Gungnir Review

Gungnir (Available exclusively on PlayStation Portable)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of layers: 1
Genre: SRPG
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Sting
Release Date: June 12th, 2012

Parent Talk: Gungnir is rated T for teen by the ESRB because of alcohol references, fantasy violence, mild language and mild suggestive themes.  It’s a sprite-based strategy role-playing game filled with colorful characters, and lots and lots of cartoonish mystical violence.  Not very damaging if you ask me.

Plays Like: This is one of those tactical strategy RPGs that plays very similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, Vandal Hearts, and Tactics Ogre.

Review Basis: Finished the main storyline.

The Great:

Gungnir is one of the deepest SRPGs released in a while.  Featuring a wide assortment of customization options, brilliant ‘think before you make a move’ mechanics and so much more.  The gameplay is far closer to Final Fantasy Tactics and Vandal Hearts for those looking to know the finer details.  If you’re looking for a game that you could play for months, this is it.

The Good:

+ Fantastic production values.  Sting knows the PSP hardware and that’s evident by their work here.  Sprits look sharp, and even with tons of special effects the PSP never slows down.  The audio is equally impressive.

+ War gods are awesome.  You can summon a war god during battles, but unlike a typical summons these powerful characters not only attack the enemy, but also anything around them including your troops.

+ Tactical advantage.  By collecting flags on the mission maps you can slow down the tactical meter, which allows you to sneak in another attack.  This can also be useful when trying to launch a magical attack before your opponent moves out of the way.

+ Excellent translation from Atlus.  The humor hits all the right notes, and the drama work just as well, although can be slightly heavy handed at times.

The So-So:

+/- Gungnir is a more advanced SRPG, and as such not one I would recommend to beginners.   While it becomes straight forward after a few hours, newbies will likely find it overwhelming.

+/- The story follows Julio who meets a young woman during a terrible war.  He’s eventually given the Gungnir (a divine spear) and goes on become the savior of the land.  Fairly standard stuff, right?  The story does loosely tie into Yggdra Union and Knights in the Nightmare, so fans of those games be sure to take note.

The Bad:

– For a portable SRPG, missions can take up to 40 minutes to complete, without the ability to save mid-way through.

– Doesn’t break the mold, in fact it doesn’t really do much ‘new’ at all.  Longtime fans of the genre might feel Sting played it a little too safe with this one.

The Ugly:

Getting to the boss of a mission, only to have to him take an elixir, while you only have two characters left, and realizing you’re going to have to redo the entire 50 minute mission all over again…for the fifth time.

The Lowdown:

Gungnir is a really fun strategy RPG, but it doesn’t bring very much new to the table.  If you’re a veteran you might find yourself loosing interest quickly, or just the opposite.  This is one of those genres that typically skew towards the ultra hardcore and there aren’t all that many out there.   Atlus needs to be commended for delivering a perfect translation, a game with really fun gameplay, and helping to support a niche genre.

Final Score: 7/10

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