Child of Light is a downloadable turn-based RPG released across various PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox consoles that features a beautifully unique art design and an engaging combat system wrapped up in a fairy tale narrative.
The first thing that will strike you about Child of Light is the magnificent art direction and animation. It really looks like a watercolour painting come to life. If you ever dreamed of a fairy tale adventure as a kid, it would probably look a lot like this. The dialogue is also unique as it is delivered in poetic verse, keeping the conversations between the characters interesting and fun.
The story follows Aurora, a young girl on a journey through the magical land of Lemuria to defeat the Dark Queen Umbra and return light to the world. The narrative seems ripped straight out of a fairy tale book, but there are a few twists and turns along the way. Aurora is a strong willed protagonist and she is joined by a colourful cast of characters along her quest.
The gameplay of Child of Light consists of some light side-scrolling platforming reminiscent of Valkyrie Profile and a battle system with ideas taken from Grandia. The turn-based battle system shows you a timeline of when actions with be performed, allowing you to time your attacks to interrupt the enemies onslaught. Each character has a skill tree that lets them learn new skills and abilities as they level up and you can also equip them with various element gemstones to add further bonuses to their stats.
The music is equally effective as the visuals in taking you away to the fantasy land of Lemuria, from dark caverns to deserted villages. Most of the tunes are gentle and melancholy, but gain intensity when required in big battles. The beautiful piano driven “Pilgrims on a Long Journey” is a highlight that echoes the themes of Aurora’s adventure.
Child of Light is a work of art, both in design and presentation. If you wish to play an artistic and whimsical RPG then you should play Child of Light.
Chaos Rings is a turn-based RPG for the iOS platform that brings impressive art design, an intriguing story and console style gameplay to the iPhone and iPad.
Developed by creators of the Wild Arms series Media.Vision and with art direction from Yusuke Naora who worked on RPG classics Final Fantasy VII and VIII, Chaos Rings has a distinct PlayStation era feel. The pre-rendered backgrounds look beautiful and highly detailed and the character designs are interesting and varied. Chaos Rings is one of the most visually pleasing RPGs on the iOS platform and a great game in it’s own right.
The story of Chaos Rings revolves around four different pairs of characters that are brought together in the Ark Arena and forced to fight for their lives, with the victors gaining immortality. The game lets you chose between four different scenarios adding re-play value as each one plays out differently. Each pair must travel through various dungeons and face bosses in order to learn more about the Ark Arena, the mysterious Agent who appears to be running the Arena and the truth about why they have been summoned there. Each pair have an interesting relationship dynamic, from being husband and wife to wanting to get revenge for murder, but over the course of the game they develop further and you learn the truth about their pasts. The story and the characters that fill it are both interesting and engaging.
Chaos Rings brings a slight switch up to the tradition turn-based battles RPG players are familiar with. In combat each couple can choose to attack individually or combine together to perform a more powerful paired attack. Using pair attacks might cause more damage, but then the enemies have a chance to fight back and attack both party members in a single strike. A Break Meter is also displayed showing who has the upper hand in battle so balancing between using solo and pair attacks is crucial to winning tough boss battles. After defeating monsters you can earn Gene Plates that can be equipped to your characters to allow them to perform magic attacks in combat. Most of the gameplay revolves around dungeon crawling, but a few puzzle room challenges that require you to move blocks and teleport your character around obstacles are implemented to provide a bit of variety.
Like the visuals, the soundtrack is also impressive for the hardware. The music is mostly lively and up-tempo, such as the majestic “Theme of Chaos Rings”. While other tracks change it up like the eerie and mysterious “No Place Like Home”. Most tunes have multiple parts making the compositions feel varied and unique. This is a quality soundtrack.
Chaos Rings is an impressive RPG designed for mobile platforms featuring great combat and art style. If you wish to play a quality RPG on your iPhone or iPad then you should play Chaos Rings.
Pokémon Gold and Silver are twin turn-based RPGs for the GameBoy Colour that brought the popular monster catching series to new heights as well as expanding on the foundations set in the original games .
The original Pokémon Red and Blue allowed players to travel around the game world catching over 100 species of Pokémon creatures and training them to battle against other Pokémon Trainers to become the world champion. Gold and Silver updated the formula adding over 100 new Pokémon, new varieties, a whole new region to explore (with a real world time mechanic) and more complexity to the game play. Everything that was great about the first generation of Pokémon games, was amplified in these sequels.
The story of Gold and Silver is a direct sequel set 3 years after the events of the original games including appearances from some major characters. The player is tasked with travelling the world and amassing and training a party of Pokémon to battle against the best of the best. While the story is minimal and the visuals on the original GameBoy were limited, the region of Johto (which is based on the real Japanese region of Kansai) is full of interesting cities and locations to explore. At the end of the main storyline you also have the opportunity to revisit the Kanto region in Red and Blue and see how things have changed over the 3 years, effectively adding a second quest to the game. The Pokémon creatures themselves are diverse and will appeal to many different kinds of tastes. They are true characters of the games.
While initially seeming to be about monster collecting, the real focus of the series is battling the Pokémon you have caught in turn-based combat. There are 17 different elemental types of Pokémon that all have advantages and disadvantages against each other, such as fire being weak to water, but strong against grass. With each Pokémon having four moves (which can be of different type) and battles allowing up to 6 Pokémon each side, battles can be very strategic and engaging, especially against other human players. Add in the fact Pokémon can also hold items that have special effects in combat and there is plenty of room to experiment. The longevity of the Pokémon series is down to fact that they are easy for everyone to play, but have surprising depth and complexity for more advanced players willing to look for it. This has only increased as the series grew.
Of course the real appeal of the Pokémon series is the fantastic multiplayer aspects. Trading Pokémon with friends and then building your ultimate team to battle against them is easily the most rewarding part of the game. While these decade old games are still playable, they received a recent remake bringing them inline with the modern series and todays handheld consoles expanding the multiplayer access with online play.
With the limited hardware of the GameBoy Colour, locations needed musical themes to make them stand out, such as the tune for “Goldenrod City”, which is appropriate lively for a big bustling city. The easily recognisable battle theme is also frantic and gives you feeling of being ambushed by a wild Pokémon, while the “Champion Battle” builds urgency and intensity when the stakes are high.
Pokémon Gold and Silver are classic portable RPGs that are both accessible, but with hidden depth and complexity. If you wish to play an RPG that allows strategic battles against friends then you should play Pokémon Gold and Silver.
Filed under Pokemon, Reviews
Suikoden II is a turn-based RPG for the PlayStation that showcased a magnificent political narrative, over 100 playable characters to recruit and featured three different types of combat.
Set years after the events of the first Suikoden game, this sequel improves upon the good ideas of the original and blends them into an impressive and epic RPG. Released in an age when 3D was the next big thing and developers were pushing themselves to understand the new technology, Suikoden II featured a 2D world with highly detailed and expressive character sprites that works very well to convey the emotional narrative. This is a fantastic looking 2D RPG.
The story focuses on the invading army of Highland lead by the destructive Prince Luca Blight and the various City States of Jowston. The two main characters fight both together and apart against Highland to bring peace to the land. The relationship between the silent protagonist and childhood friend Jowy is the highlight of the story and the character development and plot twists are extremely emotional. Rarely are characters written with this much depth and complexity. The scope of the narrative allows for an unbelievable 108 unique playable characters to recruit to your party, with many memorable and unique faces.
The Suikoden series is known for utilising three different types of combat and the second game uses them all wonderfully. The regular turn-based battles allow for up to six-characters with unique partner attacks and magic rune spells. The second combat system is one-on-one duels, with each character choosing between three attack options and the winner decided in a rock-paper-scissors style. The last combat type is massive grid style tactical battles similar to the Fire Emblem series. The stakes are higher in these battles and if characters are killed they stay dead in the storyline. Suikoden II has a plethora of game play features and also includes great mini-games such as the addicting cooking competition.
Just like the rest of the game, the music of Suikoden II is epic and ambitious. The “Opening Theme” sets the standard hitting magnificent highs and lows, while the ethereal “Reminiscence” is a beautiful melody. With all the quality soundtracks from the PlayStation era RPGs, Suikoden II stands tall with the best of them.
Suikoden II is a classic and rare RPG. If you wish to play an RPG with an intriguing story, over 100 characters to recruit and massive battles then you should play Suikoden II.
Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG for the PlayStation 2 that featured the bizarre, but magical combination of classic Disney characters with Squaresoft’s own Final Fantasy characters.
Kingdom Hearts created a universe where characters from Disney animated films such as Aladdin and Peter Pan co-existed with Final Fantasy characters ranging from Cloud Strife to Squall Leonheart. It didn’t just rest on the popularity of Disney’s timeless characters and settings though, expertly mixing it together featuring an entertaining original story, fun real time combat system, high quality voice acting and an amazing soundtrack. Kingdom Hearts was so unpredictable, yet so ingenious.
The story focuses mostly on original characters, while leaving the Disney and Final Fantasy characters as cameos, which works extremely well as it lets Kingdom Hearts stand on its own two feet. The main character Sora is tasked with using the Keyblade to travel to different worlds and protect them from being consumed by the dark creatures known as the Heartless. The story evolves from the light verse darkness theme and provides many twists and turns such as your allies becoming enemies. The locations are also a highlight as each new world brings a classic Disney film to life.
Unlike most of the RPGs Squaresoft were releasing at the time, battles in Kingdom Hearts are in real time with the player having full control over Sora, who is joined by Donald and Goofy (plus other Disney characters) as computer controlled party members. The combat system still has plenty of depth as Sora can attack with his Keyblade, cast magic spells, use special techniques, jump, fly and even use summons. Despite the bright and colourful look of the games graphics, some bosses are very difficult and require the player to master all of their abilities such as an optional fight against the infamous Sephiroth in the Hercules’ Olympus Colosseum.
Kingdom Hearts excels in its voice acting, as the main characters are brought to life by Hollywood actors and many of the Disney characters have their original voice talent. Adding to the fantastic audio experience is the impressive soundtrack by Yoko Shimomura who carefully blends arrangements of iconic Disney melodies with memorable original compositions such as “Dearly Beloved” and “Hollow Bastion”.
Kingdom Hearts is a wonderful mix of originality and nostalgia. If you wish to play an action RPG with thrilling game play and memorable characters then you should play Kingdom Hearts.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is a turn-based RPG for the Nintendo DS that features a full fledge single player experience combined with co-operative multiplayer with up to four players.
Dragon Quest IX is the first main title in the series to be released on a portable system and features unique aspects such as co-operative multiplayer and the ability to create and customise your own character and party members. It greatest strength is that it can still be completed purely as a single player game with great supporting characters, a fantastical story, a giant world full of secrets and an excellent tradition turn-based battle system.
The story is based around the Celestrians, a group of angels that watch over the mortal world, who will be one day rewarded for their service by ascending to the Realm of the Almighty. Disaster strikes when the Celestrians are attacked and knocked down to the world below. The main character is stripped of his angel wings and forced to discover who was behind the attack and find a way back home. The story starts off formulaic, but really picks up as more is revealed leading to some great boss encounters during the end of the game. The story progression and minimal party member characterisation feels like a throwback to classic RPGs such as early instalments in both the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.
Dragon Quest IX offers a very tradition RPG experience bursting with a robust job class system, skills and special attacks to learn, equipment and accessories, side quests and alchemy to mix and craft different items. The battle system is turn based with up to four party members and there are no random battles as all enemies are seen roaming around the environments. The multiplayer component allows other players to become guests in your adventure, while still being fully controllable by each player. Dragon Quest IX offers one of the best implementations of local multiplayer found in the genre and is great if you are looking for an RPG to play with friends.
The soundtrack accompanying the journey is classic Dragon Quest and stays pretty closely to the series routes. The main theme “Overture IX” is a triumphant tune that evokes images of a grand adventure, while the more sombre piece “Heaven’s Prayer” played at the Observatory, helps add to the angelic tone of the narrative. There will definitely be some memorable melodies as you play through the game.
Dragon Quest IX is a fantastic traditional RPG that is equally fun to play through on your own or with friends. If you wish to play a classic RPG with fully customisable characters, then you should play Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies.
Bastion is an action RPG released on multiple platforms including the Apple iPad that features a unique voiceover narration and lush colourful world.
The thing that sets Bastion apart from most games is the entire experienced is narrated by a grizzly voiceover that adds personality and charm. The innovative narrator not only tells the story as you progress but also comments and describes your every action. If you go off the path to smash some of scenery with your hammer the narrator will make it seem like it is part of story. The voiceover is dynamic, so you don’t hear the same lines ever repeat, giving the impression of an omnipresent person following you throughout your adventure. Coupled with the narration is a 2D world that is vibrant and mesmerising as it expands at your every step. The art style is imaginative and evokes a fairytale like quality that is instantly inviting.
The story follows a silent hero known as The Kid, as he works to restore the Bastion after the land is destroyed by an apocalyptic Calamity. He must re-discover the world as it is now broken into floating pieces of land and search for survivors amidst the destruction. The narrator is a stranger The Kid meets and together they reclaim Cores to power the Bastion. The story is simple yet holds a few twists and the narration layers on character development at a brisk pace. It is fun discovering new locations to see the beautiful environments as well hear about what they were like before the Calamity.
The game play is combat heavy as you will have an arsenal of weapons at your disposal. You can take two weapons on each mission including a giant hammer, machete, pistols, muskets and bows as well as a special attack and shield. Dodging and rolling around the forests, swaps and cites while disposing of many different types of foes feels great and variety in weaponry allows you to play in many different styles. As you progress you also get access to upgrading weapons, equipping stat boosts and bonuses and even the ability to enhance enemies in return for more experience points. This simple looking game hides an extra-ordination level of depth.
Bringing the game together is the atmospheric soundtrack. The music could be forgiven for just being the background to layer the narration over, but it does much more than that. Featuring instruments such as electric guitar, harmonica, harps and drums the compositions are fantastic and mysterious. Some highlights include the moody vocal theme “Build That Wall” and the blues piece “Spike in a Rail”. A lot of the compositions are things you would not normally hear in other RPGs, but they fit well in Bastion’s fantasy world.
Bation is an innovative and creative RPG with great level and artistic design and character. If you wish to play an RPG presents its world a little differently to most, then you should play Bastion.
Filed under Bastion, Reviews