Eternal Sonata…Not Just Another RPG

Eternal sonata cover

Written by Sheila Harris

When people hear RPG’s, or MMORPG’s, their minds usually go towards

the big titles, such as World of Warcraft, (WoW) and Guild Wars. There
are lesser known RPG’s, that most people don’t know of.

JRPG’s, or Japanese Role Playing Games, are such a category. A few
years ago I ran across a game that piqued my interest quite a bit.

That game of course, being “Eternal Sonata”.

This game is beautiful, graphically. The scenery is impeccable, and
the music that goes with it is just as incredible.  Eternal Sonata is about Frederic Chopin, (based off the famous classical musician) who in the game, is in coma. In his dying hours, you play through his dreams in a sort of alternate universe type setting.

As I said before, the game’s graphics are absolutely beautiful. Lush
landscapes, gorgeous cell-shading techniques, and beautiful music.
What’s interesting in the game is that in between each game chapter,
you learn actual facts about Chopin’s life, and they show real life
photographs with educational subtitles.

In the game, it features Chopin-centric music performed by Stanislav
Bunin, though most of the original compositions were done by Motoi
Sakuraba. The game was made by a company called Tri-Crescendo, and
Bandai.

Throughout the game, you pick up music scores, and if you encounter
certain NPC’s in the game, you can ‘play’ the pieces with the NPC, and
if you do a good job, usually an ‘A’ score, then you’ll get an item of
some sort.

When I attempted to sync up the score with the NPC’s, it was a bit
harder than expected, which I found a bit surprising. It was easier
for me to get an ‘F’ score!

Music set aside, let’s move on to the actual gameplay:

Light and darkness play a vital role in this battle engine, which is
quite unique. Every character that is playable, including Frederic
Chopin himself, has specialty attacks for both light and dark. Light
and dark being, in the shadow (Dark), and in sunlight (light).

Some attacks are far more powerful than others, and some don’t really
have much of a use. One of the characters light ‘attacks’, is taking
pictures. Not much of an attack at all, but if you can take a decent
picture, then it sells for a pretty penny in the shop, especially if
there is a photographer in the shop at that time, then the value
basically doubles. Nice, huh? It comes in real handy when you need new
or upgraded equipment, or health items for a boss fight that may be
coming up.

The characters for this game are also unique. Each character in this
game, their name, relates to some sort of musical term. Allegretto,
Beat, Viola, Polka, Jazz, etc… All great characters, and each one of
them playing a vital role. The voice dialogue here is also
interesting because you can choose whether to have the audio in it’s
original Japanese voices with English subtitles, or you can choose to
play the English voices with English subtitles. Myself being a lover
of anime, choose listen to the Japanese voices first, but I have heard
the English ones as well. I prefer the Japanese voices, by far, but
that’s just me.

The battle engine for this game is interesting, to say the least. You
can play a certain number of characters in your party, and you can
choose which characters to play. It’s always best to have someone on
the offensive, perhaps a support offensive, and more importantly a
strong healer. A defensive character could be important, but that
depends on what character, boss, etc.. you’ll be fighting.

As with any RPG, this one is filled with mazes, and puzzles to solve
that could take you hours, yes hours, if you don’t have the faintest
idea of what you’re doing.

One of the first puzzles I found quite challenging was in one of the
beginning areas, you’re put into a fortress. You have to find the
fortress key to get to the other end of the hallway, and face the
boss.

This area was a nightmare. First off, there were several rooms within
the fortress itself that you had to go into and push a button on the
inside, and the room would move. Depending on where the room would
move to, it would either help you, or get you extremely confused.

Thankfully if you get too confused about the moving rooms, there was
another room with a reset switch to set all of them back to their
default position, which was nice. I had to do that on a number of
occasions, and finally gave up in the end and looked up a strategy
guide so I could get the heck out of there. I know, I’m no fun, aren’t
I?

Good news is, is that once you’ve obtained the Fortress Key, you don’t
have to go through all that hassle again! You can just enter the
Fortress, walk straight down the hallway, and walk out. No detouring,
nothing. Unless you want to use the place to level up of course, which
you have every option of doing.

Leveling up! Another interesting sector to the game. Not only do your
characters level up with the shared experience from battles, your
party has levels as well. Each time your party level up, the Engine
changes slightly. One level may be that your timer starts as soon as
you take a step on the field, another may be that you loose the number
of seconds you have on the timer to make your decision on what to do
and where to go.

First version of this game that I played it was on the Xbox 360, then
I tried the Playstation 3 version. To my surprise, there was some
additional content, new maps and costumes that I haven’t seen before.
After doing some further research, I found that the PS3 version of the
game was a sort of Reprise to the original.

To all you trophy lovers out there, sadly, there are no trophies for
this game, and I highly doubt that they’ll come out with an update
that includes trophies. However, if you’re an Xbox fan, then you’ll be
glad to know that there are several achievements to help out your
gamerscore.

Replay value on this game is quite extensive too. I haven’t played a
second playthrough personally, but from what I’ve read on strategy
guides, there are numerous items and a couple of achievements that you
can get from the second playthrough.

Overall, this game is quite addicting, if you don’t mind the fact that
there aren’t any trophies for the PS3 version! You can skip all the
cutscenes and educational bits in between chapters if you don’t care,
and just wish to play the darn game. I myself found them, including
the educational bits to be interesting because I come from a family of
musicians, myself being a former musician when I attended school.
However if you’re on say, a second playthrough and have no wish to see
any of them again, then you can simply skip them.

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