Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why no Eternal Sonata love for America?

Riddle me this Microsoft: why would someone who was jonesing to play the Eternal Sonata demo be unable to download it? There's no punchline here, and I'm sorry if you were expecting one. This was something that was puzzling me yesterday whilst i was Googling "japan postal codes" (something that I never dreamt that I would Google, by the way). The game has been announced for an American release, so distribution licenses of something of that nature isn't the problem. The demo is entirely in English, so the language barrier isn't even a factor. The only reason I could imagine as to why someone would have to make a fake Japan-region Live account to get it was that there was no reason. Microsoft just decided that it would be Japan only, and that was that.

On the subject of the game itself, I'm still on the fence. Tri-Crescendo was involved with Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (admittedly, only on sound design, but still), which it still a sore spot for me. I hated Till the End of Time's battle system, and anything that makes me reminiscent of it is difficult for me to play. Fortunately for me, Eternal Sonata's battle system is just different enough. It's strongly influenced by position; every character can set two abilities for use. One of these abilities is a "light" ability, and can only be used the the "light" areas of the battlefield. The other ability is, coincidentally, a "dark" ability, and the reverse area restrictions apply. The timing is a mix of real-time and turn-based, and there are apparently different levels for the battle system that change the timing dynamics. There is also a defensive timing mechanism, similar to that of Paper Mario. However, this only works on attacks from the front and sides, further emphasizing the importance of positioning.

All-in-all I did enjoy the demo, and I think I will definitely be picking this one up later this year. I would recommend the demo to anyone who wants to go through the trouble of getting it. For the record: Japanese postal codes are in the form: XXX-XXXX. You're welcome.