Preview: Dragoneer's Aria (PSP)
Posted June 27, 2007
For the past couple weeks, I have had the opportunity to play with a preview build of Dragoneer's Aria. It is an upcoming turn-based role-playing game (RPG) for the Sony PlayStation Portable. The game has a variety of options to keep the game play fresh and has decent technical features. It looks to be a promising RPG for on-the-go-gaming. It is schedule for release in August 2007.
Dragoneer's Aria is produced by NIS America and developed by Nippon Ichi and Hit Maker. The game features fun game play with an engaging story with voiceovers in English and Japanese, a variety of skill options, challenging battles, and ad-hoc wireless cooperative action. The game is set in a world that is protected by dragons. Long ago, the Holy Dragon that protected the world was killed by the Black Dragon. From the ashes of the Holy Dragon, six dragons were born and became the new defenders of the world.
The six dragons protecting the world control a different element: fire, frost, wind, earth, thunder, and water. Their role is vital to the safety of mankind and as such they are regarded in the highest as sacred beings. A special legion of dragoons dedicates their lives to protecting the scared dragons from harm. Their role is very important because many years ago the fire dragon was killed. With the loss of the fire dragon, many people died and much suffering plagued the world until the fire dragon was reborn. Dragoons fear of what will happen if another dragon were to die, and even worse, what would happen if more than one dragon was killed.
Unfortunately, the world is not peaceful and there are dark forces at play. On the day when our hero, Valen Kessler, is preparing to attend the graduation ceremony and become a full-fledged dragoon, an attack on the city of Granadis is made. The Black Dragon returns and wrecks havoc on the city. In the aftermath, the Dragoon General puts Valen in the field, despite being a brand-new, inexperienced dragoon. He is tasked with protecting one of the dragons. When he arrives, he learns he is too late and his fellow dragoon Lucien is on the prowl. Lucien's gone mad and he is trying to bring chaos in the world. It is up to Valen and his friends Euphe Ralm, an empath who wants to heal the world, Mary Murphy, a young girl who became a pirate captain at a young age, and Ruslan L'Avelith, an anti-social elf with expertise in the magical arts, to save the world.
The game play is similar to NIS America's Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light in a few aspects. Both are turn-based RPGs and have common concepts for rules of engagement, equipment crafting, and technical aspects. For rules of engagement, players navigate their character on a map. While on the map, monsters wander the field and you can engage them in battle by making contact. If you can outrun them, you can avoid fighting them. For equipment crafting, you can obtain recipes to create new weapons, armor, items, and other equipment. The system doesn't allow as much freedom as Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light. For technical aspects, the games look and feel very similar.
As for other aspects of the game, Dragoneer's Aria is highly customizable. Players will be able to equip different magic jewels and dragon orbs, giving players the ability to decide which magic and skills their characters can use in battle. The skill system also incorporates a learning mechanism. The more a character uses a certain skill, the more proficient they become with it. Another neat aspect is chain attacks. Players can initiate chain skills by having characters attacking in certain orders. Lastly, there is support for ad-hoc wireless multi-player cooperative gaming. Up to four players within the same vicinity can fight the six legendary dragons and obtain rare items.
Overall, Dragoneer's Aria looks to be a worthwhile RPG. There are many options to keep the game play fresh, it has a decent looking presentation with 3D graphics and voiceovers in English or original Japanese, and a multi-player network option. This preview build is promising and I am looking forward to seeing what the full game has to offer.
Here are screenshots for the upcoming game.