Chrono Trigger is a game often described as a masterpiece, both in design and character, yet over the years only a few RPGs have taken direct inspiration from it. I Am Setsuna is a new RPG for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita promising to not only harken back to the golden age of RPGs from the mid-1990s, but to also wear it’s Chrono Trigger influence unabashedly on it’s sleeve.
The first thing you will notice is the battle system is almost directly ripped from Chrono Trigger; the lack of random encounters, the way the characters jump into position during battle transitions, the use of the ATB gauge, the 3 character battle party and of course the Combo attacks between party members. Well, if you’re going to copy the foundations of a battle system, Chrono Trigger is one of the best. The battle system also has some other tricks including equip-able items called “Spritnite” which are similar to Final Fantasy VII’s Materia system and some new additions such as the “Setsuna” gauge which fills up with each attack and grants boosts to characters actions.
While the game design looks like a definite homage to classic 16-bit era RPGs, the visuals are more modern. The artstyle has a sombre tone that builds an atmosphere that matches the games tragic narrative. The world is covered in snow and mountains, which adds to the dreary aesthetic and adds mystery to the adventure. The focus of the story is Setsuna, she has been chosen by her village to be the sacrifice to bring the world peace. Together with her safeguards and the mercenary Endir, who is initially tasked with killing Setsuna, the party set out to protect Setsuna on her journey across the land to her final destination. The narrative clearly sounds similar to Yuna’s pilgrimage in Final Fantasy X, so it will be interesting to see how it differs in both story and character development.
Other than the battle system and presentation, other design choices that relate I Am Setsuna to the games of the past are the lack of voice acting outside of battle, allowing the music to take centre stage. The soundtrack is comprised completely using piano and sounds both beautiful and haunting. The game also features a world map, fully traversable by foot as well as airship, and many villages and towns to explore and converse with NPCs. It certainly looks like it covers all the criteria from those old-school adventures.
I Am Setsuna is filled with influences and references to classic RPGs that many people love, the main question is will it have enough new elements to stand on its own and deliver an engaging and fantastic RPG experience. It sounds very promising and would be a great beginning to a new RPG series. So if you’re still mesmerised by these classic games and are keen to jump into a new adventure, you should be excited to play I Am Setsuna.
Final Fantasy XII was one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation 2. Released back in 2006, it revolutionised both the Final Fantasy series and RPGs at the time. It modernised the turn-based combat system the series had been using into a more real-time hybrid, while still managing to keep the strategic gameplay and allow players the time to choose actions if they wished. It also featured stellar voice acting for it’s generation and was backed up by the wonderful world of Ivalice, which had appeared in many other Yasumi Matsuno games.
Now Square Enix has announced a remastered version for PlayStation 4 under the title of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. So why am I really excited to revisit Princess Ashe and her crew on their quest to gain freedom for Dalmasca?
Well the biggest new feature here for English speaking fans is this remaster is based on the updated Internal Zodiac Job System version of Final Fantasy XII that was never released outside of Japan. More than just a simple update, it made huge changes to the fundamental gameplay of the original by including specific jobs you could assign to each character to further define their personality and role in the story. There are also many tweaks made to balance the game and the combat systems. Ultimately it will play like a familiar, yet vastly different game to the original.
Other less dramatic changes involve updated visuals and character models, the ability to speed up the gameplay, the inclusion of both the English and Japanese voice tracks and the always welcome re-orchestrated soundtrack by the legendary composer Hitoshi Sakimoto.
So if you want to experience an RPG that’s gameplay systems were ahead of it’s time, both updated for returning fans and new players alike, then you should be excited to play Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.
The Legend of Zelda is an absolute classic video game series and the SNES master piece A Link to the Past is not only seen as one of the best instalments, but one of the best games ever made. It is a daunting task to go back and revisit such a classic, but over 20 years after it’s release Nintendo are making a sequel for the Nintendo 3DS.
A Link Between Worlds harkens back to 2D top-down style of it’s predecessor featuring a bright and colourful Hyrule over world to explore, contrasted against a new take on the Dark World with the dreary alternate land of Lorule. For players who miss the classic style top down RPGs this looks like a great game to bring back that old magic. Even the character designs have a unique look that makes the game feel like a modern day SNES game. A Link Between Worlds will also use the 3D effect of the hardware to add verticality and depth to the visuals including making effects jump out of the screen at the player.
While A Link Between Worlds features many returning elements from the revered SNES game, it is also looking to add innovations of its own. The original Legend of Zelda allowed the player to explore the world any way they wished, choosing which dungeons to complete in which order and A Link Between Worlds is expanding on that concept. Recent games in the series have been known to hold the players hand, but in this game the player can rent or buy whatever items they want from the mysterious merchant and challenge any dungeon, in any order depending on what items they need for the task.
Another new feature that is set to turn the gameplay on its head, is Link’s ability to become a painting and merge with walls. This changes the perspective of the camera, enabling the player to access other areas, dodge enemies, find hidden secrets and travel between the two alternate worlds.
Set generations after the events of A Link to the Past, the pointy eared hero is again off to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule. If you loved the SNES masterpiece or have longed for another epic 2D Zelda adventure, then you should be interested in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
Level-5 made their name known to RPG fans with great games such as Dragon Quest VIII, Rogue Galaxy and the Dark Cloud series. Their new RPG for the PlayStation 3 is looking to recapture the magic and whimsical atmosphere of those classic games by combining beautiful visuals with traditional elements of the genre.
The first thing you will notice about Ni No Kuni is the art style, which is created from a collaboration with famed anime company Studio Ghibli. The world is inviting, colourful and seems to be full of imagination. The player will travel from large cities to lush jungles and the game will include a large scale world map that you can freely explore, just like all RPGs used to.
The story will follow Olivier, as he enters the alternative reality world of Ni No Kuni in search for his dead mother. With his new ability to use magic, Olivier will meet many strange and wonderful characters along the way as he must also help the citizens of the parallel world in their own plight. The battle system uses a mixture of real-time and turn-based combat. Characters can attack using magic spells, but can also recruit enemies to fight for you. Battles seem to be a mix up of ideas from many different games and it will be interesting to see how they all come together.
If you love the charm and feel of RPGs from the Super Nintendo era and wish to explore a creative and imaginative world, then you should be interested in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Square Enix is releasing two new RPGs for the Nintendo 3DS, one is a sequel in a long running series and the other a new take on the traditional RPG that has more in common with the earlier titles in the Final Fantasy series.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Kingdom Hearts series has always combined fantastic action RPG game play, an interesting story, great characters and superb music. Kingdom Hearts 3D features the ability to play as both main characters Sora and Riku, explore new Disney worlds such as Fantasia and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the ability to collect Dream Eaters to aid you in battle and cameos from the cast of The World Ends With You.
Capitalising on the excellent Birth By Sleep, this new entry looks to evolve the series and tie up the loose ends in the story building up the third main title.
If you are a fan of the series and are anticipating the announcement of Kingdom Hearts III, then you should be interested in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance.
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
The most striking feature of Bravely Default is its mesmerising art style. Blending highly detailed hand-drawn backgrounds and unique character designs, it is reminiscent of Final Fantasy IX. The battle system is turn-based, while adding a new feature to stack up turns to unleash more powerful attacks. A 3D world map returns as well as a job system similar to that found in Final Fantasy V.
Bravely Default looks to be one of the most impressive RPGs currently in development, with still more features yet to be revealed.
If you have been longing for a return to the classic adventures of earlier Final Fantasy games with a beautiful art style, then you should be interested in Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.