Treasure Hunter G was developed at a time when the failing SNES had to compete against the Playstation and as such displays a technical prowess that was the height of SNES programming know how. For instance, the majority of sprites are rendered from 3D models and the Mode 7 overworld is arguably the most vivid and 3D of any game on the system, both of which combine to make the visuals sharper and clearner than some Playstation titles, arguably even Final Fantasy VII - the over world, at least. Not to be just a pretty face though, Treasure Hunter G's outstanding technical visuals are backed up with a solid gameplay mechanics, such as a fun and user friendly grid based tactical combat system and, though it may now sound underwhelming, the ability to move in eight directions - up, down, left, right and the diagonals. As well as this the game boasts an inventive and consistantly brilliant sound track, courtesy of 7 composers, including names such as Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata. Running through the core of Treasure Hunter G is simple story, especially when compared to Final Fantasy VI and VII, that would feel almost purfunctory if it wasn't for the rich veins of charm, humour and enchantment that flow through every aspect of the game.
Developed by Sting Entertainment and published by Square Soft in 1996, Treasure hunter G ultimately proved to be Square Soft's swan song for Nintendo consoles - at least until their 2002 Japan only release of Chokobo Rando (Chocobo Land: A game of Dice). As the game was a Japanese exclusive and was released in the face of the Playstation's rapidly mounting popularity Treasure Hunter G quickly fell into obscurity. Acclaim and popularity are hard to gauge as both reviews and sales figures are incredibly thin on the ground - even Famitsu appear to have sidestepped it. As the game was never released outside of Japan Treasure Hunter G remains reletively unknown in the west but has nontheless picked up a small cult following in the import and ROM scenes. However, with its recent release in Japan on the Wii's Virtual there now exists a slim chance of a western localisation that could finally bring this hidden wonder to light.
At the start of the game you meet the two main protagnonists, Red and Blue G, who are under the care of their Grandfather while their father, Brown G, is away treasure hunting. Your grandfather, Silver G, gets you up and takes you to investigate some strange goings on at a nearby cave, goings on in which Brown G so happens to be involved. After returning to returning home and saving their village from a mysterious fire, Red and Blue are joined by Rain, a girl with partial amnesia, and Ponga, a violin playing Monkey. The four heroes embark on a journey to find Brown G and get wrapped up in a confrontation with the recently awakened Dark Lord.
Treasure Hunter G offers a fairly recognisable tale of good Vs. evil and relies heavily on classic crutches such as amnesia, sleeping terrors, "The Ancients", other worlds and imprisoned fairies/ angels/ spirits(et.c), but it contains enough backstory, sidestory, witty asides and unashamed silliness to make up for it.
The general out of battle gameplay is like that of most RPGs in that you move you character around the towns, dungeons and over world interacting with certain objects and a wealth of often humourous NPCs. The only thing to make this aspect of play really stand out is the ability to move diagonally. It is the battle system that really stands out. Anyone that has played Final Fantasy Tactics or the Breath of Fire games or any other tactical RPG will be instantly familiar with the basic mechanics. The combat is turn based and revolves around a grid system that dictates how many action points it takes to perform any given action, from moving to attacking. Like Chrono Trigger the encounters are not random as potential enemies are found either wandering around certain areas and wont attack unless you get too close, or they will jump out at you when you pass certain points, forcing combat upon you. Also like Chrono trigger a character recieve experience points every time their attack hits an enemy, but the whole team recieves exp. when a combat in won. While it is possible to beat the game by simply slogging your way through these battles the real skill, and in deed fun, doesn't really emerge until you start learning how to use the grid system tactically. One command that really highlights this is the throw command which allows one character to help another out of a tight spot by either throwing a healing/ buff item at them or taking out their enemy with well thrown weapon or debuff item. This is just one of the polished machanics that really make combat shine.
- Red G - The older, sensible and ultimately more powerful of the two G brothers. He is the slightly overpowered, sword wielding, warrior class character you find at the centre of many RPGs. He is just and valliant and has the brute force to back it up, though that doesn't mean he is without intelligence, wit and a quick tongue.
- Blue G - He often cries and is usually the butt of the joke, especially if Red is the one making it, but Blue G is certainly far from unlikable. In battle he takes a touch more practice to use effectively as his long reaching spear requires good positioning to realise its potential and his traps are worthless unless you have the guile to lure or force the enemy to trip them.
- Rain - A mystery girl with amnesia and hidden powers. Being the only girl in the party she rather predictably takes on the role of white mage class character, making her invaluable. She also plays the part of Red's almost love interest.
- Ponga - He's a violin playing monkey with mad black magic skills and an inability to say anything beyond "Ooki", though this doesn't stop conversing with Rain, his long time companion. Cute, funny and incredibly powerful he rounds the team off nicely providing the ranged heavy support.
While the somewhat simple story, cute characters and relative shortness (20 hours, give or take) make this game accessible to younger gamers that shouldn't mean it should be shunned by the older, more experienced or more hardcore. The tactical nature of the combat allows for as much complexity as you want and there are certain connotations only an older player would get. This game is probably best played by RPG connoisseurs looking for a break from the regular fare, or by any classic gamer looking for something obscure and a bit different.