What do an avid gamer, a scantily clad kitten, and a lizard-like waterkin have in common? Pretty much nothing, which is about as much of a negative thing one can say about Brave Story: New Traveler.
After promptly naming your hero and your leading lady, this epic journey begins on a park bench where our gaming addicted hero displays his one-track mind by ignoring his best friend completely. While tapping away at his coyly fake PlayStation Portable, his friend tries aimlessly hard to get him to pay attention, however, to no avail, she fails. It’s at this point that she walks off only to faint and fall victim to some unknown disorder that has placed her in what appears to be a never-ending coma. While on the hospital roof wondering what your options are, a mysterious female voice comes into play and entices you to stand up heroically and travel to the world of Vision to begin your quest to meet the Goddess of Destiny.
Your first act of bravery comes at the very start where you must enter a cave and solve a child-like riddle. It’s in this cavern where you must also answer 4 distinct questions from 4 different guardians. The way you choose to answer these questions will determine your profession and stats.
Immediately following these series of events you find out that you must find 5 pillar gemstones to fill out the slots on your weapon. Each time one of these slots are filled, you will be transported back to the real world in order to spend time with the one person you miss most. You must find these 5 gemstones in order to meet the Goddess of Destiny and to ask her to grant your one true wish.
About 15 minutes into the journey you come across a playful yet bossy kitten named, Yuno. She wields a fierce bow and gives you your first glance into Bravura. Bravura is the name they give magic throughout this game. Much like Materia in Final Fantasy VII, Bravura is what enables you to utilize special attacks. Your hero, however, is unable to perform bravura attacks until he finds his first gemstone. The equivalent to mana in this adventure is known as, Bravura Points. It works similar to mana, except every time you score a hit, your Bravura Points replenish a bit.
Another key element to the battle system in Brave Story is the Unity option. The Unity option works much like it sounds. It unites several characters together to perform a single attack with one another. A unity maneuver also depletes your Bravura Points, so you must strategically utilize these actions as well.The battle system is of course a traditional turn base style, which is refreshing to see with the recent release of what seems like an endless supply of strategic and real time RPG’s lately. The battle encounters are also random, which is always a pleasant thing for old school RPG gamers. One of the more positive notes about this issue, is the fact that the random battles are not overwhelming and in result, not tedious. They seem to be spaced out from one another just enough to make each battle worth committing to.
Another new implement to the turn-base style is the way that the experience points are set-up to be dispersed. Usually you just wait until the battle is over and then the exp is equally handed out to each party member. This isn’t the case in Brave Story. Characters are now able to gain exp during battle. If an enemy falls, its experience points are immediately poured into your stats giving you the possibility of leveling up during battle. This can give a player a huge advantage in a boss fight or in a fight you may be struggling in.
As far as the graphics are concerned, this is a beautifully rendered game. Even the world map was done in a creative 3D environment, which was a nice break from the flatlands that these types of RPGs usually provide. During battle you can see a detailed environment around you as well. The character design is very good for a handheld and the city structures are all different with their own unique style.
One of the only downfalls to the graphical content that the game provides is the visual effect from spells and other such components of that nature. They seem to be sub-par and just lazily placed into the game for a small effect. An example of this is how the fire spells are just a small flame flying upwards. As such, there isn’t much to this aspect of the game at all.
The score to Brave Story is nothing short of fantastic. The melodies might not be etched permanently into your mind like the score from previously great RPGs; however, the score didn’t cause us to mute the handheld during play. The one big issue with Brave Story and the way it plays, is the linear-style gameplay. Sometimes it’s not as bad as others, however, it’s still limiting. It sometimes can feel as though you’re having your hand held through the game as though you were a toddler crossing the street. It doesn’t detract from the game itself, but it does become a nuisance sometimes.
We’ll leave it up to you to make the appropriate decisions throughout the game in order to ask the Goddess of Destiny your much-awaited wish. Everyone loves mini-games and Brave Story provides two solid mini-games to put time into. They include Goalfinch Catching and Bird Brawlin’. In Goalfinch Catching your goal is to catch as many birds as possible within 30 seconds. There are 25 birds in total and the ones you happen to catch eventually fuse together to create a single species of bird. The bird’s statistics are calculated by the type of birds you’ve caught. Each color of Goalfinch has a distinct effect on the outcome. For example, a gold Goalfinch will give you +1 to all stats, where as a black Goalfinch gives you -1. You can capture as many birds that your birdcage will permit. The first cage you acquire in the game allows for 5.
The next step in the bird catching process is called Bird Brawlin’. This is a separate mini-game that works much like real life cock fighting. You place your crew of birds into the ring against your opponents and they battle it out for supremacy. The winner of the match is usually rewarded a Goalfinch feather. You also have the option of trading these birds in for items if you choose to not keep them any longer. However, with the ability to nickname your pets, it creates a certain attachment to your pet.
Whether you’re looking for an RPG to pick up and play for hours or just a game you can put 30 minutes into at a time, Brave Story enables you to do either with a sense of accomplishment. You’ll never feel as though you’ve just wasted 30 minutes doing nothing but level. You’ll find yourself attaching yourself to certain characters and the world they help emerge you in. Old school gamers and new school RPG fans will both thoroughly enjoy this title without doubt.