Hoshigami: Running Blue Earth Remix DS Review
There are only two types of gamers that might actually enjoy playing Hoshigami Remix DS: those who have never played a tactics game before, or those who really, really enjoyed the title on PSOne.
Hoshigami Remix is a remake of the PSOne title originally released by Atlus. While this tactics game shares similar features and gameplay techniques as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre and Vandal Hearts, it falls flat on its face with tasteless gameplay and an uninteresting story. Hindered by a high difficulty level and a broken menu system, this trip down memory lane is not worth taking despite having interesting, colorful box art.
Just about every aspect of this game is sub-par. Upon the game’s first impression, the opening intro movie of the game is laugh out loud terrible. Using nothing more than basic zooming transition effects of the anime characters that are in the game, the player receives no backstory or any other useful information watching it. This is one of the worst opening sequences I have even seen in a video game.
After the terrible first impression, I thought the gameplay would make up for it. I was wrong. The grid based tactics battle system has more flaws and inconveniences than the check out line at Service Merchandise. Most tactics games allow each character on the screen one opportunity to move and a single attack with turn-order determined by speed and/or weight. Hoshigami uses a totally unique combat system that throws off any kind of gameplay balance. Using what the game calls as the “RAP System,” players can not only move multiple times in one turn, but also attack multiple times. Each action, whether it be movement, attacking, using items, etc, uses a certain number of RAP points, but when that character’s RAP meter is full, the turn ends. And when the turn ends, the player has two options: standby or defend. Hours into the game, I still couldn’t figure out what the difference was. Confusing.
Because characters have the potential to attack up to three (or even more times) in one turn, one character can easily be defeated in a single move. This skyrockets the game’s difficultly level. As for the game’s magic system, each player on the screen can possess coins that act as magic spells. But these coins have an incredibly long reach and there is no way to defend against them. Even though each character can only use a limited number of these coins per battle, it is enough to throw off the game’s balance by offering cheap and terribly ruthless tactics.
The game does not even explain how to use the RAP system or how these magical coins are used either. With the lack of an in-game tutorial and instruction manual, I was left completely in the dark. I still have questions as to when I can (and when I can’t) use these coins.
When in battle, the player essentially takes over a cursor on screen that navigates all action. But this cursor simply acts as just that, a cursor. Using this tool does not give the player any extra information such as what type of terrain bonus you will receive, the status of your enemy, the weapon/armor/items your opponent has, or even remaining hit points. Navigating each battle contains more clumsiness than a blindfolded dodo. Not being able to see these game altering statistics at will (and in a convenient way) almost makes this title unplayable. Why should I have to navigate several different menu screens to obtain the status of my opponent as well as seeing the potential movement squares of both my enemies and comrades? This is like playing chess with pieces that all look exactly alike but still retain their unique movement patterns.
Also, some battles will have dozens of characters in combat. But after several turns, your team and your opponent will be spread out throughout the entire battlefield…but there is no solid way to tell which characters are on your side and which are your enemy! This fact alone is beyond frustrating and will cause players to immediately turn off their system. Again, the cursor does not gather any type of useful information, including who is on your side. The DS has a second screen, why not use it!
Between the horribly frustrating battles, the story is announced through player dialog. But because the game gives you no backstory and throws you right into a plotline filled with heavy detail, players will easily be confused and turned off by the end of the first battle. The game’s dialog screen is also one of the most boring I have ever seen. Players talk on the bottom screen in blue boxes with a small image of the character talking. Its like, can’t you at least throw a border in there…or maybe use a better color scheme? I don’t know which is more bland, the wordy text or the box that contains it.
There are other minor flaws that prove this game was created with low quality. The game defaults on the first splash screen on “New Game” instead of “Load,” the player can only rotate but not zoom the camera, and DS’s second screen is used for nothing. Plus, there is no way to save your game during battle (and some battles can be quite long), and there is no way to take back moves in battle. Beside horrible sprite detail (cannot even tell who is on your team and who isn’t), the environments and menu system are a chore to manage. The music matches the rest of the game’s low presentation values with repeating themes. And why does the screen vertically scroll, like a slot machine, one time before that battle starts? There is no reason for this laughable transition.
I understand this game is a remake of an early tactics game on PSOne, but that is no excuse for the excess of gameplay flaws. The cumbersome battle system and weak navigational interface make this game nearly unplayable. With the word “Remix” in this game’s title, one could probably assume that this game has received a major upgrade. This is definitely not the case. While I have not played the original game, if it is anything remotely close to this DS “enhancement,” then I do not want to be anywhere near it.
Just about every other tactics game is better than this game. Stay away.