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Cross Edge

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software


PS3 Review - 'Cross Edge'

by Dustin Chadwell on June 22, 2009 @ 4:53 a.m. PDT

Cross Edge is a RPG co-developed by Nippon Ichi Software, Idea Factory, Gust, Namco Bandai, and Capcom featuring infamous characters from each of the company, such as Etna (Disgaea), Aurica (Ar tonelico), Marie (Atelier Marie), Meu (Spectral Souls) and Morgan (Darkstalkers).

Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Compile Heart
Release Date: May 26, 2009

I'm almost surprised to see Cross Edge localized stateside.  There's a definite niche market for Japanese RPGs, but this title is composed of various properties that belong to different publishers, which not only makes it a licensing nightmare, but also makes it a strange RPG hybrid that doesn't see nearly as much play here as it does overseas.  We have Kingdom Hearts, and we even had a new Super Robot Taisen title lately, but beyond KH, these random property mash-ups don't seem to do particularly well.  It's almost like they're creating a sub-niche in the already small population of Japanese RPG fans, and I'm sure that Cross Edge for the PS3 will only cater to a small, devoted crowd.

Part of my disbelief probably stems from the properties used in Cross Edge.  The game makes use of the following titles or series for its villains and heroes:  Ar Tonelico, Atelier Marie, Darkstalkers, Disgaea, Mana Khemia 2 and Spectral SoulsDisgaea has a pretty high level of popularity, and I imagine a lot of people know of Darkstalkers so the characters may be familiar, but titles like Ar Tonelico, the Atelier titles and Spectral Souls are definitely a bit more low-key, and we haven't even seen the stateside release of Mana Khemia 2 yet (but it's coming).  This game banks on the fans' overall knowledge of these characters, and it doesn't really delve into their history that much; it assumes that you'll know why Felicia and Morgan seem familiar with each other, or why Etna is such a pain, and Prinny is a goofy little penguin with knives and a penchant for getting into trouble.  While I'm sure some hardcore players will fault me for counting this against the game, I would have loved some background information on the cast members with whom I wasn't familiar, and I imagine that'll be the feeling that a lot of players will have if they come into this game with a limited knowledge of all the franchises present.

If you're able to get past the character-related stuff and confusion, there are some interesting things going on, at least as far as the combat system goes.  The battles are semi-random in that you'll have a meter that changes color to signify when you're most likely to get into a random encounter.  Once that color changes to red, you can pretty much expect your next few steps to result in a fight.  While there is a large cast of characters that you can use and you'll gain characters quickly in this game, you can only choose to take four of them into a fight at once.  When you're not in battles, you can change up your formation in the menu and even put them to task in a practice battle to make sure you have your various ranges covered and a basic understanding of how the characters work together.  This is actually a really nice feature that I found particularly useful, and if you want to test which characters work best together, it's nice to do it in a fake fight instead of an actual battle where you might pay the price for a poor decision.  I wish more RPGs would incorporate something similar, and that's definitely a point in Cross Edge's favor. 

Once the battle begins, you'll notice that both the enemy and heroes are on sides, and each side has a 3x4 grid on which your characters are placed.  This grid represents movement range and attack ranges, and each character has a certain attack parameter that you need to be aware of at all times.  Some attacks will change this field a bit, but for the most part, characters are pretty consistent in how far back they can attack enemies or how close they need to be.  Each side has a phase to complete, and in that phase you can choose to attack, swap out for new characters or simply move your characters around.  To signify how many things you can do per phase, each character earns points, which is basically used and accumulated per round.  These points are taken away every time you use an action, and you'll notice that your attacks all have a point value associated with them.  You can attack or move as many times as your points will allow each turn, and once you've depleted all of them or run out of moves you can afford, you can end your turn to move on to the enemy phase.  However, one of the main strategies in battle is knowing when to attack and when to hold back.  Conserving your attacks for a round means that you'll end up with more points to spend in the next, since they will carry over until each character has hit his or her limit.  More points means more attacks or possibly better attacks, allowing you to string together larger combos and hopefully break your opponent's defenses all at once, instead of trying to whittle away at them slowly. 

Certain characters will have an affinity toward one another, and you can unlock combo moves that allow for some devastating chain attacks.  You're given an early combo to use as an example, but there are quite a few that can be uncovered and used, so there's definitely reason to keep checking out new characters or switching up your formation.  For instance, the early combo has you attacking twice with one character, and then you'll see the chain icon pop up at the top of the screen to let you know that your next attack with either that character or a second character will result in a bigger attack.  Smart players will be able to utilize these attacks to break their enemies' defenses and possibly even instantly replenish their points per round, allowing even more attacks to be unleashed. 

There's definitely a lot to the battle system in Cross Edge, and I wish the rest of the game felt as well-conceived as the basic fights you get into.  Unfortunately, that's not the case, as the rest of the game is a bit of a mess.  The story has all of the characters coming together after awakening in a strange world, with most of their memories wiped, so they don't know where they are or why they've ended up in a strange place.  For the most part, you're stuck with exploring the overworld, which is divided up into a series of sections.  Likewise, these sections are further divided, usually with stone tablets that also double as hints, and the only way to move these tablets is by completing story events or uncovering certain battles.  The mechanic used to do this is incredibly boring and artificially increases the time it'll take you to make your way through the game.  By pressing the Square button, you can do a small scan of the area around you, which will sometimes uncover small blue points on the overworld that signify story advancement or boss battles.  While most RPGs will show you the towns and places you need to go on a map, Cross Edge requires you to wander about aimlessly and constantly tap the Square button, so you can simply advance the story.  A lot of times, you'll realize that you've missed one small patch somewhere on the map, requiring you to go back through it again until you find the point you missed, and this becomes such a chore that it really detracts from any fun you'll have with the title. 

Like a lot of Gust titles, this game incorporates a crafting mechanic that you can use at certain locations called save points, even though can save anywhere on the overworld map.  Here you can create basic items, weapons and armor, along with crafting upgrades to existing pieces.  I had a hard time seeing the benefits from the basic upgrades, but crafting new items from purchased recipes is definitely necessary because once you create something, you can then buy it from the store as well.  A lot of higher-end items seem to only be available from crafting, so you'll need to do a lot of resource grinding to get some decent stuff.  Money is also pretty sparse in the beginning, so you'll need to grind anyway to generate some cash. 

I appreciate sprite work and 2-D stuff as much as anyone else, but Cross Edge doesn't seem to make much use of the PS3 hardware, and that's disappointing.  The sprites are fuzzy and seem low-res, and there's a weird mix with the enemies, with 3-D creatures mixed with 2-D sprite monsters; the styles clash so much that it looks really low-budget during the battles.  There is a lot of spoken dialogue in-game, and there's an option to turn on the original Japanese dialogue with subtitles, so that's a plus.  The music is also pretty solid, and there are quite a few tracks that I really enjoyed, including something as simple as the save screen.  However, I really wish the game would try to push forward with the graphical capabilities that the hardware allows. Instead, this feels like a quick cash grab or a possible PS2 port in disguise.

Overall, I was mostly disappointed with Cross Edge, and while the hardcore fans of the series involved will be willing to give this one a try regardless of the content, I wouldn't advise it to the more casual RPG crowd.  The battle system is pretty inventive and fun, but everything that surrounds it is a total chore.

Score: 5.2/10

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