I'll admit that the moment ASH arrived in my mailbox I was a bit skeptical of playing it. Not to say I wasn't anticipating Mistwalker's first SRPG on the DS; but considering the impressions I've read from fellow friends who've imported the game, which primarily consisted of roughly 45% good and 55% bad aspects of the game, I had every reason to be skeptical. Thankfully, though, my skepticism was averted when I actually put in the game and played it for myself; and while I can agree with the negative aspects of the game, its the positives that make up for it. I won't immediately dive into the whole pro/con nature of the game and whether or not its worth your time just yet as I've yet to complete 50% of the game and want to reserve judgment for a bigger post, but I will just talk a little about the game. Sounds fair right?
ASH opens up with Princess Aisya's coronation ceremony taking place when all of a sudden a loud quaking noise is heard from outside the castle walls. Aisya and Bullnequ rush outside to see a fiery serpent flying around the castle; and when the serpent spies Aisya, it immediately rushes towards her to attack her and Bullneque. After the serpent's harsh attack, Aisya wakes up and notices her castle is in complete ruins with no one alive…or so it would seem. Once Aisya walks towards a mound of ash on the ground, Bullnequ's body, as well as the body of some of her soliders, rematerialize, Aisya and her comrades thrust into battle to eliminate the monsters that are inside her ruined castle.
The first thing I should heavily note about ASH is its heavy stylus usage; throughout the course of battle, all of your actions can only be carried out by using the stylus. Things such as moving your units, selecting a monster unit to attack, selecting an area to cast a Cure spell, so on and so forth are all done by the stylus which obviously means no d-pad use whatsoever. Furthermore, the teams you put your units into share the same amount of AP during their specific turn. All three characters in a team can move, heal, etc…to your whim as all three team members appear on the field among other three party team members; but once the AP meter has depleted past the Battle mark, you can no longer enter battle with an enemy. This kind of works as an advantage and disadvantage since exploring the entire map kind of gives you an idea of where to look for treasures and get bonuses from random people who appear on the field; ironically, its the AP meter that determines just how long your team can fight against enemies.
Which brings me to something a bit interesting. In ASH, whenever your team engages an enemy in combat, the battle will continue to go on until you've defeated the enemy. However, when an enemy team engages you in battle, the battle ends once they've initiated their attacks. Of course, the longer you take in battle to defeat an enemy, the more your AP is drained at the end of battle which also ruins your chance of having that particular team move anywhere else on the field. Battles themselves are conducted in the traditional turn based formula. Battles themselves are conducted in traditional turn based fashion with your team attacking first followed by the enemy's team and so on and so forth until either the enemy or you have been eliminated. I'll elaborate further about the game in another post; but for now, I just wanted to give some of you a general idea of how the game works.
In the mean time, if you have any questions about the game, feel free to leave them in the comments section.