Trinity Universe
Platform: PlayStation 3
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: NIS, Gust, Idea Factory
Genre: Action RPG
Format: BD-ROM
Release: US 06/29/10
Japan 11/01/09

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Can you find people in the most dangerous environment of all... SCHOOL?!
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You know you want a fox-fan-weapon thing.
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You might have a weapon that's a key, but you're no Sora.
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Delivering a butt-whooping!
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Kimberley Wallace
Hands-On Preview
Kimberley Wallace

With Trinity Universe's June 29th release date on the horizon, I was more than excited to get an early peek at the game while attending E3. For those of you who aren't aware, Trinity Universe, a PS3 exclusive, was developed by Nippon Ichi Software, Idea Factory, and Gust Corporation. Trinity Universe hosts characters from the Disgaea and Atelier series along with one extra bonus: the characters will be in 3D for the first time. Now that the technical part is out of the way, let's get to the good stuff: my experience actually playing the game.

When you start the game, you're given two options for a character to play as: Demon Dog King Kanata or Valkyrie Rizelea. The game maps out which character will probably be the best for you, Kanata being geared toward beginners. In Kanata's journey, the goal is to eliminate all drifting objects from the Netheruniverse and protect its capitol, Empyrial. In your dramatic adventure, you'll be able to utilize monsters and have access to the Coliseum early on in the game. Playing as Kanata also means you'll gain levels faster and have more access to stat boosting items. Also, you'll have a balanced character in regards to offense and defense, not to mention access to healing abilities. Now, those of you who think this all sounds way too easy and want more of a challenge, Rizelea will probably be the choice for you. She's geared more toward an intermediate difficulty. In her adventure, your job is to solve the riddles of the Netheruniverse. For instance: why are there so many foreign objects suddenly drifting in and gathering in it? Playing as Rizelea also means you'll be upgrading your characters using meteorites. Various combinations exist with using meteorites, so there are quite a few ways to customize your battle party. You'll be able to focus on the areas you want in regards to attacks, defense, and support. Therefore, you could avoid having a balanced character by making them purely an offensive beast if that's what you desire. The choice of playing as Kanata or Rizelea is completely yours; it just depends on what type of gamer you are, although, who am I kidding? If you're a fan of this game, you'll probably play through both characters' stories.

Make all the jokes you want now about me not being "hardcore," but I chose to play as Kanata. First off, the whole Demon Dog King part sounded cool, and I was on the show floor, so I knew I wouldn't have much time with the game to really experience the extras that come with Rizelea, such as battle party customization. In regards to Kanata's story, you start off as an outcast. Kanata is on the run after escaping his transformation ritual. See, peace is maintained in the Netheruniverse by Demon God Kings, or in Kanata's case, Demon Dog Kings, changing into Demon God gems. However, Kanata would rather adventure and see the world than simply become a God gem. Kanata is not the only fugitive, however; his friend Tsubaki helped him escape and is also along for the ride. Without spoiling too much, let's just say Kanata and Tsubaki have an interesting and humorous dynamic. Tsubaki acts more like the voice of reason while Kanata is more reckless and sometimes lacks common sense. This is apparent from the get go when the two are trying to make a quick escape, but Kanata is more concerned with food – noodles to be exact.

As far as exploration is concerned, everything is menu based in Trinity Universe. From the main menu you'll choose if you want to experience an event or dungeon. As new objects drift in and out of the Netheruniverse, you'll have new events and dungeons to choose from. Your main goal is to try and correct the gravity distortion that is bringing the objects into the Netheuniverse in the first place. Since these items can also wreak havoc on the capitol, it's your goal to try and save it from damage. Also, the menu system extends to choosing if you want to enter a shop or the inn. And for those of you wondering, yes, Trinity Universe has item synthesis. It's actually a huge portion of the gameplay, since whenever you enter dungeons there will be items constantly appearing for you to pick up and use later in item synthesis. One distinctive feature of the dungeons is that the items that are hidden are always changing; just because you walked down a hallway the first time and didn't find any items, doesn't mean if you visited that hallway again it wouldn't have any items for you to pick up.

Although the dungeons place a heavy emphasis on picking up new treasures, you'll also encounter a great deal of random battles while you explore them. The battle system revolves around AP. You'll spend AP each time you attack an enemy; also, your AP will deplete over time based on your battle actions. It's safe to say your main goal is to do as much as possible before your AP runs out. Each turn, your character recovers all their AP by their default amount. It's also important to note that AP can be accumulated up to three times the default amount. Now, let me just say, the battle system is not about merely button mashing. You can't just randomly attack without any strategy in place. You should always base your attacks on the enemy you're up against. There are three different types of attacks to choose from: rush, mighty blow, and magic and each have their own unique attributes. Rush attacks let you deal a high number of attacks, but they also deal less damage. So, while it's effective for high combos, it won't always be the best choice for defeating the enemies with a lot of health. This may be better suited for the mighty blow option. When you choose mighty blow, you'll dish out major damage to the enemy, but you won't get as many hits in. The focus here is damage rather than the number of hits you want to deal. Last but not least, there are magical attacks where you can simultaneously hit all the enemies at once. These take up a lot of AP, so you can really only use them sparingly. Some monsters are more vulnerable to certain attacks than others; for instance, there are monsters that are vulnerable only to rush attacks.

Characters also have special abilities that they can use in battle. When it's your turn, you hold down the O button to use these; the longer you hold the O button the more abilities you have access to. For example, if you simply hold the button down for the short time, you'll access your first ability, but if you continue to hold it, you'll access a second ability, and so forth. You let go of the O button once you reach the ability you wish to use. Your character also has superior skills; if you attack in a certain sequence (using rush, mighty blow, or magic) your character will use a superior skill. These can add bonus damage to your attacks. Superior skills are all about finding the right combination to unlock them. They are also attached to your equipped weapons. Needless to say, the weapon you have equipped will determine which superior skill you can use in battle.

Battles are all about decisions and strategizing what will be best for you, so there's never a dull moment when fighting. Once again, if you do just attempt to mash buttons, you will die. The first time I tried to demo, I jumped in in the middle of somebody else's game with no tutorial and just pressed buttons. I died. I was mortified. My gaming ego took one big bruising, so if you want to avoid the embarrassment, really learn the system before you play. Thankfully, the game has quite a detailed in-game tutorial and you can always look back at the encyclopedia if you missed or forgot anything. Once I learned the battle system, it was quite easy to grasp and get into.

Sounds pretty fun, right? I will say, from what I experienced so far, Trinity Universe definitely has its charm. The game breeds humor along with a battle system that is about more than pressing buttons. Not to mention, it has a ton of small extra features for you to experiment with in the game. With June 29th coming close, it's worth keeping your eye on. Plus, I know if you are like me, you have a burning desire to see what this Demon Dog King is all about.


© 2010 NIS America. All Rights Reserved

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