TGS 2008: Eternal Sonata Impressions

The soulful strains of this music-themed RPG float onto the PlayStation 3 later this month, and we take a look at some of this version's exclusive features.


TOKYO--The title "Trusty Bell" doesn't have quite the ring that "Eternal Sonata" has, so it's perhaps just as well that the US release of Namco Bandai's role-playing game had a bit of a makeover before coming ashore on the Xbox 360 last year. But no matter what you call it, Eternal Sonata made quite a splash in both Japan and in North America, thanks to its beautiful, vibrant art design, memorable soundtrack, and unique battle system that keeps combat moving at an ever-brisk pace. And soon, PlayStation 3 owners will also get to explore this wonderfully dreamy RPG: On October 21, the PS3 version of Eternal Sonata ships to retail outlets, complete with some new, platform-exclusive content. We got a close look at some of these new features during a visit to the publisher's Tokyo office this week, and we're glad to see that the same loving care that went into the original creation is being lavished on these additional elements.

Serenade and Crescendo lead the charge.
Serenade and Crescendo lead the charge.

Of course, the story remains the same as in the Xbox 360 version. Famed Polish composer Frederic Chopin has but a few hours left to live--yet as he lies on his deathbed, he enters a dream state that is as real as anything he's ever experienced. This fantasy world is named from musical terms: characters include Alegretto and Viola; Castle Forte looms in the distance; and Chopin visits a number of singular locales, such as Baroque. You can read GameSpot's review of the Xbox 360 version to catch up on story specifics and other odds and ends, but suffice it so say, Eternal Sonata's story is unusual and a bit hallucinogenic, and on the PlayStation 3, you can expect even more exposition to further flesh out the characters and their relationships.

One of the ways Eternal Sonata will do this is through new scenes and playable characters. We saw a new cutscene in which ill magic user Polka collapses in the snow, and her companions rush to her aid. While this was a relatively short bit, it further expands an important story point (in order to avoid spoilers for newcomers to the game, we don't want to get too specific). Based on this scene, it appears that all of the voice actors have reprised their roles, and the character models and backgrounds were all as lushly colored and detailed as fans would expect. More importantly, two characters from the original release will be returning--but this time they will be joining your adventuring party. These additions are the princely Crescendo, and his fiance, the beautiful and stalwart Serenade.

In battle, these two characters bring important techniques. One of Eternal Sonata's most compelling features is its light/dark mechanic: The special powers of your party members change depending on whether they are standing in light or in shadows, and monsters may even transform based on the same criteria. Crescendo is an honorable, Paladin-esque addition who prefers to unleash his noble battle skills at close range. Serenade, on the other hand, has a long-ranged magical attack when she's standing in the light. When she's lurking in the shadows, however, she casts an ever-helpful group heal that harnesses the powers of the wind itself.

Polka contemplates the future.
Polka contemplates the future.

We saw these new characters, and others, battle some new foes in Eternal Sonata's two new dungeons. The party enters the first of these areas, Lament, through a looking glass. Here, the friends fight off brightly-hued scorpions and hovering fiends as they make their way through the labyrinth. As in the Xbox 360 version, your party accumulates echoes as they land attacks, which in turn adds power to their special abilities. If you accumulate enough echoes, the combatants can perform a powerful harmonic chain, which not only does a lot of damage to your target, but lights up the screen with a flurry of particles and other effects. We saw one of these chains in a battle that took place in the second of the two new dungeons, The Church of EZI. Here, the party hammered on a variety of cackling enemies while exploring what may be one of the most visually rich (and odd) environments in the game. It's worth mentioning, however, that this dungeon is only accessible once you've fully completed the game at least once. You encounter Lament, however, about halfway through Eternal Sonata on your first play-through.

Some new music (three additional tracks, according to Namco Bandai) rounds out the new content PlayStation 3 enthusiasts can look forward to in their own edition of Chopin's journey. Whether you're a fan of the earlier Xbox 360 release or new to Eternal Sonata's swooning universe, this is certainly an RPG you'll want to keep an eye on. We'll bring you a full review of Eternal Sonata on the PS3 later this month.

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Avatar image for madsnakehhh

I really want this game

Avatar image for EnaVRi

I know PS3 are late on RPG's... Better late than never... Well everyone has their own opinion about this game... But it looks classic... It's been a while since I've played a turn based RPG...

Avatar image for Gaz9000

i completed this game on the 360 and it is one of the best game worlds i have seen in an rpg or any game for that is totally magical and colourful the graphics are sooo crisp..the story and game world and all the characters in the game are the kind you will never prob wont have played any other rpg this vibrant.

Avatar image for Senor_Kami

Don't be fooled by the demo like I was. I have this game on 360... costume changes and 2 new characters won't fix the lame story, uninteresting characters and broken pre-school combat system. All you literally do is mash the attack button and then when your timer is about to end you hit the super attack button. If you do that you will never lose. No character will ever lose more than like 30% of their life bar. The whole dark/light thing is pointless when button mashing is all you need. And the party level system... it just makes the game easier as you go on. I think people who like this game only need graphics to be satisfied or they hate turn based games so much that they'd rather play a bad real time game than a good turn based one.

Avatar image for GunGriffin

I thought the Demo on XBL was great but the whole knights and shining armor thing is not to my likeing I don't hate the game it's just not my cup of tea. I love Space epics, so I passed on the Xbox360 version. I'll be buying Star Ocean 4 though for sure. But It's good to see the PS3 getting some much needed RPG love. There was a more hardcore RPG announced as a first part project by Sony too. So thats good. But they will need more then 2 Japanese RPGs to catch up to the Wii, and Xbox360 in Japan right now.

Avatar image for ACrazedHobbit

I completed this on 360 and loved it, with the new additions to the PS3 version it will be one adventure that will be well worth playing again.

Avatar image for sabitrulz

Generic_Dude u r really a dumb ass.This is a gem of a game & u r saying dis is a crap.Even dis game is worth buying only for da soundtracks. Assassins Creed's story was shortened cuz da idea of secuel otherwise it was a decent game.

Avatar image for Vasot

The game is CR*P PS3 needs new games and not Xbox360 failed ports

Avatar image for SPD_WeBmAsTaH

I played the demo and damn was I impressed as hell. The graphics were beautiful and the music was decent too. Too bad they don't have the original Japanese voices though.

Avatar image for Mewt2021

This is probably one of my favorite games on the 360. I already went through the game twice to try and get everything and I think it would be completely worth getting on the PS3 to play another two times through. This is on the list of 10 games that make me want to go out and buy a PS3

Avatar image for Generic_Dude

I really didn't care for this game, but a large part of that had to do with enemy targetting in battle being all mucked up, made all the more irritating by a static camera. I've been gaming long enough to accept the absurd story line (it's a weird -- not to even mention melodramtic -- one, but at least it's not dumb like Assassin's Creed. And it's a real looker of a game, but really there were a few corners cut (static cameras, bad targetting) that shouldn't have been cut.

Avatar image for ahyumifan

i got X360 version, but I think I'm gonna get this one AGAIN. This game is just my cup of tea. I love this game much more than Vesperia..

Avatar image for sabitrulz

Ah can't wait for this amazing dreamy lookin rpg,just can't wait.I think dis is indeed da best lookin cell shedded game ever made.

Avatar image for tayls129

I just logged in so I could say: I recently bought this game new from newegg for the 360, and absolutely LOVE it. PS3 owners are in for a treat, as it's one of the most amazing looking and sounding games I have ever played. The combat system makes me wish Tales of Vesperia had adopted something like this, as it's turn-based, with just enough action to get you gritting your teeth. Excellent game that I recommend to everyone I talk to about gaming. It's your turn now, guys. Enjoy it.

Avatar image for OmegaGear

I think the FFXIII complaints are actually valid, but not because the game is coming to the 360. The fact that the US release is being delayed for the 360 port is what gives PS3 owners a right to be angry about it. What happened to SE's aim for a simultaneous global release?

Avatar image for xtinctx

@krnpk081 All the complains about the FF13 port come from the feeling that Square-Enix betrayed Sony fans by moving the title over to the 360; I own both consoles and I also felt betrayed when I heard the news on Microsoft's keynote. I've played FF games for a long time on Nintendo and Sony Platforms (except FFXI, MMORPGs are not my type of games) and the idea of a major FF game in a Microsoft Console with a simultaneous release as the PS3 just feels unnatural. (I know that FF XI is already available for the 360)

Avatar image for xtinctx

The demo is now available at the PSN Store, go get it now and experience this great game. I wanted this title so bad when it was released on the 360 but for one reason or another I never got the chance to play it; now that it coming to the PS3 I have a second chance, exclusive content it's just the icing on the cake.

Avatar image for krnpk081

wow, i like when 360 games port to ps3 everyone's happy about spreading the love, but when ff13 comes to 360 everyone complains

Avatar image for mystic_knight

wow im glad they ported this to the ps3. i have the xbox 360 version and now the happiness given to me from this game can be spread to more people. Do not miss an oppportunity to pick up this game if u have a ps3 and like turn based rpg's

Avatar image for TUNEwon

This is a great RPG, and one of the few RPG's with personality and real emotion. I plan on trading in my 360 version for the ps3.

Avatar image for dirtyfunkmaster

I want this so bad

Avatar image for footfoe2

Is it a GOOD rpg?? I guess i'll get it if white knight doesn't come out soon

Avatar image for FoppyOmega

I've been hearing a ton of good about this game, but how is the music? It seems like this kind of game would have to have an awesome soundtrack.

Avatar image for NuKkU

im so gonna get this game

Avatar image for Dualmask

I've been hankering for a traditional RPG since this current gen began and, based on the demo I played, this one will fit the bill nicely while I wait for FFXIII.

Avatar image for sololupine2002

@FlashCharge I agree I loved the game and will try and get it on my PS3 in the future (most probably when it's bargain bin as alreday played it) for the exclusive additions.

Avatar image for FlashCharge

I have played Eternal Sonata on the Xbox 360 and could not put my controller down. This is one awesome game, with a rich story, amazing visuals, and an easy combat system. I know that PS3 owners will enjoy this game a lot.

Avatar image for hawaiiinsomniac

This is an awesome game... I hope they bring the additional content to 360 via XBLA... lol for a minimal fee.

Avatar image for SMOKEMNHALO2001


Avatar image for Pablo620

The only problem is when. When will I ever have time to fit this one in. Too many great games coming out

Avatar image for nobeaner

LordAndrew, your crazy. jk

Avatar image for LordAndrew

Maybe I'm crazy, but I like the name Trusty Bell. :)

Avatar image for UDarkling

For those people who cant decide what version to get, the PS3 version has nothing but a bit more content than the 360 but not enough to go and buy the PS3 version if you have the 360 version

Avatar image for CamiKitten

One less reason to buy an Xbox for me!!!

Avatar image for racastro65

I thought this came out a long time ago..

Avatar image for lionheart234

i really wanna play this game... im so close to getting a 360 but now this is coming to the ps3... dunno which version to get.... =p

Avatar image for CureForLiving

I'll be getting the PS3 version, it has a bit more content then the xbox version.

Avatar image for Gryphon700

Thank you Namco for bringing a great JRPG to the PS3, right where they should be unlike other people(SquareEnix).

Avatar image for Chico_Azteca

i have both a 360 and a ps3 i dont know wich version to get

Avatar image for Staryoshi87

My two console games this month are Little Big Planet and Eternal Sonata. I always missed it after I traded in my 360, and now I'll be reunited. GREAT GAME. 2nd best JRPG this gen.

Avatar image for hazelnutman

Call me crazy, but I think I'm looking forward to this more than anything this month... and I'll be getting Bioshock/LBP on day one as well (October 21st I believe). I've played the demo countless times, and enjoy every second of it. Beat is so damn cute.

Avatar image for siLVURcross

Demo wasn't all too impressive.

Avatar image for NeoSapphire

The game wasn't pretty bad on 360, I doubt these additions can help it.

Avatar image for indyano

The demo was great, can't wait for the release.

Avatar image for doogz23

I look forward to this one! Glad it's coming to the PS3.

Avatar image for meluvulongtime8

can't wait