Atlus has always had an underdog reputation in the world of gaming, their games are always low key and on short print yet always carry a special something that makes them an enjoyable and often sought after piece of gaming. Riviera: The Promised Land is no exception as it is a fabulous GameBoy Advance RPG that is probably the best title in its genre since Mario & Luigi. Riviera follows a very linear pacing and breaks a lot of convention when it comes to the RPG game play style, but it is thoroughly engaging thanks to its colorful cast of interesting characters, colorful graphics, and a great soundtrack.
With all the whiz bang technology that goes into today’s RPG titles on PS2 and Xbox and GameCube it’s nice to play a game that goes back a few years. Riviera has all the design elements of an early PS1/SNES title, colorful, well designed characters, simplistic exploration and battle, and a cool gimmick that makes the game fun to play. This is all evident from the first ten minutes you spend watching the opening cinema which is comprised of anime still shots and SNES quality music that brings back memories of games like 7th Saga and Final Fantasy. Couple that with some above average voice acting and you’ve got all the aesthetics you need for a great GBA RPG.
The story of Riviera follows the tale of the Grim Angels a select group of angels who are tools for the gods of Asgard. One select angel, Ein is on a mission to destroy the land of Riviera to prevent it from becoming a festering world of war and destruction. But not everything is at it seems (it never is… really it isn’t) as Ein loses his memory in a battle and is asked to save Riviera after seeing that the world is not beyond saving. Along the way you’ll be recruiting an all female cast of playable characters (I think there is only one other male in all of Riviera…) each of which have their own specialties and abilities, which is nice because it means you will be making use of each character and each has a great personality that borders on candy cute to terrifying ditzy to paternal grace.
Exploration in this game breaks a lot of convention when it comes to playing an RPG. Normally you’d expect to be able to go to any area that is within the game. In Riviera you are present with directions you can go and you will move on to the next screen. Exploration is done with a press of the A button and things you can view will be presented on screen. In order to view everything you will need to make sure you have enough points that you earn in battle. The Time Points that you will be earning in battle will help you get new items, advance the story, or give you a chance to win points with the ladies as relationships will have a major factor on the story.
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