Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone GBA
WE'LL NEVER FIGHT ALONE
Released: November 2006
ESRB Rating: Teen
Genre: RPG Strategy, with cards
Platform Reviewed on: GBA
Official Website: None for this game.
Hours played: Approx. 13 hours. At the Framm Granary, Battle Field 15.
Synopsis: You are in control of several different characters, the main characters are Princess Yggdra and Milanor, a stray thief. As you make your way through the game you obtain more playable characters like Durant the Knight and Nietzsche the Undine.
The main story is you are Yggdra trying to run away from the Empire and reclaim the Kingdom of Paltina. She makes a deal with Milanor to give her castle to him if he helps her. He agrees and they set out on a journey to save Paltina from the Empire.
Tutorial: There are several tutorials that are set up throughout the battles, usually in the beginning of the fight and they are mostly triggered when you select a card from your deck. They integrate the tutorials into the storyline so one of the characters explains the rules while the others ask questions about what they have just "learned".
Story/Characters: So far the story is good although it's not very engrossing. I'm finding myself mostly addicted to the gameplay. The characters are also common, a dutiful princess, a good-hearted thief, a loyal knight...
Graphics/Cinematics: 2D artwork, with the picture of the character showing up with their dialog. Cinematics is 2D artwork scrolling from top to bottom, like Sting's other game Riviera.
Interface: Very cluttered. I was really irritated with the interface because there were far too many menus and unnecessary/cluttered text. When the character is talking I don't understand why they need a sprite of the character, a 2D drawing, and a "now talking" text line under their name. It's just overkill. The select screens in the beginning of a battle can also be confusing, I'd suggest reading the manual but it's not very helpful.
Sound/Audio/Voice Acting: The music for the game is okay as well, there aren't any tracks that stand out in particular, but it's not bad. The sound effects are pretty typical too. No voice acting.
Gameplay/Controls: Here's the saving grace of the game, (or maybe it's because I love strategy RPGs).
The gameplay reminds me of a cross between Advance Wars and Fire Emblem. It's a top view of your characters as sprites, which you have to move around a map to complete certain objectives. Each of your characters have different abilities (associated with the cards selected) and weapon types (AKA their "Ace"). They are also in command of several units of the same weapon type (Yggdra is a Sword Maiden and therefore all the units with her are sword wielders). Each weapon type is subject to a weapon triad similar to Fire Emblem, where swords best axes, axes best lances, and lances best swords. There's a magic and long range triad too, I believe is melee (axe, sword, lance) bests arrows, arrows best magic and magic bests melee.
Each battle uses a different amount of cards, so depending on the characters you select that will determine what cards to select. There are also cards that can be used by all characters. Some cards have restrictions on them, so keep that in mind.
The way it works is you select a card (based on what you want to do), each card has a move number on it. The move number indicates how many spaces your *whole* party can move. You can move them separately but they all must add to that move number. If you want to attack an enemy you must move your character next to the icon you want to engage and form a "union". There are two different types of unions, male and female. Male unions are shaped in an 'X' in which the character is in the center of it. Any friendly combat units on the empty 'X' blocks will form a "union" and join your main character in battle. Likewise the female unions are in the shape of a + and the same rules apply. As the battles move on, the unions become more complicated. [edit 006/18/07]: Forgot to mention that you can only form a "union" once per turn.
The actual battling screen is interesting too, there's a power gauge at the top, which allows for different skills (depending on the cards) when you fight passively the bar fills up, likewise, aggressive fighting will use up the bar.
I like the way the different moves and tactical information is presented, they take the simple concepts then build on them which I think is more successful given the high learning curve.
One of my beefs with the gameplay is the fact that you can't determine the damage you're doing as you're battling. It displays the amount of units you have, but doesn't have a health bar or HP to see the progress. [edit 006/18/07]: I forgot to mention that there are symbols on the bottom in the center that indicates how much of a chance you have against your enemy (which can also be indicated by remembering the weapon triad). It's hard to remember the symbols though.
Replay value: Medium, if you lose certain battles you will play a different storyline. Also, if there are houses you've missed you might miss out on items.
Learning Curve: Moderate-Hard
+ Unique and interesting battle system (unions, cards and weapon types)
+ Many variations for battling (female/male unions, weapon triads, aces)
+ Skill level increases steadily, information about battling is not thrown at you all at once
- Interface to cluttered/hard to navigate
- Items for morale too sparse
- Hard to determine fighting when in battle
Summary: Not a bad game, especially if you want to try something different, but can be pretty frustrating with the high learning curve. If you can get past that and the interfaces, it's an overall solid game with unique gameplay.
Images from www.skizo.org