Angry Robot

Eternal Sonata The Demo OR Where or Where Is Jade Empire 2?

Allegretto – typical manboy hero chock full of aggressive adolescence and arrogance in fight scenes pours from my tv screen like a monsoon. I instantly can’t stand the guy but he has all the most powerful moves.

Beat – typical child prodigy character with a fresh face and can-do attitude. He’s a team player and has fun in a fight, he want so get things started, dudes, a very positive Michelangelo approach to things (think Ninja Turtle, not painter).

Polka – I wanted to smash her pretty cutesy face as soon as I heard her high pitched cries of dismay in my first fight against bouncing pumpkins. But okay, girls can squeal, what about powers? Orange glow is her out of the batting cage showing. Orange glow. Whatever I think it’s a healing spell anyway, I was busy mashing buttons to end her horrid turn. It wasn’t until we fought the blue bird things in the forest that she showed any real bawls but by the time she did some real damage she would APOLOGIZE to the monster she was blasting. She actually says “I’m sorry!” Hated her…

Combat! Well, like I said before I am all about action and ES has an interesting take on RPG combat. You‘ve got the standard running around til you encounter enemies and then get faded into a combat screen. But then there’s this “action gauge” thing where you can spend time during the actual fight deciding what you want to do and then as soon as you move or make an attack the gauge starts to run and you can do as much damage as you can in that time before that character’s turn is over. Interesting because this creates an odd sort of button mashing habit I never would have associated with an RPG. For some fights I just stood in place jamming the Y button as fast I could to get as many special moves (which vary depending on what time of day it is) from Beat and Allegretto as I could in one go.

The button setup was also different because in my experience with RPGs you have to navigate menus during battle. That kind of play is not my cup of tea. I like fighting in real time, not setting up who’s gonna cast what and who’s gonna attack and who’s gonna defend. In this game, however, there’s the button navigation icon on screen during the fight and no menus, just what to press to make stuff happen, which is nice and neat. ES has the Y button as the special move, X to use items which you can scroll through with the left stick, B is guard, and A is plain old attack with whatever weapon you have as many times as you can in the length of the gauge. Another thing that’s nifty is that when you are being attacked you are given chances to guard or counterattack mid fight. This shakes things up sufficiently because you don’t just sit back and wait for the enemy’s attack to be over, you’ve got to be alert to catch those opportunities.

The demo doesn’t give you much story to go on just that you have to kill some big bad in the forest near the village of Tenuto. I gathered beforehand through the Wiki that I was in the pre-death mind of Frédéric Chopin, where he explores a world similar to our own but covered with a great evil and must band together alongside dudes with Musical names and with Musical Magic to defeat said evil.

So, I’m annoyed with the standard everything has to look anime art design in RPGs and this is no exception. I’m also annoyed with female characters that range from the anime “girlish princess” to the hardened “is that a boy or girl” in fantasy RPGs. I’m sick of the boys with spiked hair and hearts of gold (and are emotionally distant), and the child prodigies that always have something heartbustingly positive to say (and wear some sort of elaborate hat). I guess I just look at these games and the stories and characters within them as all the same and I don’t really want to explore those worlds. I can see myself maybe liking the combat if it weren’t for all the one liners and high pitched girly squeaking. I’m sure a lot of people are going to love this game and a good solid RPG is needed on the Xbox 360. I’m just not one of those people and my 360 is fine without it. But playing the demo did unearth a feeling within me…Why isn’t there a Jade Empire 2 yet?

3 comments on "Eternal Sonata The Demo OR Where or Where Is Jade Empire 2?"

  1. smbm says:

    you may have to transplant jade empire 2 with Mass Effect for the time being…good ol’ bioware

  2. D says:

    Yeah, I wasn’t too thrilled with the demo either. The Blue Dragon demo sucked as well. I do think there is something flawed about short demos such as this for RPG games. There’s no way the demos can convey the things that make RPGs appealing, like enveloping stories, character development, collecting shit, etc. etc. They also choose to insert you in some middle part of the story, which I suppose is because RPGs always start with hours of cutscenes and clicking OK and that’s not really a game demo. But it leaves you with a “WTF is the point of this” sort of feeling.

    I’m realizing also that the only Japanese RPG series I’ve played is Final Fantasy, and perhaps it wasn’t as original and exciting as I thought.

  3. Nadine says:

    Mass Effect…so true…I liked the martial arts stuff but I guess I can go with The Sword of Heavenly Delights for that…

    And D, yes I haven’t really played anything super RPGy since Final Fantasy 3 or something…Or maybe it wasn’t even called that…Anyway, at the time I was fine with it but I just can’t play that type of game anymore.

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