Japanese RPGs have begun to dry up on home consoles. In the world of the handheld, however, they're a dime a dozen.
This is also the case in the tablet and smartphone realms. Here, the seemingly simple gameplay mechanics of a JRPG have found a perfect home. All the while, these JRPG experiences on mobile provide all the depth that a fan of the genre needs.
The trouble that most developers of mobile RPGs now face is finding a way to stand out from the competition. Kemco just about manages to do so with Bonds of the Skies.Gods among us
In Bonds of the Skies, you step into the shoes of Eil, whose town of Dragonika is nearly burnt to cinders during his coming-of-age ceremony by a vengeful god.
Through what can only be described as divine intervention, though, a surprisingly cute godly protector known as Lord Nosgard saves Dragonika.
Eil soon discovers that he's imbued with the power to see these gods - known as Grimoas - that have fallen from favour across the world of Riktilde. Because of this, he's sent on a journey to find other Grimoas and the humans with which they share an unbreakable bond.
As you'd expect from any RPG worth its salt, you'll spend around ten hours working towards what you expect to be the end goal of the game, then get whisked away down a different path as the plot suddenly - but expectedly - thickens.Attacking the gods
Bonds of the Skies lives up to the classic RPG stereotypes in other ways, ranging from the granting of magical abilities and the presence of various armour and accessory pairings right through to an abundance of enemies and explorable dungeons.
Not everything is a repeat of what you've seen before, mind, as Bonds of the Skies has genuinely enjoyable combat mechanics. In turn-based fashion, you can switch up your team formation before each turn, thus allowing you to plan your moves more effectively against an opponent.
This works incredibly well. Why? Because the farther away you are from a foe, the weaker your attack will be. Conversely, the same can be said for an enemy attacking you. This enables you to put distance between your foe and those on your team most vulnerable to your foe's attacks.
You can control everything through an on-screen pad or via a reasonably intuitive tap-to-move system. This control setup may not match the fluid nature of the input system in Final Fantasy III or Final Fantasy IV on the DS, but it works well enough for what it does.God above
Despite the level of polish on show in Kemco's title, including the rather pretty sprites that evoke memories of classic 32-bit titles, there are some presentation anomalies. The biggest of which are the dull dialogue and the various typos that are dotted throughout the game.
Kemco is renowned for its RPGs, and, once again, it doesn't disappoint here. But while Bonds of the Skies may be an enjoyable adventure with plenty of twists and turns woven into the narrative, it's hard to play it for longer than an hour or so at a time.