poPoLoCrois PSP Review

PoPoLoCrois was originally released in Japan way back in 1996 and now ten years later, the game is making its long overdue western debut and on the shiny and significantly smaller screen of the PSP too.

You play the role of the ten year old Prince Pietro. About a decade before the opening events, Pietro’s Mother: Queen Sania had transformed herself into a Dragon to save her kingdom from the imagitiveley named Ice Demon, sending the bad guy to the equally creatively named land of darkness. In the process, Sania’s soul is also imprisoned in this dark world and when Pietro learns of this he sets off to free mummy’s soul.

In spite of this dark set up, the tone of the story is generally light of heart and whilst its not the most original yarn out there, it does possess a certain charm. The same criticisms can be levelled at many additions to the RPG genre anyway, with most plots consisting of a young boy and his companions saving the world from a bad guy, whilst along the way becoming a significantly better person.

The game mechanics are similarly traditional of the genre, with constant random battles interrupting your travels. Exploration is more often than not rewarded with a chest and characters learn and master abilities as they grow in levels.

The combat system is grid based and about as simplistic as they come, with a Final Fantasy style time bar, which you must wait to fill up before a character can act and combination attacks, which sees two characters teaming up to deal more damage to their enemies are about as complex as the battle system gets. Battles lack challenge and there’s no form of creativity to compensate for this, but levelling up and scoring items from fallen enemies remains as enjoyable as always for this writer, but the actual battle system does leave a lot to be desired.

The loading times: a problem of many PSP games take an age here and because of a lengthy amount of time staring at a swirly thing, which signifies that the game is loading. the incessant random encounters in particular can begin to grate after a while and such things as character skills are also delayed by a brief but annoying loading pause. The battles probably take a longer time to load than it does for you to defeat most enemies, which is just plain wrong and easily one of the games bigger flaws.

The graphics, whilst old fashioned are visually appealing and as we’ve already said before of games of similar 2D breadth, they possess much more charm than 3D visuals in general. The many anime cut scenes throughout the game are also a delight to view on the PSP’s beautiful crystal clear LCD screen. The generally cheery music on the other hand is seemingly on a constant loop and tends to hammer our eardrums rather than caress them.

None of the elements of PoPoLoCrois are amazing, but everything is at least of a serviceable quality, resulting in a good but unspectacular addition to the PSP’s ever growing library of RPG’s, that name on the other hand…