By Laura . March 4, 2010 . 11:49am
Welcome to the Amazon Curve. We’ve probably all seen many reviews from professional critics, so in this feature, we focus, instead, on “the word off the street,” so to speak — specifically, the opinions of everyday Japanese gamers. We’ll be looking at reviews from Amazon.jp and giving you a rough idea what common users who bought games with their own money have to say about them in the “Overview.” For readers that like a little more depth, we’ll translate select reviews that stood out. Hopefully, our readers will find the cultural differences interesting.
This week in Amazon Curve, we’ll be taking a look at upcoming Wii exploration RPG Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, developed by Tri-Crescendo and published by Xseed and Rising Star in the west. Fragile received an 8/8/8/7 from Famitsu magazine, which is considerably higher than the Amazon average of 3.35 (out of 5).
Since this game is still a bit far off in the future for us Westerners, for the time being, we’ll have to make do with a double helping of reviews from Amazon. This time around, the reviews were extremely diverse. Most reviewers agreed that the music was great and that the side stories you gather from collecting items scattered in the world were very interesting and in-depth. However, almost all of them also agreed that the battle system, weapon system, and item systems weren’t all too great, and that the main story was average, at best.
The biggest source of controversy may be actually what was supposed to be the main selling point of the game -– the atmosphere. Some say that the creators hit the nail on the head and managed to convey the sense of solitude perfectly, whereas others say that that the game was actually more “scary” than “lonely.” And then, there are the people who say the atmosphere didn’t work at all. However, with a point this subjective, such disagreements can only be expected.
Also, throughout the game are scattered many different meetings with other characters, and not soon after you meet, you part ways with them. This setup is one of the themes of the game, but whether it works or not is a point of contention.
The following reviews were taken from both the game sold with the special soundtrack CD and the game without.
Perfect for People who Dislike Horror Games but Like Exploring Ruins (5 stars)
At first, the original reason I had bought this game was that I wanted to explore ruins at home, even if that wasn’t something more of the horror genre like SIREN, but instead, something more mysterious and about enjoying a different world. As such, Fragile, which absorbed me with its uniquely beautiful music and wonderful writing and, more than anything else, the painfully lonely world, was a game I was satisfied with.
Exploring ruins is hardly a new concept, but I’ve always felt it was scary, like something scary or eerie was going to jump out at me. In the world of Fragile, where you explore alone in an unoccupied world, there is a bit of terror, but there is an even stronger feeling of sorrow. There are times when I also feel like I’m alone. In that world, there are many scenarios that make the player feel this way. However, this is in no way a negative thing; instead, I feel that the loneliness is a positive aspect that gives birth to beautiful new values. People who like exploring ruins and lovers of the retro should understand what I’m talking about, more or less, so when they play this game, they’ll probably enjoy the story, but more importantly feel something. If not, then it may be possible for the enlightenment that being alone isn’t so bad, but actually something comfortable to take root.
As such, for me, the most important concept I was looking for from this ruins exploration game was the world and its atmosphere with the system as a second, so I enjoyed the game a lot. From the start, I never looked to this game for a harsh, stoic battle system nor for puzzles that are the staple of adventure games, nor for all those things that have become promised in a game, nor for a deep story with completely unexpected twists. If I had to pick one thing, it would be that I had thought the price was too high at first, but after some time the price went down, so that was no problem. This is something I would definitely recommend to those who are interested in exploring unknown places while lighting up the darkness with a flashlight. If not, those looking for a more complete quality of the game may destroy the game with overwhelming expectations, so it’s probably best to stop.
After Clearing the Game, There was a Mysterious Feeling (4 stars)
As everyone here says, it’s lacking that one last step. I took my time and cleared the game in about twice as much time as everyone else at 20 hours. I had high expectations, so I was a bit unsatisfied with the way it ended.
The atmosphere wasn’t really painful yet heartwarming as shown in the promo video, but was more unexpectedly scary and eerie, so when I played I was pretty stressed out by the gap. In battles, all the weapons were easily breakable and you end up using all of your weapons, even the weak ones, up, but by the end you’ll instead have many left over. As long as you listen to the advice your ally characters give, the difficulty level drops a lot, so there aren’t really any situations where you must level up or earn money, but even then, I got annoyed with fighting the same 8 small-fry enemies in the entire game over and over again for no reason.
However, somewhere along the way, I became incredibly interested in the short story and the world, as well as the highly acclaimed BGM. The main story was, in the end, kind of like a lecture-heavy fairy tale, but the concept behind the short story, “destruction,” was uniquely written very much with a taste of human nature and I liked it a lot. How to put this … it felt more like I had been slowly reading a novel than that I had just cleared a game. In that sense, the sense of accomplishment from finishing the game was pretty out of reach.
I feel like since the game focused so much on creating the models of the ruins and focusing on the world of “destruction,” that the game should be an adventure with battles completely removed. It’s too bad they didn’t. That’s why I definitely want there to be a sequel; or rather, that ending was something that could be continued from. I heard that there was a comic or something that wrote about what happened after the main game, but I feel there should be a proper sequel –- no, a trilogy -– created. The protagonist could be someone completely different from the one in this game or it could be a normal sequel, but I feel that one or two stories could be created from this.
Taking into account the anticipation for a continuation, I give the game 4 stars. If this doesn’t happen, then my anticipation has no choice but to become a blue ghost and wander the world, I guess.
…While writing this, I noticed that for me and everyone else, when we finish a game, we always end up talking to the staff. Probably when they buy it, everyone feels that way. How to put this … it may have been a good thing that I bought this since it allowed me to taste one type of “adventure” in this world in the midst of development. After finishing, let’s all send a “Go Staff Members!” to them.
The Creation of the World was… (2 stars)
The atmosphere was on target. The music was on target. But more importantly, the creation of the world was lacking. Based off the maximum capacity, it’s probably something that can’t be helped. but even though the game’s an exploration RPG, most of the posters are the same, the billboards are reused, and the areas are small, so I felt like I couldn’t look around as much as I had anticipated.
It’s really sad, I feel. The new genre of exploring lonely ruins, the painfully sorrowful world – those were truly amazing (‘・ω・｀) It’s too bad.
Almost, but not Quite (2 stars)
The individualistic world and the music, centered around the piano, made for great atmosphere, but there were too many parts lacking. There’s no such thing as “defense,” to even if you level up, the regular common enemies still do quite a bit of damage, and you don’t feel like you’re getting any stronger. The limit on the number of items you can hold and the time it takes to arrange items only take up time and breaks the tempo. If having a limit on the number of items in your possession changes the difficulty, then it’d be different, but to be honest, it’s better to not walk around with healing items. Also, it’s a game where it isn’t necessary to walk around carrying many different kinds of weapons, so with the limit, the only trouble you’ll have is that you won’t be able to pick up enemy drops.
Content-wise, it’s perfect. Rather, any more and I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
Exceptionally disappointed… (1 star)
I bought the game because I liked ruins, the characters, the atmosphere of the promo video, and I adored the BGM on the official site.
However, I was shocked that there was such a difference between my expectations and actually playing the game. They took great care with the setting, so I was excited, but not an atom of the goodness of ruins was transmitted through. Mostly everything retained their original shape – so much so that you forgot they were ruins. Honestly I don’t know what was different about it from normal RPG settings.
Also, there were way too many battles, and the enemies revive if you change screens, so just walking around looking was stressful. On top of that, there is no time to comfortably explore after you have already completed your mission.
Other things are (although I don’t really want to write about them)…
- The controls are bad, the perspective is bad so you can’t really judge distances, and the camera movement is sudden, so you can get 3-D motion sickness.
- You frequently need to organize your possessions, and, stupidly, organizing takes lots of time.
- Your weapon often breaks and you constantly have to replace it.
- When you pick up items, you are forcibly given an unrelated, long short story.
- Et cetera, which, in every which way, harms the ruin explorations.
It’s as though the staff themselves don’t know what to enjoy about the game.
Also, I had been looking forward to the music, but it’s completely silent when you appear. Only when the enemies appear does scary BGM play or when there’s an event. There’s background sound effects, but because there’s no light or wind effects in the environment, you feel like it’s just there. I can’t say it’s great atmosphere. The atmosphere was much better in the ruins of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with its background music and sound effects.
As for the story, the concept of meeting with characters and parting from them was interesting. However, right after you meet them, you leave, and they suddenly become enemies or friends and the development is so fast I don’t feel moved at all. Also, “solitude” should have been one of the themes, but events constantly happen and conversations (or monologues) are included, so I can’t feel this atmosphere of solitude at all.
Only the design concept was interesting. It was an exceptionally wasteful and regrettable game. I would love for this to transfer to the hands of those who can completely remake it and make it better.