Venturing across the ocean Japanese developer Game Republic sneaks their traditional RPG onto the Sony PSP. Surprisingly, Brave Story turns out be one of the most solid traditional RPG experiences for the PSP. This is one journey you are going to want to explore.
Brave Story is a unique story that starts out simple enough with two young teenagers sitting on a park bench after attempting to take their dog Kratos for a walk. After your characters negligence of your lady friend, Miki, she wanders off and falls into a mysterious comatose state. It's time for the adventure to being and Brave Story starts up it's twisted magic and wonder, or in other words a talking life-like frog. The frog brings hope to the situation and gives the hero, your character the chance to change fate and save the life of your brown eyed friend. Thus the story begins as you’re whisked through the magical Porta Nectere.
The presentation in Brave Story makes a huge impact, resembling a motion picture with swooping camera angels and wide location shots. I was surprised in the quality of Brave Story right down to the unexpected and pleasurable musical score and top notch graphics and art direction. The animations and cartoon styled characters and combat extras really add a sense of self to this title that could have otherwise been lost. As far as PSP titles go. Brave Story is amongst the top of the pack and it shows a lot of talent and optimization to make this fluid of a gaming experience for the handheld. You could easily stack Brave Story: New Traveler up to any of the modern RPG games that have come out for the PS2 system over the years. One aspect that is missing is overdubbed voice work, but given the platform and quality of the graphics, I don’t even know if it would fit. Besides, what would a traditional J-RPG be without a novel of text? Text aside, Brave Story is free of long load times while keeping their high visual style and content intact. This is exactly how to make a role-playing game, fast loading and beautiful.
In the gameplay department, Brave Story is going to play out exactly as you would expect. If you have played a J-RPG in the past then you will know what you’re getting into. If you needed to know Brave Story is rich with overly intense drama, inventories to fill, weapons to buy and sell, statistics coming out the ears and as always those pesky random encounters. In basics, you will walk from location to location, solving problems while discovering the method to the madness that has brought you into this odd little world. Like any good RPG, you’re party will grow when other curious adventures cross your path as the plot thickens and branches out.
The battle system takes its stride from every other turn based combat system and adds up some visual flair with Batman styled words being splashed across the screen like “TWOCK!” and different stages to the enemies health status. This helps keep your spirits high and the fighting entertaining even if you have fought the same creature ten times in a row. Brave Story also has “Brave Points” that are regenerative points that activate a characters special ability, either attack or support spells. You can also perform “Unity Attacks” which are group attacks to deal out some real damage. Some gamers might find the combat aspect of Brave Story to be a little light and I agree. When compared to tactical RPG, this typical battling scenario seems like a bathroom brawl rather then a fight to the death. Veteran gamers the combat might have you put off because of its generous nature, but I would still give Brave Story a chance because of everything else it has to offer.
Brave Story also offers a few other minor gameplay pluses that help keep the player interested like crafting your own items from found blueprints. This process is uncomplicated and simplified for the player making the crafting an area which you're likely to investigate rather than skip over. Also in Brave Story is the mini-game where you can try and catch or battle Goalfinch birds. Capturing Goalfinch birds are a great way to obtain the rare and precious items, weapons, and armor in the game. Taking some time hashing it out with the Goalfinch birds is well worth the time invested, plus its lots of fun. Catching goalfinch birds can be a little addictive, although it’s just a side diversion from the main game. However, if you're looking for a little boost to help you fight your way through the levels this game addition is the perfect way to give your characters a pick me up.
Originally Brave Story: New Traveller was a Japanese release which I hear didn’t fair too well overseas. I’m glad XSeed picked up the publishing rights and ported it over for the North American audience on the PSP. Brave Story has no problem connecting with a western audience mainly because of its high production standard, solid translation, and entertaining storyline. Although Brave Story deals with some series issues the overall feeling from the plot doesn’t turn into a huge downer like some RPGs fall victim to with end of the world plots and demons and blood thirsty overlords. Not once did I feel burdened while I ran through Brave Story. I could see the standard gameplay elements becoming a bit monotonous to a few experienced gamers, but for those who only sit down for a good RPG once and while, Brave Story will be a shinning white light.
Brave Story: New Traveller is a total delight and a totally unexpected surprise. XSeed Games overseas pick is the complete role-playing game package complete with an interesting story, loveable characters and excellent production values, shrunk down for the PSP platform. If you’ve enjoyed a traditional styled role-playing game in the past then you should check out what Brave Story has to offer. It might be true that Brave Story isn’t the most original role-playing game, but what it lacks in originality it makes up with pure charisma. I can sense Brave Story: New Traveler is going to be a sleeper hit and will likely find itself it the hands of gamers from word of mouth alone. Brave Story: New Traveler is the new landmark expectation bumped up for next-generation PSP games. Brave Story: New Traveler is a must own for all role-playing fans.
Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8.5. Final: 8.5 / 10