Review: Mimana Iyar Chronicles
The PSP has become a place where old PS one style RPGs have had a bit of a resonance. Mimana Iyar Chronicles seems to try and capture that style. It’s tough to tell exactly how this game would have fared back in those days, but from today’s perspective, it doesn’t lead to much success.
You play the role of Crais, a deadbeat mercenary who works at a local guild only to spend his money on poker games. He is recruited by a young child named Sophie who wants to collect seven jewels to open up an ancient water temple.
At first, Crais is a bit abrasive when it comes to working with Sophie as he has a thing against children. He calls them unreliable, and says they never listen and are just a pain to take care of. But Sophie believes that Crais has a good heart. And throughout their journey, you start to slowly see Crais change.
Crais has a dark past that has been tormenting him for a while. Throughout the story, more and more of his past is revealed. With the help of Sophie and the rest of the party, Crais begins to come to terms with his past and begins to trust Sophie more and more.
Mimana’s story isn’t anything really special. It usually follows the pattern of going out to collect a jewel, entering a dungeon and fighting a boss, and then returning to town for some story. It isn’t even until the fourth jewel that a third person joins your party.
It’s a slow build that doesn’t really lead to anything. Well, sure, there are things that get revealed, but it feels all for naught because the game’s ending distinctly indicates that the story has only begun. This makes the game feel unfinished. Really, all you’re doing is collecting jewels until you open the final dungeon for that final boss battle. It just feels like they could have actually completed the entire story and have this portion of it as a chapter instead of making it the entire game.
Of course, while you’re collecting the jewels, you’ll be fighting a variety of enemies. Battles are engaged via random encounters and are fought in real time. You control Crais, who you can move freely with the D-Pad, do a standard attack and combos with the X button, and use skills which vary from attacks, buffs, spells and healing by going into the menus. You can also assign certain skills to a combination of pressing the Square button and the D-Pad. While I did enjoy using the melee skills, triggering the magic attacks can be a pain to use properly.
For all skills except the melee ones, there’s a bit of a charge time until it’s initiated. This is fine for healing and buffing your characters, but waiting around for your standard fire ball to charge up, which only goes in a straight line, doesn’t exactly leave the enemy open for the attack.
Along with Crais, you will have up to three other party members joining you in the fight. You can change their attack tendencies by using three different sliders. These range from Magick, Attack and Support. Moving a notch to the right increases their tendency to use skills in that category and moving it to the left decreases it.
The developers seemed to know that the person playing Crais would probably lean more to the direction of “I’m just going to press X a lot” and properly compensates for that by having the rest of your party be primarily magick based. But this leaves them vulnerable to a lot of the enemies’ attacks. Also, the AI doesn’t always respond to certain situations you want them to. There have been times I was low on health and nobody healed me regardless of how much MP they had. So I basically used them as bait and attacked the enemy from behind.
The combat system isn’t anything new, or all that exciting. It’s a bit sluggish, and for the most part, it’s just kind of there. But the real fault comes outside of battle. For one, the load times for combat to initiate are rather long. I think on average, I counted up to 8 seconds until the battles were initiated. The second problem comes with the frequency that battles are triggered. Suffice it to say, it’s a lot. So when you combine these two problems, it can get very tiresome waiting for the battles to load up, finishing the fight, then seconds later it starts all over again.
When it comes to the graphics, the game tries to use the old sprite style from the PS one days. This is fine, but nothing feels finished. There have been a lot of sprite style games on the PSP and most have way sharper colours than Mimana offers. Battle sprites look fine, aside from the fact that they look like they were made in flash. The backgrounds are very sparse and don’t really instil anything other than just being a background.
One of the weakest parts of the graphics is that every movement is your standard 1 frame per action. So when you’re moving around, especially during combat, there isn’t any fluidity to the movements.
Probably the strongest part of the game comes in the voice acting and the dialogue written for each character. If you’re in the know of North American voice acting, then you should know the likes of Johnny Yong Bosch, Laura Bailey, Wendee Lee, Karen Strassman and many more. Each actor plays their roles without it sounding too forced. Though many may argue this, my particular favourite was Karen Strassman’s role as Melrose, a mage seductress with a fascination for dissecting anything she finds interesting. Her role is much more eccentric than the others, and it can be hit or miss with her lines. But for the most part she plays that role very well.
While the story may not be very engaging, what kept me going were the interactions between each character. The writers seemed to have a good grasp on each character so it was a lot of fun to hear them talk to one another. I actually enjoyed the character conversations a lot more than the story. Mimana even offers you the option to press the Square button which prompts certain characters to talk about either reminding the player where to go, or just a bunch of random banter. Which led me to pressing the Square button multiple times.
Mimana Iyar Chronicles isn’t anything different from any of the other JRPGs out there for the PSP. But I’m sure there are people out there that will buy this just to get their fix. While the script writing and voice acting are very solid, everything else is a bit generic, especially when you consider that the game is rather short. If Mimana opted to forgo the sequel route and wrapped things up, there could have been room for it to be much more story driven. But instead, your left with a game that is deliberately held back for no good reason.
|Title:||Mimana Iyar Chronicles|
|Developers:||Kogado Software Products|