Review: Popolocrois

Review: Popolocrois

Some may call it childish. Some may call it easy. But one thing is agreeable; it’s pretty good.

Making its Way to the States

PoPoLoCrois was first released in Japan in the mid 1990’s and received a fair amount of fanfare. So much so that it received a sequel and spawned it’s very own anime series. However, until this game released on the PSP, I had never heard the name before, much less knew how to pronounce it. The PSP remake of the series is in fact the first two games woven together into one long adventure. If you are looking for an in depth, level grinding, epic adventure you are looking in the wrong place. This game is certainly geared towards new-comers to the RPG genre and those just looking for a light romp in a fantasy world with lovable characters.

Young Adult Literature

The story is rather simple and straightforward, yet intricate enough to hold your interest for awhile at least. You are Pietro, the 10 year old prince of PoPoLoCrois. Your mother has been in a deep sleep since you were very little because her soul is caught in the world of darkness. You decide to set out on a grandiose adventure to set your mother’s soul free by facing down the demon that has captured it. As you can see, PoPoLoCrois likes to keep things rather simple. The characters are very straight forward and the story is no confusing at all. Rarely was I unable to predict what was coming next.

The story is divided into chapters and books which separate the story into smaller segments. This works well to give you an idea of how far in the game you are, but the transition between game #1 and game #2 is less than smooth. The first game ended so abruptly and the second game picked up so quickly that I barely had time to process what was happening. They could have done a bit better jobs sewing the two games together with some sort of story so that the jump from 10 year old Pietro and 15 year old Pietro didn’t seem quite so jarring.

The game’s shallow and thin story probably won’t leave you yearning to find out what happens to the characters later, but it is engaging enough to encourage you to finish the game. Most of the story is told through in game dialogue, some of which is superbly voice acted, but the best parts of the story are done through cinema scenes. Any fan of anime is going to love these beautifully rendered cut scenes that can span a good chunk of time.

A Schoolyard Scrap

 

Following suit with the story, the battle system is about as simple as it gets. RPG elements do exist, but the main heart and soul of an RPG battle system is nowhere to be seen. You will probably find that the battle system is more of an annoyance than enjoyment because of how easy it is. Each character has a basic attack and then as they progress and level up, they learn new skills that can be used in battle at the cost of MP. The battle system can best be explain by imagining if Final Fantasy and Ogre Battle got together and had some sort of freaky love child. You control your party characters, 11 total throughout the course of the game, via an active time battle system, but you have the ability to move them about the battle field and position them next to or behind enemies, much like an Strategy RPG game. Some of the skills learned allow you to shoot magic or weapons across the field in a straight line and that brings the element of strategy. If you can finagle your way to a spot where your magic will hit every enemy, you can essentially end the battle in one shot.

 

The battles are incredibly easy, so much so that you can set the game to auto fight for you. You are basically guaranteed to always win the fight. By setting your characters to attack, assault, defend your characters behave as directed. The characters are pretty stereotypical in what they can do. The prince is a decent swordsman and magician; a well rounded fighter. There is a witch who is mainly magic and can’t swing a weapon to save her life. The knight and goofy devil are mainly meat shields that can deal out a good amount of damage and live through a beating. The enemies on the other hand don’t vary all that often. They are pretty silly, actually. A baseball playing praying mantis alongside an acorn? It fits the theme nicely, but doesn’t lend itself too well to seriousness.

My other gripe with the battles as that they claim to be random, but they are actually anything but random. You will be doing a lot of back tracking through the same areas and you will very quickly notice that the battles occur at almost the exact same spot every time. There is no way to avoid it, either. However, the game does have a bit of a battle issue that makes battles next to pointless, if they weren’t already with the auto-battle mode. You can escape from any battle, at any time, for any reason for just a couple coins. There is no ‘failed to escape’. It is guaranteed every single time. This actually kind of hurt me because I wasn’t too drawn in by the battle system and just found myself wanting to progress story, so I would skip battle and battle. Before I knew it, I was at a boss and getting my butt kicked all over town. This in turn led to a long and arduous level grinding session that was less than enjoyable.

For such a simple game, there is a significant amount of slow down. You will reach certain points in the game where it feels like everything is suddenly moving in slow motion. This is most often noticed during battles where a lot of magic is being used. It isn’t that big of a deal, but it does detract from the enjoyment a bit. Also, the world is rather large, but actually quite confusing to navigate. The game does include a menu map, but it does not make the situation any better. Often times there is only one way to reach your destination, but getting there will take a lot longer than it should. There are very few signs, no directional mini map and using the big map makes things harder. This leads directly into the last complaint I have with this game, the load times. You will be travelling between areas frequently and with each section comes a long mildly long load time. It gets rather annoying after trying to find your way around for 45 minutes.

 

Despite the glaring flaws, this game is incredibly fun to play. Just remember, it is meant to be a fun-loving easy-going RPG for people just looking for a quick play. I imagine this game being a great intro for new-comers or young gamers alike because of its lack of glitz and glam. The presentation is spot on and quite enjoyable to take in. Everything feels as if it is taken directly from a children’s storybook. It’s quite unique. It surely doesn’t lack longevity as it will take you about 30 hours to complete, even if you are an avid RPG player, however, the experience players will probably find themselves giving up after about 10 hours of playing.

Pro:

  • Charming graphics
  • Easy to follow story
  • Pick up and play
  • Memorable characters
  • Great cutscenes

Con:

  • Too short
  • Way too easy
  • A tad too simple
  • Predictable ‘random-battles’
  • Long load times
  • Graphical chugging

Score: 7.5/10

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