These badlands are pretty lonely. Maybe those giant bugs will be your friends.
Natsume is generally known as a company that deals with Nintendo-product games, but that doesn't mean they don't whip out the occasional amazing Sony system title. Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon was an incredible game that I can't help but replay. So when Graham encouraged me to try the oddly-named Adventures To Go, I was willing to keep an open mind. Global A, the developer, has had several games put out recently by Atlus including My World, My Way, so I was intrigued for sure. I wasn't expecting to be charmed by such a simple idea with a very effective delivery!
Take the role of Finn, an unlikely protagonist. He's not interested in saving the world or good versus evil, he's just looking for money. This is a create-your-own-adventure type game wrapped in a tongue-in-cheek story aimed at a more adult audience. Finn can take one mission per day, which he moulds to his questing or personal needs. The player chooses a terrain type, then a monster archetype, and then jumps in. Each map will be randomly generated based upon the conditions the player chooses from the outset. Though the player can have multiple quests as well as personal requests stacked up in their logs, only one quest will be addressed per dungeon run. The goal of each adventure is to make more money then Finn needs to spend creating it. Though the most basic terrain and monster are both free, the more elaborate or exotic a terrain or monster, the more expensive it will be to release them.
Here's the casino.
Random encounters are the flavour of the day; once Finn and his allies (he will gain three adventuring companions along the way in his approximately 60 hour journey) enter combat, the game switches into a tactical RPG mode complete with grid. As each character's turn comes up, they will gain Action Points; AP is needed to move, attack, use magic, and special abilities. Enemies are also constrained by the limitations of AP, although as the battle progresses more AP will be recovered by friend and foe alike. While it may seem prudent to stockpile some AP, there is a limit to how much your characters can retain, and there's no point in it going to waste.
Once Finn has accomplished whatever task he has set for himself, it's time to return to base. Feel free to visit the shopkeepers; all have somewhat over-the-top personalities that will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded RPGamer. Though equipment upgrades are simply purchased, magic is a little more complicated: the player purchases a variety of magic shards, which can be combined to make a variety of spells. The combinations aren't infinite but they are definitely plentiful. There's plenty of loot to grab while out in the wild, and Finn will gleefully line his pockets with the profit.
Those looking for a fun, mature, and lengthy title to play on their PSP should be picking up Adventures To Go when it bops over to North American shores at the end of July '09. Think Natsume would give it to me as a birthday gift? Probably not.