The original creator, director, character designer and composer of the series came together to re-imagine the series in a 3D updated graphics environment. The results are as good as a person could hope, the game pays some homage visually to it’s roots but at the same time is designed nicely into today’s graphics. The music is terrific and combines nicely to make an atmosphere that has a touch of nostalgia without any of the old school game’s graphics and play issues.
Gameplay is excellent and while based upon the old system has been nicely updated to allow for dozens of characters, lots of decisions that branch the story in new directions and most of all, multiple possible endings. Each character you add to your team brings their own strengths weaknesses and learn-able skills and different characters can be chosen depending upon the battle. Different units have different ranges of attack and movement with varying weapons, the end result being that this game can be played using different strategies, different characters, multiple times with entirely different results and endings. When you level a character you don’t just level the character, you level every character of that class. Adding a new member to your party with the same class will come in at the advanced level and have opportunities for skill selection based on the level. So you don’t have to worry about leveling two wizards at the same time if the battle doesn’t call for two of them. If you decide to add another healer to the group you don’t have to level it from the start, they come in at the level you have reached for them.
For a game based on a portable game unit this is a massive amount of game, bordering on amazing. There are only a few shortfalls to mention, and in comparison they are minor and easily overlooked. Sometimes when aiming at an enemy for an attack the percentage chance for a strike will say 100% and you will miss. Also sometimes you will aim at a target and when you fire there will be a line of sight issue that causes you to miss regardless of your hit percentage. The last issue is a minor AI one where your AI may walk right past a bag of treasure instead of picking it up requiring you to sent one of your manual controlled character to pick it up. At this point you may be asking yourself wait… AI and manual? As part of the game’s choices you can choose for as many of your units to be controlled by AI as you want or control them manually. Add this to all the playing options and not only are the little issues eclipsed, but it really brings up the point again: this game is on a UMD.
Graphics look slightly low tech in places to make it nostalgic but are nice quality in most parts. Though sounding a lot like the music and sound effects of the old days, the audio is crisp, clear and nicely put together.
$39 dollars is what it costs new, cheaper if you pick up a used copy. Considering this has unlimited re-playability with multiple endings it is pretty darn hard to calculate how much playtime but it is easy to say it is worth the cost.
Should they have left a good series alone? Resoundingly no! This game is great! From a critical playing point of view which I have to approach it this game has few flaws, massive replay potential and a terrific game play system. Part of me wishes it was available on one of the larger platforms but to have a game with this much punch combined with old school homage on a portable platform is a terrific treat! I also think this format was passed on before it really had it’s time, that it is a shame that the UMD, which was able to provide a platform for such an amazing game, is slowly fading away.
*DISCLOSURE: A copy of this game was sent to us for the purpose of this review.