Review by mikaa

Reviewed: 07/06/07 | Updated: 11/20/07

Insert generic plot comment here

One of the most important things about any RPG (be it an adventure/action (Zelda), turn based (Final Fantasy), or tactical (Tactics Ogre)) is to have a solid game engine. Without this key part of the game, the rest of the package would be a complete waste, for who would play a game that is near impossible to control?

Another important aspect of any RPG is its story. Unlike platformers and (most) puzzlers, ROLE PLAYING games thrive on stories and plots, driving the gamer forward with not only a (hopefully) stunningly addicitive game engine, but with a riviting plot that keeps you coming back for more.

Hoshigami Remix has the game play for the most part, but the story is anything but worthwhile.

A little background on Hoshigami would be nice, if I could provide a good one. Having never heard of this series, what little I could dig up on the obscure original (to this gamer, anyway) revealed either a PSX (or PSOne to you Sony fans) or PS2 game as an original, with this DS Remix being a remake of said original. I have not been able to get a strait answer as to what system this was on, though if I had to guess, PSX would not be hard to imagine.

And why is that?

Perhaps it is the graphic engine, which is almost entirely 2D in design. The terrain is one of the best looking parts, with dark colors dominating the scene. Character art is nice for the dialog (though notably washed out), and the 2D sprites are nice. At least, until you rotate the map, where the lack of animation causes them to flip to adjust to the angle. Spell effects are generic at best, some of which I almost recall being ripped strait from some SNES RPG games.

Sound effects are there, though no where near as stellar as some other titles (the Lvl 1 Ice coin spell sounds like the same effect from Super Mario RPG to me...), and the music, while not horrid, is just there.

The battle system is what saves this title from being a complete waste of plastic and money, but enough flaws keep it down. The basic concept is the same as any other Tactical RPG: move your "pawns" around on a giant chess board, use terrain and unit facing (as well as placement) to your advantage, and kill the leader while protecting your "avatar" (as in, your main character).

Unlike most mainstream TRPGs, Hoshigami's method of playing revolves around a battle bar. Each movement you make, each attack, spell, item, and defensive move you set eats up chunks of said bar. Once this bar is full, you cannot do more with the character, and must set a direction to face before ending the turn. The more of this bar you fill, the longer it will be before that character can be used again. The less you fill the bar, the quicker the character can be activated again.

Note that foes also run on this system, and you will not always be able to attack with all of your characters before your foes get the chance; unless you battle like crazy in the Tower, you will see your foes having multiple turns after you max out your team's bars.

Many elements are the same as they are in any other TRPG: attacking a foe from behind deals more damage, some weapons hit more than one space at a time, archers cannot hit close, and stores rip you off. One nasty flaw that is found in Hoshigami is that when you choose to move, once you select a space to go to, you cannot undo that move. This is highly annoying when you think about it, as if you accidentally tap the screen twice or hit the A button by accident, you could easily screw up the whole fight.

Another issue is the fact that, to view stats, movement rangers, and attack areas, you have to back out of your unit's movement/attack options, hit a button for movement, a button for attack range, and a button for stats. Then to go back to that unit's menu, you have to hit a fourth button.

Why this is so complicated, I do not know.

As mentioned before, Hoshigami has a boring story that is very kin to Tactics Ogre, but washed down and gutted to the point that it is painful to watch. So many cliches arise, from you being a mercenary unwillingly being put into a war, to a childhood friend that is chock-full of angst, to that young girl that will kill you if you die. If this is anything like the original Hoshigami, no wonder we never heard of it; outside of some nice character anime art, there's nothing noteworthy here.

I wish there was something really recomendable about this, but when the plot and story are horrid, the combat overly complex, the multiplayer options limited (multi-card only, and mostly for trading items), and the fact that there are more promising fare coming down real soon (Luminous Arc and Final Fantasy Tactics A2), there really is no reason to look at this.

Oh well.

Final Score: 5 of 10

+ Best Features: Artwork, unique unit bar to limit movements and attacks, somewhat challenging even on easy

- Worst Features: Story, some parts of the menu too complex, no real reason to play with better games coming soon, Remix of what?

* If You Liked: Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance/A2, Tactics Ogre

* Guilty Pleasure: Realizing that TRPGs are somewhat fun if there is a good combat mechanic. And no "Laws" limiting you too early in the game (here's looking at you, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance...)

- (Ugly) Reality: While the PSP has been getting TRPG after TRPG, this is actually the first one on the DS in the US, excluding all GBA releases. Sad...

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth Remix (US, 06/25/07)

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