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Welcome to Paradise

Paradise Blue is a game that many people familiar with the RM* community should recognize. Ocean has been working on this for quite a while, and it has finally reached completion. He’s put together a decent traditional RPG with some interesting untraditional twists.

The Graphics:

99.9% custom made (or 100, I could be wrong). Ocean’s graphics come in a blend of 8-bit mimicry and his own unique style. Some graphics appear to be edits of existing classic styles like that of the older Final Fantasies, while others are clearly forged from scratch (and beautifully so, might I add). However they came to be, they look wonderful together, and the game has a great consistent feel. Everything is mellow and cheery, and sure to set off nostalgia bombs for old RPG fans.

The Audio:

I’m not sure where the soundtrack for this game came from. In the portion of it I played, though, the music is very relaxing and ambient. Even the battle music isn’t too fast paced, which is fine because it helps the game maintain its atmosphere. The gentle melodies combined with the pleasant graphics really make it live up to its name. Everything about it exudes “tropical paradise.”

The Story:

This was an area of weakness for me. The game’s storyline is a little hard to follow, and takes a while to really get moving. The narrative progresses through small missions you’re tasked with completing. Not all the missions are plot-relevant, so the pacing of the story is somewhat affected by how loyal you are to reaching your biggest goals. On the flipside, the optional missions also make up a good bit of the story themselves, and skipping them allows a lot of info to fall by the wayside. A great deal of story-relevant information is also contained in books of lore found in libraries. These books are easy to miss and often confusing. Furthermore, there’s usually an option to skip cutscenes. I don’t know if the game really benefits from such a thing. The gameplay isn’t engaging enough to leave out the story, but the story isn’t strong enough to be the focus, either. I had a hard time following what was going on, and I’m still not entirely sure what my party was trying to accomplish. But it has been a while since I played it, so it could just be me.

The Characters:

I have to give Ocean some credit in this section, as he has a truly brilliant approach to how his hero characters are handled. See, this game allows for some class customization like from the original Final Fantasy; you can pick which kind of heroes you want to use. Usually this approach leads the creator to have silent protagonists, since it’s impossible to determine what the player will choose beforehand. Ocean found a work around, though. The main heroes that the storyline follows have personalities and characterization, but the heroes you use in combat are all silent bodyguards hired to fight for the main heroes! This way, the game still has a non-silent protagonist along with the customization offered by a class-choosing system. The only fault I can see with this approach...is that the main heroes aren’t all that interesting anyway. Perhaps I didn’t get far enough into the game to see them develop properly, but I couldn’t get a feel for who they are or what they’re motivated by. You’re introduced to a handful at the start, then follow the same two for a while. I can’t even remember their names at this point. Again, it might just be how long I waited between playing and reviewing, but the characters just didn’t stick with me.

The Gameplay:

Classic 2k3. You explore the field for treasure chests and hidden items, and fight monsters in ATBs. Haters of random encounters can rejoice; all monsters are visible on-screen. Interestingly enough, it’s possible to permanently clear out enemies on a map. Once an enemy group is defeated, it never returns. I don’t know if over-hunting can harm the game’s ecosystem or not, but there is a limit to your opposition. The battles themselves aren’t terribly difficult. A good chunk of the time, you can just hack your foes to death with a few sword strokes. How your party fights (and fares) will depend most on what classes you choose for them. At the start of the first dungeon, you’ll use whatever four classes you chose. But once you finish it, you have the option to change your party’s classes at will. The hero classes are handled through equippable items. If your hero has “FIGHTER” equipped, they take on the role of a Fighter. You have enough of these class items to customize your party any which way you like. I liked the idea, but I was a bit bothered by it as well. Finding a decent strategy is tricky when there are a limited number of enemies to practice on. Even worse, it’s often hard to tell what works and what doesn’t, as no one strategy I tried proved superior to another. Perhaps things improved beyond the point where I stopped, but most of the early monsters will leave you bored.

The Design:

Ocean’s island is well built, but navigating it can be confusing at times. The maps tend to be very large (the town in particular), and unless you keep good track of where you’ve been and where you’re trying to go, you’ll find yourself hopelessly lost. This problem is aggravated by the fact that it isn’t always obvious where you can and cannot go. In one particular instance, there is a building that runs parallel with the left side of the screen. A walkway passes under part of it, and you can walk underneath it to reach the other side. But there’s no indication you can go under the building, and it could just as easily have been solid brick as far as the player’s concerned. Many doors in towns can’t be opened, though most of the ones you’d want to go through are already open anyway. While the maps are coherent in their design and layout, their size and vagueness make exploring them trickier than I should like.

Although the tone of my review might not suggest it, I don’t think this is a bad game. It employs some very interesting ideas and it’s generally well put together. The custom graphics are beautiful, and the atmosphere they create alongside the music is astounding. The lackluster story and battles were something of a turn-off for me, but I’m hard to please in this regard anyway. Any fan of RPGs should give this game a look.



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Resident foodmonster
Soundtrack comes from me, mostly. A few songs were composed for me by Kaede and Dajhail though.

How far did you get? There is a certain limit to your opposition, but it's not expected that you kill all of them and there is an area with unlimited fights.

The skip scene I mostly took from my previous game, and that's something I'm having in every game I make. If someone wants to replay the game and knows the story already, they can just skip it and play.
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
I made it to Marsall, met the Lord there, and did a sidequest or two in the town. It was a good hour or two, but I didn't get very far.

So, you composed most of the music yourself? More power to you! Your custom-made resources were the game's strongest point, in my opinion.
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