Near the end of the 16-bit era, a small Japanese developer named Pandora’s Box delighted role-playing game enthusiasts with Arabian Nights for the Super Famicom.
We Westerners were not nearly as delighted since it never made it overseas. It’s not all that surprising, since the Nintendo 64 was just months away from release and many gamers were already spending their cash on the bevy of next-generation games that were flooding store shelves. American publishers in the 90s were hesitant to release RPGs to begin with, and were definitely afraid of niche ones like Arabian Nights if they didn’t have a big name to back them up.
For the most part, it’s the standard RPG fare: turn-based battles, casting magic, using skills, equipping weapons — you know the score. The exception is the cards you find during the game. Relax, it’s not Yu-Gi-Oh. You’re not summoning anything.
The cards come in nine assorted flavors of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Tree, Moon, Light, Dark, and Steel. There are five cards for every type, and each one causes a different effect on the battlefield — from adding an element to your attacks to causing critical hits with certainty. In addition to the gameplay you’d expect, these cards add a new level of strategy, and you’d likely be needing the help because this game’s difficulty takes no mercy on the ill-prepared.
You play as Shukran, a cute young woman who stumbles across a ring that’s imprisoning a djinn, who can’t be free of the spell until he grants 1,000 wishes. Shokran’s wish is the very last one and a hefty, selfless wish at that — Bring peace to the land.
Being the new owner of the ring, she journeys along with her new companion as he cleanses the land of its ills. It’s worth noting that even with the cliche story, the characters are remarkably well-developed, sympathetic, and memorable.
It’s nothing completely new or particularly original, but the basics are in place and done right. The graphics are bursting with color, and the music is catchy and modern while retaining the style expected from a game with “Arabia” in its title.
Definitely check out LostTemplar’s translation, as a lot of time and work went into this game — both from the translation team and the original developer.