Fan Service Ahoy!
Cross Edge is a game that is all about the fans. It was created as a huge collaboration between RPG mega publishers like Namco Bandai, Nippon Ichi, and Capcom. The game features characters from series such as Atelier Marie, Mana Khemia 2, Darkstalkers, Disgaea, Ar Tonelico, Spectral Souls, and Absolute Blazing Infinity. With such a huge cast of characters, and a wide variety of narratives to draw from, it sounds like you have a perfect recipe for a great crossover RPG. However, a convoluted story, too many characters, and a lackluster battle system make this game more of a fan disservice than fan service.
Although this game draws from several complex and memorable RPGs, the story is very contrived and is almost laughably silly at times. The different characters from the alternate game universes have all been magically transported to yet another universe, with only vague memories of their own realm. Their mission here? To save souls. An evil organization has been trapping souls in this alternate realm, and while none of the 20+ playable characters really know each other, they all agree to fight this evil together.
Although the story may be contrived and simple, there is still a whole lot of dialogue. In fact, I spent more time running through lines of scrolling text than I did engaging in battle. Although I don’t normally complain about lots of text in the game, the amount of talking that these characters do is just egregious. And most of the time, this talking has nothing to do with the story at-large, and just work to allow all these characters from different series to talk to each other and make little in-jokes about their respective series. While this device might work well in the realm of fan-fiction, and might be occasionally humorous in a crossover game such as this one, the constant irreverent dialogue is really annoying after awhile.
Aside from the senseless story and needless dialogue, this game also suffers from convoluted combat. The basis of the battle system relies on an active element that assigns specific actions to one of the PlayStation 3’s face buttons. When you first start your ally phase, you will have a certain amount of time to flip through each character’s attack set by pressing the L1/R1 buttons to cycle through each character’s menu. However, in addition to each character’s standard menu, they also have a special menu which can be pulled up by bringing up the primary menu and then pressing R2.
The menu system really suffers from being too complicated, especially when you consider that the timing mechanic makes it very hard to focus on where exactly the move you want to use may be. If either the complex menu or the timing mechanism were removed, the battle system would work a lot better. However, as it is, the battle system feels rushed and overly complex.
Most of the battle action sequences take place in a wide overworld, which has special areas that you can unlock by fulfilling certain mission caveats. However, certain missions require you to find action events on the overworld map. A non-playable member of your party has an otherworldly skill that allows you to see special blue icons, which are supposed to represent souls that need to be freed but also can represent prospective battle areas as well as uncover hidden dungeons and bosses.
In addition to the regular battle system, there are also special “dungeon areas” of Cross Edge that allow you to play in a platfoming style, where you can run and jump around expansive levels. However, true to dungeon form, if you die in these levels, you are kicked out and have to start all over again from scratch. I really liked these areas, and the platforming was a lot of fun and a nice diversion from the hard grinding that makes up the rest of the gameplay.
As far as visuals are concerned, I am really on the fence with Cross Edge. The game’s look is very retro-inspired, featuring character sprites and stoic backgrounds. Part of me was really happy with the retro-inspired graphics, and I liked how this game resembled the titles upon which it draws its vast roster of characters. However, I was conflicted because this is a PlayStation 3 exclusive, and I was saddened that there were no beautifully-animated cutscenes or lush environments. Still, if you want a title that has a look reminiscent of the games that inspired it, than you’ll appreciate the overall visual stylings of the game.
Sound in Cross Edge, however, is something that I can be certain of. The game includes both English and Japanese voice tracks, and both of them sound great. The English voice track does have its share of awkward moments, but when compared with other localized voice tracks, the voiceover in Cross Edge is several notches above the rest. The music in Cross Edge is also very good, and it features beautifully orchestrated background music which accompanies the different level areas.
Although there are plenty of issues that I have with Cross Edge, your enjoyment of this title will ultimately depend on your familiarity with the franchises that are crossed over into it. If you know all about the different characters and have extensive knowledge of the lore behind all these different franchises, then Cross Edge will likely appeal to you. However, I am just disappointed that there is no real story beyond regular fan-fiction fodder for those who were really expecting something great from this title. Cross Edge could have been a great RPG crossover, but it settles for having a poor battle system and an even worse story. Just chalk this one up to a missed opportunity.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.9 Graphics
Graphics sport very detailed sprites, but PS3-quality visuals are sorely missed. 2.9 Control
Controls are very easy in the beginning, but the speed-emphasizing dual-menu system can become cumbersome as gameplay evolves. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Both English and Japanese voiceovers sound great, and the music is also very high quality. 2.8 Play Value
Turn-based sections can become cumbersome, but platform-centric dungeons are a fun diversion. However, this game’s true weakness lies in its feeble story and overextended roster of characters. 2.8 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.