Kemco release RPGs at such a rate these days that some of them are going to miss the mark or be sub-standard. Hit-Point are not the strongest studio under the Kemco banner but honestly I hadn’t expected to encounter such a train wreck of a game when I booted this app up, I’d come in off the back of Alphadia and was expecting something similarly flighty and fun. Boy was I in for a shock.
Don’t mistake anything I say in this review for simple bashing, I played through this game start to finish once because I’d paid for it and halfway again to remind myself what it was like for this review. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment. It would be safe to say that there are better RPG Maker 2000 games out there than this game is, and whilst RPG Maker has an inventive and thriving community willing to mod away or reuse stock graphics with the intent on telling a good story, this feels like the most rushed out half-arsed attempt at a game I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s how bad it is, the in-game sprite of the lead character doesn’t even have the same hair colour as his illustration when he speaks or on the games cover. It’s that level of bad.
Graphically the game is too small for playing on the phone, things look tiny and cramped because there’s no space for anything to have detail or room to breathe. Areas are designed as large and sprawling but the layout is both lazy and empty, with whole locations consisting of a large screen full of grass and trees in a rough circle. Worse are the character sprites, which are reused three times in the first two locations you visit and which aren’t properly mapped to their boxes, meaning that they jump right and left as they move. There’s no connecting fabric to the games world either because basic menus are used instead of towns, with you selecting to jump to ‘town square’ or ‘stranger’s house’ which seems like a waste. I have no problem with menu driven hubs in games, but I do oppose doing so instead of adding a town to simply save time. The world map is the same, three or for click-to-enter locations with nothing interesting to look at or see. The final nail in the coffin for me was when the character portraits that appear over dialogue still had white space around them where somebody hadn’t mastered basic Photoshop skills to trim them out.
Sound and music are an odd mesh, with sound being ripped out of other games or from a public library (it’s all very familure) possibly from the aforementioned RPG Maker RTP pack scene, and music being a strange collection of lullaby tunes and old-school synth. The title screen is very placid, with a short looping piano melody (synthetic) that doesn’t instil any sense of pace or idea of what the game is about. Kemco games usually at least have a little power under the hood when it comes to audio design but Hit-Point obviously added music as an afterthought. Overall I think they made the game then allotted scenes royalty free music they had lying around. To my horror upon writing this review I discovered the Soundtrack was made available for purchase!
The story of Fantasy Chronicle is one of those missed opportunities I hate so much. The protagonist Light (yes, they called him Light!) was adopted and brought up in a small country village where he was bullied for being an outsider but where he also found a loving family and two good friends. One his adoptive sister, upon whom he has a crush, and the other a knight who also has romantic inclinations toward her. Now a teenager he’s joined a local militia and wants to help protect his home, but while out on his first mission he returns to find the town ablaze and makes a pact with a powerful guardian beast to gain the power to bring down those who were behind it. It’s all a big cliché but at least it has narrative potential for a story of a hard childhood (built up over text-only flashbacks on screen for the first five minutes of gameplay with no graphics to accompany them) only to have it wasted when a bully apologises ten minutes into the game and Light says ‘don’t worry about it, I’m over it and we’re friends now’. This coupled with too much dialogue for the games own good and an awful translation that hardly makes sense (one scene sees the local items salesman telling Light to get out of his shop because he told him he was lazy and his wife would leave him . . . again) or is just plain rude, making the player dislike their character. The story goes down every obvious route and never tries to do anything even remotely original.
Gameplay is hard, with the virtual controller and the touch movement both lacking for basic tasks such as moving Light around the field. You catch and clip on everything, judder as you move and will generally have a bad time of it. The Menus are also unhelpful to the extent that you have to scroll around just to find a save option. Left alone the game will crash or shut down if a call comes in, with a reinstate save option available but less than perfect because it activates at the start of any area you previously visited. Battles are a tried and true case of turn based combat with some added monster power from summon beasts unique to each character, it has tactical depth and a competent scheme that coupled with the item crafting system should make for a better game than it does. Sadly when you have to tolerate the plot and fight the controls just to have the pleasure of grinding to get items to make into weapons to further play the game you’re not enjoying it’s a little too late. Coupled with the games basic theme of move to a town (with the same hub) grab quests and explore local dungeons before moving on to another similar town it’s just not worth the hassle.
I’m not going to draw this review out any longer, needless to say I wasn’t impressed. Overall it’s a rushed and badly thought out experience built around a competent combat and crafting dynamic that should have had a better game showing them off. Avoid this one like the plague.