Fragile: Sayonara Tsuki no HaikyodislikeTBC Developer Bandia Namco Games Publisher Bandai Namco Games Genre Action RPG Platform Nintendo Wii Release TBA Bandai Namco Games and Tri-Cresendo, two companies whom the last time they collaborated with each other produced a master piece of J-Action RPG goodness; Eternal Sonata (GameID: 360/etso). Now back with another crazy, zany J-Action RPG game; Fragile: Sayonara Tsuki no Haikyo (Farewell Ruins of the Moon). A story-heavy dungeon trawler game which takes place in an post-apocalyptic future full of ghosts and adventure... And back tracking like no other. If that doesn't set the tone for this review, I don't know what will. So, is Fragile a game for you?

Weird chicken suit dude.
Fragile opens to a young boy going by the mantle; Seto. His world has been left to decay after humanity has seemingly all but vanished off the face of the earth. Towns are now left to fall into a state of disrepair and it's inhabitance have been replaced by the weirdest looking ghosts this side of LSD. Along the way, Seto finds the odd character who either helps or hinders Seto's progress. Story in the game is a subtle venture, the main story has it's own linear progression, however each location has it's own unique backstory for players to find by collecting "Mysterious Packages" and written messages on walls, some of which can only be seen when viewed with a special light. The story itself is rather difficult to watch, at one point you're lead by a ghost girl to here her dead body lies. Quite creepy and risqué for a game rated 3+ (or equivalent) in Japan.

Fragile is an RPG game, but just about. The game's fundamentals aren't very complicated, you have a base level in true RPG style which with each level you gain more strength and HP. Out side of this, Fragile is basically just a cheap 3rd person fighting game and a poor one at that. There are a few different types of weapon in the game, each have their own unique quirk. One handed weapons like swords, sticks and blunt objects are mid-damage weapons which can attack several times in succession and requires timing to get the best out of each combo of attacks (up to 3 strikes). Other one-handed weapons include charge weapons which depending on weapon you can move around while charging, hold down the A button to charge and release to unleash a 360-degree strong attack which can knock-back/down enemies. You also have range weapons like a slingshot and bow/arrow which can be used in the first-person view mode, which is basically just used for looking at objects around the world and get more information about them/pick up items.

Combat is generally poor, the camera in the game makes it hard to judge distance and enemies can attack at quite illogical times through an animation, leading you to believe you have more time than you do to launch attacks. The problem is exasibated by the fact you can only land a blow if you're facing the right direction when swinging, sure this sounds like a no-brainer, but there's no auto-lock for attacks on enemies. You miss by a pixel because that damn camera isn't facing the right direction, and you're in for a world of hurt. The camera itself operates in two ways, it all depends if you're pointing the Wii Remote at the screen or not. If you are, the left and right on the control stick makes you strife to the left or right and holding back makes Seto creep backwards. If the Wii Remote is off-screen, holding a direction on the analogue stick makes Seto face the direction you're holding.

Boy or a girl? Answers on a post card, please.
So why do you want the Wii Remote to point at the screen? Well, because when holding one handed weapons you can carry a flashlight. You can use the Wii Remote to control the flashlight, which is the only way to light dark areas in the game. Sadly, the camera is a pain. You can point the Wii Remote to the side of the screen to slowly rotate the camera which changes the direction Seto faces. Sadly, there are many disadvantages to this. For one, if an enemy is quick to attack and you (somehow) dodge their attack, they can end up behind you. By the time you've slowly made the camera turn around, you've been attacked again. Your best bet is to just point off-screen, hit the "Z" button on the Nunchuck and make the camera turn behind you. Why the camera just doesn't stay behind you, I'll never know.

Enemies themselves can be annoying. There is never any 'down' time when hit. If you come across a flock of birds, usually 4-6 deep, each of those birds can get a hit on you in rapid succession. With every enemy seemingly taking what seems huge chunks off your health, you can easily find yourself in a lot of trouble. This becomes a big problem during mid-parts of the game where you have a very narrow path which for reasons unknown you can fall off, loosing HP in the process. Why? With the amount of invisible walls in the game, you're led to believe that precision controlling is something of a strange concept to this game. Alas, no, it suddenly springs on you the fact you'll have to be very careful or end up at the Game Over screen faster than anything. Just to add insult to injury, they then decided to put ENEMIES on these narrow paths, which can attack several times in succession, pushing you slowly back until YOU FALL OFF THE LEDGE. Who honestly thought this was a good idea? The camera doesn't help either, would you believe. You can't see very far ahead of you without pointing the flashlight at it, so if you're pointing at the screen, the camera doesn't align behind you very well, causing you to clip the edge of the pathway. And just one more point on this, because this is at least 10 minutes of pain, agony and yelling at the TV; you clip the edge, Seto balances... Touch the control stick, you fall. Don't touch the control stick, you fall. It's a random occurrence if you fall or not. Brilliant.

Pretty. Nothing else to say.
Speaking of random occurrences, the only item store in the game which sells health replenishing items (utterly useless, by the way) and weapons is a random occurrence whenever you access a save point. Yes, the only thing in a game you would like to be definite, is a random occurrence. Just, "What!?". If you access a save point, your health is completely replenished. There are so many save points around the game that it begs the question why they even bothered with health items. You can just as easily save space in your inventory and just walk a few minutes to the nearest save point to replenish health. Weapons also have a random damage system: At the end of a battle, you have a chance of your item 'breaking', in which it no longer has the properties it once has, and can just smack enemies once. Broken items have to be discarded and another item bought from the item store or found around the world. Of course, you have to buy the item first, then replace the broken item with the new item and negate it into your stupidly small inventory bag, which are square slots in which everything must go. Health items, weapons, KEY ITEMS. Why couldn't Seto just carry key, story items? Why do I have to reshuffle my bag every time I need a key item and I've picked up some useless healing items dropped by enemies? It's stupid.

The game is filled with pointless mechanics, at the start of the game you're coupled with a companion whom goes by the name "PF". Holding the Wii Remote straight up makes her speak to you. She never says anything of use to you so why bother? Later in the game, you have to play some stupid game of hide and seek with a girl who turns invisible and you have to use the Wii Remote's speaker to listen out for when you're close to the girl. Later still you have to play tag with some unknown gender person who you can catch normally first time, but the second time you have to hide in some teacups to make him/her vulnerable to catch. These are the least enjoyable aspects of the game, they're even worse than the combat.

Half-a-girl ghost. Weird or just crazy?
Progression through the game drags, which is pretty mind-boggling for a 13 hour game. Yes, an RPG with a length of 13 hours. I've heard some people complete it in 11 hours. There are no side quests outside the compulsion to collect every hidden mystery package and find every hidden message written with some sort of mystical invisible paint which can only be seen by a special light you get half way through the game. You will often find yourself back tracking through most of the game to find quest objects. Like some girl wanting you to find a star and a moon which is back in a part of the game you covered about 2 hours ago. The overworld is just a maze, the map system doesn't help by not showing you where you are currently on the map. The story in the game is slow, it never really explains why the world is in the state it is, characters are two dimensional in personality and only seem to serve the purpose of fleshing out the game.

The only good points of the game are it's graphics, it's visually one of the most stunning games for the Wii. A very delicately crafted world, with seamless lighting effects, subtle effects like cat's eyes glowing in the dark and realistic portrayal of light from the flashlight which gets caught on door frames. If you ever wanted a realistic looking post-apocalyptic Japan, this is the game which does it best. Character designs are fun and varied, character models have lots of life but do seem to clash against the photo-realistic world with their cartoony appearance. Some parts of the game actually have quite beautifully animated scenes, in the hand-drawn sense. Other pre-rendered scenes include weird artsy scenes which indicate the end of a chapter, or so I'm lead to believe. Music is another good point, I could happily sit on the title screen and just listen to some of the wonderful piano scores for hours, rather than playing the game itself.

Fragile then, what can I say? What was supposed to be this amazing title has turned out to be an utter dud. 2009 was looking promising for the Wii just because of Fragile and a handful of other titles. Alas, it seems that all that hype was for nothing. Poor controls, uninteresting main story, short game time (most of which is just back tracking over already covered land) and poorly thought through gimmicks is what awaits you in this game. If you want a game which has a beautifully imagined world with a nice soundtrack and can live with less then enjoyable gameplay. Fragile is for you. If you want a solid gameplay experience rather than nice visuals, stay away. Fragile, quite frankly, is a horrible game. The few redeeming qualities it has is far out weighed by all the negatives. Bandai are tight lipped if they will bring the game to western markets, but avoid if they do. It's not worth your time, effort and patience.