Koei announces Dragoneer's Aria on PSP
Innovative RPG dynamics and Bach, together at last
No, you don't play as Johann Sebastian Bach. But he does provide the music to what is a new RPG designed specifically for PSP by genre specialist, Nippon Ichi (in partnership with Hitmaker).
When a world guarded by the six elemental dragons of fire, water, thunder, earth, wind and ice comes under threat by the appearance of a mysterious black dragon and its insistence on destroying the land, it's down to Valen, a young knight recruit, and the valiant warriors he meets on his quest to save the world.
Okay, so the plot isn't exactly astonishingly fresh, but what the game may lack in narrative it aims to make up in its mechanics. Take the turn-based system, which enables players to select the order of each character's attacks and thus inject more strategy into proceedings. In fact, you can even have all four characters attack in a row and chain the offensives so as to trigger powerful 'Chain Skills' – these become exponentially stronger the longer they are chained.
And if random encounters and endless wandering back and forth across the gameworld are two elements that put you off RPGs, consider the visual enemies and field skills on offer here, with action allegedly always at the forefront of the Dragoneer's Aria experience.
So where does the music come in? Well, it's in the background, as mentioned, but there are other elements, too. For instance, the game's guard system is based on a rhythm-action dynamic, with your performance in this mini-game determining how much damage is received from an enemy attack.
Another interesting touch is the way your party's abilities change depending on who is selected as leader, with the entire team taking on a key skill of their leader. It's one of several intriguing inclusions in what is confidently presenting itself as a breath of fresh air for this crowded genre.
Dragoneer's Aria is set for a February 2008 release and we'll keep an eye on it in case there's more to report between now and the review.