reviewed on X360
Fresh approach to anime RPGs
First off, I'd like to say I'm quite an avid RPG player and I'm always pleased when a new, promising RPG is released. Eternal Sonata, also known as Trusty Bell in Japan, from Tri-Crescendo and Namco Bandai is one of the most original style RPGs I've seen in a long time.
The strange dreams of Frederic Chopin
The game starts with quite a few lengthy cut scenes, which really gives a lot of background to the story. You see Frederic Chopin, a famous composer and score writer in his times, in bed, being appraised by a doctor. As soon as you get to grips with that, youíre scooted off into the 'dream world' of Frederic Chopin. Whilst in this dream world, you meet a lot of other characters, such as Allegretto, Beat and Polka. All characters have their own individual pasts, backgrounds and story, that add to the main storyline as it goes along.
The dreamworld also hosts a count who rules the land with iron grip and has put taxes on virtually everything the inhabitants need in their everyday lives. These include bread, floral powder and various sorts of items. Only one thing is not taxed and it is the so-called mineral powder, which, by a happenstance, is produced and delivered by the count himself. This sparks a lot of conspiracy theories, and brings together Allegretto, Beat, Polka and Frederic as they go to Castle Forte to see the count to ask him to reduce the taxes on everything.
I wonít go further into the story, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of people to meet, places to go, mysteries to discover and a lot of twists in the story. The best part of the story is definitely the cut-scenes that show up at the introduction to each chapter, at various points during regular gameplay and at the halfway point of each chapter where the history of Frederic Chopin himself is told. These cut-scenes provide nice breaks from the dungeon crawling and fighting against enemies and teach you a bit of history as well!
To put it simply, the graphics are stunning. The amount of detail the producers put into the game is astounding, and I don't think I saw a single rendering error while playing the game. At times, the terrain certainly looks a little basic, as if it was a set block of grass, but for the vaster areas, such as towns, it's visually amazing. The anime style is definitely a nice touch to the feel of the game, and portraits the characters well. However, some character models are rather poor: their arms are never down at their sides and look a bit odd sticking out like they do and never really moving.
It is Chopin, after all
This is what really makes the game so spectacular. The first time I heard the opening score it brought back a lot of nostalgia towards other RPGs Iíve played in the past and warmed my heart with happy memories of such classic games. A good score grabs hold and pulls you in, and you forget you're playing a game. All through Eternal Sonata, the melodies just keep on amazing you, and your ears soak it all up, enjoying every last note. The dungeon music, overall background music and even the battle music really gets you going for the events ahead, whether it be crawling through another dungeon or taking down a horde of giant creatures. The voice acting can seem a little tacked on at time with some monologues and some sounding slightly robotic, but the better part of it is done well. The overall atmosphere that the sound track creates is amazing. If there was a soundtrack CD, I would go and buy it, it's really that good.
No Pros and Cons at this time