ReiseliedEphemeral Fantasia Hands-On

Is Konami's first RPG for the PS2 all that and a bag of chips, or does it fall short of everyone's high expectations?

Reiselied: Ephemeral Fantasia is the first role-playing title developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo. You take the role of a bard named Mouse who has been invited to the island of Pandureu to play for a royal wedding. A talking guitar named Pachimo accompanies him.

The character polygons are well made, but nothing else lives up to PS2 standards. The backgrounds are particularly drab and plain - you'll find that the towns are laid out in simple rows of houses, as if they were drawn on graph paper. When you come to the ocean, you'll find that it's just a plain blue mat, without any motion or distinctive waves at all. There are several camera angles you can choose from when walking in the field map, but you have to rely on the top view for walking around town (perhaps to keep you from getting lost in the unmemorable streets) and change it back to the quarter view to talk with villagers and such. On the same topic, the camera angles for the battle scenes are not pleasing to the eye. Although the game tries to present the battles in a cinematic way (à la Final Fantasy), for the most part, the camera just revolves around the character, which makes you dizzy after a while.

The music and sound effects are nothing big, and the absence of voice-overs makes the game feel quite silent. An odd addition to the game, and perhaps a silly marketing tie-in, is the game's compatibility with Konami's Guitar Freaks controller. Reiselied has a minigame that lets you play tunes in a fashion similar to Guitar Freaks. This is a fairly ridiculous addition, and it ends up being nothing more than a way for Konami to tie the game into its successful (in Japan) Bemani series.

So far the battles have been a big disappointment. Aside from the issues with the camera angles, the enemy monsters are not scary or even cool looking; they just look like something from a children's book. The basic strategy of using weapons, magic spells, items, and skills is present, but nothing exciting or new has happened yet. Hopefully, as the game progresses further, there will be better battles.

Reiselied starts off with a lot of disappointing factors, but may have the storyline and charm to overcome its initial downfalls. Let's hope the adventures of Mouse will bring interest into this game, as without a little pizzazz, Reiselied will probably end up as an embarrassment compared to any other current titles on the PS2.

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