It’s time to look at a pretty obscure RPG. I don’t think a great many people have played this and I dare say that it’s because of the cover. It just isn’t an interesting one and will do nothing to catch your eye. At the most you may just look at this game and shake your head. Still, if you do end up purchasing the game then you’ll have found a keeper. This one has some pretty tight gameplay and the story isn’t bad. The length is also pretty good. There are some issues which keep me from calling this a great game, but at the end of the day there’s a lot to enjoy here.
The plot follows a warrior named Shinbu who was expelled from his clan a while back for breaking the rules. Well, he’s come to terms with this and is now eager to make himself a better man. He runs into a girl named Sui Lin who is heading back to his old clan with some dire news. He decides to follow her for a while before informing her that he is the one she is seeking. It turns out that their entire clan has been murdered and Shinbu’s parents were destroyed by a pair of orcs. With his life in shambles Shinbu agrees to help Sui Lin warn the other 4 clans. It appears that all 5 are in danger as a new kingdom is quickly approaching. Their ruler has tempted the second in command from all 5 clans to help him conquer the world. Will Shinbu be enough to turn the tides?
The gameplay is that of a 3D beat em up. There are a lot of enemies always crawling out of the woodwork and you have to slam them back inside. There is no rest for the weary and you have to stay sharp at all times. While you don’t always have to fight them, you’ll probably want to as you won’t be strong enough to fight off the bosses otherwise. One thing you’ll want to do is find a room where the enemies are close enough for you to enter battle mode but far enough where you can’t hurt them. Then just spam your energy attacks. See, the way your energy attacks level up in this game is to simply keep using them. Whether you hit the opponent or not doesn’t matter so it’s easiest in a situation like that where you won’t have to move. It can be a little dull since you’re literally standing in one place and using the same attack over and over. Still, that’s how you get the attack to improve its potential. Just keep on doing that for at least one element and you’ll have an attack that will still be relevant even against the final boss. It can one shot all minions up until that point as well.
Without the magic abilities you’ll see what a tough fight the climax can be. I brought along 3 revives and 30 max potions and I had to use up almost my full supply at the end. Money doesn’t come easy but once you enter a long tower near the end of the game that is your chance to grind quite a lot. The room with the 5 bat creatures is your best bet since you can take them all down in one shot with no real effort. Rinse and repeat for a lot of exp and money. I got a ton of level ups that way which was really handy. Your skills and magic attacks all have elements and choosing the right one for each battle also helps a lot. You can switch at any time, but it can be hard to know what element your opponent is so I would usually just stick with fire.
The graphics aren’t bad. I am glad that we get full voice acting and cinematics. The faces don’t move much though which can make for interesting cutscenes where the characters are just staring at each other for a while. It can unintentionally be pretty funny. Some scenes just also seem like they end a little sooner than the developers planned. One such scene is when a confession is made and the other characters just stares in silence for a moment before the screen goes white and you walk away. I suppose you can make a lot of different assumptions about what happened there, but my guess is that he got overwhelmed and just walked away.
There are a lot of twists in the story. We meet two girls of cosmic nature who hold the keys and each of the 5 kingdoms have their own issues. At times it could be difficult to keep all of the names straight since there were just so many characters running around. There were multiple traitors and even mind control going on so not everyone who tried to destroy us was actually evil. It raises a lot of questions but by the end of the game I’d say that they’re all answered. It’s definitely not the happiest ending though as a lot of people didn’t get a happy ending once this had all concluded.
One plot that definitely didn’t go over very well was Shinbu’s parents. So, there’s a twist and one of them survived while the other one was murdered. Why? These Ogres don’t seem that tough so I can’t see how they won in the first place. Then there’s the issue of the survivor being generally emotionless and uncaring about the whole thing. The reunion with Shinbu is laughable as the dialogue amounts to a “hey” and then the characters part ways again. I think a sequel could flesh out some of these characters like the mysterious man in red who has a lot of skills, but chooses to hide all the time anyway. Most of these characters are pretty guilty of not doing anything since they definitely could have stopped the villain’s plans earlier. At the very least they could have slowed the villains down. Ultimately Shinbu has to do everything.
I liked the boss theme. It was pretty atmospheric and let you know that things were getting serious. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t too memorable though. Now for the parts of the game that weren’t great. For one thing, there is a lot of running around in this game. The hub world is huge and you are expected to traverse it multiple times on your way to the end. A lot of times the hint given in your quest menu is fairly vague and you may end up going to the wrong town a lot. From the 13 hours I was playing this game I dare say that 3-4 were just about running to where I needed to go. The boats don’t show up til near the end of the game and even then they don’t take you everywhere.
Then you’ve got the map which isn’t very helpful. Left in game doesn’t mean left on the map which just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The grinding is not handled quite as well as in other games. It’s very slow and the way that the magic levels up just doesn’t make any kind of sense. There are also parts of the game where you might really be in a jam if you don’t have enough magical abilities. I remember getting trapped in the tower room for a while because I didn’t have one of the elements. Fortunately using the sword worked in its place. Really the main drawbacks here are the map and unclear directions. The gameplay is fun though which is always the important thing.
Overall, Kingdom of Paradise is a fun game and one that I would definitely recommend. It brings you the top notch action that you would expect and then some. It’s definitely not super polished and the plot pales next to other RPGs, but it’s got enough fundamentals to keep you going. You will certainly be entertained and it’s always nostalgic going back to the PSP. The games on this console all had a certain feel about them that you just can’t get anywhere else.