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Eternal Eyes Preview

Eternal Eyes mixes a structured RPG plot, sweepingly artistic character designs, and Pokémon-style monster gathering with classic strategy-RPG action.


Fans of the strategy-RPG genre haven't exactly been well cared for on this side of the ocean. Other than Final Fantasy Tactics, there really isn't a viable alternative when it comes to grid-based combat. Seeing an untapped market, Sunsoft aims to take advantage of the situation with Eternal Eyes, its upcoming entry into the strategy-RPG genre. However, the game isn't just chess with a bunch of magicians. In an effort to offer something for everyone, Eternal Eyes mixes a structured RPG plot, sweepingly artistic character designs, and Pokémon-style monster gathering with classic strategy-RPG action.

Set in the land of Gross, the story revolves around the plight of cute magical creatures called mappets. These mappets, despite looking like partially clothed fuzz balls, have shielded the land of Gross from war and disaster for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the house of cards comes crashing down when an evil general named Vorless steals the legendary Soul Sword and uses it to dole out an industrial-strength beating to the mappets and their supporters. In destroying the mappets, Vorless ultimately intends to reawaken the Goddess of Destruction, Luna, and raze the land such that he and his iron fist may rule unopposed. As the young magician Luca, it's up to you to gather some friends, enlist the help of the remaining mappet monsters, and quell Vorless' onslaught. The story, created by Kenji Terada of Final Fantasy fame, quickly turns into a sweeping tale of friendship, betrayal, monster collecting, and loss. You'll meet many new friends on your quest, but you'll lose a few to the horrors of fighting. You also have to collect 150 mappet monsters and employ their talents in battle if you intend to withstand Vorless' dark legions.

Employing a 3D isometric viewpoint populated with 2D sprites, Eternal Eyes plays a great deal like Final Fantasy Tactics. As you wander from town to town, the people you befriend will join you on a series of grid-oriented battlefields. The game is mainly a turn-based exercise in positioning and planning as you control the mappets' magic- and weapons-based attacks and unleash their power.[QUERY: check edit] To succeed, equip your party well so it's strong in battle, attack the enemy from the side and rear to increase your advantage, and predict your opponents' movements to prevent being boxed in. As the game progresses, there are almost a hundred different weapons and armor items to use, running the gamut from swords, spears, and bows, to helmets, body armor, and shields. There are also at least 30 different magic attacks to learn, as well as countless mappet abilities to unlock via a series of enchanted jewels.

In its effort to provide a strong story, Eternal Eyes can be a bit chatty at times, especially considering each mentally draining battle gives way to minutes of equally lengthy plot development. However, intricately detailed backgrounds and endearing character portraits seek to be the glue that binds it all together. The game's character designs resemble a cross between the emotion-filled faces of the classic RPG Lunar: Silver Star Story and the haggard hair and bodies of the currently popular Gundam Wing television series. If you're at all a fan of modern Japanese animation, Eternal Eyes' visuals are going to suck you in. As far as background environments, the game's use of 3D polygons and textures rivals the quality of Final Fantasy Tactics, with plenty of transparency effects thrown in for good measure.

Eternal Eyes, complete with its 150 mappet monsters, in-game mappet monster encyclopedia, and hours of tactical gameplay, hits stores this November. Despite longwinded dialogue, the game's mixture of clever battling and expert storytelling should appeal to those hungry for an alternative to Final Fantasy Tactics. If anything, the ability to grow and evolve Pokémon-style monsters within the framework of a tactics game will provide many hours of curious gaming, while ultimately sucking a fair number of people into the game's heroic plot.

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