| paleface [sys=GBA; cat=Strategy; loc=NA] |
|Yet another RPG I'm giving up on, although I suppose it's the first *strategy* RPG that I've given up on.|
It is utterly dull. I think a lot of this must have something to do with the utter lack of story. Things start out well enough: a band of kids in the real world opens a book or something and poof they go into fantasy land. All fine and dandy. And the tutorial is a snowball fight, which was clever. But then you're dumped straight into this nutty system where there's nothing at all to do except go to the bar in the main town and take a mission.
That doesn't sound so bad, but the missions are meaningless as far as I can see. There are 300 of them, and I guess I've only played twenty or so, but they take place on the same damn little square maps over and over, and all you do is kill another bunch of monsters.
That same charge could be levelled against any SRPG, true, but at least in other games each battle takes place in the context of an advancing plot, and when you finish it, you get a little further into the story, and you get a sense of progress, development, and growing drama. You don't get that in FFTA. At best, the main character kid wanders out after the battle, and says something inane, and his moogle wizard buddy says something vague, and the kid scratches his head, and then they walk off. Wow! Maybe there's more story later or something, but I've put seven hard hours into the thing with no sign of a plot anywhere, so screw it.
I guess I don't even like the battles. They take place on the same maps over and over, true, but there's got to be something else that just makes me really dislike the very activity of battling in this game... Hmm... Well, you have to click to confirm everything about three times when giving orders, it seems. Each character moves individually based on some kind of initiative factor, so it's hard to pull off coordinated team movements, since the enemy tends to move in between your own characters.
What else... Characters get battle skills that take a little magic points, but they don't seem very interesting or even effective, so I always just end up bashing the enemy with my sword. There are archer classes, but they do crappy damage. You get loot reward items from finishing battles, but usually they're only usuable by two of the fifty or so character classes (I'm not kidding, it is insane), so you can't put them to use. And while the UI looks slick, it is a real pain to tell who can use which item, and what affect the item has on their stats--the things you really need to know about the item. Bah.
The "Law" thing is really dumb: an "umpire" sits in the battle, blowing his whistle and generally slowing things down. He even takes a movement turn! Each battle gets a different random law. Usually these are so obscure that they don't matter, but when they do matter, they're annoying. For instance, out of three or so battles I played today, in one, Fighting was outlawed (I had to use magic and special abilities while my fighters sat around uselessly), and in another, Swords were outlawed. Whee! There's no rhyme or reason to it, and I fail to see where the fun comes in.
Oh, and the enemy gangs. After three hours or so, enemy gangs started wandering around the (random) world map. You have to fight them I guess, so I did, but they just keep coming, so I've been spending the majority of my time just putting down random gang spawns instead of even getting to do the random boring "mission" battles. The gangs are all the same random motly opponents over and over. Crank up the fun!
I don't like the graphical and audio style of the game--it's like Attack of the Muppets. Really, you're fighting against and alongside floppy-looking humanoid things with big ears, in various shapes and colors. None of the characters look impressive. Everything is rendered in pastel colors, which doesn't help. The music is light campy fluff, and when someone does something in battle, you're treated to an invariably overdone and zippy sound effect. They just grate on me somehow--but maybe it's just the music, or the fact that when someone is doing a spell or special technique, you have to sit and watch its effect play for four or five seconds.
None of the characters have any personality. There are no interesting strategic techniques (at least, I haven't had to develop any yet). The monsters look like Muppet rejects. The items are obscure and dull. The abilities are overproduced and underpowered. There is no plot. I get appallingly drowsy every time I try to play the game, even in the middle of the day.
This is how not to make an SRPG.
|Download added: map.gif (122098 bytes)|
"The place-things-where-you-want-them world map."
Square's PS1 action RPG "Legend of Mana" used a somewhat similar system of configuring your own world map by plopping place icons down on a blank terrain.