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A smooth, easy to play RPG with some bad faults

So to begin, I have to say that this is a really hard game to score, but I'll try. It's got one innovation that may disappoint you. Curious? It's coming!

Graphics

Alright, so, it's mostly RTP. The faces are from another game (Atelier? Don't know which one, only have played through the first, hardly any of the second, and none of the third). The facesets do clash with the sprites a bit, but it's not a problem. They are pretty pixelated, though.

Monsters and environments are, once again, RTP. Serviceable, and easy to look at, but unfortunately easy to recognize.

Not sure if this fits in the graphics department, but this game uses shades of color on the typical RMVX font, using it to give expression and emphasis on dialogue and such, which definitely helps the feel quite a bit. I haven't seen that used too much myself, so that's a plus.

Sound

So, some of it is RTP stuff, and the majority of it is from other games. Luckily, I only recognized a few. They all fit pretty well, with a separate song for the...dream sequences, and for the regular world. Not much else to say about the effects, it's basic RPG stuff. No complaints.

Gameplay

So, now onto the bad stuff. First of all, this game is very, very linear. There are apparently some side things (I ran into only one, and it was very simplistic), but for the most part, you're only allowed to go where the game wants you to go.

The dungeons too, are very simple. While it made each easy to complete, there was very, very little exploration to speak of. For the most part, it was traveling between 2-3 rooms to solve some very simple puzzles, and fighting a boss, at least until the finale. However, you will spend a lot of time battling.

First of all, I've got to commend this game on removing random battles, and making them the run-into-enemies-to-battle sort. It makes grinding much less of a chore, and it made it very easy to escape dungeons when weakened, especially since the enemies move slowly, and don't chase.

But...

There are some massive balancing problems with enemies, and worse, your characters at times. You'll leave one dungeon, completely invincible against one set of enemies, and head into the next, and everything will be kicking the living sh*t out of you. Not that I mind difficulty spikes, but it happened with EVERY dungeon.

As well as your characters. Each of them learn sets of skills, one element for each character, along with some standard spells. (Just wondering, wasn't Flare a Final Fantasy non elemental attack at one time?) All of them will end up doing around the sameish amount of damage against enemies. There are some strengths and weaknesses against certain elements, but on the same note shouldn't there be some balance so you don't end up using non elemental magic throughout the entire game? Why bother when non elemental magic ends up doing around the same amount of damage?

Speaking of which, the second main character, Masako Mitsuya, always will end up with spells a level ahead of the rest of your characters. I don't know if this is attributed to her higher intelligence (it's apparent through the entire game), but on the same note, her level was always around the same as the others (a level ahead at most).

I should also mention the shop/money thing. Money takes very little effort to get, and it doesn't even cost anything to heal yourself (sleep in the nurse's room.) You will go through healing items like candy though. It makes the game very easy to play though, so it can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Characters

Unlike many other games (including some commercial games!), every character is well written, and easy to "get". You'll end up liking some, maybe disliking others. The person who made this is a writer, and it definitely shows.

On that same note, there are some holes in the characters. Your main character, Goho Yasui sounds, and feels like a typical RPG hero until his weight lifting traits come out. Not that this is a bad thing, but if you're going in without reading the various things that come with the game, and on this game's page, you'll be missing out on some stuff.

Without giving away some plot points, there's also some questionable stuff with the beginning and the end when it comes to romantic interests...Hard to explain without giving it away, so I'll leave it at that.

Also, the villains (as well as the other hero characters you don't play as) are not very well designed. You do get some background story, as well as some mysticism to do with the school, but the lore isn't explained very deeply. I'm guessing that this is one of those where you can fill the blanks in yourself, but I don't know.

I do have some minor gripes with how a certain character is portrayed, but it's
A) My opinion
B) The way the writer chose to write it
So I'll leave it at that. Your mileage may vary.

Story

So...where to begin. This is a difficult one to talk about, that's for sure. Through most of the game, the story moves along at a reasonable click, giving you more and more details as you go along. The internal discussions between the characters, as well as another character's investigation really helps flesh it all out.

However, either I missed some things as I went, or there isn't much explained to you. There's a sort of guardian character that has a very important role, along side a few others that get a bit of explanation, but ultimately it feels a bit empty.

That, and the game has a seriously disappointing ending. Without giving it away (there actually isn't much to give away, really) too much, I'll just say you fight a henchman you never hear about during the game, and that's it. YOU don't get to fight the Big Bad*, the guardian characters (whom you never play as) do. There's very little closure, aside from some very minor romantic stuff at the end, which also raises some questions.

Never mind that you never hear the outcome of the battle between the big bad, nor do you see what happens afterwords. When the guardian characters arrive to fight the big bad, there's some "We're going to kick your butt!" dialogue, then the THANK YOU FOR PLAYING THE END screen runs. Talk about deflating your enthusiasm. Especially since it makes all the grinding you did up to that point (and there's a lot of level grinding) absolutely useless. You could see it as an innovation in a way (in that fighting the big boss has been an RPG thing...since the Apple II days, if I'm not mistaken).

*- I say "Big Bad" since they're not a boss you'll ever face.

The fight against the henchman was pretty fun though, but very unfulfilling.

So what can I say? This is a well written, easy to play game. It's very linear, though. The holes in the characters and the story may leave you disappointed, however. The dialogue does make up for it, and it will make you hungry for a sequel, or maybe some more closure.

2/5. The smooth gameplay and the well written dialogue does help quite bit, but the story problems and the balance issues, alongside a very disappointing ending seriously drag it down.

Posts

Pages: 1
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
11088
First off, thanks for the review! This is quite a bit to take in, but, overall, I think this is a fair outlook.

As for the issues you have with story, or anything else that you're not willing to speak of openly (which I appreciate, no doubt), perhaps a PM is in order?

*Edit:
As an example...

I do have some minor gripes with how a certain character is portrayed, but it's
A) My opinion
B) The way the writer chose to write it
So I'll leave it at that. Your mileage may vary.

I think I've an idea of which character this could be, but I could also be dead wrong. I'd like to smooth out what misgivings I can, but, as I've mentioned before, perhaps a PM is in order here?
No problem, I tried to be honest. Though I will say I reconsidered the score a number of times, since I did enjoy a lot of the game for the most part. The ending was quite a downer though...

Anyways! PM, I'll be glad to later on today.
Marrend
Bludgeon of Inspiration
11088
I figured players would have a certain expectation about who the last boss would be, but I didn't really want players to fight that particular character. Could I have handled it a bit better? Perhaps.

I shall discuss this with you in more detail at a more opportune time (or when we start bouncing back-and-forth PMs).
Pages: 1