Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eternal Sonata

Developer: Tri-Crescendo
Publisher:Namco Bandai
Release date: Sept. 2007
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending
Official web site

In a nutshell: Your standard RPG set in a composer's deathbed dream. No I'm not kidding.

0:01 “Hi there. Do you want me to teach you about battles.” Such natural dialogue. I have this conversation practically every day.
0:03 My first battle is with some sort of hopping ... pumpkin ... thing. “I'm ready to go, all I have to do is let loose.” What's this game rated, again?
0:04 Interesting battle system with five-second timed turns that allow for free roaming real-time attacks. A timed blocking option is also nice.
0:06 The forest environment is brilliantly lit with bright colors and a gentle soundtrack. It creates a nice atmosphere.
0:07 The game freezes in mid-battle. And this disk is fresh out of the polybag, too.
0:08 I speed through menus and such and get back to the first battle quickly. “So whaddya think?" my character asks after a battle. Who's he talking to?
0:10 Battles so far are pretty simple, but at least they're a) avoidable and b) more than just choosing “attack” from a menu.
0:12 “Huh, I'm not gonna lose.” Probably not, if the battles stay this easy.
0:13 I just noticed the character names are Allegretto, Polka and Beat. Oh those wacky Japanese and their musical puns.
0:16 Finally, a different enemy. This guy is a bigger pumpkin thing with bad breath that does a lot of damage. Still easily defeated, but nice to change things up.
0:17 So far, I can't see any reason not to use the special attacks exclusively. They do a lot more damage, and there seems to be no limit to their use. What's the deal?
0:18 In Tenuto Village, the chickens cluck when you try to talk to them. Nice! But they don't scatter when you walk near them. In fact, they block your path. Not nice!
0:19 “They say a really scary monster lives deep inside the forest.” “What a nice day. The sun is out and shining brightly.” And they say video game writing can't stand up to fine literature.
0:23 Apparently, the same monsters I've been fighting are being prepared in a stew. Also, these monsters are called “Very Very Emptys” Wha?
0:24 Two creepy twin girls in a field of flowers. Shades of FFVII and The Shining. The flower field itself is beautiful though.
0:25 I found a “score piece” and now I'm performing a musical session. Instead of the expected rhythm mini-game, though, basically the game just plays the music for you and then you get an item. Boo. Maybe it'll be more interesting later when I have more pieces to choose from.
0:28 The repeated, short, stuttering stops for loading are getting a little tired.
0:30 Deeper into the forest now. A guy explains why not to do special attacks exclusively... regular attacks power them up. Strategery!
0:32 Holy crap! The enemies got a lot tougher very quickly. I almost lose Allegretto, but he survives and levels up, along with his colleagues.
0:35 Battles are a bit easier after the level up. Thank god.
0:39 You can switch camera views with the L trigger. Good for getting an overview of the battlefield.
0:45 Note to demo developers ... don't include a one-button "reset" option from the pause screen. If you do, please offer a confirmation prompt or something before ELIMINATING A HALF HOUR'S WORTH OF PROGRESS IN ONE FELL SWOOP! Not that I'm bitter.
0:46 Forget this, I'm not going through all that again.

Would I play this game for more than an hour?
Why? Interesting battle system and aesthetic, but the story is key in an RPG, and it's impossible to evaluate so far.

This review based on a demo version included in the August issue of the Official Xbox Magazine


Redundant Productions said...

Ha, yeah, I had that problem too. Except I did it in the first 2 minutes, so it wasn't a big deal. Course, I agree that the story is wacky, but the fighting system was very fresh. Not a huge RPG fan (time, you know), but it could turn out very good.

its.me.heather said...

Thanks for the reviews now I can come here to look for "good" presents for my husband! :-)

Goosey said...

I am surprised you didn't realize (or didn't note) the light/dark power changes. The pumpkin monsters are the giant bad-breath monsters when they are in the shade. Also when you are in the shade your abilities are different.

Paul Cosgrove said...

I really love Eternal Sonata's art style and the pretty unique battle mechanics (thank God it's not another turn-based menu orgy!), especially the whole light/dark element.

But, I found the demo tough to get into because of the complete lack of context.

I play RPGs more for the story than for the opportunity to wander through forests slaughtering wild animals, and without that element I did find it hard to really enjoy the demo.

Kyle said...

Goosey, actually I didn't notice the light/dark changes in enemies. Now that you say it, it makes sense, although most of the demo battles were in overwhelmingly one type or the other. I did notice that the darkness affected my special attacks.

Paul, I felt the exact same way.

FUNNYMAN said...

If you are looking for quality RPG to play, try Final Fantasy 12.

SUBHK said...

Game seems quite interesting, would like to give it a try. But unfortunately it is only available here (Hong Kong) in Japanese. No English at all :(


Anonymous said...

With Beat in chapter one on level 4 i unlock fire blast but how do i use it? (the same with using phantom wave with allegretto)