Review: Symphony of Eternity (3DS)

SOEtitleFor the record, I was so tempted to write this review in 6-point type just to vent a little at Kemco and World Wide Software for this port of their otherwise decent mobile game, Symphony of Eternity. But I kind of like having regular readers so that plan died a merciful death and you get something a lot more readable. Anyway, the game, taken on its merits is a fine and dandy revisit to the nostalgic days of 8-bit console RPGs and there’s a decent amount of content for that low price point of $7.99 (yes, it’s worth a buy).

The big caveat is the playing the game on either the standard 3DS or worse, a 2DS will subject your eyeballs to some pretty darn tiny visuals on the main screen and a tinier map on the second screen. Worse, the game uses a few different camera positions and only one allows you to see what you’ve paid for with a full screen. Amusingly enough, that viewpoint is a standard overworld view… but you actually only use that map for getting from one point to another as the game has no overworld combat. Every fight takes place in dungeons of assorted size where that larger screen would have been very welcome, thank you much.

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The story focuses on Kreist, a traveling adventurer type who along with his golem pal, Dauturu, are in search of a mysterious item called Regratlute which has the power to grant any wish. Hmm. where have we heard this before (he said, knocking over a shelf of dusty old books). Anyway, the pair end up rescuing a girl named  Laishutia after she comes under attack be monsters and she ends up willingly joining the search for Unobtainium Regratlute. Did I mention she’s the princess of a nearby kingdom that just went through a bit of a coup and there are some people searching for her who might wish her some ill will? Well, there are! So yes indeed, things get prickly on occasion when a few paths cross. Speaking of, there are a pair of other travelers they run into, a female adventurer with a crush in Kreist and her own golem companion, so you also get a few too many humorous bits where Kreist rebuffs his crush even though the his party’s bacon is saved a few times during the game.

Even so, the game’s characters tend to treat certain enemies as little more than passing strangers they’re usually somewhat polite to or just want to beat up on because they’re stopping them from reaching a certain goal. It’s a bit odd to have a short dialog with someone that seems mundane before it’s time to lay a beatdown on them. A few of these fights actually end with variations on “Wow, I got beat up – you’re pretty strong” as the former hard to put down boss scoots away. Hey, this game has no pretensions of being the greatest JRPG ever, that’s for sure. Even funnier, you run into a powerful golem who Dauturu’s known for centuries who’s pretty evil, but he’s treated more like a guest woken up from a nap at a motel by room service. Of course, he spreads some sort of poison trap into a nearby village and that needs to be fixed.

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The game is fairly linear and full of these moments where you’re needed to clear dungeons out in order to unlock new towns and dungeons. The game isn’t too easy at all and in fact, enemies get harder as you progress too quickly. A tiny to moderate bit of grinding is helpful if you want those boss battles to be less of a war of attrition and more a fairer fight. One of the cooler things is the ability to craft weapons and armor right from the beginning, a simple process that results in much better gear than you’ll find in the game’s shops. You don’t need to obsess over anything other than what enhancements you want, so paying attention to each character helps the process somewhat.

You can also buy skill books and rings that allow your party to use a wide range of skills that become permanently added after a book reaches 1000 points. This takes some time, but is worth it when you’re able to dish out multiple attacks, heal up and use status effects against the game’s tougher creatures. The only other issue with the game are the controls which feel way too loose. Given that battles take place when you run into enemies in dungeons and surprise attacks happen if enemies run into your party, it’s entirely possible to get jumped frequently and potentially get a game over because it’s tough to move in a straight line for more than a few seconds.

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Still, dinky visuals and slippy controls aside, the game’s got enough charm to keep it entertaining until the very end. You get a some nicely rendered enemies in the battle scenes and there are a few plot twists that keeps things popping whenever the game needs to shake stuff up. While it doesn’t break any new ground (and it really doesn’t need to at all), the retro nature and genial presentation makes this worth a buy. Although even on a 3DS XL, some areas of the game still look too tiny. Ah well, I’m old and need new glasses (I’ve an appointment for an eye exam in Friday), so maybe I’m being too picky. Then again, I’ve played other RPGs with no trouble at all, so perhaps there’s something to be said for actually being able to see everything in a game like this with no issues.

Interestingly enough, I have the reverse complaint about the tiny visuals here with Kemco’s tendency to port its PS4 games to that console with visuals that are scaled up a wee bit too much, resulting in screens that cut off about an inch or so from the top and bottom areas of the screen. Hopefully, they can work around both issues in the future, as they’re kind of the king of this sort of portable nostalgia for the budget-minded gamer.

Score: B (80%)

-GW

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