Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean was developed exclusively for the Sega Saturn by Sunsoft and first released in 1996 in Japan. A brilliant English language translation, by Working Designs, was released in North America in 1997 (actually the first Albert Odyssey title ever to be translated into English).
Albert Odyssey is a quintessential Japanese turn-based RPG, full of weapons, armour, spells, magic and combat, actually laugh-out-loud, funny humour, and imaginative boss battles and encounters.
You play a young boy called Pike whose parents were killed by goblins and who was saved and raised by winged harpies. Pike is one day getting water from a well when a powerful magic user riding a dragon turns his foster parents’ daughter, Laia, to stone, so he sets out on a quest to find a magic user (a descendent of the legendary Albert), who can return her back to normal.
Towns and other places of interest that you can visit are connected by a scrolling overworld. Combat is random when walking in the overworld and will initiate whenever the screen goes ‘swoosh’. Battles are fairly standard turn-based combat, with attack, defend, magic and run options via an icon-based menu, and backgrounds that change depending on your location. Defeating monsters earns your party members experience points, gold, and occasionally the odd random useful item.
Your weapons and armour require constant upgrading, and survival is actually quite challenging initially, in spite of the rather ‘cute’ appearance of the game. Monsters are quite tough and increase in difficulty zonally – usually after crossing a bridge or entering a new area. Poison only lasts during combat, which is good because it means that you don’t have to keep curing it all the time.
Albert Odyssey on the Saturn is a good example of superb pixel art 2D game, combined with beautiful music (the music in Albert Odyssey really is quite wonderful, with solo violins playing very emotionally at times), and simple, compelling RPG-style gameplay. Albert Odyssey is cute and has a lot of heart.
The game has plenty of surprises, and the only downside I found was that it may have been too easy places.
Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean is arguably one of the best turn-based RPGs on the Sega Saturn. I really enjoyed it, and if you’re looking for an obscure level-grinder that you may not have played before then I highly recommend it.