|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|
by Matthew Walker
Feb. 13, 2007 - It is always nice to see a game take risks. Tri-Crescendo, the same team behind Baten Kaitos and Baten Kaitos Origins, has partnered with Namco to bring an interesting mix between RPG and the world of music. Eternal Sonata could pave a path of new concepts in a market that is running a risk of becoming repetitive. Releasing in Japan as Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream, it will be nice to have a game in the U.S. that will spark the imaginative creativity of a musical generation.
Three hours before his death, on October 17, 1949, from tuberculosis, Frederic Chopin, age 39, dreamt of a beautiful world flowing with magic, a fairy tale land where people with incurable diseases have amazing magical powers. In the world, Chopin will meet a young girl named Polka, Allegretto, and Allegretto's friend Beat.
Polka is a young girl who lives with her mother in the village of Tenuto, which overlooks the port of Ritardando. There she makes a living by selling Floral Sealing medicine, but with the cheap government supported Ore Sealing medicine becoming increasingly available she is unable to sell any at all. She is forced to flee her village when rumors circulate that coming in contact with her causes transmission of her fatal disease. Since this is a world where the fatally ill are blessed with magic, Polka's time left is rapidly depleting. As a result she loses faith in her people, but Chopin changes her mind and she decides to enjoy the rest of her precious time. Allegretto is a fisherman in the port of Ritardando where he works to help feed the poor children. He is a foul mouthed 16 year old boy who occasionally hits his friend Beat, whom he views as a younger brother in reality. Inspired by Polka, who makes light of her tragic situation, they, along with Beat, set out on a quest to find a way to use her magical powers to cure her.
The gameplay will be a mix of something old, a turn based battle system, and something new, an active battle system. It will also be heavily combo based while swords and magical weapons. Chopin and Polka will be your primary magic users. Allegretto will use a sword and Beat will use a gun. The battlefield will be where the mix between RPG battle systems will be most noted. You will have the ability to roam freely around the battlefield, and use attacks as often as you can in the allotted amount of time you have. This is where the classic turn based system will come into play. Each character will take a turn using a bar that appears on screen to tell them how much time they have left, followed by the next character. You will also be told which character is next in line for attack. In addition to knowing which character comes next and the amount of time you have left in your turn, you will also be allowed to see the enemy's time bar. While under attack, it will be possible to block the enemy by reacting to the cues that will flash on screen.
The battlefield will be divided by light and shadows. Utilizing the ability to move your character freely around the battlefield, you will have the ability to use different special attacks depending on where you stand. Another way to use the free roam capability is as a defensive move. Each time you move around, your time bar will decrease; this also applies to your enemies. If you move around enough you might be able to shorten the amount of time the enemy has to attack. Much like other RPGs, you will gain experience, golby (money), and items after each battle. You will be able to use your experience to level you character up and obtain new abilities. Assigning each acquired skill to a specific button adds an extended amount of control over the fighting style of the characters.
The total play time for the main story is to be around 30-40 hours, but there will be numerous side quests as well. These side quests will be directed at obtaining special items that can't be acquired during the main story, and will incorporate a new system with elements heavily related to music. There will be so many extra quests that it will be difficult to complete every aspect of the game playing through only once.
Cel-shading, though very cartoonish, fits the thematic feel of Eternal Sonata. The colors look vibrant and fresh. The smooth, dark lines around the characters and environments breathe life into a lush world. Though, judging by screenshots, Eternal Sonata looks somewhat flat in its 3-D world. Since music is the central theme of the game you can only anticipate beautiful melodies to flow from your television. World renowned pianist Stanislay Bunin performs ten of Chopin's compositions throughout the game. Accompanying the music of Chopin will be 50 newly composed masterpieces by Motoi Sakuraba.
While games that take risks are nothing new, games that take risks and succeed is something unusual. Eternal Sonata is shaping up to being such a game by taking old traditions and blending them with new, for what should be an enjoyably, complex gaming experience. For RPG and musician fans alike this is the game to wait for.
CCC Project Coordinator