PSP Review: Kingdom of Paradise

For a system starving for RPGs, the PSP has picked up in recent months. PoPoLo Crois, Legend of Heroes, and the game here Kingdom of Paradise make up the genres latest portable entries. This action RPG is a frustrating experience with little guidance. However, the completely original combo concept is enough to raise it above the average level and turn at least the fighting into an involving button masher.

Kingdom of Paradise prides itself on using a single button for its brawling mechanic. You'll press the circle button a few thousand times before this one ends. To stay away from concerns of repetitiveness, Paradise allows the player to create their own combos by collecting scrolls. By arranging them in a somewhat cluttered menu system, every one who plays the game will attack in their own way. It's a feature with incredible potential, and every action RPG from this point on should use it.

This is also an ambitious PSP title. The voice acting is a rarity for the portable, and the sharp, clean, and colorful graphics engine is critical in establishing the fantasy environment. There's the occasional bout of slowdown when the player faces numerous foes, but it rarely negatively affects the game because it's so brief. There are some online extras too. By entering a code through the game's infrastructure mode you'll unlock certain items exclusive to this section of the game. This is as close to online gameplay as this one gets, and it's a shame not everyone will be able to take advantage of it.

For all its attempts to stay simple when fighting, everything else in Paradise is confusing and poorly strewn together. The number of areas the lead character can level up in is astounding, yet all it really does is add to the already convoluted menu system. Even with the manual, some of this game still makes no sense, and there are buried features you may even miss until the end.

There's little in the way of training or explanation for anything included. Player's are tossed into the game with nothing but a sword and a mission. While the save anywhere feature is nice, there are segments where you'll fight some difficult adversaries back to back, and without the ability to save when in a brawl, you'll end up repeating many sections if you don't save constantly.

While the ambitious design is something lacking in most PSP games, Kingdom of Paradise can't overcome its confusing nature. Even if you're being assaulted repeatedly by the same boss, you'll still give it another go, if only to see how your new combo string turned out. That's this titles best asset and it knows it (you'll be fighting every few feet when outside of a town). Unfortunately, you'll need to figure out a lot more than you should on your own. Once the player realizes that, they won't take the time to play with combos.

(*** out of *****)

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