on all separately placed switches, sometimes there are wall switches, and other times you have to press switches in a certain order (most of them are out in the open, but some involve using teleportation stars while others might require walking through a magic wall).  If you're dangerously low on health and have to heal yourself, that's easy: just hold down both shoulder buttons and that'll do the trick (partway or fully, plus your MP gradually refills itself) which you can do in most of the game, but be very careful that there are no nearby enemies when you do it otherwise you'll sustain twice as much damage than you do when you're not healing.  This should probably go without saying, but it's very vital that you save often: any time you find something useful, save; any time you reach a new segment or open a new door, save; any time you find new equipment, save; any time you defeat a boss, save; and especially when any one of Varik's stats have increased, save (if you have a Ring of Life on your main inventory you'll be revived fully).

"No, it is you who will pay for making me spend a long time
searching for the blue key-holding third Medusa who took
forever to find in the big maze with the parts that
magically turned me around, you giant arachnid witch!"  =|
When Brandish debuted in Japan twenty-five years ago it was deemed as a Nihon Falcom success that it ended up becoming a franchise (largely left in Japan).  On March 1993 the NEC PC-9801 was given the first sequel in Brandish 2: The Planet Buster which took place two years from where today's game left off (convenient); then in 1994 came the NEC PC-9801 exclusive follow-up Brandish 3: Spirit of Balcan which was the last sequel to incorporate the gameplay that defined the series up to this point and wrapped up the overarching narrative that began from the first title; in 1996 arrived the then NEC PC-9801 only Brandish VT which took on an isometric perspective and told a completely different story which was re-released for the Windows PC in 1998 as Brandish 4: Nemureru Kami no TouBrandish saw a remastered treatment with 1995's Brandish Renewal and got remade for the PlayStation Portable in March 2009 as Brandish: The Dark Revenant, the latter of which would not see a release in America and for the first time Europe until early 2015 as a digital PlayStation Network download.

Koei wasn't exactly a company known for crafting action-oriented games (at least not in the complete sense), being a more strategy-heavy kind of developing team as evidenced by their Daikoukai Jidai/Uncharted Waters and Winning Post series to name a couple, so the fact that they ported this A-RPG with Nihon Falcom's consent is a bit surprising but at the same time I applaud them for it because in my opinion they absolutely nailed it.  =)
Koei's involvement with Nihon Falcom fare on the Super Famicom would continue with the August 1995 port of Brandish 2: The Planet Buster (the second and final iteration of the series made available to play on a TV console) and end with them publishing the Expert edition of the Nihon Falcom-developed Ys V: Ushinawareta Suna no Miyako Kefin, Ys V Expert which came out about three months after the aforementioned Ys A-RPG's December 1995 release in March 1996 (incidentally, that month also saw the release of Brandish 2 Expert which included difficulty settings and a time attack).  Neither title officially left Japan.

The chameleon/bat Nintendo 64 throwback platformer
Yooka-Laylee is no longer coming to the Nintendo
Wii U, but the Nintendo Switch; sad face  ='(  I guess
that's what happens when I take out so many bats in
video games...
The reception for Brandish had been less than positive in American shores when it first came out and over the years has divided the people who played it.  Being compared to other, more high-profile SNES A-RPGs up to that point probably didn't help, but the prospect of changing viewing angles constantly in this vast and big top-down venture likely scared off casual gamers from touching it, and some people maybe did not know how to play it (or at least didn't fully grasp and understand the overall controls) to the point where they underwent the Fox and the Grapes Syndrome and gave up on it.  I can understand how people might feel that way as it's not a readily accessible kind of game, but if you stick with it and know how to use the controls wisely then the journey will be a very rewarding one.

If you think the ninjas are annoying here, just
wait until you play the sequel
I recall having heard of Brandish for the first time over a decade ago online, not knowing at the time that the Nintendo 16-bit A-RPG was a port and for the most part nary a nice thing had been said for it from American websites.  However, around 2008 I discovered a positive take by RVGFanatic (the same year I discovered his website if I recall correctly) which was such a good read and fascinated me so much that I honestly consider it my number one favorite review of his, even as he keeps creating new content.  Of course, I wouldn't get a chance to play Brandish until I asked for it last Christmas (among other games), and admittedly that day when I got it I was a bit lost that when I tried again the next week I discovered why: I didn't use the magnifying glass often (so that's on me).  But when I started getting into the habit of using the magnifying glass when warranted and stuck with it I had discovered something truly special in my playthrough.  =)  I got it in complete condition with the manual and box which made it even better; I loved how the back compared itself to Breath of Fire and Brain Lord, almost as if they were connected somehow,...
That and all three may or may not involve dragons serving as a pivotal part of the plot; and yes, I have mastered Breath of Fire and Brain Lord (both versions), thanks for asking  ;)

What about this even remotely screams "OK" for you?  =/
While the gameplay took a bit to get accustomed to I found it to be a lot of fun to play in the long run, and I loved this A-RPG's lingering sense of atmosphere as you perused the many depths of Bavalya (I'm a sucker for any 16-bit game that delivers an atmospheric touch), unsure if there was any chance to see the outside.  While visually it left a bit to be desired I didn't mind that much for it's the gameplay that matters most, and if you think Brandish looks terrible then you will change your mind when you take a glimpse at Epoch's port of Nihon Falcom's turn-based (yes, turn-based) RPG Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes (now that game looks awful for 16-bit standards, but its gameplay is decent).

Chest inspection time
The idea that you're taking the controls of who is essentially an anti-hero is a fascinating one given many SFC/SNES RPGs usually revolve around protagonists (or heroes in coming of age situations), but I hesitate to call him an antagonist because he doesn't seem all bad, despite not knowing all that much about him: yeah, he's a wanted criminal and he may or may not have killed a master sorcerer but that's it, his character is never expanded upon (even when he gets a chance to save his pursuer from being killed).  But you know what?  I did not mind that in the slightest as it gives Varik (Ares in Japan) such a mysterious flair about him.  While there are moments when you occasionally have to backtrack I highly appreciate the option to alter the game's speed setting to low or high when necessary (certainly beats slogging along at a consistently slow pace like you did in Kemco's Super Drakkhen/Dragon View), so kudos for that inclusion--makes Brandish more fun and bearable to play.  =)  Equipping is as simple as that, and jumping is a lot of fun too as you get to move faster that way (one of the plaques you read even urges you to do so), and I liked the puzzle-solving moments as most of them I found out how to do on my own while some I relied on a guide after numerous failed tries during my first playthrough,
including one which, in hindsight, should've been very obvious given that you only face four directions and not eight.

Gotta say, you don't see Death with wings on
his back that often
And something that's just occurred to me the more I really think about it, the more I realize this A-RPG was quite ahead of its time.  Nowadays there are games aplenty (regardless of the genre, regardless of the perspective) where you could rotate the camera to your desire (if it let you), but at a time when bird's eye viewed RPGs of any kind relied on a fixed perspective Nihon Falcom stood out from the crowd by doing something new in Brandish which I bet initially startled the very first people that got to play it the first time, though it didn't take long for it to be warmed up to in Japan.  It's a real shame it didn't meet the same success in America with the NTSC SNES format, but that'll happen when the North American continent had nowhere near as much exposure to the branching RPG genre as Japan did; my guess is that Koei figured it would potentially gain a big American audience but it didn't quite work out like they thought it would.

Oh, hello, teleportation star room
Out of all the Nihon Falcom licenses and games made for the Super Famicom only two of them got localized for the SNES in America (Tonkin House's 1991 port of Nihon Falcom's divisive 1989 sidescrolling A-RPG Ys III: Wanderers from Ys published by American Sammy and Koei's port of Brandish) which is really sad given the company's good catalog.  =(  Most people likely prefer the former than the latter, and I do understand why given its simplistic gameplay and area structure in and out of comparison, but to me it's quite the contrary in that I honestly like the latter more.  Now I do still like and enjoy playing Ys III: Wanderers from Ys once in awhile, and it's a game I'll always have a fondness for as it was the second SNES game I ever bought and ordered from eBay in 2009, but unfortunately after two-to-two and a half hours it's over; Brandish, on the other hand, I felt greatly benefited itself from its reasonable sense of longevity.
I also enjoyed Brandish slightly more than Red Company's The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (Chō Makai Taisen! Dorabotchan in Japan) which I also got last Christmas, an incredibly endearing and purely innocent lighthearted A-RPG with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek that I also love and is so fun to play that it's too bad its only four or four and a half hours short.  Is the obscure spinoff that I got months later, Super Naxat Open: Golf de Shōbu da! Dorabotchan, about on par with or better than Brandish?  I can't say for the moment, but it is fun from what I played of it.  =)

Sooo many holes to hop over
Another thing that Brandish benefits from is replay value, and there is tons of it, but only for those who persevere or enjoyed it a lot the first time, like myself.  If you didn't explore a certain portion of the area you were at the first time you could get a chance to do it the next time you play it through, and the more rooms you find the better the chance to find more things that come to your aid (that, or more sellable items if they're of no use to you) as well as deciding whether or not to save Alexis.  It's too bad that this version of Nihon Falcom's A-RPG in particular doesn't have any in-game credits (we don't know the names of the people involved, a similar thing having happened in Kemco-Seika's Nintendo 16-bit port of Zoom's Ys clone Lagoon) but it's made up for your overall stats being presented to you before it truly ends.  I've kept track of my stats for the two playthroughs I've done for it, and here they are for those who are curious--Level: 72/69, HP: 174/165, MP: 152/143, Arm Strength: 91.64/97.13, Knowledge: 82.19/81.84, Magic Endurance: 48.28/49.04, Attack Strength: 141/147, Defense Strength: 68/72, Luck: 93/87, Escape Time: 18h4m (in seven days)/14h18m (in four days), Steps Taken: 77937/70934, Monsters Defeated: 1529/1030, Lives Lost: 74/43, Swords Broken: 31/11, % of Map Completed: 82%/92%.  All things considered I think I did better the second time around.

ALEXIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  >O<
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed playing Brandish back in January, admittedly a tad more than I should have, but even more surprised at how much I loved it that I wanted to play the sequel right away.  Took awhile to get to it, though, as I didn't want to jump towards the cheaper Brandish 2 Expert but Koei's initial SFC take on Brandish 2: The Planet Buster which I actually got to play a few months ago on my Super Famiconsole.  I hoped that because I loved the first game that I would be greeted with the same amount of fun for the sequel if not more, but I ended up getting neither surprisingly.  Now just to get it out of the way as I didn't get to finish it: I didn't dislike it as the gameplay was still good and visually it was better, but I felt that it was missing something (I can't quite put my finger on what it is).  Brandish was the kind of A-RPG that compelled me to play from the beginning and not stop until I reached the very end, Brandish 2 didn't quite do that for me (it must've been an off-moment for me).  One of these days I'll give that game another go and try to finish it, but for now it's safe to say that out of the two I enjoyed the original the most.

Only go for it if you're confident, brave, and patient
Brandish is not for everyone, and if you're someone who easily gets frustrated then this will do exactly that; but if you arm yourself with tons of patience and perseverance then the journey will be rewarding in the long run (not that there aren't moments that will test you in that regard, but the good outweighs the bad in my book).  While you can go at a high speed if you wish to backtrack it's also imperative that you take your time for you never know if you'll wind up overlooking something vital if you rush through it; and if you love things like atmosphere and replay value you'll find a bunch of it in store here.  Of the Nihon Falcom properties I played on the Nintendo 16-bit Brandish is in my Top 3: third behind Popful Mail (which Nihon Falcom ported themselves and also turns twenty-five this year) which is second and the Tonkin House-developed Ys IV: Mask of the Sun which is first (even though both are shorter than today's A-RPG).  If you're willing to give it a chance it's not as impossible as its naysayers have made it out to be but it will prove to be challenging at points, and if challenge is what you seek then you will find in it a pure, underrated treasure.  =)

My Personal Score: 8.0/10
<( ^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^ )>
P.S. Oh my God=O  I did it?  I reviewed all nine of these games this year like I promised I would?  ...  I'M FREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!  I can't believe it, I'm so excited; I didn't think I would be able to do it but I managed!  =D

P.S. 2 I dedicate this review to RVGFanatic, thank you for inspiring me to try this game with your excellent review.  I wonder what he'll think when he reads my thoughts on it?
Happy 25th Anniversary, Brandish!!!  =D
Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment (spam will not be tolerated) and let me know what you think.  Merry Christmas to you all, and take care!  =)  See you all again in 2017!

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