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The few, the proud, the cocooned


September 7, 1999
Web posted at: 9:08 a.m. EDT (1308 GMT)

By Mekael Turner
CNN Interactive Web Editor

Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu from Crave Entertainment is an RPG set in a mystic town named Parel. The player is Levant the Cocoon Master, the destined leader of the village, born to protect the people of Parel from the Minions, demon monsters that live in the forest. To save the village, you must help to revive the cursed villagers that have been put to sleep by the Locust of Apocalypse. Your weapons are various sacred items and the ability to capture and train any monster to fight for you.

Jade Cocoon is a step up for Crave Entertainment from it's first RPG, Shadow Madness. It is unlike most RPGs because you have the ability to mix and train monsters. After capturing any of the 150 monsters, you can choose their fate. You can spin the monsters into silk and sell them for money, train them and use them as allies, or you can merge them into bigger, better monsters.

Each monster starts with the power of one of four elements: water, fire, air, or earth. You can then use each monster in battle to fight different untamed Minions. If you were up against a fire monster you would use a monster that has the power of water. Water beats fire, fire beats air, air beats earth, and earth beats water. But the true fun comes when you mix the monsters. So if you took a fire monster and mixed it with a water monster, you would get a minion that has both the strength and the weakness of them both. Not only that but the appearance of the monsters are combined.

The graphics and sound in Jade Cocoon offer a wonderful environment to explore. You will walk through an awesome assortment of worlds that at times seem to explode off the screen. All of the levels have a basic forest theme with each level having its own unique feel. You can hear each character talk to Levant thanks in competent voice-overs.

Unfortunately, the graphics and voice-overs do not make up for poor interactivity. After a while of playing you won't feel like you've done anything special. You mostly listen to people and then go off and capture monsters. Aside from that, there isn't too much else to do. The puzzles are pretty easy to figure out and mostly consist of 'go here and get this, then bring it back so you can get another item to use somewhere else.' The minions are easy to beat and capture.

At first the magical spells are fantastic to look at but after an hour or two they start to fall in to the "I've seen that 20 times already" way. Even though the story line is well-written, you don't play a large role in the action and total game time only ends up being about 20 hours. This is very disappointing compared to the 50-75 hour playtime of SquareSoft's "Final Fantasy VII." If you were inclined to do so, the whole game could probably be beaten in a couple of evening rentals.

In the end, "Jade Cocoon: Legend of the Tamamayu" is good introduction to RPGs. It gives you a linear story line with a simple quest to figure out. If you are a serious RPG fan, it is probably better that you save your money and wait for a more developed title.

Welcome... to Pokemon Island
September 3, 1999
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Crave Entertainment
Sony Playstation
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