Hi all, its been ages huh? Been busy with lots of VERY IMPORTANT STUFF! Ok fine…I’ve been watching lots and lots of Netflix (Doctor Who, Firefly, 30 Rock, etc…) and doing some reading (Iron Druid Chronicles, John Dies at the End, and some mystery novels). BUT I’ve also been off and on playing this game since late last summer. I’d take it with me when I was camping for those relaxing moments between our exhausting hike and campfire time. Well I just finished the game a few weeks ago and felt compelled to write a review! For some reason for me December is the month I play the most video games! I’m unsure what my next video game will be…I’m thinking Tales of Vesperia because I recently got an XBox 360! Well onto my  amateur review! :)   I bought this game on impulse, I saw it had about 20 very enthusiastic reviews on Amazon, and somehow it ended up being one of the few JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Game) I picked up for the PSP. It’s the 2nd PSP Game I’ve played to completion (Hakuoki being the first). And yes I’m a VERY slow gamer, I can manage to make a 20 hour game last 40 hours, I have a habit of focusing on and exploring aspects of the game that don’t get me to the end quickly.  I also have a habit of  leveling up higher than I usually need to be in order to beat the next boss. Although this game should supposedly take you around 50 hours (not sure what my time was I accidentally left it on too often to have any grasp of my game time). Well anyway the Plot (Compliments of Amazon):

In the peaceful town of Rolent of the Liberl Kingdom, a young girl named Estelle and her friend Joshua, who had been taken in by her family years earlier, prepare to take their first steps to join the legendary guild of the Bracers. Bracers are considered the peacekeepers and protectors of order that owe allegiance to no country or government. In Liberl their guild has flourished since a brief war some ten years prior after an invasion from the Erebonian Empire to the north, and their efforts have made peace a lasting prospect.

In the course of their journey to become full-fledged Bracers, Estelle and Joshua begin to see the peace threatened by a dark side of the ruling government that plots to overthrow the Liberl queen, Alicia. Together they travel the world on their quest to become Bracers and slowly unravel the truth behind the mastermind who seeks to bring war back to their borders.

The plot reads like pretty standard stuff, if that plot doesn’t really intrigue you don’t worry about it, you still may like this game. First off I loved the positive energy in this game, the interactions and jokes between the characters always kept me in a good mood. Some of the cute character interactions even would get a smile or a chuckle out of me. I really enjoyed all the quirky characters in this game and absolutely LOVED the background characters in the towns! Each character you see on screen always has their own little story and a lot of them update their story as major events unfold. I liked talking to everyone so much that (in the smaller towns) I went around and made sure to talk to everyone twice before I left an area for good. Don’t even get me started on the chests, each chest you open will give you a funny line if you go to examine it again after it was emptied. Usually something a bit sassy or sarcastic about how you took its goods. I did like the graphics, but they’re certainly not cutting edge. The music was fine, nothing that bothered me and nothing that was so catchy that it got stuck in my head, so I didn’t really bother with the soundtrack CD that came with the game. Gotta admit…I dunno why gaming companies keep adding CDs of the soundtrack of the games as a bonus…I don’t think I’ve ever opened a single one of those CDs. What really got me addicted to this game was the battle and skill system. First off for all skills the game blatantly tells you how to achieve all spells in the game right from the start in a menu option, and I loved that, not having to look up an FAQ for reference for how to achieve all spells was really nice. The skill system works by each character has a pattern of limited slots that you can insert a spell Quartz into. As you combine different kinds of spell quartz you can create new spells. Every time I got a new Quartz I would spend some time excitedly planning the most efficient way for a character to have multiple spells and stats. The battle system had a bit of tactical strategy to it, certain attacks can only be successful if the enemy is within your range (and the same is true for enemies attacking you). I liked strategically positioning characters on the field as they performed their attacks. I’m honestly not usually the biggest tactics fan, but this setup really worked for me. I also had a lot of fun with their ultimate attacks, I liked that the points needed to perform an ultimate attack carried over from battle to battle and were an extremely necessary aspect of defeating quite a few bosses. You definitely had to pick the right times to unleash your ultimate attacks, or you paid for it later on. I also REALLY liked that the game forced me to pair up with lots of different characters and at the VERY end I got to select the ones that balanced me out best (I haven’t had a game do that so well since Dragon Quest IV).

(In case you’re interested…the team I picked to be my main characters are the ones in the screenshot below.  I had Joshua as the speediest attacker that performed element neutral magic. Estelle was a well rounded character that was a hard hitter with some of my best crowd control attack spells. Zane was my heavy hitting tank, but by the end of the game Estelle could hit almost as hard as him, but he still had the superior defense. Oliver would attack the enemies with his gun and heal the team as needed, having a back row attacker like him was incredibly useful. I tried using someone else as my healer for a while but she ended up being almost useless when she wasn’t healing because I had to bring her into close range of the enemies to perform attacks with her sword and I didn’t want to use up her magic on attack spells.)

I had so much fun with the battle system/leveling system that I didn’t really care that the main plot of the the story was a bit slow to build up. But as each new character was introduced I wondered about their back stories. And by the end of the game the main plot really tied in a lot of the stories together great, and left me satisfied with the twists that I hadn’t seen coming. And right when I was INCREDIBLY excited at all the plot developments…the game ended. This game is the first of a trilogy! And it was quite the kickoff! I’ll definitely be prioritizing playing the rest of this series if/when it makes it over here to the US. I can’t help but imagine what will happen with all my favorite characters in the next game. And perhaps I’ll get to learn more about some of the characters that we didn’t learn the whole story of. If I had a nickle for every time a game I loved was popular in Japan but not over here…it’s the story of my gaming life. So I’ll have to do what I always do, sit tight, play another game, and hope for the best that someday I can get the 2nd and 3rd installments of this game! PS – If you happen to see a review on Amazon that reads a lot like this review…yup that’s me. Wanted to declare how much I enjoyed this game and support it to the public.

 

Spoiler: If you’re going to play the game don’t read this…if you’re considering it…maybe skip it?

 

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Towards the end of the game I randomly decided to see if this series had any figures, and I was very happy to see a nendoroid of Estelle! Until I saw that her alternate pose was of her looking sad while staring at Joshua’s harmonica!! The fact that she was incredibly happy and energetic through the whole game kind of tipped me off that she and Joshua weren’t going to have a happy ending (at least in this game). And as the game reached its end, I saw a bit of subtle foreshadowing that started confirming those concerns. I was super bummed that a game that was so amazingly positive had an ending that was a bit sad. BUT its because of that ending that I’m all the more excited to play the next game! Gotta admit, this is probably the first time I can think of where a figure acted as a spoiler to a story for me (minus figures of characters that suddenly get hair cuts).