Despite being replaced by the PSVita earlier this year, the decade old PSP system continues to receive new releases. Developer Starfish has brought old-school dungeon crawling to the small screen with its latest release, Elminage Original. Originally released on Playstation 2, Elminage is a Wizardry-style role-playing game that is played in the first-person.
Before you can embark on your adventure, you must first visit Marcia’s Bar – a local watering hole for the people of Trangelda – to build a party of adventurers. The bar contains many options for building a party. You can search the bar for willing volunteers by choosing the ‘Friend is Call’ option. A list of available characters will appear, ranging from samurais to priests. You are allowed to have up to six members in your party. It should be mentioned that adding an Alchemist to your group is very important. One is needed before starting the adventure.
There is also a menu system accessible inside Marcia’s Bar where you can appraise items found inside dungeons, perform character checks (i.e. to view character stats, etc.), Change your party’s rank, and talk to the barkeeper about local news. Local item shops also have these menu features.
Once your party has been formed, you must seek an audience with the king of Trangelda. He explains that your party must retrieve a treasure called the ‘Jewel Ring’ to prove its strength to the kingdom. Your party is given a special compass that reacts to the Jewel Ring (and other quest related items) when you’re close to it. To use the compass, it must be infused with ‘Fame’ that is granted by the Gods. Infusing three or more ‘Fame’ with the compass will help your party locate special quest items. An alchemist is needed to fuse items together, so it’s important to have one in your party.
Meermark’s Inn is where your party can rest and restore HP and infuse items using the The Alchemy Warehouse. If there is an alchemist in your party, you can use this system to craft specific items to help aid your party in its quest.
Gameplay resembles classics like Eye of the Beholder and Wizardry. Seen from a first-person perspective, the 3D dungeons move smoothly as you explore their dark hallways. There is the occasional sign that explains where certain things are located (i.e. a healing well, for example). Most of your time is spent exploring hallways and rooms that look very much alike. Depending on the type of classes you have selected for your group, certain classes can ‘sense’ things that others cannot. For example – the thief class can ‘sense’ when a switch is present inside a room. When this occurs, you can search the area by pressing the Triangle button.
Monster encounters are random like most old-school role-playing games. During combat, enemies are represented by beautifully drawn 2D art. There is no animation to speak of, though, except for the occasional floating specter. The spell casting effects look brilliant and offset the lack of character animation. Fire spells burn across the screen; bright explosions fill the screen from single burst attacks; and group spells sparkle and flash as your characters are imbued with protection and holy weapon buffs to fight undead adversaries.
As a role-playing game, Elminage is a grind fest that encapsulates you in a world of character statistics and quest completition. Creature encounters are difficult and require the player to purchase health and mana potions to survive early on in the game. It also takes hours to level your party, find quest items, and acquire powerful gear. This translates into hours of gameplay that hardcore gamers will appreciate.
Elimange by StarFish is a worthy addition to the PSP’s library of software. With the PSVita now taking center stage as Sony’s premier handheld system, and with the PSP system sinking slowly into obscurity, it’s always good to see a solid release like Elminage Original for the tried-and-true PSP system. And since the PSVita is backwards compatible with PSP software, there’s no reason not to experience this soon-to-be role-playing classic.
Platform: PSP (Compatible w/ PSVita / Available on PSN)
Publisher: UFO Interactive
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
|Beautiful creature illustrations and spell effects.|
|An impressive sound track that compliments the dungeon crawler atmosphere.|
|There's countless hours of gameplay as you grind away experience and complete quests.|
|This is hardcore role-playing at its finest.|