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It may be blue, but it sure ain't sad!

  • Oblic
  • 09/05/2012 12:51 AM
  • 1372 views
Okay, so it’s been a while since I have done this, and I know this game already has several positive reviews, but something just made me want to write a quick review!

My background of this game goes back about 2 years. I noticed it had pretty high ratings at the time, I liked what I saw with the screen shots, and I was really intrigued by the class system. So, I thought I’d give it a download and try it out. But, something frustrated me (I think the first boss beat me to hell and back), so I put it down for a while (again, about 2 years) and moved onto other games. I came back to it recently and found myself really enjoying the gameplay. I enjoyed it so much, I actually finished the game in 2 or 3 sittings; it was actually a chore to find an “appropriate place” to take a break. Bottom line: don’t give up on things so easily!

Story:

Honestly, even with playing this game in a very dense manner, and only having finished it about a week ago, I don’t really remember the finer parts of the story. The big picture was pretty easy to follow, but each link of the relatively linear chain of events didn’t seem to fit together very fluidly. Maybe getting distracted by all the side quests and other goodies had something to do with it. Either way, I wasn’t terribly engaged with what my characters were doing.

For the most part, you play as four random nameless (you get to name them) mercenaries, that play little to no role in the main events of the story. For the first hour or so of the game, you are kind of led around by the nose by two “main characters” that are on a mission to overthrow the evil governing power of the island you inhabit. This missions are being given by a former (or current, I can’t really remember) member of this governing body, who thinks he’d do a better job. In short, the over-arching theme isn’t really breaking any kind of new ground.

In essence, the story isn’t what this game is all about. The fact that you are given the option to skip almost every cut scene or story element alludes to that.

Graphics:

The graphics were one of the things that I was originally turned off by, but I learned a thing or two and kept playing, eventually warming up to them. If you read the most recent blog post, there is a short synopsis of how this game came to be. The original plan was stick with NES colors and graphics. Eventually, this plan was scrapped because of the extremely limited variety of colors offered by this restriction. This decision led to a bit of a “washed out” look. Most of the game looks (in my opinion) to have a blue tint to it. I’m not sure if this was intended to fit the title, or was a happy accident due to the color scheme change. Either way, when you give it a chance, it seems to have a subtle charm and appeal.

Other than the unusual color pallet, the sprites and the highly stylized character and chip sets are amazing! The fact that each class (which I’ll mention later) has a separate look for both sexes that, as far as I know, are custom, should give you an idea of the depth of work that went into making this game’s graphics. Similarly, almost every NPC you talk to has their own individual character sprite, each one with a very high level of detail. The same thing goes for enemies. If I remember correctly few or no enemy sprites are recolored from other games, or recycled within the game.

If you give the initial look of the game a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised when you get to later parts of the game.

Music and Sound:

For the most part, the sound effects were relatively unremarkable. In my opinion, this is a good thing; if nothing really stands out, that either means there were no sound effects, which isn’t the case, or they were so well executed that there is nothing to ridicule.

In terms of music, though, I was thoroughly impressed! If I am not mistaken, all of the music was made custom for this game. And there weren’t just a handful of songs, either; each major town has its own theme, there are few battle themes and a couple of different themes for the various dungeons. Since the entire game takes place on an island, many of the themes have “waves crashing” in the background, which adds a nice touch! They all seem to have that “soothing island beach” feel, as well, making for very relaxing adventure.

To give you an idea of how much I liked the music, I actually listen to it from time to time while writing, and have been listening to it the entire time I have been typing this review.

Gameplay:

Ahh, time to talk about the meat of the game. The battle system, for the most part, relies on the default RM 2k3 ATB system, which has a pretty bad stigma around these parts. While I don’t disagree with this sentiment, the custom made class and support character systems make battles much more enjoyable. Each of the 15 classes has a series of unique active and passive abilities that are gained as you gain levels within that particular class. Some of these are available as soon as you assign a character to a class, such as the Thief’s ability to see hidden hallways. But, if you earn these abilities, they can be utilized while playing as a different class. This allows for quite a bit of customization. For instance, when I got to the end of the game, I created one of the craziest damage output combinations that I can think of.
If you take a monk, apply the knight’s attack up level 3 and the ranger’s triple cut, you attack 6 times for HUGE damage!
This little hidden trick is VERY helpful with late game bosses.

Since you can mix and match skills with 4 different party members, you can create almost any kind of party you can think of! It’s worth noting, though, that each class has its own leveling curves. Meaning, a level 10 (in terms of experience, not job level) knight will have a significantly higher attack and defense than a level 10 white mage. This may sound obvious, but it took me some time to realize that when I changed classes, my characters’ stats were changing. A good way to summarize the class system would be to compare it to Final Fantasy V’s class system, with a few tweaks.

Next up is the support character system. As you explore the island, you will occasionally run into NPC’s that will offer their services (don’t get too excited; this isn’t GTA!). Some of these NPC’s will do rather mundane things, like doubling your walking speed, or allowing you to see hidden passage ways. Since there are classes that already give you these abilities, and considering you are only allowed to have two support characters at once, I never used them. I usually went for those that greatly helped in battle, like casting haste on your party, or always guaranteeing a surprise attack on the enemy. Having the ability to give your party a bit more of an edge in battle can really make a difference, especially when you stray into an area that is meant to be encountered later in the game. Make sure to give a few different combinations a try before you settle on something you like.

I always like when a game uses a touch encounter battle system, rather than random encounters. Not only is this system a bit “more realistic”, it also allows you to manage the flow of the game, and your parties health. But, in Paradise Blue, this encounter system introduces another interesting aspect as to how party management becomes very important. Early on, some NPCs allude to the “slow repopulation” of monsters. Although I was a bit unclear what this meant at first, it became very clear when I revisited some of the older areas of the game: monsters don’t respawn. This means you really need to focus on keeping your entire party alive at the end of each battle to ensure everyone gets the maximum benefits of battle, namely experience and, to a smaller extent, AP (which goes toward gaining job levels). As far as I know, once an enemy is dead, it will NEVER respawn, even though some NPCs do sort of imply that they will come back “after a long time”. This lack of respawning monsters can also pose a threat to your coffers as well, making money management important for the first few parts of the game. Luckily, bosses do not give experience or AP, making them less stressful in keeping you whole party alive by the end of battle. Otherwise, save often and reload if you miss some experience, because it is hard to make it up.

I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I am a bit of a completist. Even though this may make me pull my hair out trying to find that LAST little thing in a game, it also makes games that have that last little thing more enjoyable. Paradise Blue has a TON of little side-quests and distractions that can keep you playing well after you reach the last bit of the game. Most of the rewards can be quite helpful, so finishing these side-quests can make your journey a bit easier. There is even a “monster arena” type area where you can keep fighting monsters of a particular level to continuously gain AP, and in a few cases, a little money. Unfortunately, you can’t gain experience this way, but at least you can max out all the jobs with each character in order to beef up your party.

The last main gameplay aspect I want to touch on is the super bosses. As far as I know, there are 3 super bosses that you can encounter if you feel you are up to the challenge. The first is actually pointed out by a quest giver who very clearly tells you that the enemy he is sending after is really hard. The other two you have to find on your own and realize the hard way that they are not to be trifled with (again SAVE OFTEN!). The thing I found funny was the one that had a ton of hype was by far the easiest. I took it down rather quickly, with only one or two party members dying. The other two, however, were a nightmare. I only managed to kill the lesser of the two, after a few attempts, and with little reward. The other, I barely dented before he obliterated my party. These difficult bosses are doubly hard because of the aforementioned finite experience. Although these guys can be very difficult, they are beatable (or so I’m told).

What’d I miss…:

- My “Grammar Nazi” senses were set off a few times while playing, but since I wasn’t deeply engaged in the story, it didn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Still, the fewer spelling and grammar mistakes, the better.
- I liked the few cameo appearances in the game (if you know RMN, you’ll notice them!)
- I felt like the final boss was a bit difficult, considering he has similar stats to a couple of the super bosses. I feel like having a super hard final boss is a bit of a punishment to a player that got that far, only to fall flat on their face with max level characters. But, considering most battles in this game end quickly (with either a victory or defeat), it made it easy to retry the final battle until I found a strategy that worked.
- Check the nooks and crannies! You never know what (or who) you’ll find!
- After scouring the island several times, I still have an empty quest slot, even after I started the Finale quest. I compared my list to the one in the walkthrough, and unless I can’t read, they matched up. So, I came to the conclusion that the empty spot is meant to be there…?

Overall:

Fun, fun, fun… the score. I usually avoid reading other reviews of a game before I play it, mostly to avoid spoilers. I also don’t want my fresh opinion of a game to be altered by other people’s opinions. But, I sometimes use the average score to guide me to the better received games within the community (as long as there are a sufficient number of reviews to get a good average). That being said, I know that most people think quite highly of this game, but I don’t know their reasoning.

The reason for all that was to try to make it clear that I am not trying to follow along with what others say or think. Meaning, when I give this game a…

4 out of 5

…it has nothing to do with the fact that the average score right now is the same. I feel like there was a lot of work put into this game, and it shows in a lot of places. But, there are a few short comings (ie. the story) that prevent me from giving the highest possible score.

All-in-all, I highly suggest playing this game. The first hour or so may not hold you attention, but give it a chance, and I am sure you’ll be hooked!

Posts

Pages: 1
Ocean
Resident foodmonster
10853
Awesome, thanks for the review! Yeah, I'm working on improving the story/writing aspect for my future games as I know that's a fault of mine. Still glad you enjoyed the game as is!

Yeahh the last boss tripped people up. Should have done what someone suggested, to make an easier version and a harder version if you fought optional battles. Oh well, something to keep in mind!

Quest log has 40 quests in it. What page is the blank one on? I think I have an idea what the quest might be but if you can tell me what page and space it was, I'll be able to tell for sure. But all the spaces are used.

In terms of music, though, I was thoroughly impressed! If I am not mistaken, all of the music was made custom for this game.
Yeah they're nearly all mine. Dajhail and Kaede did help me out with some songs (Such as the battle theme).

this encounter system introduces another interesting aspect to how party management becomes very important. Early on, some NPCs allude to the “slow repopulation” of monsters
Might be how it's phrased in game, but actually they don't ever respawn. I'd have put a timer on it but I didn't want to slay the game with parallel processes nor have people waiting for a long time so they can battle again. You'll probably end the game at around level 25-32. I did want people to not be screwed over ability point wise though so there's the monster arena but I also didn't want people winning just by sheer levels. As I have mentioned somewhere, it is entirely possible to win at Level 1, and in fact Level 1 and only fighting mandatory battles. It's not easy but it's doable!

Anyway, lemme know what quest spot you are missing and we can see what it is!
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
Again, I really liked the music! I thought it was all custom, but I couldn't find any mention of it in any of the blogs. Also, the story wasn't bad, just a bit choppy, and I got really distracted by everything else available in the game!

Anyway, the quest I'm missing is on page 7, 4th one down. I really appriciate the help on that! Even though I walked away from the game, it was eating away at my soul!!!
Ocean
Resident foodmonster
10853
OK I had my suspicions but I confirmed it when I checked just now. Basically, go back to Villa Estelar (blue roof houses with domes) and check the bar for a scholar. Talk to him and it'll start that quest. It's not so bad as it's in the area but make sure you have some saves around as you might need it.

Out of curiosity, what are you levels and class/skill arrangements?
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
Hah! I thought the temple thing was a quest! Since I completed the quest before talking to the dude it still doesn't come up in the list. At least I know it's complete.

In terms of levels: my entire party is on level 31. Each one has about 4 jobs mastered (I think I mastered each class at least once), but I pretty much have my entire party set up for damage output. I have 3 monks, one with the set up I have hidden above, and the other two with build up. My last one is a summoner, for healing; he has lvl3 speed + and white. He also has the best sword and armor equipped for boosted stats.

I hope that answered that question... I didn't master every class with everyone, but I may go back and do that at some point.

Thanks for helping me find that last quest!
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