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Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale

Score: 84%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale is a sequel to a previous Popolocrois game combined with the Story of Seasons game. Since I have not played either of those two, you wonít get comparisons from me. The storyline is the sequel, but thatís all I know. This game does manage to stand completely on its own, so if you havenít played those (like me), you will still be able to play this one and enjoy it.

I would describe the overall appearance of Return to PopoloCrois as cute. It feels like a nod to the classic RPGs with sprite-like characters and monsters, but it is a higher resolution than 16-bit. The cel-shaded graphics fit well with the overall look of the game. You can tell they took time making Return to PopoloCrois as there are little touches, like the crackle of the fire in a torch, that really show they paid attention to details. The characters all have unique and varying personalities and itís quite well written.

You can play in Japanese or English, which I really appreciate. I just like being able to understand my games. Of course, they only speak outside of battle so you wonít miss anything while youíre battling, even if you put it in Japanese. I do like the voicework in both languages. The actors do a great job of making the voices flow smoothly and sound natural.


Gameplay:

In the first PopoloCrois game, Prince Pietro saved the kingdom from the GamiGami Devil with the help of Narcia and the White Knight. They even managed to befriend GamiGami. Now, in Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, it is Pietroís 13th birthday, so of course there is a huge party in the land. Everyone is in attendance, including a visitor from Galariland. Lately, PopoloCrois has been under attack by black shadow beasts. Marmela, the visitor from Galariland, knows how to vanquish them, so sheís come to help. She wants to take someone back with her to train and, of course, Pietro wants to go. Together they convince the king that this is the right move. So, Marmela uses a magic circle and sends the prince to her homeland of Galariland.

Due to treachery, which we were all expecting, once Prince Pietro gets to Galariland, he is stuck there with no way home. Starting with nothing except what he is carrying, Pietro is going to have to find a way to live there until he can get home. This means that you will need to farm, mine, tend animals, and more, just so that Pietro can live in the land. But thatís not all. To get back to PopoloCrois, Pietro needs to wake up the Fairy Queen Galariel. To do this, he has to "free the four by flambeaus' flames rekindled." Not that hard, right? Well since Pietro has no clue what this means or where to start, itís going to be an interesting journey. Luckily, Connie (a fairy he meets) does know what this means. He needs to free each of the four Galariland regions from Gryphotís control. Gryphotís minions are the ones who sent Pietro to Galarilad so that they could take over PopoloCrois without his interference.

You will not have to go alone. When you get to Galariland, Blue Wolf will join you. She is actually a blue wolf who saves Pietro and takes a liking to him. Pietro also meets Rue and Nino very early when they save him as well. Nino and the fairy Connie will also join your on your quest. Of course, Connie doesnít fight. Youíll pick up more interesting travel companions as you go on your journey. With the help of your new friends, you will need to battle the monsters and especially vanquish the shadow beasts. Spend time getting to know people and doing your best to raise crops and such so that you can live. Basically, Pietro is going to have to make a life for himself in a new land, all while saving that land and hopefully his own from the evil Gryphot. Thatís not too much to expect from a 13-year-old, right?


Difficulty:

Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale provides three difficulty levels for you: Seedling (Easy), Prince (Medium), or King (Hard). Honestly, I would rate them: Canít Die, Easy, and Medium. Even on Hard, the game doesnít feel very difficult. I do have to use a few more healing potions, but since I have a whole lot more money than I really need, I can buy as many of those as I want. Personally, I donít mind that this is an easy game as I prefer to see the story. Normally, I choose to play games on Normal or Medium difficulty. In Return to PopoloCrois, I find even King level leaves me wanting a bit more of a challenge. If youíre looking for a hard game, this one is not for you. I do like that you can change the difficulty at any time (outside of battle).

In most RPGs I have played, you have to find potions (usually called dark and light or something to that effect) to encounter either more or less monsters. In Return to PopoloCrois, you can change your encounter rate at any time as well, which is quite nice. I found that when I was in a hurry to get back to harvest crops or something like that, I would set the encounter rate to low. If I was looking for a specific monster, I could set it to high and find them much quicker.

During battle, there are several status effects that you can encounter: poison, paralysis, darkness, confusion, heavy, and sleep. The good news is that they do wear off at the end of the battle, so even if you canít heal them during the battle, you just have to get through it and theyíre gone. Honestly, sleep is the only one Iíve seen so far and Iíve only seen it twice. They donít seem to pop up that often.


Game Mechanics:

Overall, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale is a pretty easy game to get the hang of playing. They will walk you through the controls in the beginning. (A) is the action or select button. Press it to go in doors, talk to people, plant crops, etc.. (B) is your cancel button, to back out of menus and such. (L) and (R) switch farm equipment. The Map is on the touch screen and you can open Menus from there. You can also tap Hint if youíre lost (or just forget where you are supposed to be going). I found this handy for the most part, but it isnít a full Map with each route detailed, so you will still have to look around a bit. (Start) will bring up the world map. The Map will have fog in areas that you havenít been to yet, but your current and next destination will be marked on it, which is quite handy. One thing I love in this game is your shipping box. Instead of having to go to a town to sell items, you can use your shipping box to send items to be sold. It will show you how much each item is worth and give you the money as soon as you ship.

I highly recommend talking to everyone, just because you can learn stuff. People with a green happy face above them have a quest for you. If you talk to them, you can choose to take on their quest or not. You will have to report back to them after completing the quest to earn your reward.

Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale is simply an adorable game. Thatís the only way I can describe it. You can spend hours just playing on your farm and visiting with town people if you want. There really is no time limit (that I have found) on completing your main goals to save the worlds. If you want to ignore those social aspects of the game, go for it. You can complete things without taking on a whole lot of quests (some have to be accepted) or talking to many people. Basically, itís up to you as to how you want to play. I do wish that it had a harder difficulty level, just to provide some kind of a challenge, but it is great for a casual game. If youíre looking for a cute RPG that is more dependent on the story than on fighting, check out Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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