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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Racjin / Mistwalker
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Rated: A (Everyone)
Release Date: October 4, 2007 (Japan)
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Before I go anywhere with this review, I wanted to make it clear that this title is completely in Japanese. If you are not familiar with the language or don't know anyone who can help translate the game for you, there is a rather large learning curve to playing and enjoying the experience...

December 12, 2007 - The opening scenes of ASH display the coronation of the 17- year old Queen Aisha, who is witnessing her entire kingdom being burnt to the ground prior to the moments of dawning her crown. Now you know this is a horrible situation, but everything is not as it seems. Pretty much everyone in the castle is dead, but for some strange reason they are able to collect themselves together from their ashes.

From the opening scenes alone, Queen Aisha has a tall order before herself, but as a true rule, she steps up to the plat and equips her team with ASH versions of her advisors and soldiers to do battle against the evil that befallen her kingdom, in order to understand what transpired and hopefully reverse all ailments.

I should throw this out there before you continue with the review. Mistwalkers is generally known for only handling game design and production duties while assigning the rest of the duties to other studios. In the case of ASH, they required the help of Racjin to help put the ideas and all the pieces together. Now that we have that out of the way, letís get down to the nitty gritty...

The overall title is a solid in-depth experience, but when you break it down into sections, this title has one to many flaws. Looking at the battle system, it is a solid system. Offering up both originality and intuition. Before you make your first move in battle, the player must organize his characters into teams of three. The characters can move independently of their team, but must share a turn with his/her fellow teammates. They must also share a certain number of action points, and fight as a trio. I tell you one thing, strategy is an important part to this title, so think and plan before you move. If you are too close to your enemies, you can deal lots of damage, but at the same time receive a lot of damage. Too far away, then they must rely on long distance abilities like spells or throwing rocks.

While looking shallow on the surface, this title is rather deep. For starters, you can choose for your army from several classes. From there, there are actually a plethora of spells and combat abilities that can be acquired as your characters gain experience. The one addition I liked the most was the fact that my characters were able to regain their health after every level up. This might not be that big of a deal to some, but when you level up in the middle of battle, this feature does indeed come in handy. Things get even crazier has you progress through the game; acquiring the ability to kill off one of your fellow characters and transfer their abilities to a party leader. Just remember you are not actually killing your troops because they are only lively piles of ash.

While these battles are lined with strategy and thought, they are also a issue in terms of gameplay. Many gamers love to play hours on end before taking a break, but when it comes to ASH, there are several battles that could take up to a hour to complete. This does add to the longevity of the game, but hinders the overall replay value of the title. Though this was not an issue for me, I thought it would be best to mention that the game's interface is all touch-screen controlled. While this does force games to get more involved into the game, it can cause a bit of frustration because some of the menu options require double tapping and are too small to hit consistently.

Not often seen in Nintendo DS games, developer Mistwalker decided to vividly display the characters, backdrops, and action via pre-rendering, which gives off a sleek next-gen look to the game, when compared to other DS titles. To be able to equip this game with these types of animations and character designs required Mistwalkers to use a special 2-gigabit cartridge, which allow them to create to their heart's content, without sacrificing anything.

While the surface looks beautiful, the inners' seem to have been forgotten. Looking at the battle maps and character icons, you can plainly see that they were not a priority high on their list. The character icons a comprised of confusing animations, that you often times have a tough time figuring out. Looking at the overall visual presentation, i have to say that because of the lack of effort with the maps and character icons, take away from the power presence the game gives off.

Racjin had the opportunity to turn this title into another fan favorite, possibly a thriving franchise if only they were able to better perfect and intertwine the ideas and features set forth by Mistwalkers. Looking at the sales of this title over in Japan, it just wasn't getting the attention that Mistwalkers had hope for, which is probably the reason that Nintendo hasn't decided to bring the title over to Europe, let alone North America. Does this title have a future..., that had left up to importers and if Atlus or XSEED Games chooses to pick up the title and bring it stateside. I feel for those gamers who love to import titles, this is a game worth a look. It may not to be the best Strategy-based title out there, but it definitely has great potential.


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