Archives by Day

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel

Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Namco Bandai


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

NDS Review - 'Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 12, 2007 @ 2:16 a.m. PST

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel is an RPG featuring an all-new original storyline, original characters created exclusively for the game and an intuitive battle system based on action from the popular animated series.

Genre: RPG
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Frontier Groove
Release Date: January 23, 2007

If you're even a small fan of Japanese anime, you've probably heard of Inuyasha. For those unfamiliar with the show, the basic premise is fairly simple: Kagome, a young schoolgirl from Japan, is accidentally transported to ancient times. There, it is revealed that she is the reincarnation of an ancient priestess, and houses within her body a powerful jewel that can increase the power of demons. Unfortunately for her, the Feudal Era is swarming with monsters and the jewel ends up shattered into hundreds of pieces. Kagome sets out on a quest to collect these fragments and fix the jewel before the evil demons get their hands on them. Aiding her is Inuyasha, a half-demon and a former lover of her previous reincarnation. (How's that for awkward?)

Curiously, rather than starring the titular Inuyasha, Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel stars a new character named Janis. An American exchange student, she transferred to Kagome's school and became fast friends with the other girl. While visiting the supposedly ill Kagome's house, Janis is attacked by a demon. When a mysterious exorcist known as Monk Sen saves her, she ends up traveling through the Well to Feudal Era of Japan. There, she reunites with Kagome and the rest of the cast. When Janis accidentally absorbs a fragment of the Shikon Jewel, it is revealed that sleeping within her is the power of a god known as Kamuitama. Until she returns this power to its rightful owner, she can't extract the Shikon Jewel fragment from her body. So, with help from Inuyasha and his friends, Janis sets off to find the lost god.

For the most part, Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel has a fairly cookie cutter plot. The only thing that makes it stand out at all is the fact that the popular Inuyasha characters show up to assist Janis in her quest. Besides Kagome and Inuyasha, Janis also partners with characters like the lecherous monk Miroku or the oddly adorable Fox Demon Shippo. If these names don't mean anything to you, Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel isn't for you. The plot is dry and lackluster, and the only reason to play the game is to interact with your favorite characters from Inuyasha.

Inuyasha really tries to create an interesting battle system, but for the most part, nothing here is particularly special. Characters can attack, defend, or use special skills. Each character has a specific EP (energy points) as well as HP (health points), with each action taking a specific amount of EP to function – sort of like a recharging MP bar.

An interesting feature is the Cover system. When a character attacks, the icons of any surrounding characters appear on the screen, and by tapping them with your stylus, you can choose to have them assist in that particular attack. It's an interesting concept but not particularly useful. Using up EP for a weak physical attack is rarely useful, unless you know a foe is going to attack on the very next turn. More valuable is the defensive aspect of this system. When an enemy attacks, you can choose any two characters to cover the defending ally. Using one character causes them to take full damage in place of the original target, while using two causes both of those characters to take half damage. While it's not a particularly amazing technique, it does add a nice element of strategy into an otherwise lackluster system.

Combat in Inuyasha is a real chore, and the fights quickly grow boring. Even at their fastest, random fights are slow, focusing more on the combat animations than on ease of play. With the exception of Janis, your party has all of their attacks at the very moment they join you so there's nothing to anticipate in combat. Even worse, Inuyasha has one of the highest encounter rates I've ever experienced in an RPG – one or two steps are all it takes for the next battle to start. Walking across a simple map quickly becomes an exercise in tedium, as the same random enemies attack over and over and over. Even with the accessory that lowers encounter rates, expect to fight every three steps or so.

Outside of combat, there isn't much to do. You travel from area to area, completing whatever fetch quest the plot has currently thrown at you and fighting the same monsters over and over. Perhaps the most involved thing is creating new equipment for your characters. Unlike other RPG characters, the Inuyasha gang already has all of their armor and weapons from the outset; you only need to upgrade them with amulets and orbs that increase their various powers. While some of these objects can be found, the best way to get new items is to create them. By collecting various trinkets found during your quests, you can have Hosenki create you new and more powerful equipment. While this isn't particularly deep or exciting, it's perhaps the only other thing to do besides chat with the locals and fight the endless swarms of monsters. The game does feature a lunar calendar to keep track of, as Inuyasha loses his powers once a month during the new moon, but that isn't something really worth worrying about.

One area where Inuyasha functions well is with its graphics. Although a bit simplistic for a Nintendo DS titles, the super-deformed sprites are all easily recognizable, colorful and well designed. The battle graphics are excellent, although they grow noticeably pixelated during some close-ups. The character art is all well drawn and naturally, all of the Inuyasha characters appear in all their glory.

The Nintendo DS touch-screen's usage, however, feels very tacked-on. You can play the entire game without touching the screen once, and it doesn't even function as a useful map, especially in areas where a map would have been useful due to the obscenely high random encounter rate. Instead, the DS screen is basically used as a second control pad. Almost everything that can be done on the touch-screen is also mapped to one of the DS' face buttons. To makes matters more frustrating, using these face buttons is often much less awkward than moving around with the touch-screen. As a result, the DS' implementation feels seriously tacked-on and lackluster, when a bit of effort could have really made it something useful, if not particularly interesting.

While it manages to pull off acceptable graphics, the music in Inuyasha is just boring. It isn't bad, it isn't good, and it just lacks any sort of spark or life to make it anything but mindless background noise. It's rather disappointing, especially since you'll be listening to many of the same tunes over the course of your adventure. For those diehard fans who are worried about dubbing, fear not: The game has no voice clips at all.

In the end, Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel succeeds in being an RPG that appeals to the fans of the show, and anyone else is advised to steer clear of the game. However, even those who are big fans of the adventures of Kagome and Inuyasha might want to give this one a pass. The enjoyment of seeing all of your favorite characters in a new story may not be worth the frustration of the endlessly tedious random battles. If you can get past the endless swarms of identical enemies, a rather lackluster adventure awaits you.

Score: 5.5/10

More articles about Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel
blog comments powered by Disqus