Playing this game again when I was a game design student and learning how to program made me realize how artful every small aspect of this game is; its journey, its dialogue, the battles, the world design, and graphics, everything just clicks in favor of a singular vision and message.
While I couldn't appreciate it until years after I loved its sequel, the prequel still managed to be a formative experience for me.
I love that magicant becomes a place you visit multiple times as a home world in the pink clouds of fantasy creatures, cloud swimming cats, and just strange people, living beneath a sad queen. The armor shops in this place have multiple tiers and variations of equipment that can be useful all game, and the tons of stuff in the treasury in the queens castle combined with the limited inventory makes it so you have incentive to come back and return to this place, to relax from the real world of physical objects and people that might want to harm you while you search for the eight things that will sing you a portion of a melody to save the world.
I won't forget the dance sequence, the singing cactus, driving a tank, taking the train across the world and through the most dangerous tunnel, running from giant creatures and machines in the endgame, teaming up with a gangster that became bedridden from injury he took by helping me, having to deal with asthma, catching a cold from an npc, the list goes on.
This game might live in the shadow of its superior sequel, but it's a totally different and fantastic experience on its own, despite sharing a lot of similar flavors and ideas.
Also, after playing other rpg's from this era, the crit SMAAASH system in this game adds so much needed unpredictability to battles that it keeps them from getting stale. You can always crit an enemy for a ton of damage, or they can crit you and you have to make do with the turn-around. Having to deal with unexpected situations are what rpg's are all about.

Reviewed on Dec 31, 2020