TGS 06: Eternal Sonata Hands-On

We get our hands on yet another Japanese RPG for the Xbox 360.

TOKYO--Trusty Bell (which will be known as Eternal Sonata when it hits American shores) is another in a seemingly strong line of Japanese role-playing games that will shortly be coming out for the Xbox 360 in Japan. It follows the adventures of the young composer Chopin, if the press materials are to be believed. We had an opportunity to go hands-on with a short demo of the game at Microsoft's booth at TGS today.

As is par for the course for Japanese RPGs here at TGS, plot details are a bit difficult to come by when it comes to the Japanese-language demos. The demo we played appeared to be from early on in the game, as you take control of a small party of three characters, including a young man (presumably Chopin) who wields a sword, a young woman who uses an umbrella in battle, and a boy who uses a combination of cane and gun. We managed to walk them through a bit of the overworld in the game, fought a few turnips, and came away with these impressions.

The graphical style of the game is heavily cel-shaded, to the point where it's difficult to notice any kind of 3D effects on the characters at all. Players of recent Wild Arms games on the Playstation 2 may see some similarity here, although everything is ridiculously high-detail for a cel-shaded game. The shadows on the character's faces are especially nice, and the character designs are bright and colorful--a perfect counterpart for the sylvan glade through which they travel in the demo.

The overland travel isn't anything exceptionally unique, although it is pretty. As your character wanders, there are apparently no special actions available to you, although you can open up chests that you come across to obtain items. Battles occur when you stumble across enemies on the overland map; they move about a bit but generally seem to be in places where you can't avoid them. There don't appear to be any random battles in the game, though, so you can steel yourself for battle before it becomes your turn.

Combat itself takes place in real time, with all of your characters appearing on the battlefield. There is an influence of turn-based combat systems, since each of your characters will take individual turns in battle. For instance, you'll usually start out with the sword-wielding character, who will have around five seconds in which to act; after he slashes away at his foe, the next character in your party will be able to move and attack, and so on, with your enemies taking turns as they pop up as well. The game lets you know whose turn is next. Although the Japanese text is difficult to decipher, it also appears that the game rewards you for landing large numbers of hits across the turns of multiple characters. Since we were playing an early section of the game, it wasn't possible to explore many of the intricacies of the system, but we're sure that later on in the game it'll be more important to emphasize teamwork.

That said, the demo we played was more of a button-mashing exercise than anything else. Each character can attack fairly rapidly, so after moving your character in close to enemies, you can simply tap away at the attack button, and they'll perform multiple attacks. Each character also has a special attack button; for the sword-wielding character, you can perform a string of normal attacks, then launch into your special attack to land multiple additional hits, which ends in an explosion centered on your enemy. The free movement system also lets you perform actions other than fighting; if a character is wounded, for instance, you may simply wish to take his five seconds and run him away from the enemy and hope the enemy doesn't follow.

The enemy design in the game thus far consists almost entirely of turnips, oddly enough, or some sort of tiny plant that would consistently attack our party. They're colorful starting enemies and not too difficult to defeat, although if they take enough damage they'll suddenly morph into much larger versions of themselves and become superpowered. At the end of the demo, there was a boss fight against a larger quadriped creature, which overpowered most of the players here at the demo booth because of its ability to attack multiple characters at once and its large health reserves.

Despite the fact that Trusty Bell still has a bit of development to undergo before it's ready for release, the game already looks fairly polished. We weren't able to see much of a musical inspiration in the brief demo we played, but we're sure it'll pop up as the game comes together. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more details as Trusty Bell approaches its eventual American release, where it'll be known under the title of Eternal Sonata.

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Discussion

72 comments
Tiago83
Tiago83

It looks very interesting , i hope it will be a good rpg

boricuasnake04
boricuasnake04

THE GAME LOOKS LIKE ITS OK GOOD ENOUGH TO TRY BUT EVERYONE THAT KNOWS RPG'S KNOWS THAT INNOVATION IS THE KEY TO A GOOD RPG ESPECIALLY IF ITS ON THE NEW CONSOLES AND I HAVENT SEEN MUCH OF THIS SO ILL PUT THIS ONE ON HOLD UNTIL THEY GIVE MORE INFO OR A DEMO

ryanwh
ryanwh

Looks pretty good, love the concept, seems to be mediocre gameplay though. But that seems to be a pattern for the TGS demos this year.

Razor_WolF
Razor_WolF

Omg Thank you All Japanese RPG's are the best and them coming to xbox 360 is all the better game looks sick keep up the good work xbox 360

_Sam_
_Sam_

the game has an interesting design

kenerhai
kenerhai

the more 360 rpgs the better. they make me happy and bring more japanese gamers into the fold. anything to outsell the ps3!!

mykel77
mykel77

Looks great. About time they have a real time action/rpg instead of those AWFUL turn based games. Reminds me of Tales of symphonia. Can't wait! We need more Action rpg's in the world. more interactive.

Dinghy_Dog
Dinghy_Dog

Looks pretty cool. But you never know until ya play it.

Demandred24
Demandred24

what is this the 4th or 5th jrpg listed for 360. I saw one for ps3 ffxiii. Good job MS

rbop
rbop

Looks okay so far. I'll take the ol' wait and see approach.

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

Well, it sounds... interesting. Chopin as the main character? Maybe you'll be able to pick up Beethoven as an ally. Beethoven always did look like he could beat someone's @$$.

CrapfullyCrap
CrapfullyCrap

I don't trust them bells. Sigh ... I just want to play FFTwelve.

HiResDes
HiResDes

it looks very pretty, I think I dig the art style, I'm not fond of fighting turnips altough in fact I'm rather fond of them.LoL

kamicolo
kamicolo

seem like a simple RPG...innovation?

Newnab
Newnab

Trusty Bell is a MUCH COOLER name than Eternal Sonata. Eternal Sonata sounds all stereotypical JRPG. Trusty Bell has a ring to it. (Pun INTENDED)

Chirico_Cuvie
Chirico_Cuvie

More RPGs that play like they have since 1986. At least the style is more in line with traditional Fantasy than the emo goth style that Square uses.

Jitawa
Jitawa

I'm glad Japanese support is expanding. More RPG selection is always a good thing.

drakersen
drakersen

cool more rpg games for the 360! i hope it comes to America soon and i hope too that the soundtrack is good

Courtawulf4
Courtawulf4

So, the game is called Eternal Sonata, and the main character's name is Chopin, yet there is no mention what-so-ever about the sound track? Because I would love to play a Japanese RPG with a soundtrack comprised mainly of music by Chopin.

Wrath82
Wrath82

Lol... I just LOVE the design of this game.

Oroin
Oroin

Finally RPGs making a comeback, normally I play ps2 for the rpgs, but with this game and others like Blue Dragon on the way, the Xbox 360 is looking very promising.

Oroin
Oroin

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Demandred24
Demandred24

ffx was terribly basic, and really dumbed down. Enchanted arms was and is much better then that pile of ffx dung...Enchanted arms was a launch japanese rpg, and it looks and plays much better then x.

amaranth_aeon
amaranth_aeon

Good-good-good... Enchanted Arms wasn't exactly stellar. Let's hope Eternal Sonata ends up being as good as it is promising. At least it looks like it has a style of its own. Please, God of RPGs, let this game deliver...

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

Oooooh...cel-shading on Xbox 360, gotta love that *adds to wish list*

arczero01
arczero01

sounds kinda fun and interesting

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Yay! The more Japanese RPGs the better, I say!

Chris875
Chris875

Aside from charachters fighting with umbrellas and canes this game sounds really cool and looks great.

foxhound421
foxhound421

i've been waiting to see what could be done with cel-shading once devs. got used to the power of the next-gen systems. this looks amazing. i can't wait to see what's coming out a year from now.

ManImBored
ManImBored

YES!!! YES MICROSOFT!!! I would KISS you if that wasnt so hideously wrong and if i didnt think I'd get clamidia. I spoilt for choice with RPG's on my now much loved 360 XD, and turn based too! cant wait!!!

Ivoryblaze
Ivoryblaze

I'll definitely keep an eye out for later updates!!

Nadiswan
Nadiswan

It looks awesom!! lol it reminds me littel of ff x in a way

luisnunezjr
luisnunezjr

honestly....it sounds a rather bit queer Does anyone else feels that way?

Dreski83
Dreski83

No major flood just yet, but to anyone who has suffered the Xbox plague of having hardly a handful of decent rpg's to play... this is like the lotto! I'm not diggin that character with the feather shoulder guard tho, a lil too FF soft for me, but at least the combat is looking sweet. I wish the videos showed some of the team attacks where you can all bum rush a baddie instead of doing it turn by turn. Either way, cel shading is okay by me and combat is no sleeping activity so this gem wins a spot on my wish list ^_^

omegabyte
omegabyte

Damn, that battle system sounds like a ton of fun. The best of both worlds! Please, please let this get translated and ported over here.

waynekautz
waynekautz

I'm reserving this. It's such a beautiful game! Does anyone know why the first RPGs for a system are always incredibly linear and uninspired? *cough* Eternal Arms *cough*. It always takes a bit before they actually look as good as they should and play above the level of broken. Here's hoping it plays as well as it looks.

Nigaki
Nigaki

why they change the name **** retards your all fat and ugly revenge

xfan-atic
xfan-atic

Men this game looks so nice!

modem22
modem22

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Link
Link

I'm not a fan of turn based RPGs but this one has got me excited. It just looks so good I want to explore the game world.

Digital-Devil
Digital-Devil

Nice to see the 360 getting some good looking JRPGS

DownloadingData
DownloadingData

Eh, gamespot. The grey-haired main male lead in your party is named Allegretto. Chopin is the one in black suit and hat in the official trailer.