Continuing to Impress – Ragnarok Odyssey (Japanese release)

I just have to add to my previous review: This game is awesome! At least it is in Japanese, a language which I embarrassingly admit to knowing next to nothing. (All the Japanese I know is from watching Kill Bill, anime, and Kurosawa films. A fact which I intend on remedying soon.)

As I mentioned before, it is a testament to a good game its ease of learning when you can pick up a game in a language you do not know and intuit the mechanics and enjoy it. This is the case with RO. This is easily one of the most addictive games I have played in a while.

There have been several updates to the game since I started playing, all of which have tweaked the online features. Because of my ignorance of the language, I hadn’t really experimented with the online… until last night. I wasn’t sure, but I had surmised, that a certain dialog was referring to entering a game lobby in the tavern and inviting players to come along on a mission. And I was right! Much to my elation, a few Japanese gamer brethren joined my party and we rocked some monsters! Although there was some lag in the gameplay, it did not detract from it at all. I was quite impressed to play this Japanese game in America on Japanese servers with people on the other side of the world with little or no problems. And as for the obvious language barrier, the game has quite a few animated emoticons that your character can use to communicate with others, breaking down the language barrier. If they get the localization right for the North American release, this should be the game to own for Vita owners; it already is in my book.

Vita owners, I recommend pre-ordering this title. Or if you can’t wait (like me), get the Japanese import. If you can’t find a copy of the import, let me take this opportunity to refer you to one of my fave places, Video Games New York.

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Ragnarok Odyssey (Japanese release) Review, and I Can’t Wait for the North America Release

You know a game is good when you can play it in a language you do not understand and be thoroughly hooked. I am referring to Ragnarok Odyssey.

One of joys of living in New York City is having a local game store like Video Games New York that specializes in Japanese imports and retro games. I frequent this place a couple of times a month just to check out their new arrivals and cruise through their vast selection of retro games and consoles. It was on my last visit that I was chatting with the store clerk. I wish I could remember his name, he deserves a shout-out. (It’s always refreshing to find a video game store clerk that is actually very knowledgeable of video games.) We were talking about their latest Japanese PS3 imports when he pointed out their Japanese PS Vita titles. And there it was: Ragnarok Odyssey. Score!

I must admit, I was totally unaware that this had been released in Japan and there is a North American version due out in Q3 2012. I have always been a fan of the Ragnarok universe, and to see a PS Vita addition had me like a kid at a toy store days before Christmas. Ragnarok Odyssey was released in Japan earlier this year to much acclaim. A Hong Kong release is slated for July 12 that includes both Chinese and English.

Before I go on, let the record show that my knowledge of the Japanese language is limited to what I have learned from Kill Bill, sushi restaurants, and watching anime. (I fully intend to work on this skill in the immediate future…) To be this excited about an action rpg without being able to understand the dialog and menus of the game (or for that matter the items I am purchasing experimentally from the various vendors in the game) tells you that this is going to be a great addition to the PS Vita game library and the Ragnarok universe.

Not being able understand the language yet be able to pick it up and quickly figure out that gameplay is a credit to the designers of this game. A game should not have too steep of a learning curve. Ideally the controls and logic of the game should be somewhat intuitive. And this one has that working for it in addition to everything else. From the lush music of that pops up with the title page, to the amazing opening action-filled battle movie that begins the game, to the stellar graphics and art-style of the game, this game is an audio and visual delight. The gameplay is much like Monster Quest where you take increasing difficult missions of venturing out to rid the area of increasingly difficult foe or gathering items while battling these critters. There are a nice variety of character classes to play. (I am playing the default Sword Master class.) The boss battles are challenging. You will die a few times, and this game does have a certain amount of forgiveness in that it lets you resurrect twice during a mission, but you will still fail a quest every once in a while. There is a lot of loot to be had on these missions too. Developers Acquire and Game Arts and publisher XSEED have also taken unique advantage of the PS Vita’s features by incorporating an unique in-game “near” app access feature in addition to using the touch-screen to bring up potion and communication menus. You will get a kick out of making your character flirt, joke, sass, bow, wave, cheer, anger, taunt, etc., etc. I know I a missing a lot of the content of this game since I am clueless as to what’s being said, but to enjoy it this much… I can’t think of higher praise.

I can’t wait for the English language version. I hope the people behind the localization meet the high-bar that that the developers have set, because this is and shall be a great title Vita, and a great game, period.

Review Rating: 9.5/10

  • Available now in Japan (and your local store that carries Japanese imports!)
  • North American Release Date: Q3 2012
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending: Targeting a Rating of Teen or Above
  • Genre: RPG
  • Publisher: XSEED Games (and Gung Ho Entertainment in Japan)
  • Developer: Game Arts

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