|Title: Mystic Chronicles
Developer: KEMCO, Hit-Point
Release Date: July 16th, 2013
Platforms: PSP, Vita (Aug. 8th)
Age Rating: ESRB – E10
*Note this game was reviewed using a PSP-3000 console*
When I first heard Natsume was bringing Mystic Chronicles to the PSP, I was pretty excited. I have always been interested in playing some mobile RPG’s made by Kemco, but I have never really been keen on playing games on a phone due to the lack of buttons. This was my first chance to experience one of these great looking 16-bit beauties.
The story has a ton of plot twists and turns. Thankfully, Natsume has done a great job with the translation on this title. The way it is presented is very interesting and I was pretty much hooked from the start. The character dialogue is nicely done as well, and really shows off the individual personalities of each character. This comes through especially clear during the banter between the characters.
This tale begins with a young man named Lux, an orphan with a mysterious past. He lives in a village with his adoptive grandma and sister. His dream is to join the Holos guild and become a great protector of his village. However, plans suddenly change when his village is attacked by The Dark Clan and his family goes missing. Soon after he discovers he has the ability to make a covenant with the Guardian Beasts of the world. Lux sets out on a quest to find his family, not knowing all the trials and tribulations that await him.
The title shows off some of the best looking 16-bit sprites I have ever seen on the PSP console. The artwork is amazing, colorful and very fitting. Each area is well represented, from the green forests to the hot interior of the volcanoes. The PSP screen shows its age a bit and you will notice a little bit of tearing as the screen scrolls. This is nothing major and doesn’t take anything away from the great look of this game. The Vita version might make this look even better when it releases on August 8th, and I will update things when it releases if there are any significant changes.
There are not a lot of different music tracks to speak of, but the few chip tune tracks in the game are very well done. The battle theme is especially great, and I found myself humming it several times as I was grinding my party to god-like status. The sound effects are very basic, just basic chiptune bleeps and bloops. There is nothing wrong with them, but nothing really notable about them either. They are pretty much what you expect to find in a retro title like this.
There is no overworld in the game. While some may feel this would hinder the game, the dungeon areas are large enough that by the end of your journey, you feel like you have explored an entire world. Instead, you have a map with dots on it to mark the location of each town and dungeon. The town and dungeon names will appear when you move your icon over each dot. When you enter a town, you are presented with a screen showing the different locations you can enter. They include the workshop, the tool shop, the guild and other places. Both maps work basically like a menu, just pick where you want to go and press X.
In the workshop, you are able to purchase and upgrade weapons and armor. You can find training books throughout the game world, and these will allow you to upgrade your weapons and armor. You will need the required materials and cash to do so. Weapons can be upgraded into different types of weapons as well. For example, you will start with a long sword, and as you upgrade it, it will become a longsword +1 then +2 and finally +3. When it is +3, you will be given a choice to either make it +4 or change it into a bastard sword. Weapons and armor can only be upgraded to +5 at the most so if you choose to make it into something else you will usually get a better result. You can consult the training books section of the tools menu in the game for more details.
There are a few different ways in which to obtain these materials. They can come from monster drops or search points, as well as being found in dungeons and through guild quests. As you wander through the dungeons, you will notice shiny circles with stars on them. You can search these points to find materials. You will find different materials in each dungeon, but returning to the same areas in the dungeons will not always give you the same items. You will have to leave the dungeon and check it again to get what you need sometimes.
In the workshop, there is an item collector for you to use. You can send him out to all of the various dungeons you have visited and he will bring you materials from that area after some time has passed. I believe time passes according to the number of random battles you fight before you go talk to him again. You can also boost the rate in which items are collected by purchasing Mystic Chronicles points from PSN. Yep, this is one of the two places in the game that you can use cash for micro transactions. You can also use real cash at the guild to buy some special items that boost the amount of gold and XP you obtain as well as other things. Though this might make some of the grinding in the game easier, it is not necessary.