Illusion of Time (Super Nintendo) Review

By Adam Riley 04.01.2005 27

Review for Illusion of Time on Super Nintendo

There is a legend, the legend of Enix and its trilogy of amazing RPG titles on the Super Nintendo. Life began quietly with the extremely pleasing Soul Blazer and ended with a bang in the form of the unquestionably brilliant Terranigma. However, developer Quintet’s middle-man game, Illusion of Time is often forgotten, yet is this somewhat unfairly done or due to it being the black sheep of the family? Find out by reading on…

You take on the role of Will, a young lad who not only plays the flute, but also happens to have psychic powers to boot. Using his telekinetic abilities he can make once inanimate objects suddenly take on a life of their own, which impresses his friends, Lance, Erik and Seth, who sit in awe watching him perform his ‘trick’. Unfortunately for poor Will, his parents suffered a terrible fate in the Tower of Babel over a year and a half ago, leaving him to reside with his only possible guardians, his grandparents. Upon returning home from performing for his friends again one evening, he discovers there is no usual meal waiting, but a strange girl and her pig. She turns out to be Princess Kara, her pig is hamlet, her father King Edward has gone crazy, locks Will up, the pig rescues him (yes, the pig…), he meets up with Lilly, who has the ability to transform into a flower…and so begins a strange and unusual journey! Not exactly gripping stuff, but it suffices.

Screenshot for Illusion of Time on Super Nintendo

There have been many wonderful RPGs churned out on the Super Nintendo and most of the third generation were so gorgeous that they still stand head and shoulders above several PSone and GBA games on the market. However, Illusion of Time was second generation and just at the time when Quintet was starting to get into its stride on the 16bit home console. Therefore, as with Secret of Mana from Squaresoft that was in a similar position, at its time it was striking, whereas nowadays it is still very pleasant to see, but the lack of variety and overall strength to the visuals is somewhat disappointing. There are still pretty, colourful backgrounds offered up, with large characters all with nice amounts of details to them, complete with standard smooth animations. Yet there is a little bit of repetition when it comes to houses and dungeons, with nothing too new and spectacular being thrown your way. Thankfully the technical side makes this up for, with only a little slowdown throughout and massive boss encounters that sometimes fill the majority of the screen. After being spoilt by Terranigma it is certainly jarring to go back to its pseudo-prequel…

The musical side of matters definitely stands the test of time far better than the pleasant graphics. With tunes that still remain in my head today, about a decade after its original release, going back to revisit the whole experience was certainly a pleasure. The pan-pipe theme seems to be a running feature, from the gentle flowing town tunes to the little ditties that pop up throughout the game. Then there is the fantasy, futuristic pieces you come across when faced with the special other-worldly female statue where you save your current progress and the dungeons that set the mood perfectly. Whilst many have criticised Enix for its graphical quality over the years, with Squaresoft being the master in that department, the musical scores to practically every Enix title has been of the highest calibre, with even the sound effects here being particularly strong for a Super Nintendo game of its time. As usual, a good stereo output is a necessity to appreciate the atmosphere to its fullest.

Screenshot for Illusion of Time on Super Nintendo

One aspect of Enix games that seems to be a constant, other than the stellar musical work, is that of gameplay. Back in the days of Dragon Quest on the old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, right through to its work with Squaresoft in the newly amalgamated Square Enix on Sony’s PlayStation 2, the company has a nearly perfect track record (we shall overlook the strange Wonder Project J series…) when it comes to crafting enjoyable adventures that are both of adequate length and keep players entertained until the final credits.

Illusion of Time is no different. From the humble beginnings wandering around and entertaining your friends with your telekinetic and psychic abilities, the control of Will is natural and without problem. Holding either of the shoulder buttons twirls your stick and can draw items towards you, double-tapping on the directional-pad leads to you dashing around at a nice pace and you can also use your stick to jab away repeatedly to ward off any incoming danger.

Battling takes place in real time, hence this game’s distinction as an Action RPG, similar to the Zelda series. Will can run around, avoiding enemies and quickly beating his opponent when you feel the timing is right. Also akin to Link’s adventures is that there are no experience points, with bonuses and statistics upgrades being deployed when all enemies are cleared in an area – and you have to make sure you do this first time, as you do not receive the extras if you leave and then return to clear up the remaining mess. Strange for an RPG, as well, is that there are lives – nine of which can be collected, with one granted per 100 red gems found. But hey, at least there is no manual jumping to be found at all…

Screenshot for Illusion of Time on Super Nintendo

But jumping is involved in some of the puzzles, with Will being able to jump over small areas when dashing and slide under things and then the transformations you witness at certain points of the game – changing into a knight called Freedan to attack at distances further than usual, and Shadow, a malleable blue demon who can diffuse through some floor surfaces. These puzzles often requiring back-tracking, but it is never too tedious as the dungeons are not massively expansive and the controls, like I say, are nice and smooth. This is a finely modelled title that seems to have suffered only at the hands of time and progression in the RPG field. It is by no means completely lacking in playability, though.

At the time of release this was a very addictive little RPG, and it still is now – except I would probably deem it as ‘RPG-lite’ pure and simply because of the fact that Enix and Quintet left out most of the mainstay RPG aspects that increase the length of the adventure – no levelling-up, no currency, no shopping required as all items are available via treasure chests and there are certainly no side-quests along the way. This is countered, though, by the fact that Enix controls the difficulty throughout. There is no chance to build your levels up to an extent where you can breeze through, and neither can you be dropped into a completely unfair battle, which proves to be a positive matter and prevents the frustrations associated with ‘some’ RPGs. Then there is the element of strategy required due to health item shortages – how often should you use them? Things like this help to lengthen what could have been a pretty short game…

Screenshot for Illusion of Time on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Unfortunately, for Illusion of Time, Enix and Quintet released Terranigma. Yes, IoT is still a very good game, but unfortunately its pseudo-sequel blasts it out of the water. But do not let this put you off completely - cannot find Terranigma cheap? Head in this direction instead...

Also known as

Illusion of Gaia









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (8 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Cool, if I had a SNES I would concider buying it. I never realised that a SNES could handles stereo sound aswell.

Where can i get my hands on 13 degree tapered horns???? My Latest Project

Woooo my game! :-D
Great to read your opinions on it raz, top review :Smilie
I must have completed it 4-6 times now :-D
I dunno why I like it some much. Had never played an rpg before and me being young and it only being a

Uggghhhh how'd "
Read Full Review" that get in there :bent:
Damn lack of edit button...

Nice review Raz. :Smilie

Sounds like just the kind of game I would love to play, I often get overwhelmed with some RPG's and the whole leveling up and buying things, which often leads to me leaving the game along for quite some time before bothering to come back and play it again.

But this seems to solve all that while retaining the charm of a decent RPG, I will certainly look into it thats for sure!

Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

This shouldn't be too expensive...I think if you get the UK version it's more expensive than Gaia, the US version...

By the way, Ali, the Sony chip that is in the SNES is amazing and that's why the system has so many games with superb soundtracks that still sound great today!

Thanks Snowman, you know I never actually did manage to get all those crystals...hmm...I didn't know about the extra level! :eek: What's it like?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I shall have to invest in a SNES at some point, so many great games to choose from and always a good collectable item.

Where can i get my hands on 13 degree tapered horns???? My Latest Project

I did play terranigma but have yet to complete it. Its awesome. Anyone play tales of phantasia because it is also one of the best RPGs on the snes though again am yet to complete it and also seken densetsu 3 (or secret of mana 3) the reason i ask about these three is that many of you may not know of them because they were all never released outside of japan and have been translated from japanese and can be played in rom form. I highly recommend playing them as they are probably some of the best RPGs that ever came out on the snes (and thats high praise indeed for a RPG) and it was a crying shame they never saw the light of day over here.

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Sorry about the double post but has anyone noticed how political terranigma. could be a reason it was never released outside of japan (or it could just be the translation)

2509 2156 5486


Just check out the screens I've been loading up of games like Tales of Phantasia, Bahamut Lagoon, Treasure Hunter G, Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2 to those who've no idea what it is)...and I'll be adding games like Treasure of the Rudras as well soon.

They're all games I'll try my best to get round to reviewing, since I used to play them loads thanks to partial fan translations and now nearly all have 100% translations I'm having a ball all over again!

By the way, Terranigma came to the UK, but not the US...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Starfox 2? but I though that was never finished. Can you get in rom form or something because that would be awesome.

2509 2156 5486

There is a Beta V3 version on the 'Net, which was 99% complete - with open, free-roaming levels and multiple characters to play with. And no, I'm not talking about the little two-player version that was created for the British competition AGES ago...this was what was going to be released with the special Super FX-2 chip (yes, 2!), but got canned for some reason...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Raz, you planning on reviewing Sim City for the SNES?

Its one of the few SNES games I actually own, but I've just never got round to writing a review for.

Not trying to steal it from you, in fact it would be cool to hear your opinions on it, just wondering. :-D

Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

Sim City on the SNES is the only real version of the game that I loved...all the others I could take or leave, Sim City 4 included. But I've got enough on my plate, spydar, so feel free to take it off my hands :Smilie You'll be doing me a favour - and I've sorted the screens for you, so you've got no excuse! Smilie :tongue:

You know, I wish Square Enix would do a bundle of Soul Blazer, IoT and Terr on the GBA or DS... :roll:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Thanks Snowman, you know I never actually did manage to get all those crystals...hmm...I didn't know about the extra level! What's it like?

Collect them all and the jeweller takes you to this secret level (his mansion). Here there's some new strong baddies to kill (upgrades of the baddies in the diamond mines) The levels just one room and doesn't take long. Theres a boss at the end of it who turns out to be the jeweller himself. Ermm, I don't quite understand the jeweller monster thing as there's references to soul blazer there.
Here's the script

MONSTER: Welcome to my home. The Jeweller Gem is a temporary form. His true
form is called Solid Arm. Long ago the Blazer came down from the sky and I
was put to sleep for a long, long time... My power is contained in Red
Jewels scattered around the world. I've tried many things to bring my own
resurrection. It is I who manipulated the labour trade. I tried using forced
labour to find them, but it didn't restore my power fast enough. I'm sorry,
but I will have to defeat you too!

[After you defeat Solid Arm.]

DIALOGUE: A quiet voice is heard.

SOLID ARM: I was defeated again... Blazer was strong, but you are
stronger... Danger approaches this planet. You should hurry to the Tower
of Babel...

[Will finds himself back in the Tower of Babel's top floor with Kara.]

And that's that. The boss himself very tricky and if you've already used a few herbs......well you're screwed. You don't get anything but satisfaction for doing it :Smilie

Okay, time for me to look really stupid...I did do that, actually - the first time I played the game on its release over here (1994?) and ten years on my memory appears to have failed me! :roll:

There's a little 'Easter Egg' like that in Terranigma as well, with you being able to go into a developer's room and talk to them about their latest project 'Illusion of Gaia 2'!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

:-o What ever became of this IoG2?

Terranigma was in essence Soul Blazer 3, or Illusion of Gaia 2... Smilie It was toying with us poor fans!

The heathens!! :sarcy:


Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I hope SQUARE ENIX are working on a sequal! :-D

And what game is Terranigma?

I think a lot of people hope that either a Terranigma port or a follow-up. But what Quintet is up to now is beyond me. Seems Tri-Ace is still going on the Enix side (Star Ocean 3, Radiata Stories), but Quintet has all but disappeared...Robotrek is another Quintet title, which probably slots in between IoT and Terr.

Never played this game but i for some reason remember the box art - maybe back in the days of Mean Machines Magazine! *feels old*

Cool review

Thing is that such a fuss was made about the game upon its Japanese and US release as Illusion of Gaia, then Nintendo faffed around so bloody much with the European release that by the time it was launched, plus with the name change, nobody either cared or knew what the hell the game was!


Clever Nintendo! Shame we still see things like that happening today *cough*Fire Emblem*cough*

Thanks, btw, Robbo - and don't feel old, because you'll make me feel the same!! :eek: :cry:


Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I played robotrek. That was awesome.

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It's a great game, I agree - a little basic on the graphical side, but certainly a high quality title. For some reason I tend to lump it with Secret of Evermore, another under-achiever that people unfairly rip apart...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]


If i could remember ne magazines before Mean machines other than CV+G i'd remarke about them! But i dont think we need to bring ourselves down ne more! :Smilie

We'd better leave it at that, Rob - we just need to remember that we're only old in gaming terms, not real life!

Hehe! Smilie

I've started playing Soul Blazer for the first time last night and its like a spiritual successor to Actraiser 1, which is a very good thing since Actraiser 2 was rather weak. I can tell I'm going to enjoy this one...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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