Late in the lifespan of the GBA, Altus released Yggdra Union to unsuspecting handhelders. Achieving a small cult following, Yggdra Union was known for more than a game with an awkward combination of consonants in the title. It was known for its difficulty and ever present technicality.
Now, several years later with the technology of more powerful handheld devices, Altus took the time to port this forgotten GBA title to the PSP. For the most part, the game remains unchanged except for wide screen format and a couple new minor features that players of the GBA version might want to consider before making a purchase. New players, be warned, there is a steep learning curve involved with this game. Is this game for everyone? Absolutely not. But patient players willing to spend some time and learn the mechanics will find an entertaining experience with this title, although flawed.
This game revolved around Princess Yggdra and her quest to restore her kingdom from an evil empire. But what is any RPG without some type of big/powerful/magical sword? Taking the family heirloom, a big holy sword, Yggdra finds allies to join her cause as she travels the land. A typical RPG formula.
Like a double edge sword, Yggdra Union’s gameplay will either engross players or push them away entirely. Without question, the gameplay structure behind Yggdra Union is difficult to grasp, even for avid RPG gamers.
Through tile based navigation, the player will not have to worry about exploring massive lands. Instead the game leads the player through each battle via tons of wordy dialog filled cutscenes. Each character contains numerous statistics, and it is crucial to acknowledge them all before making any decision in battle.
Instead of a typical hit point system, the game is broken down through the use of moral. When you move a character within fighting range of an enemy unit, you have the option to start a clash. But each on-screen character essentially represents an army of characters. So when a battle ensues, several units are actually competing against each other. If you win a clash, the moral of the opposing side will decrease. However, if you win, it will have the opposite effect. Lose too much moral, and that character, or unit depending on how you look at it, will perish.
To make gameplay more complicated, cards are thrown into mix. Movement, strength, and special skills are all handled through the use of cards. However, if you happen to win a clash with an enemy, power will be added to said card, giving the game a different and new way to “level up.” The way combat is executed and the complexity of the card based gameplay system puts Yggdra Union on the difficult side. Yes, there is a lot of depth, but every single move that the player makes is an intense decision. Before you perform any action at all, you must analyze your opponent’s stats, skills, weapon, and formation if you want to have a prayer at survival. But not only do you have to analyze your opponent, the player’s units must be taken into consideration as well. The full title of this game is “we will never fight alone.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to defeat your enemies, you must plan to attack your opponent in waves, or combos. All the thought that goes into each battle can make each mission long, drawn out, and frustrating. Navigating menus is even a bit tricky.
The game’s biggest flaw is the overall interface and gameplay structure. The lack of a significant tutorial will have players referencing the instruction manual or online guides more often than not. Time and patience must be spent learning the ins and outs of Yggdra Union. But because the menu structure isn’t the most fluid, Yggdra Union is a difficult game to play and fully understand. However, if you are able to focus your attention to this title, this game offers a deep amount of strategy and thought that any RPG/Strategy game fan can appreciate.
Overall, if you missed this on the GBA and like a challenge in your RPGs, then Yggdra Union will be right up your alley. The PSP looks a lot cleaner and less crowded than it did on the GBA, thanks to the wide screen and higher res format of the system’s hardware. This feature makes the PSP version the definitive version to play. However, newbies and non Strategy/RPG fans be warned; this game will probably kick your ass with its technicality. If that if the case, you might be better off playing the Tactics Ogre, Summon Knight, or the Ogre Battle series.