Review by IanGriggSpall

"Brilliant and bothersome in equal measure"

If we're being honest, the first months of the PSP fell slightly flat in terms of games. It's true that the system boasted revolutionary technology- it was proclaimed as the latest man-gadget. Nintendo's newest offering in the portable series seemed awfully lame next to such a majestic machine. But the lineup (much like the DS until fall 2005) left a lot to be desired. There were racing games, and puzzle games galore, even some would-be greats which just didn't fit on the smaller screen.

Fortunately, 2006 promises to be a land of plenty for the PSP. With highly-anticipated titles such as Me and My Katamari Damacy, Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core and the possibility of a new Metal Gear Solid game, things are looking good for Sony's newest brainchild. And what a way to kickstart the year for them with this port of the popular classic, Tales of Eternia.

For the first time, you really get a sense of the PSP's potential being harnessed, even slightly. The character models, the environments, all have been transported perfectly onto a portable console. It simply looks brilliant. This expands to the battle system, which although difficult to handle, is very rewarding when party members combine their strengths to defeat enemies, and with hundreds of techniques at your hands (all of which are choreographed beautifully) you're never going to get bored with this title.

However, this is where the game experiences some fallbacks. With four of your characters and up to around 8 enemies, the side-scrolling screen can become slightly chaotic. Many enemies use manoeuvres and attacks which will have you screaming profanities from the rooftops, and the 15-item limit is displeasing, forcing you to 'Camp' after every other battle on the World Map screen.

Having said that, it's well known that battling is only a part of every RPG ever created. Overly epic soundtracks will have you grimacing: the theme walking in the woods at the start is more panic-gripped than Siegfried Sassoon. However, this is mostly-more-or-less-good-enough. Some things that aren't are the positively harrowing voice-overs. There will be many instances when you'll be shouting 'GUT HER! GUT HER LIKE A FISH!' when Meredy starts spouting her moronic mush. The story is alarmingly farfetched to be honest, even for an RPG (gasp), and some of their weird measurements and item names seem to be bizarre just to avoid putting gold (gald) or the TABOO potion (apple gel).

Despite this, the puzzles possess a certain genius that you don't get too irritated but keep you into it, the likes of which are reminiscent of God of War (just without the Ancient Greek setting or anything of that nature). A nice touch is the plethora of minigames available either in side-quests are integrated into the game, although a certain Craymel Ball is side-splittingly annoying yet brilliant (unless your sides are made of rubber).

Buy it, buy it now. But only if you don't mind the sometimes dystopic convergence of beat-em-up and RPG, the meeting of FF8 and Street Fighter (or as I like to call it FFreet Fighter, or maybe Feet Fanta).
NONETHELESS, this is a definite top title on the PSP, yes alright, it was a PSX title first yadyadyadah, and the first real appealling game for RPG fans. Not to be mistaken with a Final Fantasy game this is, diehard FF fans may find themselves lost at sea in a world where you can't control everyone at the same time. Did I forget to mention that?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/15/06

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