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.
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
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.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is an adventure RPG for the Nintendo Wii that revolutionises the series by utilising motion controls to allow the player to further enhance the experience.
Skyward Sword features a vibrant world that takes inspiration from Impressionist artwork. It is colourful and full of personality and each new location is a joy to explore. The introduction of flying and many puzzles in the over-world give the game a huge sense of scale and the numerous weapons and tools in your inventory keep the game play feeling fresh and fun to play. The Legend of Zelda series has been around for 25 years, but Skyward Sword still captures the spirit and wonder of classic instalments while updating it with a modern control scheme and new ideas.
The game’s story is the earliest in the The Legend of Zelda timeline and outlines the origins of Zelda, the Master Sword and the series villain Ganon. Game play definitely takes centre stage, but the narrative is engaging and the characters are genuinely interesting. Zelda is given more personality than previous instalments and the antagonist Ghirahim is menacing and memorable. Voice acting is not present in the game, but the silent protagonist is still a great “Link” between players and this magical adventure.
Game play is the main focus of Skyward Sword and the implementation of motion control takes combat to another level. Using the Wii remote the player has full control over Link’s sword. Many enemies will block your attacks, unless you strike them from different directions and later in the game the AI is no push over. Sword combat is fun, but motion control is also utilised to aim the slingshot, throw bombs, crack whips, guide the remote beetle, shoot arrows and guard attacks with your shield. Bosses take it up another notch requiring thoughtful strategy and precise attacks. Once you have mastered the control scheme it really feels like you have complete control over your arsenal of weapons. Skyward sword also features some of the best designed dungeons in the series including imaginative enemies, though provoking puzzles and great locations.
Another first for the series is a fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music is melodic and epic, featuring brilliant new compositions and enhancing some old favourites. “Ballad of the Goddess” is an energetic main theme, while quieter pieces such as “Isle of Songs” and “Zelda’s Lullaby” are beautiful. The music complements the art style and world adding some extra emotion to the game.
Skyward Sword is the reason we play RPGs, to participate in an adventure through imaginative worlds. If you wish to play an RPG that puts you in control of a hero unlike any other game, then you should play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.