ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat

Friday, April 27th, 2012

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Archaic Sealed Heat (aka ASH) is a tactical role-playing game for the Nintendo DS system. It’s made from the great minds at Mistwalker, alongside with Racjin who were previously known as Racdym, and Nintendo acting as publisher. The game was designed by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The art for it was done by Hideo Minaba. The music for it was done by three composers: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, and Isao Kasai. You know Mistwalker as the developers of Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Away: Shuffle Dungeon, and of course The Last Story. While Racjin is mostly known for some anime licensed games, they have worked on a few Bomberman titles and a game called Heaven’s Gate, which was published by Atlus. They even co-developed the DS port of SaGa 2 (aka Final Fantasy Legend 2) in the western regions.

ASH takes place in a medieval European-like country named Milinia. The story starts, on her seventeenth birthday, the princess Aisya will be crowned queen. Her subjects are gathered around the palace while her uncle, the regent who has been looking after both the princess and the country in place of the king watches on with great pride. However, this is not to last. For the moment the bracelet of Milinia touches Aisya’s wrist a giant flaming serpent descended from the skies and set fire to the whole country. The green, prosperous Milinia and its majestic palace is no more, everything has fallen apart around Aisya when she finally came to her senses. While the casualties are great, miraculously, some warriors survived the flame, this include the regent. Although they are no longer human, they are alive as ash soldiers. Accompanied by these survivors, Aisya sets off to find out the truth behind the flaming serpent and ways to revive her country.

Gameplay is displayed on the bottom screen, while the top screen contains a full motion depicting the battle, featuring pre-rendered videos and backgrounds.  The tactical aspect is very reminiscent to games like Fire Emblem with a grid overlaying top view of a map, you move by squares, and clashing with enemies with strategy in mind. Getting close when needed, and who you choose to fight with or who’s doing what based on what class each character you have at your disposal. In battle has the look, and menu system of Dragon Warrior/Mother series, seeing all enemies in front of you in a first person perspective. It also shares a lot in common to a recent example recent, the Shin Megami Tensei Devil survivor series, three maned group units; One leader, two generics.  How to raise stats, and gain skills, is the game unique process, the ENGAGE mechanic,  the generics are a way of or passing these valuables down, but doing so will sacrifice them, which will make that generic be permanently removed for good. A list will show you can and won’t be able to be passed down, based on what class, and level the generic and leader are. EXTRA are learned from NPCs, but cannot be passed down. How you use this mechanic will be very important in gaining the bigger,  more richer rewards in the stat bonuses.

It was the first DS game released on a 2 gigabit game card.Which makes this title interesting is this was one of the earlier games developed Mistwalker when the company was first established. It was opted by Nintendo to be localized, they had voice actors lined up, maybe even text already translated, we will never know. Ultimately , deciding factors which killed any chance for it to be localized, might be because the cartridge itself was expensive at the time, the game sold horribly in Japan, reception was mixed, and they couldn’t find a publisher willing to work on localization plus distributing the game.  A shame too, while half the gamers who have played it say it’s nothing special, to others it was an addictive, challenging gameplay meshed to one of the most refreshing, original core SRPG systems, a great call back to old RPGs, maybe something missing in RPGs today. Sadly most of us will never truly get to decide on our own if it truly was a good or average game.

About David Fernandes

(Community Manager) David is an assistant admin and community manager at oprainfall. He joined the Operation Rainfall Campaign at the beginning, and became one of the staff as the first wave of new volunteers were needed back in mid June. He is an avid video game collector, and lover of most game genres. David spends much of his time in a futile effort in clearing out his ever growing video game backlog.