Reviewed by Jimmy | 12.09.05
Introduction:Kingdom of Paradise is helping build up the library of RPG games for the PSP. Kingdom of Paradise (Tenchi no Mon in Japan) combines action packed fighting along with the drama and character management of an RPG. Underneath this horrible covert art is a decent RPG effort with some new ideas from developer Climax.
The Game:It was cheerfully surprised when I started Kingdom of Paradise up and noticed this wasn't going to be a typical top down 2D RPG. Climax decided to use a full 3D engine for Kingdom of Paradise which offers up a different route to the gameplay. Foremost with a 3D engine you can have an action based fighting along with great graphics and character animation. Kingdom of Paradise (KOP) takes advantage of this and gives excellent animation, interesting characters, and a unique customizable combat system. Hurray, so we are off to a good start.
In KOP you play as a young martial arts student Shinbu. Shinbu is the type that thinks he is above the rest of his class and gets expelled. Being expelled doesn't stop Shinbu from keeping up his practices and his quest for higher achievements. He ventures out into the world of Ouka looking to learn about new clans and gain more knowledge in the martial arts. Along the way Shinbu meets up with some typical RPG drama which includes a quest for powerful ancient swords. KOP pushes the epic adventure feeling while being pretty serious at the same time. At times it gets wrapped up in its own mellow drama a little too much, but that's why we love RPGs, right? The use of 3d character models with full voices overs help combat the story a tremendous amount while keeping a more up to date feeling within the game.
Custom Made Combo
For the combat, we have a nice system in place that goes fairly in-depth. You can make you own combos which ambitious outing, along with an interesting chi based rock, paper, and scissors system. The combo system works by combing "Bugei" scrolls and "Kenpu" forms to make up a combo. Basically, move slots, and moves. Each scroll has a number of slots you can use and you can make up the combos however you wish. I experimented with the freestyle scrolls a fair amount, but I never made up to the staggering amount of moves and combos the game provides. Climax boasts 15 fighting styles that support approx 150+ different moves. Lots of these scrolls are hidden, so you will have to search around. If you're a game completist gamer KOP will keep you busy in this area.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
The rock, paper, scissors deal runs in the form of Chi, and uses the elements of water, wood, metal, earth and fire. The Chi is basically magic and you will have to use the element forms effectively to take out certain enemies. Fire defeats wood, Wood beats Earth etc... The fighting system might sound overwhelming but really its not. Making the combos is the hardest part because executing them just means hitting attack a bunch of times. Blocking isn't the same unfortunalty because it's damn hard to block. Blocking requires good timing and its placed on the same button as the attack command, not good. What this does is essentially turns the game into a button mashing attack-fest that is in the end unrewarding. If the plate wasn't so full of customizable options I think they could have devoted more time to making the combos, along with the overall fighting experience more diverse using more then one button.
Kingdom of Paradise does a great job in the epic story telling department, as well as the character development. You really feel powerful in the game once you get the Chi rocking, battles are rarely a challenge and you can run through the game fairly easily. This will please the average gamer because you can actually make it through this 15hr story, but hardcore gamers might find it a little too easy especially when you Chi skills gain greater power. If you need a more challenging battle you can always hit up the multiplayer battle mode against a friend character. Also in MP you can trade moves over Wi-Fi to build up your character to trounce the enemy even more.
We have one other area that is a problem and it's the one that plagues most games. Like any 3D world the cameras perspective can be a problem, and Kingdom of Paradise isn't an acceptation. KOP has the dreaded camera angle problem which makes the game difficult to navigate in and out of combat. It reminded me of how Ape Escape was brought down by the same problem. Great game, poor camera. It's a tough problem to beat until you look at a game like Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stores that has a beautiful 3D world and a total control over the camera. It doesn't ruin the KOP experience, but it does through a few notches against it.
Lowdown:Kingdom of Paradise is an ambitious RPG title that ventures into new territory with customizable combat combos and a full 3D environment. Although using these ambitious features comes at the price of bad camera angles and a lackluster control scheme. Kingdom of Paradise in the end falls into a good generic ride that is more acceptable to the casual gamer. I recommend taking a look at Kingdom of Paradise, just don't expect too much.