Sands of Destruction Review
Sands of Destruction box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: ImageEpoch 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 12, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

While the vast majority of battles in SoD are more or less repetitive grinding, fights pass very quickly due to the wonderfully streamlined battle mechanics. Within minutes, anyone will be able to romp their way through the encounters. While this doesn't make for much of a challenge, it does make you feel like your characters are indeed special. Additionally, fights in SoD are across both screens of the DS, so you'll want to have a good mix of aerial and ground attacks at your disposal, which does lead to a smidgen more variety. Utilizing both screens also means you'll be participating in giant boss battles. Graciously, the repetitive random battles are frequently punctuated by mini- and big boss battles, which further highlight the user-friendly battle system, but also require a lot more strategy to get through.

Sands of Destruction screenshot

The graphics, for the most part, are good. The characters and enemies are interesting (though baddies are often simply differentiated by color only), and their attack and power animations are fluid. Environments are attractive, but there isn't entirely very much detail on hand; the pixel art is professional but by no means jaw-dropping. Moving the story along and adding depth is a load of anime-like cutscenes. It's easy to tell these were all really well drawn initially, but they look really bad on the DS's top-screen. Mobi Clip video codec was used to bring the cutscenes to the portable, and, as usual, the amount of pixelation makes it difficult to see what's going on in the cinematics.

Music and sounds in Sands of Destruction fare better than the visuals. The musical score, in particular, is quite good; it does a great job of bringing out the feel of a scene or a fight. The only very minor downside with the music is that, at default levels (which are adjustable in the options menu), they tend to fight with the frequent voice work for center stage. That's right; Sands of Destruction features an extensive amount of voice work. While none of it did a whole lot for me, I'm sure JRPG enthusiasts will enjoy the quantity as well as the quality of dialogue. After all, this game launched all the way back in September of 2008 in Japan, so they've had a lot of time to get the English version down. While the localization still isn't perfect (see any Mario & Luigi title for Nintendo handhelds), it is certainly much better than the Engrish company mantra plastered across developer ImageEpoch's main website, "Do Good Work, Do Good Live."

Certainly Sands of Destruction isn't one of the top JRPGs on Nintendo DS. However, it is a very competent one that portable RPG enthusiasts should definitely put on their list (or queue). The fast-paced battles, unique customization system, and interesting narrative go a long way toward surmounting, but don't entirely overcome, the glut of random battles.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

Character and enemy models as well as animations are good. Environments lack detail and the cutscenes are far too pixelated to enjoy.
The touch screen has gone out the window, but accessing your attacks and special skills is an utter breeze that makes combat more enjoyable than it should be.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The background music is well composed, and the vast amount of voice over work is professional.

Play Value
Though the game only lasts a dozen hours or so, and features mostly random battles, the story and the battle system make the experience worthwhile.

Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Dynamic Dual Screen Battles: Confront colossal bosses that span across both screens on the Nintendo DS, battling with both aerial and ground attacks.
  • Unconventional Storyline: Written by master storyteller Masato Kato, immerse yourself in a dramatic storyline taking you into an atmospheric fantasy world where you must "destroy the world" to save the future.
  • Rallying Cries: Characters can shout unique "quips" or commands to enhance abilities and boost attributes.
  • Unique Customization: Customize each character and their weapons individually using a unique points system.
  • Gorgeous Movie Graphics: Over 300 high-quality cutscenes and event movies to illustrate the epic adventure.

  • Screenshots / Images
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