Review by Lord Hugo
"An RPG That Truly Gives Old School A Good Name"
Who would of thunk it? An old school RPG in this age of graphics and do-anything-you-want games. Simply amazing. But what's even more awing is it's an excellent game. Yes. An excellent RPG and excellent game all around. From the cutesy cartoony cell shading, to the battle system, to the sound. All of it creates an excellent game that you can really appreciate. But enough of my endless babbling, on to what your here for: The Review!
It's hard to rate the graphics really, since it's cell shading. But I thought it deserved a 10 out of 10. It's one of the best cell shaded games I've seen. It really adds to the feel that the game portrays: An old school RPG with graphics that fit. It gives it the cartoon look that the early Dragon Quests had. The environments are lush and look full of life. No dull, dreary world like a lot of RPG's have. Level 5 helped with the game (They did Cell Shading for another excellent RPG: Dark Cloud 2), and the characters and monsters were drawn by Akira Toriyama, Character designer for Dragonball/Dragonball Z.
The gameplay is excellent in the game. I'm a bit biased, and admit I'd give it a 10/10, but for the average gamer, an 8/10. So I compromised. The battles are Random, which is nothing new to Japanese RPG's. During battle you can control your characters (or give setup tactics and let the PC control them). I personally prefer controlling them myself. When you start each round of combat, you have a set of basic commands. You can Fight, Flee, Change tactics, that kind of stuff. It's pretty basic RPG fare. Attack, use magic or skills which cost MP. But this game puts a new meaning on leveling up. You have to fight a lot of monsters and I do mean a lot to level up and buy the stuff you need to continue on in the game without getting killed. I'm 15 hours in, and I've fought 350 battles and killed 900 enemies...and I'm only level 16. That would be where the gameplay, in most peoples eyes, slips. Most don't want to spend that much time leveling up. I like it myself. Makes you earn what you get. After each level your stats increase, sometimes you learn spells, and you get a set amount of skill points to allocate. Everyone has 3 weapon skills, Fisticuffs, and a specialty skill. By allocating skill points you gain abilities and proficiencies. Simple for the new people to the franchise, but challenging to master for the hardcore veterans. I could go on, but you get the main gist, and anything else I add won't make or break your decision about the game.
The story is endearing. It's easy to say there's little story since you level up and fight monsters so much, but from what I catch, the story is really something special. To give you the basics: You were a guard in the Kingdom of Trodain. An evil jester by the name of Dhoulmagus stole a powerful scepter and unleashed powerful magic on the kingdom. It turned the king and princess into a monster and horse, respectively. And it paralyzed everyone else in the kingdom. You set off on a quest, along with the Bandit Yangus, and the King and Princess, to help you kingdom by catch Dhoulmagus and bringing him to justice. Pretty simple fair. And along the way you tend to learn more and more of the background of the characters and story, as well as the story advancing. Not much else to say, but it does suffer in it could've been a little meatier. But that's my only complaint.
The controls in the game are pretty simple. Nothing over the top. Sometimes they seem a bit unresponsive, but that's nothing that will really make you lose sleep over. The camera is also fairly simple. You can rotate it to follow the character, and in the battles it gives you the best view possible. It's all simple, but it works beautifully. And for once I'm happy about not having to curse this category.
Another area the game shines in. The music is beautiful, and fits what's going on in the game. I find myself just stopping and listening at times, it's that endearing. The sound in the game is also good. Grass blades rustle, water splashes, and boots clomp on wood. When you notice subtle things like that, you know they've done something right. The voice acting...well they can't miss since the mouths just open and close with the talking. If you're looking for lip synching, look elsewhere.
Replay Value 8/10
A place where the game suffers. This game can last as little as 40 hours, or as long as 80-110 hours (if you do everything and max levels). So it's pretty much a marathon in some people's eyes. That's where it suffers in this category. But if you do only play 40 or so hours, you're not going to max your skills, and that leaves replay value. Not to mention, it's a wonderful game well worth playing twice if you have the time.
Final Analysis/Conclusion 10/10
All in all, there's very little to dislike about this game if you're an RPG fan. If you're a moderate gamer who likes your games short stay away from this game. It's not short by any stretch of the imagination. If you don't like fighting many many battles stay away as well. But the game is perfect in my opinion. An old School RPG with a New School look that's fresh. I immediately fell in love with the game. And I think you will too.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 11/21/05
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