I’ve decided that every once in a while I’m going to throw up a ‘Hidden Gem’ review for you guys. I know there are games out there that don’t ever hit the mainstream but are still good, so I would like to shed light on as many of those games as possible.
Today, I am unveiling PoPoLoCrois, which is a great little game that I played during my short run with a PSP. Whimsical artistry along with a compelling story-line, loveable characters, and old school Final Fantasy-esque gameplay make this game enjoyable as well as addicting.
On his 10th birthday, little Prince Pietro learns that his (previously thought dead) mother is actually alive! What has kept her from him for all of these years is a curse that inflicts eternal sleep. Our adventure begins when Pietro decides he needs to find a cure for her. Throughout the journey you will also add characters to your party including: Narcia, White Knight, Kai, and GamiGami Devil. The game covers over five years -- about 25 - 30 hours of gameplay -- and though the story is compelling, it is definitely not the driving force of what makes PoPoLoCrois really enjoyable. Compared to other classic RPGs, its narrative is sub-par, but believe me, it is made up for by other aspects of the game.
There are many dungeons and many monsters to fight within the land of PoPoLoCrois, and Pietro has access to weapons as well as magic and special abilities called “waza.” Each playable character has their own waza which is unique to them. These abilities do not cost any mana, but have restrictions on them instead. (i.e. - Pietro has to have a full guts bar to use one of his). If you ever enjoyed play Final Fantasy 1-5, like I have, that is a good example of what the mechanics are like while in combat. Sadly, on the PSP there are long loading times for the fights as well as some of the spells, and with an annoyingly high monster encounter rate, it can be rather troublesome to travel from one town to the next.
Graphics and Audio
In my opinion, graphics and audio are the best parts of the game. While the graphics are a bit lacking for being on the PSP, they are absolutely adorable and fun. Playing the game feels really child-like and whimsical, especially the way the characters are drawn. They are a bit goofy looking, but in an endearing way which, when paired with their innate sense of good, makes very loveable characters. My favorite part about PoPoloCrois though is PoPoLoCrois! The world is vast and covered in towns with amiable merchants, floating mountains, beautiful forests, and icy domains. Immersion is achieved mostly through the world, and it is much more captivating than one would think at first glance.
As for audio, it can get a bit repetitive, but the songs are bouncy and entertaining. Music definitely makes the battles and dungeons a lot more bearable. This with the fact that there are animated cut-scenes vastly helps with narrative as well as breaking up the monotony of battle.
The Verdict: Nostalgic but Simple
If you want a game to stir your old school RPG memories, this is definitely the title for you. While the game is enjoyable, it is also very simple - back to the basics of RPGs. More hardcore fans may dislike PoPoLoCrois, but it’s definitely worth a play if you’re just doing it for fun. I personally loved the crap out of this game and urge you to check it out if you can!