Brandish is a dungeon crawler and top-down view action RPG and adventure hybrid series developed by Nihon Falcom. Originally released in 1991 for the NEC PC-9801 and FM Towns home computers, it was later released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and PC Engine. The best known version in non-Japanese markets is the SNES port, which is the only English language version of the game. It was published by Koei, released in 1994 in Japan and a few months later (around 1995) in North America.
A long time ago, a small kingdom called Berimya was built around a lofty tower, which pierced the sky. The inhabitants of the city, guarded by a mighty Dragon, lived in peace and abundance. However, King Berebus, the ruler of Berimya, desired to expand his kingdom. He ordered the scholars to research the Tower.
Soon, one of the scholars brought a tome written in an ancient language from the tower to Berebus, which they started deciphering. As they were deciphering the tome, some scholars feared that they might be laying their hands on the forbidden knowledge of the ancients.
When the scholars decipher the tome, it read, "The Great Guardian of Berimya, the Dragon, and the Essence of Power lies in the top of the Tower; the one who possesses the Essence will possess all." Undaunted by the otherwise ominous words of the tome, Berebus decided to make the Essence of Power his own.
He secretly organized an army, which soon seized the Tower and raised their swords against the Dragon. Even the Dragon could not resist the power of Berebus' army. As Berebus grasped at the Essence of Power, the Dragon gave up its own life to destroy the Essence of Power. The Essence, losing control, transformed the King into a hideous monster and sank the entire kingdom of Berimya, including the great tower, under the ground. All people on the surface of the earth forgot about Berimya and the Tower in its center, and a thousand years passed.
A mysterious swordsman, known as Varik, is pursued by a sorceress named Alexis (Dela Delon in Japan) who seeks revenge for the murder of her master. When Alexis catches up with Varik and attacks, her magic causes the ground beneath them collapsed and both fell into the Ruins of Berimya. The player assumes the role of Varik and must escape from the sunken city.
Reception and sequels
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The Super NES version isn't very well known or popular because of its late release, when the SNES market was beginning to fade off in anticipation of the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. Also, the game was published by Koei, which was known at the time for their strategic war games and not many RPG nor any action games.
The series was very popular in Japan on NEC PC-9801 computer. Brandish, Brandish 2, Brandish 3 and Brandish VT (renamed Brandish 4 when it was re-released for Windows) were games that worked well with the technical limitations of the market dominating PC-9801 - an action RPG that was not just another console port.
The game still proved popular enough in Japan to warrant two sequels exclusively in Japan that continued the saga of Varik and Alexis (which are known in Japan as Ares and Dela), the first one being Brandish 2: The Planetbuster, released in August 1995 for the SNES. Similar to the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy IV and Ys V, both an easy and hard version of this game were released. The next sequel was Brandish 3: Spirit of Balcan, released for PC-9801 in 1994.
The last game, Brandish 4: Tower of Sleeping God, follows a similar gameplay format with completely different storylines and characters.