Two new PSP games popped through my door yesterday morning and they're Jeanne D'arc an SRPG and Riviera for the PSP, third iteration of the Wonderswan RPG. Too bad I didn't get any of the pre-order goodies.
Jeanne D'arc (Asian Version)
This particular copy came with an extra leaflet with the basic gameplay instructions in English. I only just found out that only Asian versions of Japanese PSP games comes with these things. Game themselves are still in Japanese.
While my last few Asian version PSP games had kept the boxart and manual in their original Japanese print, Jeanne D'arc has both of those things completely translated into Traditional Chinese. It just doesn't look right without the Kana characters...
The translation might be as close as you can get and better than English but, it reads and sounds better in Japanese.
Well, at least the outside of the manual looks good. Good news for the non-literate in Japanese too since, as I mentioned earlier, this comes with an English leaflet but only if you don't mind having a non-original box and manual.
After playing through it for several hours, I'm really enjoying this SRPG! The graphics and Anime cutscenes look beautiful and the gameplay's so much fun!
Aside from your standard affair of gaining height advantages or greater attack power depending on which side you attack from, there's the use of something known as Burning Sites and Connection Guard.
Whenever you attack enemies with your normal melee attacks, a circle appears behind them and anyone who walks into this Burning Site gains extra attack power in their next attack. Place your team well and you could end up with chain attacks too using these!
As for Connection Guard, the game encourages you to keep all your members close together because by doing so, they gain a defence boost which comes in really handy later for the tough bosses.
Then there's the ability to transform your main heroes who possess a magical bracelet. For each turn, your heroes gain one SP and once you've stored up enough of these, you can transform to gain some increased stats. Every enemy you kill once you're in this powerful form gives you an extra turn which adds even more strategy to the game. There's a great sense of satisfaction when you manage to wipe up a huge number of enemies one after the other when you have it planned right.
At first it might feel a bit over-powered but once you get into the later levels where you're completely out-numbered, you'll be really planning your steps! Transformations only last around two turns or so and you can only transform once per battle.
Again, your units level up by earning XP just like other SRPGs but in this case it's spread out more evenly. Everything you do earns a bit of XP. Jeanne D'arc also offers a lot of customisation in the form of Skill Stones. Every character has a certain number of slots depending on their level and using these you can choose what moves or magic they can use. Enemies drop Skill Stones but if you can't find the ones you need from them or the shops, you can combine stones to see what you get too.
The last thing that adds to the challenge is every stage limits the number of turns you have and gives you certain conditions such as defeating all enemies but not letting Jeanne die. You must then fulfill the condition within the number of turns.
As for the story, I don't think I have to tell you that it won't teach you the history of the real Jeanne D'arc but, it is very loosely based on the battle between the English and French - with demons and magical powers added in. Still, the character development is very good and the events that take place between them can be dramatic at times.
It all begins with Jeanne and her two good friends Roger and Leanne's village being burned down by the English army. Jeanne gets chosen by a magical bracelet and a voice from the heavens speak to her to save France. From there, they meet various new friends as they push back the English army. Many things happen between the three friends along the way.
This is really a must have for any SRPG fan who owns a PSP! Checkout my colleague Witzbold's review at Gamebrink.
Riviera (JP Version)
Next there's Riviera which I only spent a few minutes testing out. Voice acting seems good so far but the colours look padded out like when you run the Super Eagle filter in the Zsnes emulator. Event scenes still look good though and in this version there's 50 new scenes.
This copy's the original Japanese packaging so it doesn't come with an English leaflet. There's a slip of paper with an access code inside for players to fill out a questionaire. Only available to Japanese mobile phone users and after filling one in, you get yourself a free limited edition wallpaper for your phone. Neat, eh?
DJMax Portable Disc Rewards
And er, yeah... That's not the Riviera disc in the top right corner. I had to take out my DJMax Portable game to stick Riviera in for that photo. Been playing the game everyday since getting it and working on getting Silver or Gold Max Discs for every level 1 ~ 4 song I've unlocked so far. It's not easy because for Silver you need over 96% accuracy and for Gold you need 100%. Managed to get a few Extreme Max Discs too.
I'm beginning to enjoy this more than Ouendan because there's so much more replayability. Yes, in Ouendan you can try achieving an S rank in every song but in this game there's so much more variety. The Disc Collection feels more rewarding than ranks, you can customise your gear for songs, lots of images and tonnes of other unlockables.
Can't wait for the second game to see what the new mode and songs are!