Game Review – Chaos Rings III: Prequel Trilogy (PS Vita/Smartphone)

chaosrings3-02Chaos Rings 3 is a weird game! The previous titles in the series were all smartphone games with a short and dark story about couples trapped in another dimension being forced to sacrifice each other in a series of cruel battles in order to save the world from an impending doom. However, this third game (actually, this is the 4th one) greatly deviates from those previous titles. Is this a good or a bad thing? It depends on how much you loved the original formula or how much you enjoy the elements used in this new one…

Story

2014-11-10-140246v2The gigantic space colony Teia floats nearby it’s home planet Marble Blue – a beautiful and vast world full of mysteries and wonders in form of magic treasures in crystal form known as “Gifts”, since they are “presents given by the planet itself”.chaosrings3-05To aid them in the search for those rare items, people use the power of “Genes”, which are heroic spirits in the form of cards.2014-11-08-141859However, since exploring those lands can get really dangerous, people must become “Explorers”, the most popular career in this society.

Characters

2014-11-01-224455Nasca is a 16 years old boy who dreams of accomplishing what his father couldn’t: Finding “Paradiso” – the place of rest for many fantastic treasures, including the biggest treasure yet: The One Flower. Everyone thought he was all talk, but he proved himself to be more than that when he got inspired by some mysterious dreams about a fortuneteller who told him his destiny was to become an Explorer and realize his dreams.2014-11-05-162245Eruru is  the only daughter of Mariaeve – the fortuneteller who Nasca meets in his dreams. She lived in a garden together with her mother for over a thousand years. Nasca was her sole contact with the outside world and she was fascinated by the stories of his adventures. When Nasca faces the pain of loss, she suddenly appears before him to encourage him on going on adventures again, and this time, she tags along as well.2014-11-01-205455v2Patty is Nasca little sister. Even though she is only 7, she is much more mature than most characters in the party. Thanks to her brother being a lazy-ass, she became a skilled “house-wife”, being able to take care of the laundry, cleaning and cooking all by herself. Even though she never becomes a playable character, she is seen as one of the most important members on the team, giving psychological support, acting much like a mother figure for all party members.2014-11-05-140445Leary becomes a Explorer together with Nasca and joins his team from there forth. She comes from an uncommon origin, which is the reason why she is able to use mysterious powers. She is desperately looking for her father, who was kidnapped by another Explorer who is on the “black list” of the organization.2014-11-10-145122Daisuke is a the most normal human being on the main party, but this doesn’t discourage him, since he’s too concerned with his mother well-being. She has a incurable illness, which is why he became an explorer. If there’s something that would be able to cure his mother, it would be the power of miracles from Gifts. His kindness and honesty is not limited to his mother, but everyone gets touched by seeing how much he cares for her, which is why he’s very popular among the women folk. Too bad he’s considerably dense…2014-11-10-145207At first glance, Alfred looks just like a comic-relief, but he actually is one of the most important characters to the main plot and his backstory is the most tragic of the whole game! Once one of the strongest Explorers and a member of the council who secretly governs the world, but after suffering enough for two entire life times, now he works as a mere happy-go-lucky Explorer. However, he finds a new meaning for his life and a new family by joining the main character team.

Themes

2014-11-02-231728v22014-11-01-223725 It’s clear this setting and characters don’t feel like something from the Chaos Rings franchise. Let’s see:2014-11-01-221349It has a very young boy who dreams of venturing a unknown territory following the footsteps of his parents by getting a special title/job.2014-11-01-202659v2He is guided by a mysterious entity who speaks with him through dreams and visions.2014-11-01-222038v2He is followed by a little girl who really likes him A LOT and she brings with her a little mascot for the group.2014-11-04-211121v2Not much later, the hero join forces with a beautiful girl who is part of a supposedly extinct race who possess wings of light.chaosrings3-04Together, they strive to reach an old land, but their path is obstructed by some kind of barrier. After some epic events, he finally gets to go through it and finally finds a terrible truth about their whole world.2014-11-01-205416v2This is no Chaos Rings! This is GRANDIA!! But, hey! I love Grandia, so there will be no complaints from me!grandia01Yes! It is true that this game is much more “positive”than its predecessors. This one has lots of elements more common to a regular “JRPG”, like dreams, adventure, quest for treasures and of course: cute little sisters!2014-11-02-201126The main character and his best friend have family members who love them very much. The party is working together because they actually become friends, and not because they are forced to. Most of the main cast is very young  and use more stylish clothes, rather than medieval garbs.2014-11-04-225023v2Regardless, the plot is very interesting! It’s certainly not among the best ones I’ve seen on a RPG, but still very good nevertheless, and it’s my favorite story for this series. Gifts are a very interesting element, as they can create all kinds of stuff, even a town made of giant candies!2014-11-07-014720It has lots of potential, but sadly, this concept is not even close to be used to the fullest, this is probably because of the multi-platform nature of this title, since it needs to keep the same elements to its smartphone counterpart. In that sense, the amount of content in this game is quite impressive!2014-11-08-184035The friendship between the main characters is also very well developed and convincing! About 5 minutes after their first meeting, you can already feel that Nasca, Daisuke and Leary have become buddies, and it doesn’t stop there!2014-11-01-224719All party members have complex character arcs that usually get tied to the main story-line. I wish others RPGs could have charismatic allies such as this game…

Gameplay

2014-11-04-100510The gameplay is another thing that doesn’t feel like a Chaos Rings game! Aside from the elemental circle and the HUDs design, nothing feels quite the same, specially with the removal of the pair system, (which lets you attack with two characters at the same time for special techniques and massive damage) instead you can freely connect attacks by using critical hits and the same kind of spells.2014-11-06-223630
Now, all Genes have a specific illustration and are based on historical figures or fictional characters, rather that enemies in the game. Therefore, you can’t collect new genes simply by defeating enemies. They are now acquired by opening golden chests (which requires a golden key), by fusing gifts and by cards fusion!2014-11-08-132436Also, each character can only equip one Gene at a time, and every parameter of your characters gets determined by the Genes they are using, which have their own levels and maximum levels.2014-11-10-121012The max level of a Gene depends on its rarity (40 for normal, 60 for rare and 100 for super rare). This means if you want to get stronger, you need to grind a lot in order to reach the max level of each rarity, fuse two cards with max levels together to make one with a higher rarity. It’s a process that makes grind almost impossible to avoid, so be prepared!2014-11-02-111427Also, at certain points in the story, you get to have a friendly chat with your comrades while enjoying a delicious meal! Something I’ve never seen in Grandia! Totally never! For sure! Believe it!2014-11-03-101301There are 3 cities, but there isn’t much to them. It’s usually just one small map with a store and an unique NPC. It’s not important to visit other cites, because you have your “mother base”, the formula that’s being used in most JRPGs nowadays, were all the plot revolves around the same city where you live.2014-11-10-154833I am not a big fan of this style, but I can enjoy it when they go further and make more with it, which is not the case for this game…2014-11-07-205220And now, it’s time for me to bitch about how the main character doesn’t talk! I hate this, so if you feel the same, be aware! You can pick between two dialog choices some times, but this doesn’t change anything in the plot and you rarely even get a different reaction from other characters. This is something they should keep the same as the other games in the series.

Graphics

2014-11-01-225552The graphics are amazing! The movements are smooth and make every special move look exciting and every cut-scene feel pretty dramatic. Different from most Japanese games, the mouths are part of the 3D models and not just a texture, and most of the time they have full animations with excellent lip sync, but there are some events where there are no mouth animations, which makes everyone turn into ventriloquists!2014-11-04-185211The art and character design is still by Yosuke Naora, but he created designs more fitting to the light theme in this game, which makes his style go to a more cute side, much closer to a shounen genre than a seinen.2014-11-07-220054Something you don’t usually see in Japanese media is the fact that the main heroine has dark skin, and it’s not treated in the game as something weird, different, magical or anything like that. Eruru don’t act like the stereotypical “Ganguro girl” from Japanese culture.2014-11-07-141651I also like how Alfred is a fat guy who is not just a simpleton who likes to eat, and I get really nostalgic every time I look to Dorothy, since she reminds me a lot Cologne from Ranma1/2!…And while we are at it: YES! Nasca looks a lot like Sora from Kingdom Hearts!2014-11-01-220632v2

Music

The group SiSiLaLa OVERDRIVE (love that name) made a excellent soundtrack for the game. All tracks are beautifully performed with real instruments and there’s even some orchestral songs with chorus and everything! All songs are memorable and some can stick to your head for a long time, specially the battle theme…and the happy meal song!  Another element that is different from other Chaos Rings is the theme song “Sekai no Zenbu Ga Teki Datoshitemo”, which is a J-POP composed by the famous group Elements Garden, performed by Nitta Emi. I think it’s a good song! It’s pretty catchy! But it will go to waste for players who are not fans of the genre.

Voices

2014-11-04-225802Ok! So, Kanna Nobutoshi, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Abe Atsushi, Fujiwara Keiji and Kugimiya Rie walk into a studio and decide to call some of their other famous friends to play. This is how the voice-casting of this game feels: A Dream party! I can’t praise the voice work enough! Great acting, voices that fit each character, and more importantly: It seems like they were really into their characters! Specially Otsuka Akio! I think he really cried during recording! Now, if only this game was fully voiced…Well, at least the scenes that get voices are pretty common!

Conclusion

chaosrings3-01Yes! This doesn’t feel much like a Chaos Rings game anymore, but I don’t care! It’s still a damn fine game on it’s own, even if it wasn’t tied to a long running franchise! I recommend this game! It’s a really great deal for fans of JRPGs! Specially because you also get all 3 previous games in the series bundled together with this one with their original content intact, and those are also very decent games! That’s right! You buy one game and get 3 other good games for free!

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3 responses to “Game Review – Chaos Rings III: Prequel Trilogy (PS Vita/Smartphone)

  1. Really good review. So it is not the same as the first Chaos Rings game huh. While I have only played the first one in the series, I really loved it. At that time, I thought – here is probably the best game in the iPod Touch (It was weird, that after I played that game, I also lost my device) and better than anything else I can find at that platform, at that time. It has a simple yet unique gameplay (the pairing thingy), and there was a plot twist, well, I don’t know if you can call it that way, but I thought the midgame up to the end is so different from what was originally said in promotional materials, etc. I can say the build up is so good, and after you fight those monsters over and over again (well, most are the same monsters only with different color scheme hahaha!), you can actually grow pretty attached to them because of the story.

    Reading about this make it seem that SE decided to just call it Chaos Rings even though everything about it is so different. (Granted, they are just the publisher) I remembered The Third Birthday and how that game only has very very minute connections to the previous Parasite Eve games (with the exception of the main character and some side characters of course, but the gameplay of the Third Birthday is something that I like (though I think I’m one of the few who liked it))

    Anyway, let’s go back to this game. From the way I read this review, it actually seems interesting. I’m all in for a JRPG with a good story. Nasca does look like Sora haha. I hope this gets localized. I sincerely think it will get localized at some point. Maybe not the Vita version, but the smartphone versions definitely will!

    • I was watching a friend playing his copy of 3rd Birthday and it looked really interesting, but then, he stopped playing it because he really hate the PSP controls…but I looked at the story later, and it’s really crazy, huh?!
      But, anyway! Back to this game now: Yes, sir! This game is a really good choice if you enjoy traditional JRPG, but specially good for people like you who played the 1st one. I don’t know if old fans of this series will enjoy this new “positive” story, but the gameplay certanly brings back many interesting features.
      The final enemies from the first one were the Qualia, right? Don’t you think those creatures look a lot like those monsters from that Stephen King movie “the Langoliers”? Or maybe it’s just me…

      • I don’t want to pretend, so no – I don’t know about the Langoliers and I don’t read Stephen King. I hate horror stuff haha.

        In a way, I think I would love to play the other Chaos Rings available right now, or maybe restart with the first one and experience it on the Android. The pairing thing is really interesting when paired with how the script gives subtle hints of the two persons’ affection (AKA LOVE LOL) with each other that will ultimately become the pair’s strongest weapon / power against the enemies.

        I’m happy that Square Enix is supporting the Android now with a simultaneous release along with the iOS version, or at least the Android comes only a few months after. Some of the other big publishers do not publish on the platform at all, like Capcom.

        (I apologize, our conversation, as always, have branched to different topics again lol) >_<

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