Beyond the Beyond was slow and agonizing.
Beyond the Beyond was one of the first PS1 games released for the system. I never played it back then, but I read alot about it. The biggest complaints I ever heard about this game is the random encounter rate, which I agree is way to high. The ugly graphics (I only half agree with that), and the overall generic gameplay. Which is agreeable too.
It's true, Beyond the Beyond has it's share of problems, actually, I find more faults with the game than positives. With that said, most of its faults come from the Dragon Warrior series, which, Beyond the Beyond completely ripped off. Why can I only save at a Church found in a town? Why can't I save on a world map? Why do I have to shuffle through a series of menus just to save the game too? Why do you have to open a menu just to chat with someone or search something? It's just all these problems come from the original Dragon Warrior game. It's like playing an RPG made in 1996 but still stuck in 1986. Oh well.
Beyond the Beyond is a typical Final Fantasy clone. You have a party of up to 5 characters. The default of the game is set up really weird. Basically, you only control the main character, Finn, but you can give vague orders to your other party members. They will be computer operated during that round. However, about 5 hours into the game, I realized you could change that option and manually input their commands. This made the game so much easier because the computer just wasted magic and never did what I wanted it to do.
So yeah, it's a typical turn-based game for the time and doesn't anything new. You set everyone's command, then watch the battle animations. The character or enemy with the best speed, during this round, will attack first. You gain experience, gold and sometimes items after the battle is over.
When you gain a level, you randomly generate atribute points between 1 to 4 points per category. This slightly reminds me of the randomness of the Fire Emblem level ups.
One big thing that separates Beyond the Beyond from the rest is the LP meter. The Life Power (?) is basically a back-up for your characters. Games such as Unlimited Saga used it, maybe even the SaGa games for the PS1 used it too. So, let's say when your characters HP is dropped to zero, your LP will revive your character automatically by sacrificing your LP. This means, you will never die in a battle, and the game is just WAY to easy. The only time I died was in the final battle (because they removed party members from my team, screwing me). When you die, you're just sent to the nearest Church and you keep all the items, progress and experience you gained before you die. So there's no penatly.
The dungeons are good though. Most dungeons are maze-like, and require alot of thought into them. Since there's no map, running through a maze like dungeon, while running into 1,000 random encounters AND trying to solve a puzzle can get hectic. Overall, I enjoyed the dungeon aspect of the game. Not quite as good as Wild Arms, but miles ahead of Suikoden.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Finn, although, I changed his name to my name. I didn't realize the hero of the game had a real name, so when the game made me input the characters name, I just used my own. I don't know why they would prompt me with a name change screen without giving me the option to using his real name. His name is in the freaking booklet too.
Anyways, Finn's a rookie soldier that gets mixed up between a war. He retreats from his hometown, with the Princess and a famous warrior to a neutral country. During this chaos, they find out who is behind the war and why.
Yeah, the storyline started off ok, but I just slowly started to hate it as it progressed.
I really love the battle animations. I love the over blown sprite characters. The same technique would be used in their later game, Golden Sun, as well. Dark Savior for the Saturn had a similar thing going for it too. If you compare this to other early RPGs on the Playstation, like Suikoden, Persona or Wild Arms, the battle system is certainly the best looking, in an artful way, and in a technical way too.
Everything else falls apart though. The world map looks like a first generation SNES game. The towns are unimaginative. The characters emote in a very annoying way. The 2D in Wild Arms just puts this game to shame (yeah yeah, Wild Arms was a bit later).
I do like the character avatars during dialog scenes. They're big avatars, which was a rarity back then, and they animate. This reminds me of the same avatars that Shining Wisdom used on the Saturn.
The sound effects are good. There's no voice clips but oh well. The music is catchy enough for a pass though. There's nothing worth complaining about in the sound department of things.
The world map is a typical Final Fantasy overview map. The world isn't very big but the landscapes all look similar. The camera is really zoomed into your character, so walking around on a generic land, with a small map is hard to navigate through. One of my biggest pet peeves with this map is how they restart your character after an random encounter. They always re-face them towards the east. This can get confusing if you're sailing across the sea and you forget which direction you need to go to.
Another big peeve of mine is the lack of world map found in the game. There is a map in the game, but it's skippable if you don't find it during a certain scene. I skipped it, so I had to resort to using my map found inside the booklet. It wasn't easy using a hand drawn map to navigate through a 16bit map.
The biggest pet peeve of all are the random encounters themselves. For some reason, your character walks at a snails pace, but every 3 or so steps you run into an encounter. The battles aren't hard or strategic in any way, so you can button mash your way through. It's mostly just a frustration thing.
The game does a good job at progressing through your ways of travel though. You practically have nothing at the beginning of the game, but you'll eventually gain the ability to walk faster, fly, sail, warp, and other typical things. However, they space these out rather nicely, unlike say.. Dragon Warrior VII.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
After you beat the final boss, you're treated with a long, very very long ending. There are no bonus' for beating the game. No saving either, so you can always go back to your previous save file and do whatever you want with it.