Review by Mykas0

"I hope you are not an hardcore RPG fan, or else you will be disappointed by this title!"

Most players could state that every RPG coming from Square-Enix would be a good one. Unfortunately for this game, I am not one of those. I admit that it features some interesting details, but nothing that you may never have thought of.

First, before starting to play you get to see an interesting introduction movie with the same engine that will be spotted in some cut scenes across the game. Those are rare and you won't see them often, but usually you will find them to be quite beautiful and simply amazing. Imagine an anime-like scene, that's the quality of those small cut scene videos you will see in this game. The rest of the graphics are generally good, think of it as a newer version of Star Ocean: everything is as clear as possible, without a single pixel outside of its proper place and even some occasional special effects.

Then, you will get into the actual gaming section, where the main menu only features a "New Game" and "Continue" options. By starting it for the first time you will be able to pick the class of your character (from 4 different ones, each with their own initial stats and growth, starting from the usual knight up to a funny looking creature, not forgetting the usual magicians), its color and finally its name. You will eventually reach the common scenes that every game starts with, showing your character in the place he lives, and after a while you will be able to control him.

There are only 2 houses you can visit in your town, the first being the hero's house and the second one the store, where you will be able to buy everything you need to continue your adventure.

This is the first interesting thing about this game: containing 3 smaller stores inside that specific building, each of them seems to serve for a limited (yet great!) purpose: one of them sells items/weapons, other sells jewels and the third one allows you to pick new tasks. While the utility of the first one is quite obvious, it also allows you to upgrade the number of items of each quality that you may take: from the usual 8 up to 24. The second is interesting as it allows you to purchase jewels, a type of element added to the game which can be equipped in a limited space of your profile in order to add more attacks to your character or increase his stats. As for the last store, in there you can spend your money for buying new quests (which are not related to the storyline and are generated randomly!) that you should then perform, one at a time, all of which are played only inside the dungeons.

In case you are wondering about the last statement, this is actually a dungeon-based RPG. You usually need to defeat some enemies, open some treasure chests, find a particular item and take it to a specific place, which takes you to the next stage. If the next stage is a multiple of 5, you also also be given the opportunity to save your game and your equipment, another of this game's flaws. Me, and perhaps many other people, would love to save when and where we could. In the last stage you will find a more powerful enemy, which comes in the form of the usual giant monster that takes more strategy and more hits to kill. Strangely the dungeons are NOT randomly generated, but the location of their exits sometimes is.

As for advancing in the story or unlocking new dungeons, such tasks are usually possible only by talking to the many people in find in town or simply by completing a certain quest, making the adventure too much predictable. Which takes us to the next point: in spite of being actually possible to complete the game in a lot less than 20 hours, in case you don't properly level up (or if you simply have weak weapons) you will have a lot of trouble in the defeating your enemies.

This takes us to the replay value... While it is rumored that you can complete the game in less than 15 hours (personally, I couldn't...), a more interested player may try to get as much from this game as possible, making him play a lot more than 40 hours as he tries to get everything he can. Since it is rather easy to level up and even get money in this game, you probably won't have much trouble buying stuff.

But back to something that is always important in this type of games, weapons and items. The game features essentially 4 different types of weapons (chain, sword, bow and hammer), all of which can be improved by acquiring new ones (which always look the same, but obviously better stats) and you will obviously need to use them in order to destroy some of the obstacles you will find in your adventure. The same goes for the armors, which can only improve your stats and can be acquired by defeating enemies or by simply buying them in stores.As for the items, it is a pity that this game contains only 6 different types of those, making you pick one to be associated with the X key before being able to use it. You can associate weapons with the A and Y keys to use 2 different weapons easily and at the same time.

There is also a special power than you can use by having a certain jewel equipped and all the icons (which are seen in the lower right corner of the upper screen) light up. That not only gives a random effect for a bit (depending on a blue slot machine that can be seen in the screen) but also improves your attacks for the duration of the power.

As a final note concerning the gameplay, what is considered to be another interesting feature of this game is the opportunity to team up with some of your friends (up to 4, who must also have this cartridge) and fight the bad guys. Unfortunately I can't speak about this mode, as I haven't seen much of it.

"So, what about the story?" could you ask me. Well, not being a fan of the Mana saga perhaps I am not the best person to judge it, but I can say that it mostly starts when you meet a mysterious girl and a strange man in a dark suit. A few moments later, an odd sword falls from the sky (haven't you seen this somewhere else?) and you suddenly seem to have enough power to defeat your first boss. What's the secret behind this amazing sword? Who is that strange man? That's up for you to find out by playing the game!

Sound, what you will be able to hear seems to fully fit the game at all times. Some musics even remind me of the game as an anime episode, and that's probably what you will also think of it.

Now that I'm almost completing the review, you must be thinking: "So, why didn't you give this game an higher score?". Well, the game is too simple for a skilled player, too much predictable, sometimes the space between the points in which you can save is way too long and an infinite number of side-quests may not appeal to everyone.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/06/06

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