Eternal Sonata- XBOX 360 By Gage larkins

Score: 9.5/10

The Xbox 360 console so far has pursued a hot chase to win gamers over to their side with various blockbuster hits and the constant abuse and overuse of the cash cows like Gears of War and Halo, which stay exclusive to the Xbox in hopes of pulling extra players in. However, there are some Japanese RPG’s that manage to find their way to Europe and excite many fans of the genre.

One in particular is a game known as Eternal Sonata, an aesthetically beautiful game that every gamer must at least try. The game itself is very strong on three major factors, which all JRPG’s strive to hit. The music must be masterful, the art must be gorgeous, and the storyline must be original. So let’s break it down…

I sat down in my nice comfy chair and popped the disc into my Xbox in a slightly pessimistic mood, needless to say I just wanted a break from reality, or at least some sort of reprieve from the everyday life of a teenager. As soon as the intro to the game started playing, my eyes lit up with excitement, and the masterpiece of Chopin was playing behind it andust like that my day had turned around.

The first thing I noticed would most obviously be the art, it’s a beautiful cell shaded atmosphere, with vivid, colorful backdrops and just a beautiful… everything. This game prides itself to an utmost level on its art. Very common amongst JRPG’s is the need to have an aesthetic game that doesn’t make the player fall asleep while reading a wordy conversation.

To complement the art there is a beautiful soundtrack constantly appealing to every aspect of my taste, and most would agree with me. The battling, the traveling, the talking, everything sounds so good and meshes so well that an engineer couldn’t place a finger on how these gears manage to grind so well. The story relates to a composer named Chopin, so of course most of this games soundtrack consists of many of Chopin’s works. This alone made this game so intriguing, and the music and art combination complement make the gamer feel as if he is merely drifting through the story and enjoying every second of it.

Now the seconds don’t last long however, before you know it you will probably find yourself at the endgame wondering what happened, but for a game like this, that isn’t such a bad thing. Of course we want the game to go on, nay… as a hardcore JRPG fan I demanded that it go on, but in reality It didn’t need to. This game could be finished off within 15 to 20 hours no problem. But for a gamer like me I polished it off in about 30.

Now those are the strong points that complement the story to the game, which is ultimately what made this game a huge hit for me. The story itself is so intriguing and original, one can only ask for more once the credits role. The game kicks you off into this beautiful world and introduces many themes and concepts that may be not so original, but they definitely feel as if they are. The first concept that gets thrown your way would be the fact that there are magic users, but there is a flaw with the fact that if someone can use magic; aka healing, then that means they are ill and will die soon. Right off the beginning after you meet a character called Polka and find out she can use magic, you become wrapped into an endless cycle of tragic emotions that enrapture any gamer to feel helpless.

The story takes many angles which is also a great thing, it focuses on multiple points of views of each party member. The first of which would be Polka whom I just mentioned, she is ill and stumbles upon Chopin in his own dream, and wants to help him. You then meet the other characters who each have their own take on the plot, and they all mesh together with perfection. Whether it be the street kids meeting Polka and wanting to help, Or the rebels trying to fight against the oppressive government. They all come in contact with each other, they all split up, they all get back together, and collectively this works remarkably well. However, only one problem… which 3 characters are the most fun to use in combat? How dare they make me pick only 3!

The battling in this game is so unique, and so interesting that many actually shy away from it which is a shame, but for those that gave it a chance it is addictive, fun and interesting. Typical JRPG’s focus on random encounters with either A) Turn Based Strategy or B) Real time action. This game however combines both, and abandons the idea of random encounters, but instead allows for encountering enemies on the map. No one likes pesky random encounters, they add an annoyance to every dungeon. However, this game skips that beat and plays an excellent idea into fruition. The speedier character attacks first and they can freely move and chain combos and eventually combos with other party members.

The combination of a unique battle system, an aesthetically pleasing and gorgeous game, a soundtrack that couples everything so well, and a storyline that pulls the player into a tragic and amazing tale that can pull absolutely anyone into earns this game a place in my favorite JRPG’s of all time. This is a great addition to any JRPG gamers collection, and so it also earns a 9.5 from me.

So hopefully from one JRPG lover to another, I invite you to delve into this phenomena of a game, and live this story to fruition!

Score: 9.5/10