Dale Johnson of Vision Riders has released an unfinished, but playable version of his upcoming JRPG, Another Star, which handles turn-based battles in two refreshing ways. Instead of instant battles, an orange or red exclamation mark appears above the character's head indicating a possible fight. The orange ones can be bypassed, requiring you to accept it. The red marks indicate mandatory battles, and if you press a button quickly, you will get the opening attack instead of the enemy. But that's not all.

The battles also play out very quickly, with no enemy targeting. If you choose to attack, everyone in your party will deal damage to every enemy. However, enemies will also do the same to you, making for some death dealing situations. Instead of possibly arduous "game over" restarts if you die, Another Star allows you to trade some gold for retrying the battle or for escaping.

And you definitely will do your fair share of obligatory red battles, Dale told me. "This is to keep the player from rushing too far ahead into areas before they're ready to deal with at least a few of the enemy encounters."

The developer says he has restricted himself to 256 8×8 pixel tiles and 16 8-bit colors for the visuals. Completing the 8-bit aesthetic is the sound emulated on an YM2413 FM synth chip. The CRT effect is optional, thankfully, and can be toggled with F4.

Another Star's demo should run fine on Windows, Mac, and Linux as long as you have either .NET or Mono installed, but I only tested it on Windows. The full version is set to release later this summer.

[source: TIGS]