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Brave Story: New Traveler

The story of Brave Story: New Traveler begins with two pre-teen adolescents going through an ordinary day. Tatsuya plays his video games while his best friend Miki nags him about fulfilling his responsibilities. Tatsuya promised her that he would take the dog for a walk. He had every intention of doing so, but was too preoccupied with his video game. So, Miki took the dog for a walk and collapsed. Later at the hospital, Tatsuya frets as he overhears the doctor talk to Miki's parents about her diagnosis. It is not good and he is scared to lose her.

Then something magical happens -- Tatsuya is whisked away into a magical world known as Vision. After a sequence of events, he meets a wise old man named Wayfinder Lau. Lau informs the young boy about his destiny. He was brought into the world of Vision, a place that long, long ago was in turmoil. A brave firewyrm came about and saved the Goddess of Destiny. In return, the Goddess turned the firewyrm into man and gave him special equipment to fend off evil. Since his passing, the Goddess draws in select people from the real world as travelers.

Travelers are given a special weapon and sent on a quest to acquire five elemental gems scattered across Vision. Upon collecting all of the gems the special weapon will turn into Demon's Bane. With Demon's Bane, the traveler must fend off evil and save the Goddess. When the task is complete, the traveler is granted a single wish. For Tatsuya, his wish is to save Miki. Unfortunately, there is another traveler named Rei in Vision. Rei, however, has no plans to do good and has sided with evil. He is the true cause behind Miki's condition and it is up to Tatsuya, the greatest traveler ever to come, to stop him. The good news is that Tatsuya has friends, such as Yuno, a teenage kitten girl, and Sogreth, an adult lizard man, to help along the way.

In terms of game play, "New Traveler" is a fairly generic role-playing game (RPG). The battle system is turn-based. While engaged in battle, you select your party's action (melee, use item, magic, team attack, escape) for the turn and the battle system automatically picks the quickest participant to go first. There will be some tactic required for tough bosses, as party member selection is critical. Some characters have different strengths in some combination of melee, attack magic, and healing magic. There are also team attacks called "Unity". The more party members battle with Tatsuya, the stronger unity special attacks they can call upon.

Your party starts off with Tatsuya and Yuno. As you play through the game, you acquire more party members like Sogreth. When your party exceeds three, you can select your battle lineup (except for Tatsuya) as you desire. A quick side note: all party members earn experience after battle; however, members engaged in combat earn more experience and can level up mid-battle.

Beyond, there isn't much else to the combat system. Battles are engaged randomly while roaming dungeons, which generally are not very complex. They are essentially leveled mazes with dead ends and treasure chests hidden about. Before going against the dungeon boss, there is always a save point and a healing crystal. These places are a great chance to level up before a big battle.

"Brave Story"'s basic battle system is supplemented in a couple ways. First, there is a side game called Goldfinches. Goldfinches are basically chickens with a vengeance. As you progress in the game, you can raise, battle, and trade goldfinches. Throughout the world are SNOBs, who are basically cock fighters. They will give you special items for your chickens or test you in battle.

Second, there is accessory crafting. Recipes are scattered throughout the world. When you get new recipes, you can craft new accessories. They are good for boosting strength, hit point, immunity to poison, and other things. This aspect is pretty neat, as it allows for some customization and freedom. On that note, weapons and armor are purchased in towns and fixed for each character. However, Tatsuya's weapon is unique. His weapon evolves and acquires new strength when you acquire gemstones. Its final evolution, after acquiring all five elemental gems, will result in Demon's Bane, which you need to topple the end boss.

As for the technical aspects, the game is pretty basic. The graphics are fairly clean looking and make good use of the PSP's capabilities. However the dungeons and environments are generic and the character models for monsters are heavily reused. However, the cut scenes look pretty good. The audio is nothing to speak home about. The music is basic and almost unnoticeable. The sound effects are generic and get old fast. Beyond, there isn't much to speak about.

Overall, Brave Story: New Traveler is not the most remarkable RPG. It is a very standard RPG and gets repetitive with a generic combat system. The dungeons are similar from dungeon to dungeon. There are no puzzles or complex tasks required. Just move around until you reach the end of the maze. The battles are not very challenging, although a few dungeon bosses may prove a challenge. The game's story is nothing special and feels a little too youthful. In the end, "Brave Story" is a decent RPG that will help pass the time when you are waiting for the next hit release. It is not the kind of game that will keep you hooked. So, if you can find it for about twenty bucks, pick it up. Otherwise, rent it.