Style: Action(ish) RPG
Learning Curve: 5-10 minutes
First of all, let me say this: I thought this would be some super lame RPG, but it actually turned out to be decent. I have NOT completed the entire game, but according to a friend I am about 75% of the way through. Given that, I will try my best to critique a game I haven't finished (but have played enough of nonetheless).
The graphics were somewhat dissapointing- it's pretty obvious that the full capabilities of the PSP were not taken into full advantage in this game. Although not up to par with my hopes, they're not too killer to look at. The character models (4 races- human, elf, dwarf, gnome) are pretty well designed, or at least I think they look pretty badass.
The soundtrack was alright. Some of the SFX in dungeons and other scenes I couldn't stand, so I turned off my sound and played other music through that handy-dandy plugin. Low score for this section. SFX isnt any better- some of the battle sounds are botchy and choppy.
The gameplay is definitely what saved this game from a score lower than 6.5. I really enjoyed the way combat worked. Basically, enemies are visible on the map, and if you run into one, you're forced to fight it. A swirly thing comes up (similiar to the FF series), and you see the battlefield. The reason why i classified this game as Action(ISH) RPG is that it's not really like zelda (n64, wii) where you just hack enemies up while moving around the actual map, but you first engage, are sent to a smaller battlefield and then start battling. During battle, you have control of one character at a time. You are able to switch who you control by pressing select, enabling full control of your party (well... almost full control). When casting spells/using items, the battle is paused so that you have time to cast the spell you so desire. What was probably the coolest part about the AI was that you are able to program what your party members do through "Thought Points". You can assign these thought points in areas such as "weapon atk", "support", "recover hp", "magic atk", etc. As you level you gain more thought points and are given almost full control as to what you want your allies to do (I tend to play the tank and just set melee's on weapon atk, healers on dispel/support, and nukers on magic atk). There are 4 intial job types along with the races- Fighter, Mage, Priest, and Thief. At a certian level, you are able to learn a more advanced job: Samurai, Knight, Archmage, etc. During battle, you move around and choose your target as well as choose how to attack them. IF YOU ARE STILL CONFUSED TO HOW I HAVE DESCRIBED THE BATTLE, I WILL INCLUDE LINKS TO VIDEOS/SCREENSHOTS BELOW!! But, after a while the game got kind of stale, as all you did for a while as grind for xp as if it were some type of MMO. One of the features I have yet to test are the multiplayer vs. and co-op, both of which I believe should be very cool. Too bad the optional quests were super-lame.
The story... is sort of lame. Classic cliche RPG theme: the main character suffer amnesia, wakes up, has to save a town from some evil curse yaddy yaddy yaddah. I followed it, but not zealously.
The controls are pretty easy to follow, analog for movment in and out of battle. Triangle is the menu button, Square is crouch (although i never really used that much, didnt know what the point was). Pressing start brings up and hides the minimap. Pressing select changes the character you default to in battle (cool feature!). R shoulder fixes the camera behind your character. The L shoulder puts you in first person mode. My only concern/warning about the controls is when rounding corners, it may be hard to see if anything is behind or around you, so you often may run into an enemy.
As far as the learning curve goes, its basically the battle and camera control that you should concentrate on. There are many fun combinations for battle that you will have to explore for yourself (I made my indestructable party combo after a couple hours of testing hehehe).
Overall, give this game a try. At first it's pretty fun, but when you get about 60% done with the game, you find that it's a crap load of grinding. But then you unlock the new jobs, and it gets pretty fun again. Damnit, if it were not for that sweet battle gameplay, this game would've gotten a 4.0 from me.
^Even though these screens are in japanese, there is the european/usa version of the game that is in english. well-translated i may add.
Final words: I've decided to use this new format for all my new reviews so people can actually get a full sense of how the game is both visually and verbally (from my point of view). Obviously, reviews are opinion-based and ratings can chagne from person to person. If you comment, please leave me feedback on how helpful this information was to you (A simple good, mediocre, or bad will do). This will help me in tweaking some of my reviews for the future.