|ESRB RATING:||E (Everyone)|
|WHAT'S GOOD:||A simple, fun and great-looking RPG|
|WHAT'S BAD:||Does little to distinguish itself from the|
turn-based RPG masses
|MY WORD:||Same Journey, New Traveller|
Ahem. On behalf of gamers everywhere, game developers of the world, I ask you, I implore you, I beg you, even: stop making sword-and-sorcery RPG's! Please! Fer the love of all that's holy!! Just because Square Enix couldn't keep up the pace of RPGs with a something-other-than-fantasy flavor after Final Fantasy 7 and 8 (and wouldn't try it again until Xenosaga years later) doesn't mean you can't take a whack at it. I ask you, gamers and developers both, has it occurred to anyone else that maybe part of the reason Xenosaga was such a huge success was because RPG players were sick to death of playing wandering angst-ridden warrior after wandering angst-ridden warrior, and carving their way through goblins, golems and the like in search of yet another evil wizard, or evil king, or ancient demon? What's it going to take before this one-note song of chronic theme repetition comes to an end?
Okay, rant over, and thanks to all of you for letting me get that out of my system. Sorry I had to do it, but once I got past the excellent presentation of Brave Story (and it is excellent; it's easily the best looking RPG on the console right now,) I had to acknowledge the sad truth that there is really nothing here that sets the game apart from all the other thousands of brave-knight-on-epic-quest RPGs that have been made in the last twenty years. You who want to split hairs on this regard will no doubt argue that Tatsuya (Brave Story's hero) is actually out to see his fondest wish granted (a bit of Disney-esque tripe in shades of Kingdom Hearts) and this is true, but what stands in his way before that can happen? That's right, friends and neighbors, it's an evil wizard! Shock, surprise and wonderment! Never in a thousand years would I have suspected!
I think its safe to assume now that all save the very slow of wit among you are now quite clear on the fact that I'm just a tad disappointed by the glaring lack of originality in this game. If you aren't, well, I'm tired of beating that drum. What say we discuss how this 1.5 gigabyte carbon copy managed to get such a decent rating out of me anyway?
First, as I've said before, the game is beautiful, with an in-game engine that made me think of a polished version of Final Fantasy 9's visuals. For the PSP, that's exceptional presentation.
Next, I have to give credit to the quality of translation; the game is a Japanese import, but it manages to avoid that pitfall of bad translation that has claimed the Legend of Heroes series: all text in the game makes logical and grammatical sense, and the characters even manage to be colourful and, in some cases, anyway, memorable. Further, the game includes many of the features found in current day RPGs, such as allowing characters who are not currently active in the party to still gain experience after battles (and in so doing eliminating a lot of the meaningless repetition found in many RPG's, forcing players to cover the same ground again and again just to keep everyone in the party relevant.) Because of this kindness, Brave Story can be played in a very linear fashion; I found my party leveled up at just the right pace as I made my way through the game so that I didn't have to waste time leveling up more before going on the next quest.
The difficulty level also increases in a very slow but steady way, so that the strength of new monsters (with the natural exception of bosses) will always be just about equal to that of your party. Your party itself is only comprised of three active characters (although you'll get a total of six to choose from, five companions and the hero,) which keeps party strategy simple and manageable. All this combines to create an RPG that can be enjoyed by even the lowest-skilled RPG enthusiast.
An added bonus comes in the form of the hero's weapon (a sword; told you the game was stock to the core). As you journey through the game, you'll find magic crystals that upgrade your weapon, which gets bigger and crazier in design with each upgrade. I could try to describe it, but it's something you'll have to see for yourself to truly appreciate.
I hate to have to repeat myself, but I can only sum this up with the same words I used to describe the PSP title Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony so long ago: this isn't a bad game. It's just a very stock game. If you don't mind playing yet another variation on a mortally tired theme, a theme which has gotten more exposure than anything on earth has a right to, then you won't regret picking up Brave Story. But if you want something new, keep waiting, because this isn't it.Back to All Things Pancakeguy