Dragoneer's Aria - PSP - Preview
Valen Kessler wanted to go on a journey. He did not expect to go on a hunt. His training prepared him for the beasts he’d presumably encounter, drawing upon the power of the dragons to unravel a cluster of single- and multi-hit strikes. With every crushing blow, Valen grew wiser. With every finishing move, he saw his EXP move one step closer to the next level.
Valen got accustomed to routine. He didn’t deny that towns had to be visited and that countless NPCs needed to be interrogated before the next chapter would reveal itself. He accepted the things that couldn’t be changed and fought only for those whose future was not set in stone.
One night, after battling a monster that threatened to kill a dragon (the creatures who protect the world), Valen was pointed in a new, unavoidable direction. From up above like Sephiroth – and with not one, but two swords in hand – came an evil that would forever change the course of Valen’s journey. Going through the motions no longer cut it. Trivial chitchats would have to wait. Now he had bigger things to worry about – an evil that must be found and exterminated before it had the chance to strike again.
Dragoneer’s Aria is a PSP role-playing game from NIS America, the North American branch of Nippon Ichi. Known for numerous genre-defining originals, NIS is walking on new ground with their latest title. Dragoneer’s Aria is a polygonal, 3D RPG. The character art is more traditional with characters that could’ve been found in an anime series. But the rest of the game – 3D monsters, spells, and environments; grim reaper-type enemies; and the option to equip special abilities are uncommon for NIS and the PSP format.
Seen here: Euphe, one of Valen’s trusted allies.
It’s not aliens that are on the loose, but it might as well be. Aria’s worlds have been nearly overthrown by the sickliest creatures on the planet, including a blob (with two arms and a face) that makes Jabba the Hutt look friendly. Enemy encounters are visible in the form of an eyeball with wings. It’ll chase anyone who approaches, flapping its bat-like wings as fast as possible.
One easy way to escape: Mana and energy power. Aria uses the two energy types for an ongoing source of magic. The catch is that you must perform normal attacks to gain power in the first place. Atelier Iris 3 should now come to mind (for those of you who have played it), while all other players should be relieved that they don’t have to worry about stocking up on Ether potions. As long as you can fight, the flow of MP will be continuous.
As MP and energy are gained and stored, players will gain access to Magic, Dragon, and Field Skills. Magic Skills are a given for RPGs and include the usual array of attacks (fire, water, sleep, etc.) and personal aids (heal, strength increase, etc.). You get these features by equipping Lusce Frames – colored orbs of power. The number of orbs that can be equipped increases as the characters grow, or level up.
Dragon Skills are character-specific moves that come off as regular attacks that have been instilled with magic. In one such move, Valen will wave is his sword in a cool, “look at how strong I am!” pattern that sends a burst of flame toward every available enemy.
Field Skills are those that help you outside of the battlefield. By pressing the square button, Valen wipes out a large chunk of MP to in order to run twice as fast. Euphe, one of the characters he’ll team up with (and a potential love interest?), has a Field Skill that allows her to restore HP. She too comes equipped with Dragon Skills, hers mostly focusing on healing and water attacks.
Aria’s battles look good and function well but could use a speed increase. The load times aren’t too daunting, but when a character makes a move, players will be expecting an instantaneous response. Likewise, the camera, which may be spun around the player for a full view of the game’s many 3D landscapes, moves very slowly. But there is still time to fix these issues before the game ships.
Lastly, the finished version will incorporate a four-player mode of some kind. It’s unknown how it will work (a turn-based RPG that’s multiplayer!?), but we’re anxious to find.
Battling through the summer heat this July, Dragoneer’s Aria could be one of the first fully 3D RPGs to make a big splash on a handheld platform. At the very least it will be very interesting to see what the developers have in store for the multiplayer content. Stay close to GameZone as we bring you further developments leading up to the game’s release.