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   Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth - Staff Retroview  

Hoshigami: Ruining Tactical RPGs?
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
35-55 Hours
OVERALL

1.5/5

Rating definitions 

   Despite having several unique additions to the tactical RPG subgenre, Hoshigami manages to fall short. Although at first glance it appears to be quite good and while is does indeed have a lot of potential, the finished product just doesn't measure up. Very little strategy is involved, (which is very bad for a TRPG) the interface isn't very good, and it lacks a lot of heart. It's always sad when a game with so much potential isn't very good.

   Tactical RPGs rely heavily on their battle systems for sucess. Hoshigami features several new additions to these such as use of custom coin-like items to use magic, actions taking various amounts of time, and attack sessions. Each time you use a particular coin in battle, you drain its power and depending on its strength, you may have to wait for it to recover before you can use it again. You can boost stats by using various seals to balance and level up the spells as you like. Every step you take, item you use, spell you cast, etc. takes a specific amount of time. This adds another dimension to tactics (or at least it would have) since you have to plan carefully and have much more control about setting up chains. Speaking of chain attacks, there is a special type called attack sessions. By lining up your characters and using this technique to defeat an enemy you can steal from them and gain a small bonus. Unfortunately most enemies you can defeat this way have items that are a lower level than yours. Even stronger enemies usually aren't worth the time it takes to set one of these up either. Due to ridiculous level-up and equipment bonuses if you are even a few levels higher than an enemy, it is virtually impossible for them to cause more than a scratch. This took all the fun and strategy out of battles. The ridiculous multi-floored towers were incredibly boring and repetitive as you fight essentially the same battle on every floor. There are various weapon types and you can focus on various deities to boost various elements and stats, but they're nothing new and don't have a massive impact on battle. The AI is very poor and to make up for this you are often outnumbered to a ridiculous degree. You are usually forced to fight up to three times as many units as you have. Since it's ridiculously easy to defeat them, that just slows down the game and gets annoying.

Players are often horribly outnumbered in battle, but a good spell can fix that. Players are often horribly outnumbered in battle, but a good spell can fix that.

   If the lack of need for tactics in this game didn't kill the battle system, the interface did. Hoshigami has one of the worst battle interfaces I've ever seen. Trying to coordinate wait periods so I could unleash a decent combo greatly annoyed me, but there is no pain greater than attempting to setup an attack session. Lining up all seven characters isn't a problem, but getting them to wait long enough for the enemy to walk into the right position so I could unleash the attack made me want to bang my head against the wall a few times. While the time system is good in theory, it works very poorly with this interface and constantly manually filling the wait bar to unleash an attack session is just painful. There are a lot of pointless confirmations as well. Yes I'm sure I want to attack the enemy. Yes I'm sure I want to attack him again. Stop asking me! Yet another annoyance that slows down battles. The rest of the menus and such are decent enough, but I'd gladly trade all the other menus for a good battle interface. I don't know what they were thinking.

   The music is decent overall, though at some points (especially the towers) it gets incredibly repetitive and it made me very happy to have a mute button. While there isn't much variety there are one or two catchy tunes which help save the music score. The sound effects are fine mostly, but since there are so many things you have to click on to perform even the simplest of command in battle, the generic clicking noise tends to drive you crazy after a while.

   While the story and characters aren't very original, the few nice new additions to the battle system that are fairly original. Although horribly misused in this game, hopefully someone will come along and tweak them to make them better. As sad as it was for these original ideas to be found in a poor game like this, it would be even sadder if they were lost forever.

Attack sessions have good rewards, but they take longer to setup than they're worth most of the time. Attack sessions have good rewards, but they take longer to setup than they're worth most of the time.

   Another tactical RPG where a war breaks out and there's some kind of evil behind it. Yeah, this is a pretty common story without any twists or turns at all. Despite there being a decent-sized cast, there is very little character development save a few very key characters. Even these characters have very little development, but even a little bit is better than nothing.

   Hoshigami is, if nothing else, decently localized. It's all fairly well written in English: good spelling, grammer, all that stuff. At least as you're reading the confirm messages for the thousandth time, you can rest well knowing that it is written in good English. Hurray.

   Replay value? No way. I suppose if for some reason you wanted to see all of the various endings or something, but the painful battle system and interface kind of take all the fun out of that. If you wanted to get all of the characters, I suppose there's another reason to replay the game, but the cons outweigh the pros in my opinion.

   While there are some nice anime-style visuals, I'm afraid the rest of the graphics aren't anything special. All things taken into consideration, the visuals are average. Considering the late release of the game, they could have been much better if they wanted to be. While graphics aren't everything, usually bad games try to at least look good. Hoshigami doesn't even try to pretend.

   This is one of the easiest tactical RPGs ever due to simple fact that if you're even a few levels above the enemy army, you can cut through them like butter. Level-up bonuses are incredibly steep and when combined with some decent equipment and a good coin or two, you can win most battles without even trying. In fact, just to see if I could, I went through several chapters of the game with a single character and didn't have any problems at all. Ridiculously easy.

   Because it takes so long to get through all of the menus, it can take a very long time to finish the game. Controlling your entire army and waiting for dozens of computer opponents to attack you takes forever too. You're likely to spend a good 35 to 55 hours playing through the game, but most of it won't be time well-spent.

   Hoshigami turns out to be a below average game in the end despite its original ideas. There were too many annoyances to make the game enjoyable, especially in the battle system. It's so easy that hardly any tactics are needed for the game either which is kind of the entire point of playing a tactical RPG. Hoshigami only succeeds in giving tactical RPGs a bad name. Don't despair though, there are many good tactical RPGs to be had. Just try to avoid this one.

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