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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: GUST
Genre: RPG
Players: 1-2
Rated: E10 (Everyone 10 and Up)
Release Date: March 10, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

May 1, 2009 - Students, magic and dungeons have become the norm for many RPG (Role-Playing Game) series, whether itís Harry Potter, Disgaea or even than Mana Khemia. While these combinations donít always work out they way the developers wanted them to, they have countless memorable moments that players will remember for a long time to come. After the success NIS America got with the release of Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis on the PlayStation 2 back in March 2008, the company decided to port the title over to the mighty PlayStation Portable (PSP) under the name of Mana Khemia: Student Alliance.

For those who havenít played the Alchemists of Al-Revis, players are introduced to Vayne Aurelius, a young man with great magical potential, though doesnít really know it. Living in the forest with his feline buddy Sulpher, Vayne is pulled for his familiar surroundings and placed within a local academy of alchemy. While attending school at the academy, Vayne takes several different classes, which teaches him the basics and alchemy and puts him and fellow classmates into situations to test ones skills. Thereís a lot of on/off campus exploring, whether it be looking for required ingredients for your school projects or healing a fellow comrade due to being injured while off campus.

Student Alliance follows the exploits of Alchemists of Al-Revis almost exactly; however more of an emphasis is placed on the various difficulties faced in high school. All the action takes place through a three year school span, broken down into eight week sessions. Depending on the classes to choose to take, you will be required to perform various tasks, which will have you traversing the lands surrounding the academy. These missions include collecting particular items/ingredients in order to create a new item or killing monsters, which will clear a passageway. At the end of each and every mission, your instructor will grade your exploits. As long as you complete the tasks asked of you in a timely manner, you can always expect an ĎAí grade, however there are a few missions which will have you doing some trial and error work before you can achieve that high of a grade.

Trying to provide the same experience on the PSP that PS2 owners enjoyed; developer GUST looked toward caching game data on the installed memory stick, a move that shortened loading times in between sequences. Known as Jump Start, this feature falls along the lines of a feature included within the newer PSP models (2000 and 3000), except the newer models caches the needed information ahead of time. This features does improve the load times in between sequences when compared to not using it, however it seems that the feature could of worked a lot better if the game data was stored on the UMD disc correctly, limiting the amount of random data seeking.

For the most part, Student Alliance looks almost identical to its PS2 counterpart. The character sprites are rendered and animated quite well, which results in fluid motion as the characters move about the different landscapes. During talking sequences, character portraits are used to express the emotions the character may have on their face at the given time. Just like the various landscapes, the character portraits are well-detailed and colorful. The only drawback to the portraits is that each character only has about 3-4 different facial expressions, which are recycled quite a bit during these conversations. There are instances here and there were some items will be hard to distinguish from the wall itís attached to, however overall the visuals translated quite well and provides satisfying experience.

Mana Khemia: Student Alliance offers roughly 40-50 hours of gameplay, which hits the sweet spot for RPG nuts who love a long, in-depth gaming experience. For those who own Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis on the PlayStation 2, there really isnít much additional content to worthy a purchase of Student Alliance, however PSP owners new to the series or just longing for another RPG title will find enough content to pick up this title and give it a go. With Jump Start easing the fears of PSP owners and the issue of Ďloading timesí, experiencing the multiplayer mode doesnít seem like a drag.


Other Review Scores:
TestFreaks: no score yet
GameZone: 5.5/10
GamesRadar: 6/10

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