Review by GlucoseJoe

"Why did Sega leave this one in the land of the rising sun?"

Princess Crown…Princess Gradriel is the focus of the gem of an action-RPG from Atlus. This game is so beautiful it almost hurts. Almost. Gradriel and her world are so wonderfully drawn and colored, and the animation is truly a sight to behold. Everything in this game is brimming with life. When I first got this game, I popped it into my Saturn and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets. The opening sequence recounting the last time the villain in this tale was wreaking havoc looks great. And when you finally take control of Gradriel, you'll begin to notice the little things Atlus threw into the game, like how Gradriel looks around as you walk. There is so much animation in this game that I'm pretty surprised that they didn't have a company produce a minute or two opening sequence like Guardian Heroes. There is a lot of text in this game, and if you're not fluent in Japanese (like me), you're definitely going to have to consult an FAQ. There is a great one right here on GameFAQs, so you're all set. There are many little side characters in this game, and lots of neat little sequences to add to your journey to stop the big evil drooling freak at the end of the game. His name escapes me at the moment, of course...Gah! Stupid brain! He's big, and he's ugly, and he needs to be stopped; that's all you need to know. Gradriel is not your run of the mill ''please save me, Mario!'' princess. She has something they all don't-a big honkin' sword. And she knows how to use it, too. You must carefully attack and defend during the many battles that lie ahead, and the captain of the guards will give you a few practice rounds at the beginning to help you out. I'll suggest hanging out and kicking his butt a bunch of times so you'll be prepared for the fights ahead. Gradriel has a few different things she can do in battle, such as heal herself with an item when the going gets tough. The menus are pretty easy to navigate since you have pictures of the items in your packs, but you of course need an FAQ to find out what they all do...During battle, items may be dropped here and there, and if you don't grab them fast enough, these blasted little thieves dart on-screen and take them! I hate those guys. Princess Crown is a long game, and you can become stuck here and there, even with an FAQ, because you'll talk to everybody, you'll search every speck of the map, and it just won't open up anything else to do sometimes...But don't get frustrated. You'll usually be able to figure it out. I really, really wish I wasn't playing this game in Japanese, though. I have no idea why Sega left it stranded in Japan. Localization would not have taken as long as some pure RPGs they brought out, and I'd rather play game in English than that waste of money Shining the Holy Ark. I was more interested in Princess Crown's story and than Ark's, and I couldn't even READ Princess Crown! Sheesh! Ark was a big yawn to me, and I wish Princess Crown had been brought here in its place. Sega could have had a huge hit on their hands. What a fumble, but I guess they made a lot of fumbles with the Saturn...Heck, most of my Saturn games are imports.

Graphics: Probably the game's absolute strongest point. Every village you stroll through, every castle, every simple forest path...there's such a lush, vibrant, life-filled feel to this entire game. All of the enemies are as great-looking and as well animated as Gradriel is, and even the average townsfolk are impressive. The art style is superb, too. The Atlus team that created this game will hopefully bless us with another 2D masterpiece on the Dreamcast (which hopefully will come over here). The characters sort of have a multi-jointed look to them, and it works beautifully. Gradriel even looks great when she's eating one of the apple-like fruit you find in your first few adventures! She even tosses away the core! This game must be seen in motion to be believed. Truly a work of art.

Sound: Gradriel doesn't say much, but then again, nobody in the game does. All the speech is pretty much handled with text. But the game still has great sound to it. The music is all very well done, and has an orchestrated feel to it. All of the sound effects are perfectly fitting, as well, from the clanking of Gradriel's sword, to the little ''tmp tmp tmp''s of her boots as she runs. It even sounds good when she's munching on the aforementioned apples! Great stuff indeed.

Control: It will take a few battles for you to get the hang of the little lady's moves, but that's what the captain of the guards is there for. Challenge him over and over again until you can beat him without taking a single blow, and you'll be better off for the extra effort put into your training. Your enemy confrontations will be much more successful. The items and menus are a breeze to use, though you'll need an FAQ to find out all of their effects. I sort of wish Gradriel walked a little faster, but that’s just nitpicking.

Funfactor: This game obviously loses a bit if you don't read Japanese, but it is still a very enjoyable experience since it is an action-RPG. Leveling up isn't tedious, and I found myself looking forward to battles rather than dreading them like most traditional RPGs. I like Gradriel's ''Super Combo Victory'' when she finishes off her foe with the big upwards slash! Boom!! There's a lot to see and do here, and Gradriel isn't the only one you'll take control of, either...

Replayability? You're bound to miss a few things your first time through this sort of game, especially if you cannot read Japanese, and the extras will make you return after you’ve finished the main game. Also, Gradriel is just so dang cute you'll want to pay her a visit even if you're just messing around against the freaky little enemies to sharpen your battle skills. This really should have come out in the U.S....Damn your eyes, Bernie Stolar!!! GlucoseJoe

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/28/00, Updated 05/28/00

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