Review by Sirius
Nothing short of an ARPG Falcom masterpiece.
Nayuta no Kiseki is what I would call gaming perfection. It excels in nearly every aspect and there is so much greatness crammed on that tiny UMD that theres very little I would change to make this a better game. It might not be revolutionary, but youll be hard-pressed to find it any flaws. If youre a fan of Japanese action RPGs, look no furtherthis is one hell of a polished gem.
Falcoms reputation for making fun games stretches well beyond its Japanese frontiers. After all, the company kind of pioneered and especially perfected the ARPG, and their flagship series, Ys, is legendary. Youll first notice that Nayuta no Kiseki, albeit part of the Kiseki series, is more akin to Ys in its execution and direction than to the rest of the Kiseki series. You take control of a lone male, off to save his world, and you jump and swing your sword pretty much the same way Adol did so many times before. So far, so good. But lets take a deeper look and find out where the divergences protrude.
Nayuta's story... its Achilles' heel?
Heres a question mark. Is the story as cliche'd as people make it out to be? Ive read Japanese blogs and Ive heard it from other fellow GameFAQs users: the story is laughable. To that I answer: shrug? So the basic underlying plot here is that you play as Nayuta, a kid interested in what lies beyond his alleged flat world. Through a crystal he found on his island, he sees a different world he wonders really exist. Following the appearance of mysterious ruins and a portal, he will actually manage to reach this other world and try to protect it to restore the balance and prevent his own island from being destroyed.
Okay, so weve all heard this before. Kid sets off the save the world. However, this story threads both Japanese game cliches and genuine surprising plot twists. If you can overlook some arbitrary plot devices, youll still be interested in seeing it through because it does not fail to entertain. Understanding the why of the decisions made by the characters is a huge driving force in the storys favor, whether you end up rolling your eyes or not at the outcome. What the story brought to the table never failed to keep me hooked, and that was just the froth covering the tasty gameplay.
What is also quite interesting is that once you clear the main story, after the credits have rolled, youll be able to continue your adventure, which takes place one year later. This is not a New Game +, it is really the continuation of the story, with a new season to go through and a new final boss to beat, aptly labeled Afterstory. Once you clear the Afterstory, you can finally start a New Game + and go through the whole game again to unlock the final season.
A world of unadulterated gameplay fun.
You do not trudge across a world map in Nayuta. You go straight to the levels, and then to the next. There are continents on which you must travel to in order to reclaim gears. This is done on an overworld map in the style of Super Mario Bros. 3, if you will. On every continent youll find three regular levels, one temple level separated in two parts and one boss level. In every level, youll have to find three purple crystals, open one or two treasure chests, and accomplish one other objective to get the three stars you can obtain from each of them. From clearing the level under a set amount of time to killing off a certain number of enemies to not falling down more than X times to not using magic at all, amongst others, the objectives vary.
Where Nayuta distinguishes itself is in its four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) per continent to play through. At first, only one season is available on each continent, but as you advance through the game youll unlock a second and a third one, and even the final fourth season on a second playthrough, should you be willing to go that far. Each season is represented by much more than mere palette swaps. In addition to changing the background vegetation and elements from spring to summer to autumn to winter displays, the landscape changes, routes change, enemies change, music changes and obstacles are added or removed to characterize each season. That makes it seem like youre playing through new yet familiar levels each time, and discovering them again but in a different light makes for a good deal of the fun factor to be had in this game.
For example, a certain level has you going over some kind of whirlpool in its first two available seasons, but becomes quicksand that forces you to go underground in its third, hence radically changing the level. Others have lakes that freeze in winter and give access to new areas, gusts of winds that propel you to higher ledges, or sudden poison fog thatll have you cursing your way through. Since the music and the enemies also change with the season, you are seriously discovering something new every time.
The hub in this game is your home village, where letters arrive through your mailbox in which various denizens ask for your help. Do so, and be rewarded with money, weapons, skills, artefacts Nayuta levels up by killing enemies or by eating food. Every nine stars you obtain from the levels lets you go back to your master so he can teach you a new skill, thus expanding Nayutas skillset. Sometimes, hell give you a piece of armor or a weapon instead.
Nayuta is not alone, though, as this little fairy named Noi follows you around. Noi only serves as a magic assailant, and a very useful one at that. You can also equip Noi with different outfits that give you different protection. Noi will gradually learn new types of magic as your adventure progresses, and each one can be initially strengthened five levels.
Did Makoto Shinkai work on this I cant believe this is on the PSP!
The first thing youll notice about Nayuta is that it is beautiful. Magnificent. If this isnt the prettiest game on the PSP, it sure ranks high up there. From the cut scenes to the world you take Nayuta into, everything is lush and gorgeous and very detailed. Youll find some jitter here and there, probably due to whats demanded of your PSP to render on screen, but these little hiccups do little to hinder your gameplay experience. A true feast for the eyes.
Team jdk? Gotta go buy dat OST!
Need I say more? Its Team jdk. Thats all there is to say about that. Theyre great and the game is enhanced by their music, as always.
My only complaintno, not complaint, nitpick rather, is the voice acting. You never know when itll pop up. I understand there probably wasnt enough place on the UMD to cram in all the voice acting they wanted to, considering all the rest they put on there, but your best guess is as good as mine as to when youll actually hear a character next. It felt really random. That being said, it was always appreciated when there were actual voices. I wish there had been more, but as mentioned, that is surely because they couldnt include more due to lack of space.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! Its a knockout!
Nayuta is just a great game all-around. A very worthy addition to anyone's PSP collection, especially fans of action RPGs. Although maybe not as hectic as Ys, this game, to me, just felt like a complete package. I hope they make a sequel, someday.
Nayuta no Kiseki gets a ten out of ten. Ding ding ding.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Nayuta no Kiseki (JP, 07/26/12)
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