This action adventure came out in 1991 from Japanese developer, Wolf Team, the same team that would later become responsible for Namco Bandai’s Tales series of RPGs. But in these early years and as a subsidiary of Telenet Japan, Wolf Team flexed their artistic muscle with a number of exciting titles for the Genesis giving its audience a preview of the kind of storytelling chops they would work into their later games.
Arcus Odyssey’s epic intro delivered proof of that as it was one of the best I’d ever seen in a Genesis game at the time. It told the story of a wicked sorceress, animated a short battle between the two, and scrolled text across aged snapshots warning of an awakening evil and the land’s yearning for heroes to stop it once again. Starting up the game, you were given four heroes to pick from for great justice. Each had a different type of attack whether it was a close-ranged whip or unlimited range as a killer archer and the action was quick and fast enough to make each one feel more like a shmup ship on two legs or similar to the more recent versions of Nihon Falcom’s Ys such as the Oath in Felghana or Origin.
Items picked up along the way, such as “life dolls” which worked like extra lives to healing items to restore a depleted life bar, helped in surviving the monsters that came to party on the isometric battlefield. Ruins, desert valleys, brick walls forming narrow corridors laced with dangers, and other visuals continued funneling death towards you with every step. A password checkpoint system marked the end of each level allowing players to pick up the action later and it featured two-player co-op.
Arcus Odyssey also found its way to the Sharp X68000 in the same year and would also be on the SNES in Japan two years later in ’93 with a few tweaks though it would be a nearly identical port from the Genesis version with better music. Incidentally, musical maestro Motoi Sakuraba also did the tunes for Arcus Odyssey as a member of Wolf Team’s internal sound team.
Renovation, Telenet Japan’s NA arm, did the publishing which means they likely did the boring ad below which also ran in 1991. It features a few of the screens from the game, the title menu, and professional gamer, David Izat. But Arcus Odyssey wasn’t that hard of a game, so I’m not sure why they needed the cachet of a pro to sell it. Aside from coming across as radio instructions, the only reason I was sold on the game was in seeing the box art and reading the back of the package. Good thing I did because Arcus Odyssey was exciting fun with a rewarding ending capping off the fantastic journey and boss battles to get there.