|Release Date:||: November 20, 1997|
|Game Modes:||Single Player, Multiplayer|
|Ratings:||Cero: all ages|
Soulmaster (ソウルマスター) is one of Koei's original fantasy games. Like Metamode or Garakutale, this title is targeted to appeal to younger audiences with its monster collection aspect. The game was made during the party game's reemergence to popularity in Japan, following the trends of titles such as the Itadaki Street or Momotaro Dentetsu series.
During ancient times, there once lived thirteen sorcerers. After they were chased away from their homes, they decided to abandon earth and create their own paradise, a magical world called Aster. To make the world of magic more homely, the sorcerers decided to create various beings using their magic, such as dwarves, elves, and unicorns. The sorcerers decided to pass their souls and powers onto a new race of cats, entrusting these beings with human sentience and magic. The sorcerers' bodies faded away, but their souls live on to sustain Aster. They are worshiped as founding deities in Aster.
Three hundred years later, the other magical beings felt threatened by the cat beings' existence, and a war was waged between the countries in Aster. The result of their long war ended with the cat beings victorious and a split in the land's hierarchy. The rebellious monster factions were sealed away to a land called the Wall of Fog, and peace under the cats' reign was secured. However, the wars cost the survivors the proper knowledge to sustain the magic from their creators. In an attempt to preserve what magics they still had, the cat people created magic academies.
Students within magic academies not only practice and learn sorcery, as they also possess the power to train monsters in their command. The cat sorcerers are regularly given requests from local villages to suppress monsters troubling residents. Every sorcerer dreams of becoming a Soulmaster, an elite master of magic.
The general flow of the game is split into two main phases.
The objective of this sequence is to tame various monsters and build up a character's magic and life to defeat the board's boss. Each boss is located at the center of each board. Characters may choose to use spell or item cards found throughout each game to help their success. The character who defeats the boss first is the victor.
Magic can be strengthened by gathering orbs of the game's four elements (Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth) scattered across a board. Three orbs of the same magic type can level up a character's proficiency with it. Monsters can be tamed into cards by defeating them in combat (see below in own section) and can be strengthened by using other monsters. Additional health points can be acquired by successfully defeating monsters. If a character's life gauge is lowered to zero, they will automatically be projected back to their respective starting square with one health point. They will not lose their allocated progress, however, so they can continue.
Each game consists of four characters who begin at the corners of a square board. The board's maximum possible width is an eleven-by-eleven grid, though it can be as small as five-by-five. Rather than rolling die to decide movement, each character has a maximum limit of two actions per turn from a menu at the bottom of the screen. Default actions each character can perform (in order from left to right) are listed below.
|Move||Character walks one square width in a chosen direction. Cannot walk diagonally. Can cover a maximum of two squares per turn.||Monster challenge, card reward, lose health, action disable, skip a turn, instant transport|
|Mark||Character claims square as their own. Increases element proficiency based on listed element in upper right hand corner.||Monster challenge, terrain change for bonus elements, card reward, locates dungeons|
|Search||When a character has already marked a square, this replaces Mark. Lets character look for additional bonuses on chosen square.||Monster challenge, card and/or element reward, lose health, action disable, instant transport|
|Rest||Restores lost health lost from combat or random events.||None|
|Magic||Uses a global spell card the character has collected to perform effects listed on selected card. A few examples include moving characters around the board, copying another character's monster for the active character's usage, or changing the geography of a selected square.||None|
|Fusion||Strengthens one chosen monster at the cost of losing another monster. Results are reliant on sacrificed monster's stats. Maximum of two monster fusions per turn.||None|
Special squares on the board also add the Explore action. Characters who venture into dungeons may have the chance to obtain rare cards or unique monsters each level they choose to descend. Dungeons have a random number of floors, the deepest being five stories under ground level.
The Visit option appears for civilized areas that are already marked by other characters. A guard tower provides the options to obtain a desired spell card or a transport service to a square marked by the active character. Villages offer a full recover service and Shrines may offer the chance to randomly boost a monster's abilities.
When two or more characters land on the same square, each character has the option of challenging their competition with the Talk action. The first option is Combat, which is a monster battle between two characters that weakens or eliminates their health. The second option is a card mini-game that dares the other character to select the highest level card within their possession. The winner obtains the card they chose.
Battles are usually limited to a given number of rounds per character. The common setting is five rounds, unique confrontations against other characters or monsters are set at ten, and tournament battles within story mode are infinite. Players have to defeat their opposition within the round limit. If the health of a player character or computer controlled monster drops to zero, the match ends automatically.
Each character can draw four random cards per round to defend their life points. These cards are listed by the controller's action buttons (, , , ) and are visually arranged in the corresponding order. Cards can summon a pictured monster, use a special item card to support the active character or weaken opposing the party, or attack with pictured magic. R1 uses a round to shuffle the cards and L1 uses a round to completely discard the current hand.
Monsters summoned by the player have their own A.I. and act independently from a character's actions. They have their own health bar and their prowess is determined by the level printed on the card. Monsters temporarily retire from combat if their health is completely diminished, and the player will be unable to summon it until it recovers. Characters start with elemental slime monsters, but they can earn other monsters for their collection. In Story Mode the player lose their collected monsters after the conclusion of each board game sequence, but they can be used again during the chapter ending tournaments. The system greatly benefits players who defeat the bosses in each scenario.
Elements play a hand in determining both characters' and monsters' strengths in battle. Each element has the following properties:
- Earth trumps Water, weak against Wind, Green.
- Water trumps Fire, weak against Earth, Blue.
- Fire trumps Wind, weak against Water, Fire.
- Wind trumps Earth, weak against Fire, Yellow.
The game presents the phrase "Earth, Water, Fire, Wind" (地水火風, Chi Sui Ka Fuu) as a reminder for the looping elemental chain of strengths and weaknesses. The pigment of a card's boarder determines its elemental effects. Undead and guardian monsters are hard to obtain, but they are non-elemental and are not affected by the elemental chain.
If a character fails to defeat a monster on the board, an eyeball icon appears on the monster's square. Monster battles override all other actions for the afflicted square until their defeat. Characters who land on it fight it immediately. Surviving characters who remain on the square are given two choices: escape to another square or attack the monster again. If the monster appeared whilst the player is marking a square, choosing the Mark command again commences the fight. Monsters who aren't defeated in dungeons causes the player to fail exploring a floor, but the monster's secondary encounter is not a guaranteed event.
One-player only four chapter story mode. Presents the game's main story scenario via still images and text bubbles. The story splits twice during chapters, allowing the player the choice to play another path. The ending movie changes based on the path the player chose.
Lets the players load from a previous save in Story.
Presents customizable stages for one or four-man games. Only two players can participate in the larger group games, as the third and fourth participants will be controlled by a computer opponent. Randomizes monsters in an area.
Players can compete against one another using monsters found in their respective save slots.
Gallery mode for collected monsters from a particular save. Includes card illustration and a rotational 3D model for monster actions.
Lets players turn off sounds, music, or battle sequences. Text can be either manual or auto and the sound quality can either be stereo or mono.
- Gray (グレイ, male) or Elma (エルマ, female)
- The default names for the protagonists (names can be changed). He/She is a new sorcerer who eagerly seeks to become a Soulmaster. Neither protagonist is pictured in promotional media, but they act as the player characters for the game's story mode. Once the player chooses a character, the opposing hero will appear in story mode as a computer opponent.
- Kasshu (カッシュ)
- Hot-blooded and rowdy, Kasshu is a sixteen-year old youth who is prone to quarreling rather than negotiating complexities. Months before his country sent him to become a sorcerer, he was a proficient hunter. Therefore, he has an uncommonly strong physique compared to his comrades.
- Rosetta (ロゼッタ)
- A fifteen-year old maiden who is quite the bookworm. She prefers to learn the ancient texts of the academy rather than practice magic. Rosetta is a collected and gentle character who lives life at a leisurely pace. She prefers not to perpetuate conflict.
- Li On (リ・オン)
- Li On carries the mantle of nobility at all times, thinking that his classmates are beneath him. A cool and impassive seventeen-year old chap, he doesn't mince words and rarely voices his thoughts. His proficient sorcery stifles others from completely belittling him.
- Azalea (アゼリア)
- Like Li On, Azalea is a young woman who lived her childhood in nobility. Her family poses as members of the wealthy merchant class, but she is actually a princess of a lost kingdom. A high-and-mighty drama queen, Azalea joined the academy to avoid marrying a man thirty years her senior.
- Leifahn (レイファン)
- Once this sixteen-year old youth graduated from his tutoring, his countrymen decided to anoint him as his country's elite oracle. As his country's representative in the magic academy, Leifahn conducts himself with a chivalrous and amicable attitude to those he meets, striving to always help those in need. Even so, he secretly yearns to be freed from his dictated life.
- Tikka (ティカ)
- Energetic, cheerful, and a bit clumsy, Tikka is the youngest daughter and designated successor of a reigning lord in her country. She has no magical talents, but she wants to try her best. Tikka is accidentally admitted to the academy when she lost her way home.
- Liera (リューラ)
- As the president of the magic academy, Liera is an adept sorcerer who has the mystical power to view the past, present and future from her crystal ball. She cannot leave the academy unprotected so she asks her students to act on her behalf.
- Angela (アンジェラ)
- A teacher at the magic academy, Angela is the one who oversees her students' progress. She gives the main cast advice and tips to help them understand their craft.
- Wayne (ウェイン)
- Wayne is Angela's older brother and Leifahn's mentor within the sorcerer committee. He acts as Leifahn's somewhat forgetful role model, though he has absolute faith in his star pupil.
- Harl (ハール)
- A dark cloaked man of mystery, Harl is a teacher secretly dispatched by the sorcerer committee to observe the main cast's progress. Since he doesn't explain his mission to the protagonists, they mistake him as the criminal perpetrator of their requests throughout the majority of the story.
- Radcliffe (ラトグリフ)
- Radcliffe is a member of Angela's thieves guild who fluctuates between supporting or antagonizing the main cast. Later in the story, it is revealed that he wants to break down the Wall of Fog to free his imprisoned country.
- Hanon (ハノン)
- As the oracle closest to the Wall of Fog, he fears the day when it may collapse. Hanon is convinced that the only solution to protecting Aster on judgment day is to merge the countries under his rule. He thinks his ambition has enough resources to protect everyone against the evil that could be unleashed.
Koei released a master guidebook for this game. Aside from including maps and a list of the game's monsters, it includes full body illustrations and personal information for the characters who appear in the game.