|System: PSP (+GBA 2005)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sting||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 11, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
There is little to set Riviera: The Promised Land apart from the glut of handheld RPGs on the market. There is no doubt that the series has a loyal following, but one needs to be objective about the actual gameplay and not blinded by brand loyalty. In my assessment of the facts, I determine the game to be inferior on virtually every level. It's a below-average game that affords the player so little control that it's little more than an interactive cartoon. And it's one that's riddled with superfluous dialogue that would try the patience of a nun.
The peaceful and picturesque island of Riviera holds an evil secret. Buried beneath its surface lies the evil faction known as Utgard. These demons were once engaged in a struggle for supremacy against Asgard. They were defeated and confined to the underground where it was believed they would remain for eternity. But after a thousand years, cracks begin to appear and the Utgard are once again empowered and poised to threaten the land of the Gods. It's up to the Grim Angels to defeat these monsters at all cost.
You may already have heard about Riviera: The Promised Land. It was originally released on the Wonderswan Color and the GBA a couple of years ago. The PSP version includes a few new features, and by few, I do mean few. While this game did receive its accolades on these handhelds in its day, it's not going to receive much more than a boot in the butt from me today. This is a textbook example of repackaging. With only a few new cutscenes, tunes, and a slightly expanded storyline, there's no reason to re-release this on the PSP, and there's every reason to expect more from a PSP game.
The Promised Land did have some interesting elements back in 05, but now it's a dated game. The gameplay is restrictive and redundant. The storyline is padded with text. Everything is over-explained, and then recapped, and re-explained. So much of the fluff deals with relationship issues rather than the furthering of the story. There are handful of girls and some horny guys. There are some suggestive themes which give this game a Teen rating. It's a red herring designed to keep you from thinking about the lame gameplay. It would be more palatable if the characters had some depth to them, but they've got as much depth as mall rats talking about the awesome videos they saw on YouTube the other day.
Battles are the name of the game, but they're not something to look forward to. They practically fight themselves. Once you find yourself in a fight, you pick four of your best characters, put them into formation, and give them some commands. Then you just sit back and watch the CPU take over. Some of these monsters that you'll face are incredibly strong. They will quickly drain you and your party of your points. Trigger points are used to employ weapons and deploy attacks. Weapons can be extremely powerful, but they eventually deplete with use. Attributes which you can upgrade include strength, magic, defense, and vitality. Each character and enemy will also have a series of weaknesses which the other side can exploit. Fortunately, you'll see the enemies that you will do battle with before you're forced to make any decisions. This gives the game some strategic depth, but only after you encounter these demons for the first time.
You will need trigger points to perform other actions in the game. Exploring is similar to a point-and-click style of movement. Just click where you want to go and you'll be there. While this form of locomotion streamlines the game, it also takes more control out of your hands. Trigger points are required to pick up objects and open treasure chests. If you don't have enough points, you'll have to pick some up in a battle. But be careful when opening up chests because they might be booby-trapped. Your party will give you suggestions on what chests they think are traps. The only way you can be certain is to open a save file and take a chance. I was more interested in finishing the game than trying to open and collect everything, but there is tons of replay value for the nerd that is compelled to leave no stone unturned. Different decisions will affect the outcome of the game.