+Sharp and crisp graphics that offer a PS3 like experience on the Vita
+Solid control scheme that won’t leave players stumbling when trying to play
+Added content such as costumes is an added bonus to the game
+Sound quality transfered well when the game was ported
–Frame rate staggers, hindering this beautifully rendered game
–Combat is intermittent; requires leaving and returning to a zone to fight and level
–Dives Points required to progress through the dive story arch requires points from combat
A year ago I got my hands on this hidden gem on the PlayStation 3 when it originally launched as just Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star. Honestly I was somewhat disappointed by the game since the hidden undertones of love, friendship, and the questioning of life as well as kinship seemed to stumble more than once. With the return to the PlayStation Vita I decided to tighten up my jaw, wipe my memory clean of my past experience and one more dive into the title I previously played on the PlayStation 3.
As many of you know, the PlayStation Vita has become a formidable handheld experience against Nintendo’s 3DS. Both having a rather robust catalogue of Japanese role-playing titles, it’s no surprise that the Vita has become the go-to place for them, and that’s easily backed up thanks to the constant barrage of titles that seems to land on the Vita. This time around? Gust has once more graced us with one of their titles, but this time in the name of An nosurge Plus. To be quite honest? Had I played the game here, I may have enjoyed it a bit more since it seemed more like a pick-up and go title that is filled with a rather unique adventure that is followed up by a quite amusing story if you take the time to play through it.
To give you a feel for the title, it takes place on a rather large spaceship that houses the remnants of a destroyed planet. Their sole survivors having gone to space in order to find a new home, and quite quickly? You are to be associated with a timeline of the events in the opening cutscene. Though from how the game starts you won’t instantly be intrigued by the unraveling events around you. It’ll take roughly five hours for this to happen. However, if you wait, there are plenty of twists, turns, and even head spinning moments that will eventually come to fruition when the events take place between Pulse and their enemy Sharls are on the verge of an all out war no-thanks to the enemy protagonist by the name of Zill. To put it in short? On one side you have a religious order known as the Genomirai Church who believes humans should work with the monsters known as the Sharl in order to survive, but at the same time they are killing off those who do not see things as they do and then there’s Pulse who seeks to protect humanity from all who seek to harm anyone.
Just like any JRPG out there, Ar nosurge Plus is slow to start off as it lets players become acquainted with their cast of characters, which is something that many should be used to when playing JRPGs such as this.
What makes this game unique as possible is not the fact that the two factions can make you tilt your head or even find your brains gears turning in thought, it’s the hidden relationship system that is hidden quite heavily within the 30+ hours of gameplay you’ll encounter. This goes between Delta and Cass, whom have been friends all their lives, Cass being the Empress, but both working as special agents for Pulse. On the other side of the coin there is Earthes the mysterious robot and his master Ion. While there is noticeably a romantic build up between Deta and Cass, it’s not just their dialogue that makes their experience unique, but their memories as well as their little surprise event that occurs and throws a wrench in the story between the two and takes it for a rather amusing ride. However, the relationship between the tinman and Ion is also just as interesting due to how his role plays out within the story and her role in his story arc comes to play.
As explained earlier, the true story that drive the game home for me was through the graphic novel like moments regarding the games “Purification Ceremony” that ties in with the games “Dive System”, which we’ll cover both. Thanks to the game having many subplots and side stories; the Dive System is where players will take their characters into another character’s mind, spirit, whatever you want to call it, and see the world from within the other character. This can be related to their hesitance, love, despair and or whatever drives them to feel the way they do towards other cast members. Sometimes the outcome is quite hysterical and then there’s moments where players will tilt their head, scratch their chin, and turn away in a way that will leave others question to what they’re even playing. While the Dive System does play a major role and allows for Purification Ceremonies to happen, the idea behind the purification ceremony is odd since it heavily fills itself with sexual innuendos. During this time players can talk with their fellow cast members in order to find out more in depth dialogue regarding events, thoughts, and or viewpoints regarding certain topics. Doing this allows for trust building and provides a nice little relaxing moment that counters the constant action filled pace of the main story. Thankfully the game does not feed on the heavy handed sexual innuendos, but instead allows for a rather comedic moments that will allow for players to have a small chuckle and a shake of their head due to the hints of flirtation imbedded within the topics.
However, with the dialogue put aside, Ar nosurge Plus has quite a bit of new members players can bathe with or rather “Purify” with, and this includes the game’s main concept known as “Song Magic”, which plays a rather massive part to the titles main plot. Something that is strengthened when Delta and Earthes dive in order to protect their powerful song magic wielders who can use this powerful kind of energy into devastating attacks or even an ability to heal those that are wounded. Though for us? It’s to wound enemies and send the waves they are apart of dying.
Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star Plus – PlayStation Vita [Reviewed]
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Price: 39.99 USD
Released: Now Available
When playing the game I did find myself cringing here and there when having to go into the Dive system in order to enter a character’s subconscious in order to power up their bonds and their song magic. The nice part is? You’ll be even more devastating in combat, which is something the game is lacking entirely – even in this newly remastered version. With the combat system being as refined as it is and consisting only of the handhelds face button’s such as Circle, Triangle, Square, X, and even Start (to activate song magic); players will find themselves cringing since combat is very infrequent, which is uncommon among the JRPG titles we’ve all played and been introduced to. When it comes to combat attacks are performed with the aforementioned buttons, while players can use R and L to open up skills, they are often going to go unused outside of boss battles due to how fast Delta and Earthes can dispatch enemies before song magic can be used. However, there is the occasional chance to use it, and this is something highly recommended since those attacks can increase your turns in combat. With combat being just that minor, that’s all there is to really discuss about it since the game focuses so little on it, but instead focuses more-so on the graphic novel side of things, which makes one wonder – was this game meant to be a JRPG or a graphic novel or both?
Even with that aside the game does come across one thing that did become problematic was the game’s constant staggering between framerates. It wasn’t uncommon to see them stagger in highly graphic filled areas, which was a bit dumbfounding due to just how powerful the Vita is, and to some this could be a deal breaker, but it does not take away from both the powerful soundtrack, story or even gameplay mechanics that players will find themselves enjoying with the games 30-50 hour campaign. We just hope that North America gets a chance to see Ciel nosurge Re:Incarnation in the future.
Our review is based upon the release of the version that was given to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over onTwitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.