PoPoLoCrois Review

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Developer: G-Artists Publisher: Agetec
Release Date: November 29, 2005 Available On: PSP

PSP gamers are hungrier for RPGs than Cookie Monster is for chocolate chips. With that said, even a traditional, generic RPG can make some noise. G-Artists’ PoPoLoCrois is that traditional, generic game that somehow manages to captivate while being a generally solid RPG. It’s cute, it’s relatively quick, and it’s simple enough that you won’t be reaching for a strategy guide. But it is also very bland and the random battles simply have to go.

In case you haven’t heard of it (which would not surprise me at all), PoPoLoCrois is actually a moderately popular anime/RPG series overseas. It’s no Dragon Ball, but there is a fan base and because of that, there were two PoPoLoCrois games released on the PlayStation. Those two games are the same games featured here, as PoPoLoCrois for the PSP is essentially a remake. Due to that, the story feels very cliched.

You play as a 10-year-old boy named Pietro, who is as generic a character as can be. His mother, secretly a powerful white dragon, was put into a deep and fatal sleep after saving the land of PoPoLoCrois from the evil Ice Demon. Its Pietro’s drive to save his mother that sends you across the land full of villages, futuristic castles, underground mines, and mountaintops in search of a legendary book that contains the secret needed to save his mother and the land of PoPoLoCrois. A few twists and turns along the way will keep Pietro’s quest interesting, but for the most part, it’s pretty generic.

There isn’t a single character in PoPoLoCrois that will grab your attention or rip your heart out like in other RPGs. They are not as serious, even though Pietro is pretty upset about his mom’s situation. To their credit, everyone in PoPoLoCrois is, for the lack of a better word, cute. Pietro is a short, squat little boy with a ponytail. He wears a green tunic and carries around a small sword. His witch friend Narcia is a petite little character with a big and pointy pink hat. The bumbly White Knight reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy IX’s Steiner, as they are both noble but relatively dim-witted and surprisingly outlandish characters. Last of all is the Gami Gami Devil, a sinister little man indeed, who begins the game as a nuisance and ends up lending a helping hand.

The NPCs found in the game are charming as well, not to mention some of them are hilarious. I remember very early in the game running into a man standing next to an elevator. When I talked to him, he proclaimed his fascination with the elevator and ended by saying something like,”I like elevators. I think I’m a loser.” I don’t really know why, but it was the little stuff like this that made me laugh harder than I normally would. Also, the fact that one of the game’s means of transportation is a floating, flying, white whale has to catch some attention. So you will not be crying over anyone here like you did with Aeris in Final Fantasy VII, but you can definitely find some entertainment.

With the story and characters aside, there is a decent RPG here in terms of gameplay. It is pretty plain. You will run from town to town, usually completing quests that have little to do with your actual goal. The random battle encounters in-between every level are endless and they can get pretty annoying, but they are not bad to say the least. Much like the 25-hour story, at least they are relatively quick. The enemies in PoPoLoCrois, for the first half of the game, can usually be defeated in a single attack or magic spell. It is not until the second half when the battles start getting much tougher and you are forced to think about the turn-based battles.

Unlike most turn-based RPGs, PoPoLoCrois is played on a strategic grid rather than a solid, cemented line. I only wish that there was a little more variation in terms of battle strategy. For most of the game, my two battle plans were either to circle the enemy and relentlessly attack or pull back, use all of my magic points, and cast spells until the battle was over. I do not think I even used a healing item until I was a good ten hours into the adventure, because the Inns found at every town heal you for such a cheap charge that it makes damage a pretty simple thing to deal with. Healing spells also replenish a huge percentage of health, so staying alive is much easier for most of the game than it should be. It erases some frustration found with other RPGs that feature random battles. At least you will not be dying every five minutes, but it makes PoPoLoCrois feel too cheap and simple.

I am not impressed by PoPoLoCrois in any way with the visuals. The art style and colorful scheme are both very nice touches that help to provide PoPoLoCrois’ charm. It looks unique and as a result the cliched story is backed up with a little creativity from the style. But those two factors do not really compensate for the fact that the game, overall, looks very dated. So dated, in fact, that I would say the GBA’s four-year-old classic Golden Sun looks much better. The only saving grace here are the anime cutscenes, which look fantastic and were a real treat when the story started picking up.

The music is pretty catchy, at least, and the voice acting in the cutscenes is very true to the anime style. It is a shame that there is not as much oomph with the visuals or the music. They both would have made this game a lot more exciting to play over an extended period of time. Rather than lavish spells and powerful-looking attacks that pound audio out of the PSP’s speakers, you will see ho-hum magic and quick sword chops that do not sound very exciting at all.

It is no surprise to me that PoPoLoCrois has never reached America until now. It’s a pretty bizarre, obscure little title. With a name like PoPoLoCrois, it is not hard to see why people are scratching their heads and moving on to the other PSP RPG, Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion. After all, it sounds and looks more like an RPG from simply looking at the box. But give PoPoLoCrois a chance, it’s the best RPG you are going to play on Sony’s little handheld for a while. Until a Final Fantasy game unleashes the Ultima spell on the PSP, you are going to have to settle for less and PoPoLoCrois makes the most out of its dated concept and random battle encounters with entertaining characters and a lot of charm.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 7
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Leave a Comment