No Alternate Title
|Genre||Role Playing > Action RPG|
|Game Date||28 February 2008|
|Release Date||02 Feb 2009|
|Last Modified||16 July 2013|
Soma Bringer is yet another fantastic game published by Nintendo of Japan. Apparently closely hoarded in the motherland as a national treasure, and thusly refused official localization into dirty barbaric English speaking lands. But thanks to a group of wonderful ROM hackers and translators, we got the game anyway. So stick it where the taiyo don’t shine Nintendo.
Soma Bringer is a truly fantastic RPG developed by none other than Monolith Soft. You know, those wacky folks behind such little known games as I don’t know, Baten Kaitos, Namco × Capcom, and Xenoblade muhfuggin’ Chronicles. If you’ve played any of those titles, you know Monolith Soft doesn’t think small. Even when the system they are developing for is as small as a Nintendo DS.
Soma Bringer is a BIG game. It’s such a big game it has its own internal library documenting the history of the game’s world, it’s political struggles, major plot points, characters, etc. Too bad that library was left untranslated in the patch. But you know what? The other 99% of the game is translated and you’ll be just fine without the library. This is one stellar patch folks. No glitches, hardly any grammatical errors, and barely any misspellings. Considering the amount of text, that’s nothing short of a small miracle.
On to the review:
To me, Soma Bringer feels like a hybrid of Secret Of Mana and Diablo. Actually, that’s exactly how the game plays (though the areas you roam are not randomly generated thankfully). You’re given the game’s plot in nice cutscenes, and then you enter an area, beat the hell out of lots of enemies, they drop loot. You keep the best loot, and sell the rest. You fight occasional bosses, and get new plot points. The only real addition to that is a small bit of item crafting through the game’s Orb system. You can mix and match Orbs (various stat affecting types), and attach them to the loot you acquire. A simple example would be attaching an Attack Orb to a sword to make the sword do more damage. You can stack Orbs though, so you could have a 3X Attack Orb attached to a sword, for triple the damage. It’s not entirely unlike the Materia system of Final Fantasy 7, though more involved and customizable.
But wait, there’s more! Every character in the game has their own weapon types (melee, various blades, magic, even guns are available)… and thereof they have their own combo systems to level up and customize as well. Not to mention basic character stats which you can alter every time you level up. And that’s not to mention the BREAK system. Seriously, I would lose what’s left of my mind trying to talk about how complex the gameplay can be. If you’re a true RPG lovin’ nerd who has dice rolls pumping through your veins, you won’t be disappointed. The action is real time, but there’s a whole lotta tinkering to do under the hood. Luckily all these numbers and items are kept in check by a robust and extremely well designed menu system.
So you end up with your own flying ship. You can fly around the game’s world to predefined points at will… and uncover new areas as such. There are side quests to do… there’s even an optional bonus dungeon to conquer. This game is freaking huge and there’s a ton of content to explore. Thankfully the game’s internal Journal will always keep you on track to where you need to go in order to advance the main plot. And the game starts off with an in-depth tutorial that instructs as you play!
Seriously great stuff here. The characters, enemies, bosses, weapons, and such are all textured polygons. The models are finely detailed and well crafted. There’s plenty of colored lighting and transparency effects for spells and such. The backgrounds are made from scanned water color painted assets. It gives the game a slight Legend Of Mana look, though more vibrant. Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of background animation, but the sheer amount of variety and detail makes up for it. The game’s camera has multiple levels of zoom, which can be set manually, or left automatic. If automatic, the camera will zoom in during combat to show all the beautiful violent action. I am sad to say the game does not include a beastiary. It would have been fantastic to be able to view all the enemies and bosses in this game at free will with a rotatable/zoomable view screen.
The music is superb. It ranges from mildly symphonic to rock’n’synth. And there are an astounding amount of tracks in the game. I’m sure this OST was for sale in Japan. Most of the music is upbeat, but there are forlorn tracks that invoke a feeling of desperation or isolation. This is definitely a game you’ll want to play through quality headphones, the DS speakers don’t do it justice. Sound effect wise… well, nothing really comes to mind now. Which means the sound effects probably were just fine, but not as memorable as the music.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. Soma Bringer was obviously designed to be played multiplayer. The game allows for up to three people to play simultaneously through THE ENTIRE RPG from beginning to end. This is done through local wi-fi only, no online. I played the game co-op with my girlfriend, occasionally my daughter would jump in and play with us (drop-in/drop-out is allowed). The amount of fun we had increased when the game was three player, but even just as two player it was quite entertaining. There are ways to play as co-op that aren’t immediately apparent (aside from just hacking and slashing together). Soma Bringer is so well designed that different players can be in different parts of the world at the same time, you don’t have to be confined to the same screen! This meant I could go off scavenging in a cave in the desert, while my girlfriend pillaged the cloudy mountaintops in the north. Then we could meet up instantly thanks to the game’s amazing Soma Gate system. (Soma Gates are basically instant portals you make whenever you want, that allow teleportation back to the game’s main ship, and then allow teleportation back again.) So we’d go off and do our own thing sometimes and then meet up and trade loot with each other. My favorite thing was to go and find new gear for her, craft it up with orbs, and leave it in the game’s free-trade box as a surprise present. When it comes to co-op JRPG gaming, I don’t know how it could be better than Soma Bringer. It’s a big slice of fun town pie.
Now should you be a ronery hikikomori, you can still play the game solo, of course. Except you don’t play it solo, the game provides two additional NPC controlled characters to stick to your side. So when you play solo, you are always playing with two additional computer characters to aid you. Now, I don’t know if they actually aid you worth a damn or not… nor do I know if you can customize them, or set their attack behavior with Final Fantasy XII style gambits and such. I don’t know that because I played the game co-op the whole time. Thus, playing Soma Bringer single player may or may not be as fun as multiplayer IT IS UP TO YOU TO DISCOVER.
I’ve already typed so much my finger tips are burning, and I still have only scraped the surface of the Soma Bringer world. I haven’t even talked about the rip-roaring twisty-turny sci-fi plot! And I’m not going to, I’m tired of typing! We did beat this game and it took about ~30 hours, but you could put 20 more hours in if you did all the extra stuff. Hell, when you beat the game, it unlocks three new scenarios for Pete’s sake! It’s insane! Monolith Soft, stop it now, or you’ll all die via karoshi.
Listen, the DS doesn’t hurt for JRPGs, but Soma Bringer likely outclasses all of them by its sheer complexity and scope alone. Monolith Soft shot for the stars, then flew past them so hard they popped a hole into the universe and left a gaping Soma hole. Yeah the game may start slow, but once you reach the second act you’ll be hooked. If you’re not, go get some friends to play the game with you too. Then you’ll all be amazed that such a mammoth amount of material could be stuck in a little DS cartridge.
And you’ll be even more amazed that Nintendo chose not to bring this wondrous gem of a game to English speaking shores. “Stupid gaijin, no smart enough for game rike Soma Bringer!” Yes we are Nintendo. And we’re even smart enough to hack it into English without you.
So, Soma Bringer, ye portable JRPG of unprecedented and stupendous proportions, I dub thine score: 9/10.
(That’s an A- for you grade lovin’ types.)
This is a mostly complete translation for Soma Bringer. To my knowledge, the only text not completely translated is in the glossary.
The patch format is in xdelta so be sure to familiarize yourself with the format first.
ROM / ISO Information:
No information available.