Crimson Gem Saga
The Sony PlayStation Portable has seen a number of lacklustre role-playing games but now we finally have one that shines a little brighter than the rest. Crimson Gem Saga is the latest offering from Atlus and it finally gives RPG fans a good solid game using classic old-school gaming elements.
CGS is actually the sequel to Astonishia Story, a mid-90s Korean RPG that was released for the PSP and localised for western gamers in 2005 by Ubisoft. Unfortunately, Astonishia Story didn't do very well due to bad translation, grammar and dialogue. The game itself suffered from too much back-tracking and long drawn-out missions.
CGS has learned from its predecessor's mistakes and has cut down on the back-tracking elements and, thanks to Atlus' years of experience of localising Japanese RPGs, the game benefits from good dialogue and voice acting for major scenes.
The story is set in a Tolkienesque world populated with humans, elves, ogres and all sorts of nasty monsters. Gamers take on the role of Killian, a newly graduated chevalier - a member of the knighthood - who is looking for work. During his journey, he picks up a few friends and fellow combatants. Killian and company soon find themselves working for a religious group called the Order of Light, which is trying to recover all the 'Wicked Stones' before the forces of evil do - the alternative is to spend the rest of their lives in the Order's dungeons.
Game play is old-school turn-based-action similar to that of the early Final Fantasy games that were released for 8 and 16 bit consoles. Gamers have several options during battle sequences - they can use a standard attack, defend, use an item or a skill (super attack, magical attack or heal status ailments). If the monsters are too powerful for you to handle, you can simply run away.
Crimson Gem Saga is a fun throwback to classic role-playing games that maintain a balance of genres. It is not overly complex and does not feature long drawn-out missions, just some good old-fashioned RPG fun.