Eternal Sonata Hands-On Preview
Eternal Sonata box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Tri-Crescendo 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Namco Bandai 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 17, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-3 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
What is in a Sonata?

by Matthew Walker

August 16, 2007 - I have been following the Eternal Sonata game since I first wrote a preview for it in February. The game piqued my interest by blending the world of music and the magical world of RPGs, something I feel should be fairly simple to do given their complex similarities. Therefore, you can imagine how eager I was to get my hands on a demo of the game to see how well the blend worked. In the brief moments I had to explore the world of Eternal Sonata, I can say that Tri-Crescendo has done an above exceptional job with this title. Since this is just the demo, I can only imagine how the full game will play out with these two genres beautifully blended together.

Eternal Sonata screenshot

For those that have yet to catch the musical bug behind Eternal Sonata, the story is half Alice in Wonderland and half of what enters into one's mind before they pass to the other side of life. Eternal Sonata is based on the fantasy world that Frederic Chopin dreamt of before he died at the age of 39 of tuberculosis. In this world, those that had horrible life threatening diseases have extraordinary magical capabilities. In the magical world, Chopin meets a young girl named Polka. Through their meeting, the young girl decides to live her life to help others while she still has life left to live. While the game has already been released in Japan to a nice reception, it will be September when we get to dive deeper into the game. However, the demo showed a small morsel of the game's capabilities.

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At the beginning of the demo, I was told that in order to complete this portion I would have to face and defeat the boss in the Heaven's Mirror Forest just to the far end of Tenuto Village. Sounds simple enough - right? Therefore, I was off to see the world awaiting me. The start of the demo had me making my way into the Tenuto Village and, immediately with the first shot of the character, Allegretto, I noticed the sharp colorful graphics of the world. There was a vast amount of detail in the bright world. The individual leaves were detailed and visibly seen as I passed by them along the dirt road. I ran smack dab into a bouncing green creature that looked like an onion covered by leafy material. The screen blurred out, and then I was in battle mode.

Eternal Sonata screenshot

The battlefields were as detailed as the world outside the pre-rendered battle screens. The lighting on the battlefields played a heavy part in this one little battle. If one of the two bouncing green creatures entered in the shadows on the field, they no longer looked like the cutesy little creatures. Instead, they transformed into a snarling "Hulk" variation of themselves. The creatures were not the only thing that changed in between the light and shadow parts of the battlefield. The special attacks of the characters, Allegretto, Beat, and Polka, also changed accordingly. One move Beat could do in the shadow was called a Night Shot. With this move, he was able to take a picture of the creature you were facing. These photos could be looked at later when in the menu screen. Beat's main source of attack is his rifle, which made him a great long-range fighter. Polka had the ability to heal herself and those around her while in the sun, but if she was shaded then she performed a Shadow Comet move. Allegretto was by far the most powerful attacker in the demo with both light and dark attacks dealing heavy amounts of damage.

To say this is a turn based RPG would be unjust to the title. While it does rely on the mechanic of turn based RPGs, you are given approximately five seconds to deal out as much damage as you can before your turn is over. If you start out with your basic A button attack, you can time it right and deliver the special attack followed by a healing item if necessary. This variation to the turn-based styles of RPGs is a welcomed change, and it will be interesting to see how well it continues to play out. Another option you will have during combat is to block attacks to reduce the damage. This will require you to pay close attention to the actions on the screen. You will have to time the B button push while it is on screen in order to decrease the damage received from each attack. Of course, you do have the option to avoid the creatures you come across as well. It came in handy as I continued to make my way into the Tenuto Village.

Eternal Sonata screenshot

After I made my way to the village, I was able to partake in one of the many semi mini-games the game will surely have - collecting Score Pieces. If you find another character that has a Score Piece, then you can play music together. If you play the matching piece to their music, then you will hear a nice melody. Likewise, mismatch Score Pieces and you will not only hear bad music, but will also receive a ranking that is less than admirable. After scouring through Tenuto Village for a bit and realizing that the flock of chickens on the ground can block any man, I headed to the far end of the village to enter Heaven's Mirror Forest. After a few battles with a pelican plant thing, I decided to practice some of my evasion skills. I reached the end of the forest and then was treated to a short, but nice, cutscene. I then found myself confronted with the boss I was supposed to take down, a wild boar that seemed to have flowers/feathers protruding from all over its body. After a heated battle forced me to put to good use the tactics of light and dark parts of the battlefield, I stood victorious over the flower/feather boar, thus ending the demo.

With bright characters, an intoxicating soundtrack, and a deeper than the rabbit hole storyline, Eternal Sonata is truly shaping up to be the RPG to fill the void for the music loving gamers among us. There were a couple of technical issues, specifically some framerate issues that distracted a little bit, but this may not be that big of a deal in the final product. If I were not already intrigued by the game, then the gameplay has me hooked on the simplistic, yet innovative, RPG gameplay. With September being right around the corner, I still cannot wait for the final release of the possibly breathtaking game.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Project Coordinator

Features:

  • Custom-Made for Next-Gen: Enjoy amazing, high-definition, anime style cel-shading, and high quality textures shine to truly deliver an awesome next-gen experience.
  • Innovative Battle System: Battle using a unique hybrid turn based/action RPG system that combines free-roam and turn-based action (up to three players during battle).
  • All new location, story, and situations, with the same classic Harvest Moon gameplay!
  • Strategic Use of Light and Darkness: Adjust your battle strategy in the ongoing struggle between light and darkness. Beware of enemies lurking in the shadows as their stats - attacks and potency - will change, as will their physical form. Lure them out into the light or destroy them there in the cloak of darkness. Also, change your special attacks depending on whether you are in the light….or in the dark.
  • Dramatic and Evolving Storyline: Experience a deeply moving story focusing on the enduring struggle between good and evil all while taking place in a dream during the final three hours of world-famous music composer Frederic Chopin's life.

  • Screenshots / Images
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