Kingdom of Paradise : Not the Movie With Orlando Bloom

Among the advantages of having a wife that buys new gadgets before I get a chance to : I get her hand-me-downs when she gets tired of them.

So, when she got herself a PSP and a DS and then decided that carrying around TWO portable systems was just way too much purse space, I lucked into her stash of PSP games.

And she has good taste, so I didn’t mind at all.

One of the games she handed down was Kingdom of Paradise, and I finally finished playing that tonight. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to play games on the move recently, so I wound up stretching out a 20 hour RPG over something like two and a half months. I was strong, however – I have 3 PSP games sitting, shrinkwrapped, on the shelf, and I told myself I wasn’t going to break them open until I’d completed this one.

It’s a pretty decent game. It’s a lousy portable game. I’ll explain:

First off, the good: This game does not feature the generic European setting that fantasy RPGs seem to be stuck in. Your hero is, instead, running around a fantasy world built mostly on Chinese legend, particularly the Four Symbols (Plus one!) that most western anime fans are familiar with from either Fushigi Yuugi or Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. Already, this is a plus. It adds a definite touch of awe the first time you go toe-to-toe with one of the four gods.

The graphics are a nice bit of work, the characters are multilayered and interesting, and the story doesn’t pull any punches.

Also it has a cute girl with glasses. I’ll let a random NPC sum up my thoughts on that issue:

I like girls with glasses

The downsides:

I don’t have any significant beef with the majority of the voice acting, except that every single proper noun is mispronounced. If you’re used to the Japanese pronunciations of words like “Byakko” or “Seiryu”, you will be wincing constantly. If you’ve never heard them said properly, you probably won’t notice.

Leaving the voice acting aside, here’s the biggest complaint I have with it: The developers tried to make a console RPG, just shrunk down for the PSP. It’s full of loading times, long fully-voiced cutscenes, and boss fights that stretch out forever. The last fight in the game took me over an hour. This is not portable-friendly. When you’re making a game designed for people to carry around and play whenever they have a few minutes, you need to cut back on your cinematic aspirations and grueling boss battles.

It takes a certain degree of faith to pause in the middle of a boss fight, hit the power switch on the PSP to put it in sleep mode, and pray that you’ll be in the same place when you get back and you won’t have to re-do the fight from the beginning.

I should not have played this AFTER Brave Story: New Traveler, because Brave Story does all that stuff right.

It does, at least, feature a running log of “You need to go do X next”, which is really handy when you have to go a week between play sessions. AND you can save anywhere, except in the middle of scripted events. These are features that all portable RPGs should have.

And now for a random screenshot, taken completely out of context, that gives an entirely incorrect impression of the game’s storyline:

Suzaku Disciples are easy

Let’s hear from Yuno on the issue.

Yuno from Brave Story, angry

Yeah, that about sums it up.

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