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It stole my heart <3

Lemme lay it out for you: Star Stealing Prince is a gem. It’s a great game: not only a great RM* game, but a fantastic game in its own right. It’s a charming little romp with fun characters, a genuinely interesting story, gameplay mechanics that make for a moderate challenge, and comes packaged with some of the prettiest graphical work I’ve seen ‘round these parts. It invokes feelings of nostalgia from the SNES era of RPGs while avoiding many of the aspects that haven’t exactly aged well. It’s a perfect mix of the old and the new.

In short, I absolutely adore this game. Let me tell you why.

Gameplay:

Y’all know the drill by now. I dig breaking this stuff up. DEAL WITH IT.

Combat:

Combat in SSP is pretty vanilla as far as RPGs go, which, I feel, works strongly in its favour. It’s easy to pick up, but has enough depth and is paced well enough that each new dungeon needs to be approached differently, and each boss battle is unique. This seems like it ought to be a given, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve played games that have basically been “spam strongest attacks and heal” for every major encounter!

Player characters and enemies alike have inherent elemental weaknesses to be exploited (and you will need to exploit them if you want to win). For those of you who (like myself) grew up with Final Fantasy, you will need to use buffs and debuffs if you don’t want to die horribly. You’ll have both MP based magic attacks and IP based techniques to choose from, and figuring out which is more efficient to use is surprisingly important!

Basically, it keeps you on your toes and is really fun! I enjoyed what little grinding I had to do (not because this is a game that requires a grind: if you fight every encounter you come up against, you’ll probably be fine. I just, uhh… skipped around monsters and went treasure hunting until I could get near enough a healing station to grind so I wouldn’t have to cut into my stacks of healing items. What? I might have needed them later), and any terrible game overs I encountered were me playing stupidly, rather than the computer being a cheating bastard.

I think my only beef with combat was when monsters could use skills that would incapacitate the entire party in some way (confusing, paralyzing, freezing, etc.). Those were the only times I felt the game was a little cheap, but, again, being efficient in offing monsters usually prevented such situations from occurring!


SUNFLARESUNFLARESUNFLARESUNFLARE AUUUGGGHGHH


Exploration:

Oh my lord, now here is where this game shines. If you take the time to look around in this game, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of goodies and knick-knacks that make for a much easier adventure! There are restoratives to be found, equipment all over the place, secret passages to more treasure, skill tomes, snowmen to speak with; everything a good RPG needs! I know I didn’t find everything I was supposed to (by the end of the game, only Astra had her ultimate weapon and there was this mysterious statue in the Forgotten Paths that perplexed me, so obviously I missed a few things), but I was more than happy with what I did discover. SSP isn’t particularly open, but it is detailed enough that, if you speed through it, you’ll miss a lot.

One of my favourite parts of the game was interacting with the various events tucked away. I’d say about a third of the plot is discovered through reading various notes and plaques and books that are scattered around dungeons. This is especially evident in the Sepulcher, as the notes serve to characterize two important NPCs that otherwise would get very little screen time.

On the topic of dungeons: they were very well designed! I had fun exploring them: they felt neither too big nor too small, and it was nice having puzzles that were more than just pushing blocks around or flipping switches. Encounters were also well placed (PS there are on-touch encounters in this game. XD), so I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of monsters creeping around, and they were easy enough to avoid if I didn’t feel like fighting.

So yeah – if you’re like me and love games that encourage a lot of exploration and have interesting puzzles, this is the game for you.

Writing:

This is, I think, the part where I have the most mixed feelings. On one hand, the story was interesting, the characters were endearing, the setting was fabulous and the overall atmosphere and tone was amazing. However, there are a few technical beefs I have with it, so I’m gonna start with those, and then just, like… gush everywhere. Because oh maaaan I need to gush about this game. OTL

Okay, so my issues with it. First of all, I sometimes felt that dialogue was a little awkward. I can’t really pin exactly why I feel this way – I think it might have to do with how modern some of the dialogue sounded (the “oh my God!”s, for one, were a little jarring), and sometimes things were worded a little differently than how I would have worded them, but that’s mostly just me being nitpicky and is overall not a big turn off for me, and ought not turn you off, either! It’s just large enough to warrant a mention.

And I’m sticking this next bit under a spoiler, as I can’t really see how I could talk about it without spoiling the entire last portion of the game. So, uhh… don’t look at this until you’ve played it.

I felt like the first part of the game had great pacing as far as the story went, but everything post-Western Tower suddenly fell flat to me. It felt like the climax of the story was there, in the tower, and everything after that was cleaning up loose ends. Not that I’d remove those parts of the story: on the contrary, I thought the quest for the ship and the dream dungeon were necessary parts of the story. However, if I’d have been writing this, I would have put those two dungeons before the Western Tower in order to keep building tension, rather than making them feel more like an anti-climax.

Another thing I would have liked to see were more references to the Original King. I felt as though he was tacked on, and that the demon inside of Snowe was the real bad guy here. I don’t think the connection between the King and his demon was strong enough: they felt like two separate entities rather than a collective force for Snowe and his friends to be working against. Don’t get me wrong, though; I love the Original King. He’s awesome, and the ever looming threat that he might catch up with you and kill everyone in Sabine gave the game this sense of urgency that made it hard to put down (turn off?).

Okay, now that that’s out of the way: time to gush.

Holy sweet mother of marble mountain lions, the characters in this game are fabulous. Seriously: each and every character is endearing in some way or another. I couldn’t really pick a single favourite (which is really good!), although I was particularly fond of Relenia and Hiante by the end (probably the whole “skeleton who loves fantasy novels” thing). Each character had a unique attitude and way of speaking (Snowe’s stutter was bloody adorable <3), which is surprisingly rare in RM games! They were all memorable, and no one felt out of place or shoehorned in, which was excellent. And when I say all the characters, I mean every single one: party member and NPCs alike. Everyone has a purpose, no one is there just to tell you that poison will hurt you or tonics are a good thing to buy. This game is full of personality!


ALSO NUMISMATIST. <3 Numismatist is probably one of my favourite characters. XD


I know I mentioned above that the pacing for the first 3/4s was excellent, but I feel the need to say it again: the pacing was excellent! On top of that, I rarely had a feeling of “oh this dungeon is totally filler to get me from point A to B”, which is kind of a staple thing in RPGs. I think the compactness of the game serves to keep the story nice and concise, which made for a far more enjoyable experience.

Finally, oh my goodness the setting. <3 It’s eerie, it’s beautiful, it’s enchanting… agh. Just go play this game. You’ll see what I mean.

Aesthetics:

I don’t really need to tell you how gorgeous this game is, but I’m gonna do so anyway, and also talk about a couple other things that may or may not been covered elsewhere!

First of all, back to how much I love these characters: another reason I love them is their character designs. Ronove has created some memorable and lovely looking characters with a unified feel. No one looks out of place (no, not even the skeleton or the demon), and everyone looks unique enough that you shouldn’t be reminded of characters from other games (except for Hiante, who apparently started off as an expy of a character from Master of the Wind…?). There’s nothing but custom sprite work here, making the game even more gorgeous and unique looking.


Did I mention the custom artwork system
ALSO SNOWE x ASTRA 4 LYFE


The mapping is wonderful; I mentioned it before in the exploration section, but maps are neither too big or too small – they’re just perfect. Ronove also makes excellent use of lighting/fog/weather effects, which are surprisingly difficult to pull off! I was an especially big fan of the Sepulcher maps; so beautiful. ;w;

The music choice is spot on. I don’t think I’d change a thing about the soundtrack (there were maybe 2-3 tracks I wasn’t fond of, but that’s just because I’ve heard them elsewhere and was broken out of my immersion for a sec); I was especially fond of the battle theme. It was super catchy, which is awesome when you’re grinding! Also the second track used in the village of Sabine -- auuughh I would dick around in my menu and do extra item shopping so I could hear it more. OTL

As far as sound choices go, I was a little disappointed that VX RTP sounds were used for battle. They’re just plain gross, but I do recognize that it’s kinda hard to find anything better out there! I’d suggest switching over to XP sound effects, or going with more Chrono Trigger/other SNES game sound rips.

I could literally go on for pages about how beautiful this game is, but this review is approaching 2000 words already and nope I need to wrap this up. OTL
IT’S GORGEOUS. It’s lovely. Pet it, touch it, smell it, kiss it, hug it, love it, take it out to dinner and buy it expensive champagne. It’s a 10/10 in the aesthetics department, and should be treated as such.

Conclusion:

Star Stealing Prince is an excellent game, and I recommend everyone grab it right now and play the shit out of it. I’ve gushed about it enough here, and if you don’t want to play it by now, then… man just like

Get out

Get out of here right now

I don’t like your face

I'm gonna give this a 5/5 despite my issues with the plot and my minor complaints about the RTP SEs and cheap incapacitating skills. This is a great game! It offers up a moderate to difficult challenge, depending on your play style, and should take around 9-10 hours to complete. I definitely recommend it; you'll enjoy every minute of it.

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Two endings. If you get the bad one, you'll really wish you had gotten the good one so pay attention to stuff!
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