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CONSOLE: PSP DEVELOPER: Kogado Studio/Premium Agency PUBLISHER: Aksys Games
RELEASE DATE (NA): March 30, 2010 GENRE: RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Iyar me and Yuar you and Wear us. No, don't wear us as clothing! Noooo!

No, Mimana Iyar Chronicle is not the name of a mystical newspaper. But I would rather it be a fantastical periodical than a video game because this was a pain in play. And yet, for reasons which must be twisted, I still wanted to keep going, progress, and find the conclusion. In other words, this is the most addictive terrible game I have played in ages.

As soon as you start the game, you're introduced to characters you couldn't possibly like. The protagonist, Crais Sewell, wastes very little time in gambling all of his remaining funds away in a bar and swearing profusely while doing so. He is soon hired, being a member of the Guild and all, by Sophie Rothorn who needs a bodyguard while she searches for gems. For much of the game, he spends more time complaining about his job than anything else and only doing it for money, and it seriously got on my nerves. For someone who has no money left, he really should be grateful he's getting anything at all! It's too bad the PSP was not designed with a "change demeanour" button because if any game desperately needs one... Of course, Sophie isn't that much better to hear. I feel particularly bad for her voice actor: although she is far more optimistic than this jerk, Sophie is highly submissive for most of the game and takes a lot of his flak, resulting in her just saying "O-okay..." about a hundred times at least. Imagine having to record THAT line over and over again. Ask for a raise.

But this is an RPG, and two characters a party does not make. Sadly, the others are equally (or slightly less) infuriating. Melrose Kirsch is by far the worst character. She's even less bearable than Crais, and I didn't think I'd meet one like that. She's far too focused on research and science. That wouldn't be so bad if she didn't blurt out how exciting everything is, including even the most mundane discoveries. Worse yet, she finds the magic people use fascinating; upon meeting Crais for the first time, she tries to forcibly remove his clothes so she can "examine" him. What a creep! And she doesn't stop with this nonsense throughout the adventure, even going so far as to try and do the same with little Sophie. She's a perverted twerp that will make most players uncomfortable. Sorry, PSP owners, no "leave character behind in a ditch" button, either. Others include Tinon, the girl who clings to Crais and declares herself to be his bride after he accidentally catches her bathing naked in a pond; Feide, some empty-hearted homunculus that spouts robotic nonsense; and Patty, Crais' cousin who is likely the only character I could actually appreciate existing.

Character personality design here is bad. Like, Mega Man Star Force bad.


Just another day in the life of Crais Sewell, absorber of boring conversation.

If the characters were the only flaw in this game, I could probably overlook it and shower it with sweet, sweet rose petals of affection. Such is not the case. There are other things that make it a cruel and oft-unforgiving experience. Let's start with the battle system. To say that it is complex would be a severe overstatement. Pulling a page from the book of Star Ocean and the Tales games, you have four party members versus a bunch of enemies. You only control Crais, but you can modify what the others do... or at least I'd like to think so. They typically just do whatever they feel like doing while I play the role of hero and beat the living horsefeathers out of the nasty creatures of the land. In most battles, all you do is just swing your sword and win. Crais has a 1-2-3 sword-swiping combo, and that seems to do the trick most of the time. Expect to perform this exercise in tedium thousands of times. It will haunt your dreams. His name will appear in your Alphabits.

Characters can also pull off magic spells, including Crais, even though the majority of your time will be spent slashing instead of caring. Offensive, defensive, and healing spells are all available, but they take so long to actually cast! In the meantime, enemies are still roaming the battlefield, and if they give you a beating while you're casting a spell, it is cancelled. Couldn't they have sped this up a little?! Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Sophie just starts singing, and I have no clue why she's doing that. Quit having a one-man jam session and help me survive!

Worse yet, battles are so frequent, it is practically beyond belief. With dungeons and other areas being as labyrinthine as they are, you'd think the designers would have let up a little bit on the number of random encounters so that you could actually, you know, take the time to figure out where you're going. Nope, you'll experience more brawls in one area of Mimana Iyar Chronicle than you would farts at a chili cookoff. Tedium, we meet again. Don't plan on going anywhere quickly. Plus, with every encounter, you have to wait for the fight to actually load while the screen does some sort of splicing effect that gets old quickly. The only advantage is that you rarely need to spend any extra time grinding. Most bosses are a joke, anyhow, and won't even cause you to drip a single bead of sweat.

If this wasn't annoying enough, the game doesn't exactly stretch the capabilities of the PSP. On the field, the areas are rendered in nature-coloured 3D (expect plenty of greens, browns, and grays), but the characters are all sprites. Battle graphics provide a more detailed and close-up view with new sprites, but they are all a bit pixelated; scaling the view back about 1% could have solved this problem. During conversations, we get to see hand-drawn portraits of the participants, which is nice, but these are the nicest of the graphics you'll see. Monster design is dull as well; expect to be fighting many geometric shapes for some reason.

Audio is another point of contention. The music is quaint enough, when it's actually present. Yes, some dungeons don't have any music in the background. What is this, an N-Gage port? And without even the sound of footsteps, you may be questioning whether or not you're simply a ghost in this story. Thankfully, someone took the initiative to include full voice acting here. Some characters' voices are suitable, such as the main character, Crais, but others, I wish they were mute. Melrose... I can't STAND her or that smug, overconfident, macabre voice! Don't believe for one second that you're out of the woods from overdramatic screams of suffering and sorrow, either: this game has its fair share of those.

Mimana Iyar Chronicle is a banal RPG as a whole. Had it been released in, say, 1992, gamers would have been all over it, but everything about it reeks of staleness. The monotony of wandering through each dungeon, fighting more creatures than you would ever have expected of a video game, sinks in rather quickly. Yet I said that this is a game where I still wished to progress, and surprisingly that was the case. I saw it through to the end without walking away for weeks at a time. What held me to this beast? I must be a fan of penalizing myself for a crime. My only crime? Buying Mimana Iyar Chronicle.


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