aka Tenchi no Mon in Japan.
Kingdom of Paradise developed by ClimaX and published by Sony Computer Entertainment comes at a critical time. Right now the US PSP line up is severely lacking games, most notably in the RPG realm. Ports of Breath of Fire III and Tales of Destiny 2 are keeping the Japanese audience busy, while the US line up has a single RPG Legend of the Heroes. Instead of being a rehash or a sequel Kingdom of Paradise places players in a brand new world, Ouka. You lead a former disciple Seiryu set on a quest to restore his clan back and balance the distribution of power in Ouka. Did we mention that the hero is also a master swordsman who trained on his own?
As you travel to restore your clan and balance to the world of Ouka you’ll face Kirin troops and mythical beasts. Shinbu can attack with a set “bugei scroll” by pressing circle. Bugei scrolls are customizable combos that you can add more moves to when you find kenpu. You can’t freely add any kenpu to a bugei scroll, instead you have to add specific kenpu to complete the scroll. Of course you’ll want to search for every kenpu and bugei scroll to give Shinbu more advanced combos. If you want to get serious about hunting scrolls down you can find coveted freestyle scrolls. These scrolls let you freely link any kenpu up, so you can make a custom combo. Freestyle scrolls are where the fun is at. You can make Shinbu leap forward with a flip, land with a sweeping kick and finish off with a three lightning fast strikes. You can quickly rotate through which scroll to use by hitting the right trigger. The system is ripe with options, but many players can easily ignore it and use a couple of combos instead of trying to customize Shinbu.
Or you can ignore the entire hack and slash system all together. Shinbu’s other ability that comes with the Ginmei Sword are his Chi Arts. Start out by holding down the square button to charge up your chi. Once the meter is full, tap square and you’ll release a magic attack. Magic attacks are infinitely more damaging than a single combo and they’ll hit all of the enemies on screen. Since Shinbu is usually surrounded chi arts are more potent than a bugei combo. On top of that as you use your Chi Arts you’ll learn even more powerful spells. If you start using magic early on you’ll forget the combo system in exchange for chi arts.
About ninety percent of the game is spent running around in Ouka fighting sand warriors, monsters and more sand warriors as you search for five keys. While there isn’t too much to keep track of Kingdom of Paradise forces you to progress linearly. You can’t even skip talking to a minor guard in Byakko camp. Try to leave and Shinbu will casually walk backwards, to signify “you’ve forgotten to do something”. In exchange for the lack of freedom Shinbu keeps notes on his journey that you can view in the main menu. The notes are essential if you put down the game for a long time.
As a martial arts action RPG Kingdom of Paradise gets the scenery down right. The clan names are named after ancient guardian beasts from Asian mythology. Genbu is the guardian of the north and in Kingdom of Paradise the Genbu clan is to the North. The elements of Eastern mythology are well placed. Kingdom of Paradise looks great too. Shinbu moves fluidly when executing combos. Each sword swing also comes with a blast of colorful light, similar to Soul Calibur. Kingdom of Paradise uses a static camera to clearly display the surrounding landscape. The result is that every in game shot looks great for a portable game. During cutscenes character’s faces are zoomed in while they’re speaking. Now if only the voice acting were up to par, the story sequences would be more enjoyable.
Few games have taken advantage of the PSP’s infrastructure wi-fi ability for players to download extras, but Kingdom of Paradise flirts with it. With a wi-fi router you can go online and download exclusive bugei scrolls and kenpu forms. It’s great to see add on content, but you have to jump through a few hoops to access it. Online extras are locked by passwords that you have to find by accessing the Kingdom of Paradise site. It’s a little annoying, but the extras are worth it. You can start out with the “Seima Bracelet” that boosts Shinbu’s mind and body by fifteen points.
Kingdom of Paradise sells itself as an action RPG because you can level up and there’s the shadow of a story. However, the game has more in common with a beat ‘em up than an epic adventure. If Dynasty Warriors had an action RPG spin off it would be Kingdom of Paradise. Overall Kingdom of Paradise is a fun romp and worth a look if you own a PSP.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0
The US version of Kingdom of Paradise is completely localized in English.
SCEA released Kingdom of Paradise on 11.15.05.
+ Pros: A deep combo system well suited for an action RPG.
– Cons: The story is a little on the shallow side and chi arts are so powerful most people will forget about swordplay.
Overall: Kingdom of Paradise has a solid combat system, which makes it an entertaining diversion from meatier RPGs.
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