It is *checks watch* about that time of month when a new retro styled JRPG from KEMCO is due to drop. But this time things are a little bit different.
Not different in the world of retro styled JRPGs of course, as it is very much business as usual in that respect, but in the fact that there are two games included in this Alphadia bundle. Yes, Alphadia I & II are now released on the big black box sitting under our TVs, and despite the fact that the first game at least has been kicking around since 2016, I’m excited to dive into both to see what is in store. With promises that choices from the first game are capable of having an impact on the second, let’s go and see what is going on in the world…
As usual, the story of these games is a high point. In Alphadia, we are set to try and save the world from the predations of an evil empire which is trying to rule the world. I mean, if anyone stands a chance of beating the combined armed forces of an empire, it is a group of six raggedy fighters, right? Well, we’d best hope so, as the weight of the world rests on Ash and his companions, including Enah, a simulacrum that was developed to help with Energi research.
This Energi is the basis of both games, and Enah is a common thread; even though the second one is set more than 200 years after the first. Of course, lessons learned in the past are often forgotten in the future, and so the world needs saving once again. Without any spoilers, who do you think is going to have to step up to the plate?
In terms of the presentation and Alphadia I & II is, pretty much, the same as any previous KEMCO games. If you’ve played an Alphadia game, or any of the other ones in the vast back catalogue, you’ll feel very familiar and right at home with this one. It’s hard to think of new ways to say “Anime style graphics, retro styled and pretty well designed” when you’ve had to type the same words more than twenty times before! However, I seem to have managed it, so there we go. And while the enemies are all a little cookie cutter styled, just with a different colour palette, the rest of the designs found in Alphadia I & II is pretty good, to be honest.
And again, sound is good and works well, with the usual stirring battle music and swishy, clangy swords and spell sounds all present and correct. At risk of repetition, you’ll feel right at home here too.
And guess what? The gameplay is again pretty much that of the same formula that KEMCO have perfected over the course of their many games. There is an overworld map to wander around and get into trouble with, with the welcome return of the random battles that happen every half a dozen steps. There are dungeons and towns to explore, with many chests to open and monsters to fight, as per usual. Now, with the best will in the world, I’m struggling to think of new things to say about these types of games, but bear with me and I’ll do my best.
Playing through Alphadia I & II is a lot of fun. As we wander about and get into fights, we gain levels on our characters and – as always in a JRPG – levels make prizes! Or at least new abilities and more HP, which is almost as good. Luckily, alongside the regular levelling, we can also increase each character’s inherent Energi type, which leads to more attacks becoming available. So, by wandering around and getting into trouble, it makes the rest of the game a bit easier, as does buying new weapons and armour in shops. Every character has a unique weapon style, so getting enough gold together is pretty tricky at times, but it is fun to fight.
For the good, we are deep into KEMCO territory here and so there are issues that raise their ugly heads. The worst is that of the controls for actually walking about. For the most part, things work well, but in narrow areas, especially when there are spikes to try and avoid, they just aren’t precise enough. Weirdly, another area of real difficulty is to be able to walk across bridges in the overworld, as lining your character up with them is very difficult. Other than this, everything is pretty much alright.
Oh, although I do feel a little short changed on the achievement front, as the Alphadia I & II games share a single achievement and Gamerscore list. But it is what it is.
What we have here in Alphadia I & II is very much business as usual for KEMCO. The same JRPG cliches are here as always, even down to the “will they-won’t they” romance between the two main characters in the first game. And while familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it is more like settling down and slipping on a comfy pair of slippers, before taking in a couple of great stories.