カレーまみれ勇者の冒険 Curry Chronicles

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Review: Ragnarok Tactics

The PSP is almost dead in the North American market, and the release schedule has slowed to a small trickle of RPGs as life support. One such game is Ragnarok Tactics, a Strategy RPG developed by GungHo Online Entertainment and localized by Aksys. It is based off of the popular MMO Ragnarok Online, but aside from using the same classes and currency, I’m not sure how much of it is actually related to RO. It works fine as a standalone game, and everything is generic enough that if you change some names around, it would just be an average SRPG that slapped on the Ragnarok name to sell better.

Regardless, something about this game drove me to 100% it.

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Ragnarok Tactics Dark Route spoilers

Finally, I got the Dark Ending on my 5th playthrough. It’s a troublesome-as-fuck ending that’s not worth it as it branches off in Chapter 13 and lasts 3 chapters. To open up the branch to the Dark route, you have to have obtained the True ending first, and then pick enough bad conversation options. There’s an invisible karma meter going on, and the easiest way to guarantee the opening of the Dark route is by repeating Chapters 1-3 because they have the most conversation options, and repeatedly act like a jackass. The branch will eventually appear at Chapter 13.

Spoilers below, for people who don’t want to bother with the Dark route.

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Ragnarok Tactics – First impressions

To procrastinate further at school, I’ve decided to play Ragnarok Tactics. Yeah, it’s the time when there’s a shitload of projects and tests, plus those essays and personal activity forms I have to fill out for universities (because fucking retarded me chose to apply for engineering despite having unimpressive grades and shit work ethics), and here I am playing a recently-released PSP game. I’m not even working at that backlog of mine, haha.

Ragnarok Tactics is basically a very ordinary SRPG centered on a war between two countries. You get to create your character, who is some random mercenary belonging to a neutral “borderless” faction with cool middle aged guy Toren as your master. You meet two youngsters, belonging to the two countires in conflict, and they join you on your monster hunting adventure. After the first three battles, you go your separate ways and shit hits the fan (war breaks out). You now get to build your own army of generic classes and choose whether you want to help out Branshaldo, Aura, or Toren (neutral).

So far I beat the game twice, but due to different endings and the True Ending requirements, I’m still not done with the game. Each chapter you can choose between 3 or 4 different battles, so you can help out whatever faction you want. However, the same stuff still happens and the branching of routes happen at the end. I went for Aura first because I found Yuri to be cute (I-I like dudes who look like cute short-haired girls), but his route turned out pretty annoying with the whole “I’ll fight for my country and delude myself into thinking it’s obviously not evil” philosophy. Cynthia’s route was slightly better, but the events don’t change despite your helping in battle so you know exactly what happens, and you end up fighting for a princess that doesn’t get any development and barely any personality so you have no reason to care about her. I stayed for Cynthia because I liked her tsun moments. Next up is Toren, and I kinda saved him for last because I figured being neutral would be the most interesting and hey, he’s a cool middle aged guy. I’m not too far into his route, but I like it better so far (read: I actually manage to care about what is happening). It helps that he actually has some sort of backstory that sounds pretty plausible.

Plot gets pretty stale as you play further, and the characters don’t get much development or depth. The dude who rules over his country in tyranny and wants to purge the land of all members of the opposing nation (and anyone that doesn’t agree with his ways in general)? Stick in a “I’m doing all this because I have mommy issues and dead mother angst” and he gets his life spared. You can clearly tell they just stuck it in there for the sake of sticking it in there, because they put zero effort into making said revelation emotional. Both endings I’ve gotten so far are unsatisfactory, and go something along the lines of “you did all this shit in attempt to save the world, but no peace for you trolololol, enjoy being stuck in continuous conflict for what is presumably the majority of the rest of your life.” It feels like the routes just end off prematurely, like they should be the midpoint of the game but instead of getting into a plot-changing twist you get “okay that solved nothing, enjoy fighting more wars.” I’ll assume the True ending is where I’ll get my standard RPG “DEFEAT REAL BAD GUY AND EVERYONE IS FRIENDS” conclusion because I’m kinda hungry for that right now.

So yeah, the main story is pretty subpar. I liked the character interactions in the beginning, where they were just derping around on a monster hunt, but things became flat and boring when the game decides to go all SRS BSNS. The best thing narrative-wise so far are the sub-events. These things are pretty hilarious, and some of them are continuous and can give you a premature ending that you can make a clear file out of. I’m glad the sub-events are there, because they give you harder battles and more entertaining dialogue. You get a 5-episode series with a dude who falls in love with random girls and proposes to them in ways that would get him a good beating because he thinks he’s hot shit (and they end up calling security on him), a cook who can’t find inspiration and keeps telling you to grab stuff for him (it ends up with your beating him up as he spends a week making simple fried rice and not using the things you fetched for him), and a loli delivery girl who uses you as a meat shield and ends up falling for you (her subplot was probably one of the more interesting aspects, and I wished they explored it further).

Gameplay is not very outstanding, should I say. It’s basically your typical tactical RPG, except even easier. The enemy AI is so terrible it makes Luminous Arc seem hard in comparison. Nobody moves unless they get attacked, or you are in their attacking range. The classes are horribly unbalanced as well, and with the exception of High Priests (healers), they can be separated into massacre-the-map type and lag-behind-and-completely-useless type. Namely, Champions + ranged physical classes (Sniper, and Jonda to an extent. Kafras are cheap too, for something else) for the former, and everything else for the latter (mages in particular, since there’s a huge delay for using spells). Assassins are fast, but they’re pretty weak. Speed is the most important stat, and since Snipers have both speed and attack based off of dex, they are the best early-game classes. There isn’t really a reason why I should stick with this game instead of jumping to something critically-acclaimed in my backlog, but somehow I just can’t stop. The game is…so average it’s addicting? It’s pretty stress free, since I’m at the point where storyline battles no longer pose a challenge to me, but I can still easily level champions due to their broken skill than can pretty much wipe the map.