Bringing Japanese games to the West can be tricky business for publishers. Not only do they have to worry about how gamers from the East will take to the game mechanics, but localisation can take years.
This is never truer than for text-heavy genres like role-playing games.
Because of this, UFO Interactive has only just managed to bring Starfish SD's PlayStation 2 RPG Elminage: Yami no Fujo to Kamigami no Yubiwa to the PSP under the moniker Elminage: Original.Strength +2
Pitching itself as a classic RPG, Elminage: Original is a modern interpretation of those '90s PC corridor-crawling dungeon RPGs. For those too young to remember such things, this means that there's an awful lot of walking down identical corridors in maze-like dungeons while enemies pop-up randomly to attack.
When you do get into a fight, things will seem rather familiar to RPG aficionados. In traditional turn-based RPG fashion, your team of six chosen team members use their skills, magic, and weapons to tackle multiple rows of fantastical enemies.
Battles against these rather wonderfully hand-drawn enemies can become a little bit of a drag now and again. However, a handy 'auto-attack' button means you can issue the standard command and breeze through repeat encounters.
This tactic only really works well when you're significantly stronger than your enemy, or when it isn't a magical being, as the battle can be over in a move or two.Wisdom -1
As Elminage: Original is set on delivering a truly unadulterated RPG experience, there's absolutely no hand-holding going on through your adventure. This is both a blessing and a curse.
It's refreshing to be given so much freedom in a rather linear genre, being trusted from the start to learn the ropes and make the right decisions. However, this is also Elminage: Original's problem. It doesn't give you the help you need.
In your quest to find six rings held by the gods - required in order to close a portal being used by demons to enter the world of Halodra Ille, you must complete tasks for others.
But those tasks are never really laid out for you. It's also never clear how you should go about finding said items or where the best place to start is. This is made harder to know thanks to all 12 dungeons being unlocked from the start.
What's more, there are 12 races and 16 job roles to choose from when making your character, but not a single one is explained. How am I to know the advantages of a Wolfman over a Human, or a Samurai over a Warrior? What's the difference between a Priest and a Bishop? A Shaman and a Summoner?
If you know, then you're a better man than I.
Elminage: Original isn't a game for anyone but the dedicated. It's difficult, and feels rather overwhelming. You need to really know your RPG mechanics to get the most out of it.
That said, it's a solid and entertaining portable title that will absorb you for more hours than you can imagine - especially if you like grinding your way up the level ladder.