Atelier Iris~Eternal Mana~ May 29, 2012 16:11:16 GMT -5
Post by Bytor on May 29, 2012 16:11:16 GMT -5
This is actually something I have agonized over a bit. Let me start by saying for all intensive purposes this is a sprite based 2D game, with the illusions of 3D in the towns and shops, and these designs are for the most part well done. On the one hand the colors are vibrant and bright. The character designs, for the most part, are all very well done and look very nice as do the various enemies. The various towns you traverse all look good and have a nice attention to detail as do the shops. On the other hand the sprites don't quite have the attention to detail I feel they could have, they are very, very well rendered I just felt they lacked a slight bit of detail that the PS2 is certainly capable of. The other two issues are somewhat minor but they did bug me a bit. For one there is exactly two FMV's in the whole game, both at the start, this game would have been significantly better with more (any) anime type cut scenes, which certainly would have meshed wonderfully with the game's style and vision. The other slight issue is the world map, to say it looks simply horrible is an understatement, it would have been much better if fast travel would simply have been included at the beginning. Still those two issues are slight and overall I think the game looks very nice.
An awesome soundtrack highlights solid voice overs. And to make matters even more fun the original Japanese voices are included, but I actually used the English ones, which is abnormal, as I found them to be a slight bit better, in this case the Japanese ones were simply too cliched an over the top. Now understand this soundtrack is not for everyone, I found it wonderful to listen to but nothing which stuck in my head for good reasons or bad, I do understand some may find the music to be simply too unobtrusive. Hence the need for reviews, lol, one's man rose etc.
Typical of the series this game is a turn based battle system melded with a alchemy system in which various objects are combined to produce various other objects. I am not going to go into too much detail on the item synthesis system as it is for the most part pretty straightforward and pretty self-explanatory, find objects, find more objects and combine them to constantly make more/better objects. Likewise with the battles. they are pretty straightforward. Each ally gets a turn and can use an item, attack or attack with a special attack. it is standard RPG fare as far as battles are concerned. Having said that the battles and synthesis system are, for the most part, very well executed and are challenging without becoming too silly, with one minor exception and one major one. First of all the minor one. For 3/4 of the game the battles seem to level up in difficulty as you level up. In other words as you progress the battles get tougher and tougher, like pretty much every game in existence. Then, BAM, all of the sudden you are forced to back track over previously traversed areas again and again, and the enemies are unreal push-overs. So...what's the deal you ask? Simple I'll respond. The battles while simple, take time (thus admitted very, very little, but it's still annoying) and the time is not worth it. Getting 20 exp points for a battle is worthless, especially considering the average battles in new areas at this stage in the game reward between 500 and 1000, it's a little thing but it bugged me. And now my major gripe. Anyone who reads my stuff knows how i feel about "silly boss battles". Well, this one has one of the "silliest". The boss has @31-32K hit points and your strongest attacks will take between 1K and 4k (the higher end being very limited). But, this is not what really makes it silly, instead it's the attacks the enemy does. He has two major attacks. One will take off @95% of you hit points at a time which is annoying but still survivable. The other is the BS one. Sometimes (read waaaay tooo often) he will target one member of your party and provide the always fun "instant death". Ok, still you say, no problem, I still have two allies left, well....only Klein can mass heal and revive (excepting some small item usage, and I mean small, pretty much useless items others can use) and my experience tells me he's seems to target Klein A LOT! This is silly. I despise a boss battle where this much luck is involved, winnable...yes...but silly...equally yes. Unfortunate, because except for these two issues the gameplay is simply fantastic fun.
Hmm, well...most of the games in this series don't have much of story, this one is the exception. Having said that the story is not exactly mind blowing. What is wonderful though is the characters and their development, wonderfully told to say the least. I can't give away too much but basically the story is of a land where mana (magic/alchemy) is overused and disappearing. Seriously nothing new, but Klein, Lita, Marrieta and company provide a wonderful backdrop. Great characters, even the somewhat annoying Norn, lol
P.S. Some of the NPC;s are equally, if not more so, as interesting as the main characters, so...talk to them a lot!
I really enjoyed this game. Heck, for about 50 hours it was borderline love, lol. Then it got a tad bogged down for me at towards the end. I almost felt the designers weren't sure where to stop and the backtracking got a tad monotonous to say the least, and of course do not get me started again on the final battle. Still, overall I'd certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a nice RPG with a good battle system, some nice characters and a fun (and somewhat simple) synthesis system. Great game? No, but certainly an above average one.