Four years ago, a turn-based RPG called Pier Solar made headlines thanks to an unusual gimmick: it was developed and released exclusively for the Sega Genesis, a system that had been obsolete for two decades.
Since the game couldn’t be played on any other console, and most people have thrown away or shelved their old Segas over the years, most people didn’t play it. But this week, following a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, Pier Solar is finally out on modern systems: specifically, PS3, PS4, PC and Mac.
Sadly, though there’s something wonderful about playing a two-dimensional RPG on the graphical powerhouse that is the PlayStation 4, this game is marred by serious technical issues that are making it pretty much unplayable for me. I’ve spent a couple of hours with Pier Solar on PS4, thanks to a review copy provided by developers Watermelon, and though I’m generally enjoying the style and tone, I can’t get over the fact that it’s a buggy mess.
Don’t get me wrong: Pier Solar HD looks great, clashing rough 16-bit sprites against beautiful high-def backgrounds in what makes for surprisingly pleasing aesthetic dissonance. It sounds great, too, with catchy, peppy tunes highlighting towns and dungeons as you explore what generally does a good job of emulating an old role-playing game along the lines of Lunar or Phantasy Star.
But Pier Solar is far rougher than any of those older RPGs. The mechanics are poorly explained, the save system is unclear, and there are little glitches that make progressing through the game feel like a major chore.
The biggest issue involves lag. Trying to talk to an NPC or open a chest will often result in the game freezing for upwards of five seconds as a message loads, and as any RPG fan knows, that’s a dealbreaker for these long, sprawling adventures.
For me, the stumbles didn’t end there: During one early sequence in Pier Solar, as raindrops fell across the screen, dialogue boxes stuttered and chugged to the point where they were tough to read without getting motion sickness.
So if you’re thinking about checking out Pier Solar on the PlayStation 4, my advice would be to hold off. Wait until these technical issues are patched. We’ll revisit this again in the future.
Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.