When I was a young lad, the name "Kemco" actually meant something. No, it wasn't one of the least effective disguising names of a chemical production company ever. They were a decent — not spectacular, but decent — video game company whose zenith arrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s with such "classics" as The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, the console versions of the Shadowgate games, and that bizarre Kid Klown series. And who can forget 1993's Phalanx, a horizontal space shooter whose confusing cover features an old bearded man playing a banjo? But somewhere in the mid-2000s — around 2005 or so — they stopped making console games for the most part, switching over instead to mobile devices, the first being "Alphadia", made specifically for the NTT DoCoMo Mobile Phone in Japan. Ever since then, Kemco has come to signify an assembly line for mobile RPGs and nothing but. The majority of them eventually make their way overseas, translated and packaged with a fair price tag, generally five dollars or less. And occasionally — not often, but occasionally — popular RPGs receive a port to another console, most notably the Wii U or Steam.
Such was the case with Alphadia Genesis, essentially the sixth in a long line in Alphadia games, brought over to the Wii U for some reason by none other than Natsume. Titles prior to Genesis were all numbers with Roman numerals, but this... this just HAD to be different. The game follows the Official Developer's Guide To The Standard RPG Formula to a tee, so if you're actively seeking a unique and original entry into the RPG world, just stop reading right here and go about your quotidian business.
Our story puts us in the shoes of Fray, not so much a rope past its prime as much as your typical mainstay of every RPG: a spiky-haired optimist who also suffers from extreme naiveté and only attempts to see the good in everyone. That's sure to be his downfall when some ally of his jabs him in the back with a spear or a set of salad tongs. Aligned with his little sister, Aurra, a laboratory and scientific genius by most child standards, your quest is set fifteen years after the Energi Wars. Mechanical clones were sent in place of humans to fight, and although the two kingdoms in question have since made peace, there is still a strong suspicion that clones cannot be trusted to live among humans without violence. Eventually, you team up with a pair from that another kingdom, and what a pair. Coronne is a very nice young lady; the brash knight Walter, however, goes out of his way to be one of the least likeable characters since Bill Dauterive. Together, you must investigate a terrible murder supposedly performed by clones, and determine whether clones are dangerous or whether it's simply their masters that make it seem so. Whether there's backstory that requires having played all the previous Alphadia games is beyond me. I'm not buying all those.
...no, seriously, Walter is a horrid person. He keeps calling the main character "guild-scum", as if he's so much better. Okay, so you're a knight. That don't impress-a me much... He's so condescending to every character except Coronne, who he obviously has a crush on and caters to her whims. But he will never get a girl acting like he's defecating corn flakes. I may not be an expert in attracting women, but I know what NOT to say, and it's basically "everything Walter says". But he'll never obtain Coronne's love and affections, not as long as Fray does his
Anyway, beyond a cast of characters that ramble longer than the Gilmore Girls, Alphadia Genesis otherwise pushes you along from point to point to additional straightforward point in one of the more generic RPGs you'll come across. And it's literally like that because the map is designed to point you in the direction of the next stop. That is, of course, Kemco's current schtick: pushing out as many average mobile JRPGs in a year as they can while giving them completely random names based on falling asleep on the keyboard. I doubt anyone sat down and said in 2014, "We should call our next game 'Illusion of L'Phalcia'. That sounds like a great name!" No, some Kemco towel boy fell asleep on his laptop and woke up three hours later in a daze, his tongue having tapped out "l'phalcia" during the slumber. If you walked in expecting plenty of frills and whistles, you'll walk out feeling disappointed.
You're right, Fray — it's nothing.
This is a by-the-book product, and it shows. Field and town graphics look more like someone bought a nice version of RPG Maker and created a world using the pre-loaded assets, though I'll admit it looks a LITTLE better than that. The real meat and potatoes are in the battles themselves, which, unlike most of Kemco's RPG lineup, uses 3D models for party members and enemies alike. They're not entirely imaginative — too many birds and golems, I'd argue — but they definitely add a little edge to the mobile RPG circuit. Except we're talking about the Wii U port here, and that's when it suddenly seems more underwhelming. On mobile, the 3D models might look nice. On the Wii U, they resembled those of two generations earlier. At least the 2D parts — wandering the fields, scuttling through the towns, watching the verbose cutscenes — are...crisp? The SNES-style sprites may be antiquated, but they're at least...crisp? As in, high-definition crisp? HD Crisp? Coooooookie Crisp?
As long as I'm let's not forget the jovial soundtrack, which I have since forgotten. It's not bad, but it's also typical JRPG fare. The battle theme is rock. The town theme is calm. The castle theme is regal. Yes, indeed.
...no, REALLY, Walter needs a swift kick in the pants and stop degrading everyone for either being soft-hearted, lighthearted, or HAVING a heart to begin with.
Beyond the usual slicing and dicing (and shooting, as is the case with Aurra), the battle system gets a little saucier with EP, which stands for Energi Poi—wait, "Energi"? ENERGI. You might as well just have said "Energy" and left it at that. Energi Points are consumed for two things: Break Skills, which are learned over time and are basically tougher swipes, and Energi Skills, which are element-based, learned by wearing elemental rings. They add to the variety of the battles, and in some cases, it's downright REQUIRED to survive. But still, the battles are on the far simpler side of role-playing gaming. Add to this the fact that, by pressing the Y-button you can set the battle to "auto", Alphadia Genesis won't give you much trouble.
The game used to feature in-app purchases (in ADDITION to paying the cost of the actual game). With the Wii U version, Natsume tripled the price but eliminated any additional purchases within the game. That's...nice. The tweaks have mostly been given to the AGP (Alphadia Genesis Point) system. Found by examining sparkles you find in each area, usually on walls in out of the way rooms, you can gain AGP and spend them at specific merchants for additional accessories and items. Though you can finish the game without them, these transactions could have made your life easier. Because the option to purchase AGP has been removed, there's far more limited amounts of them laying about.
Other than the removal of microtransactions, Alphadia Genesis is more or less the same as the mobile version, only blown up for high-definition televisions and smoothened a bit. It makes absolutely no use of the GamePad's abilities; I would have liked to have the menu on the small screen or be able to use the touchscreen for ANYTHING, but, alas, no. Nothing else has been done for the presentation, particularly the lackluster translation efforts. I can live with having only Japanese voice work, but when the publisher doesn't even bother to fix any errors or make any edits to the middling script to make characters more notably human and less like...they were reading off a carefully-prepared script. It already stood out when they spelled "Alphadian" wrong in the introduction; you've already pulled a Bimmy, except this word is in the title! And it wasn't until about ten hours in that I noticed every time I went to save, the game asked if I wanted to "overwite" my file.
Looking for a throwback to classic RPG times where the gameplay was easy to grasp and the plotlines were straightforward? Alphadia Genesis is right up your alley because there's nothing complex here. The game is nothing special, but it's also not terrible either. It's...average. It's...a Kemco RPG.