Platform: Sony PSP
Publisher: Agetec
Developer: SCEI
Genre: Turn Based RPG
Format: UMD
Release: US Q3 2005
Japan 02/10/05
Official Site: English Site

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No, this is not another Pokemon game.
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Another day in the life of Ness...erm, I mean, Pietoro.
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Yeah, so where exactly is the throttle, again?
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Mike Wilson
First Look Preview
Mike Wilson

Back in the days of the original Playstation, hardcore RPG gamers were denied the privilege of playing many unique RPGs. PoPoLoCrois was one of those games. The franchise consisted of four games and was so popular in Japan that it spawned an anime series. Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan released a remake of the first two PoPoLoCrois games for the PSP. Fortunately for us, Agetec decided to localize this title for North America. Now American gamers will finally be able to see what the hype is about!

PoPoLoCrois follows the life of a young prince named Pietoro. His mother, Queen Sania, was placed under an evil spell that put her to sleep forever shortly after he was born. At such a curious age, Pietoro tries to find a way to revive her, and his curiosity drives him to travel across the world. As he travels, he meets a young witch named Narcia and they begin to adventure together. Unfortunately for them, an evil demon begins to rampage the kingdom, and Pietoro and Narcia try to find a way to stop him, as well as find a way to revive Pietoro's sleeping mother. The story is unique in that it follows Pietoro and Narcia’s journey for the next 10 years. The world of PoPoLoCrois will change slowly as Pietoro and Narcia become older; certain locations will show their age, newer and greater dangers will arise, and the relationship between the two friends will grow more and more intimate.

The gameplay in PoPoLoCrois at first glance has a lot in common with Earthbound (the classic SNES RPG) in that Pietoro’s friends follow him around on the screen. The prince will visit many different towns and environments, and he’ll also get into many battles. The battle system is simple but addictive, blending strategy and turn based battle elements. For example, the formation of Pietoro’s party can be altered, drastically increasing (or decreasing) their chances of winning. Each character attacks one at a time, and has a large number of unique attacks that he or she can use. Narcia, being a witch, is a spell caster extraordinaire, and since she is so young, many of her spells are pretty humorous. Another thing worth mentioning are the battle animations, which are gorgeous, and are reminiscent of those in SaGa Frontier 2.

The visual presentation in PoPoLoCrois is well done, and is definitely the game’s strong point. The characters and environments are in complete 2D and they have a story book feel. The character sprites animate so nicely that it is a joy just to see them in action. The environments are also inviting, full of color and detail. They are certainly a treat for the eyes. The animated cut scenes look great, too, and they shy away from the conventional ‘realistic’ approach that most games follow. The characters have egg-shaped heads, oval-shaped eyes, huge eyebrows, and stout bodies. In fact, many of the character models look more like Humpty Dumpty than the average anime character. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, because they look fantastic, and have a deep level of artistic depth.

The sound in PoPoLoCrois is another of the game’s strong points. It keeps you wanting to play and it appeals to every emotion: happiness, sadness, adventure, love, etc. It also sounds very similar to Zwei!!, a little known PC game released in Japan by Falcom. Conversely, the game features voice acting that is delivered well and shouldn’t disappoint. Voice acting can either make or break a game, but since this game spawned an anime series that was very successful in Japan, there should be little to worry about.

Many new features have been added to the game as well. Since it is a remake, extra characters and cut scenes have been added to further flesh out the story. It will also feature brand new animated cut scenes tailored specifically for the game, drawn by the creators of the anime series. The game will also have a quick save feature and a nifty zoom option for gamers who want to see the game in greater detail.

PoPoLoCrois is a charming RPG that will appeal to RPG fans everywhere. The game’s heart-warming story will keep you enthralled until the very end, and for hardcore gamers, it is nostalgia at its best. You can find it on the shelves next month.


© 2005 Agetec, SCEI.
All Rights Reserved.

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