Soma BringerlikeTBC Developer Monolith Publisher Nintendo Genre Action RPG Platform Nintendo DS Release TBA After Nintendo bought out RPG creator Monolith a while back, the public were quite unsure what the future would hold for the great games which Monolith had brought to the RPG genre, fearing that Nintendo would bring the games down to the bland standards of RPG games they create, many were unenthusiastic about the merger. One of the games in the midst of development when Nintendo took charge was Soma Bringer, a very standard J-RPG game. However, now under Nintendo's control, how does Soma Bringer rank up?


Cast
Well, the short answer is: It's fantastic! Soma Bringer could possibly be the best RPG game I've ever had my hands on, perhaps topping Grandia II. The game is a very clean, very colourful Action RPG, think Eternal Sonata (GameID: 360/etso) meet Children/Heroes of Mana. The mix up results in one very good play experience.The story is this: One day a big shooting star falls to this world, a group of people, consisting of by far the most cliché bunch of characters ever... Including a Final Fantasy VII; Sephiroth look-alike, a Crono from Crono Trigger look-alike, a Kingdom Hearts II; Riku look-alike and basically many other look-alikes. They go to this place where the star fell and this fallen star thing basically nukes the forest out of existence, leaving the team of 7 still alive, somehow... And in true J-RPG style, the star which fell to the ground housed a naked girl who later reveals herself to be a girl named "Idea". I think you see where that's going... Yeah, basically the Crono look-alike, Welt, falls in love with her and she turns out to be... No, seriously. I'm not going to tell you, but you can have a good guess and it'll probably be right. So yeah, there's not an awful lot going for the story at first, but stick with it, it's fantastic.


A lovely path to nowhere
Battles take place on battle-specific maps, you know if you have to battle enemies because you and your team of two computer/friend over close WiFi controlled companions will draw their weapons and you'll have a HP/SP gauge in the bottom corner. Attacks are button specific (and can be defined by the player) over the A, B, X and Y buttons. Movement is handled on the D-Pad. If you hit the L shoulder button, you'll enter "Pocket mode" where you use your pre-set (by user defined) inventory using the same buttons you would to attack. These items can be to heal yourself or attack enemies. There's usually a time lapse after you use an item until you can use another of the same item. Battles are conducted in real time and can involve all enemies on the map, if you're so unlucky. However, this does give you a certain amount of strategy when playing, something which Final Fantasy XII should have been like and enemies can only hit you if their attacks can reach you, not, like in FFXII's case where they can attack you from the other side of the blooming map.

Music is a wonderful mix of some real world music and some truly awe inspiring chip-tone music from the DS.


Idea has an idea
Being a first party title, the game doesn't actually require you to use the touch screen, it really also doesn't have some ingenious but gameplay hindering mechanic stuffed onto the bottom screen, it merely does what we all want and shows a map and actions available to the player. During menus it shows your stats, during events it usually does nothing. Brilliant.

Visuals are stunning, although there are some design decisions which confuse me a bit. In-game the maps are all wonderfully drawn, stylised artwork and while this is nice on the eyes, it's NOT so nice when zoomed in, which you can do on battle fields. Zoomed out, wonderful. Zoomed in, hello massive pixels. Of course, you expect this... But the problem is, as you zoom out, character models don't look so hot. So when the map itself looks like crap, the character models look great and vice versa.


Your break was over 5 minutes ago!
The only main concern I have about this game, is the lack of information you're given sometimes. As wonderful a story is, it's delivery is key. Sometimes the game can confuse you by asking you to do stuff or collect stuff which you have NO IDEA what it is. So you'll spend a good while searching aimlessly for something that's right under your nose but didn't know what it was in the first place! Also, the utterly cringe-worthy dialogue makes nails scraping down a chalk board sound interesting. Other than this, the game is rock solid.

Overall then, it's a very good game. It's got a fairly good story, characters could have done with... Oh, I don't know. Originality, and maybe some depth other than "yeah, I'm cool" and "yeah, I know everything" and even "yeah, I'm so insecure I must question everything which sounds like an indirect question to me which may be about how I go googly-eyed for some chick which you saw naked inside a tree/star thing." Visuals are good, music is good, gameplay is good. What's there not to like? Definitely get this game whenever it's out in Europe.