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A solid rpg experience

Oh god, I'm writing a review. What is this madness?

Gameplay: 4/5

Do they stand a chance? I'm thinking not.

You have a party of four characters right from the start. You can give them any class out of the six starter classes, as well as changing their genders. Changing gender does nothing more than give characters different appearances.

The gameplay follows the typical quest formula. You receive a quest, you go out and fulfill the quest conditions, and then you return to your client and reap the rewards. Quests can be anything from hunting monsters, to sneaking into heavily guarded fortresses. Admittedly the base types of quests aren't very varied, the actual situations for some of them will probably get a laugh out of you at the very least.

Battles in this game are very well balanced. It uses the RM2K3 default battle system with a metric boatload of battle enhancements. combat plays out very traditionally and upon victory, the party will receive the usual EXP and Gold. ABP is also gained after battle which is needed to master class abilities.

Your characters have different commands based on the class they happen to be. To add another layer to combat, you can also equip an extra class ability as well as a bonus skill. With this in mind, it's possible to create some devastating character setups, such as a Paladin with with the Archer's TripleCUT command and the Monk's HP+ Bonus. Or a Black Mage with the Red Mage's DoubleCAST command, and the Time Mage's AutoHASTE ability. The possibilities for party setups are vast and should keep the player experimenting for a good while.

One mark against this game's combat though, is that it ends up being too easy. I feel that Ocean should have made enemies a little tougher. Because once you find your ideal party setup, plowing through enemies becomes the norm.

Storyline: 2.5/5

The storyline is very basic. The king of Azulea Island has fallen ill, and now two factions have risen up to fight for the throne. The faction lead by Salomon, whose side you're on, and Amaro, whose side you're against. There are no surprise twists or epic discoveries. The story goes from point A to B with no real intrigue.

To Ocean's credit though, the storyline has no intention of fooling you. What you see is what you get. The game plainly makes this clear, and even makes fun of itself in that case.

Characters: 3/5

And she'd do it too.

The characters in this game are the shining point of the story. While not every single character gets decent exposure, you are at least given a feel for most of them. The two characters that definitely stood out from the rest were Neil and Amelia.

These two traveled with your silent party for the entire game. Their antics pretty much replace anything the party would say. This would usually be a mark again this game. But Ocean makes up for it by making the dynamic between these two highly amusing. Another standout point are a good amount of the NPCs, They have very amusing lines with the party and with each other. I whenever I got to a new town, I would always talk to everyone to see just what they would say.

Level Design: 3/5

T-That mushroom....

The level design in Paradise Blue is fairly basic. It doesn't try to go over the top with beautifully detailed maps. Every is mapped to fairly navigable and clear.

Puzzles are few and far between, but what puzzles that are around prove to be a good break in the sometime monotonous crawl of merely walking around. Some puzzles may be frustrating, such as that one haunted basement puzzle, which I won't get into right now.

Maps are also littered with enemy graphics that wander the maps. You run into these in order to fight battles. After you defeat a monster group, it disappears forever. This might bother some people, but I found myself adequately strong enough with my party setup. So one shouldn't be hurting for ABP. However Ocean did provide an area with unlimited enemies for such people.

Maps also have tons of objects that you can check for all sorts of items and little messages. You'll most likely find yourself looking through all sorts of bookshelves, barrels, crates, and....seashells, for items and other rewards.

One thing I will point out though, is that each area seems to have it's own little quirk. For example, the northern swamplands were filled with mushrooms that had various internet expressions on them. Another mountain area actually had scenery made of candy. It's a very interesting design choice and it makes it stand out.

Sound: 2.5/5

Paradise Blue boasst a fully custom soundtrack. Unfortunately, I found most of the songs to be fairly forgettable. A few area and dungeon themes did stand out to me. The music does it's job well enough I suppose.

Sound effects appear to be from various final fantasies. No sound effect appears to sound out of place. Every effect I heard sounded just fine to my ears. Once again, nothing mind blowing, it just does it's job and that's that.

Overall: 4/5

Ocean made a ton of good design decisions, such as skipping scenes, merchants in weird places for your convenience, and chocobo travel that made the game less of a chore to play. The difficulty was a little on the low side in my opinion, but some may still find it mildly challenging.

Overall, it's not a masterpiece, but this game does what it wanted to do extremely well. Which was to deliver a quest based rpg experience in the style of the old final fantasy games. I recommend giving this game a try. It's short enough to that it doesn't overstay it's welcome.
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