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Preview - Riviera: The Promised Land
Peviewed on 5/10/05

An Ambitious Handheld RPG

The Nintendo DS and Sony PSP might be the current talk of the town, but the Game Boy Advance is still seeing plenty of high-profile releases. As one example, Developer Sting and Publisher Atlus will soon team up to let North Americans play the anime-style RPG Riviera: The Promised Land.

The prologue has been told as follows: "Long ago, a war between gods and demons--Ragnarok--erupted, and the world was thrown into a state of chaos. Asgard, the realm of the gods, was overrun by demons and was on the brink of destruction. In desperation, the gods sacrificed their very lives to create fierce warriors known as Grim Angels. Each wielding a godly weapon known as a 'Diviner,' these angels quickly brought the war to an end. The demons were sealed away, but the gods would soon follow. However, the gods were able to leave behind their power in the heavenly isle of Riviera...They entrusted to the inhabitants to watch over until their return."

Now fast-forward 1,000 years to a world where the Seven Magi, proxies of the gods, have made the fateful decision to actuate the Retribution, a cataclysmic event which will destroy both Riviera and the demons. This is the world in which players will find themselves. Let's meet the characters, shall we? For the characters that aren't pictured, just click their names to see them.

  • Ein - The main character, Ein is an angel who gave up his wings to obtain his power. He's determined and carries a powerful Diviner, but is still inexperienced and young.

  • Ledah - Calm and tacturn, Ledah is one of the strongest angels of Asgard. His Diviner is Lorelei, and he accompanies Ein on mission to actuate "The Retribution."
  • Rose - A flying cat thing that always looks out for Ein.
  • Cierra - This master of magic is searching for a friend she lost while searching for spell ingredients in the ruins. Sometimes called "The Scarlet Witch."
  • Fia - Lives deep in the forest of Elendia with the other Sprites. This kind and reliable fencer is always helping her friends with her healing magic.

  • Serene - Last of the "Arcs," which is a spinoff race of the Sprites. This outgoing Tomboy has bat-like wings and uses a Scythe in battle.
  • Lina - An energetic girl with good archery skills, Lina is full of curiosity, which sometimes leads to trouble. Playful and loves to eat fruit.
  • All characters (Ein and Ledah excluded) have two emotion-based stats, "Mood" and "Trust." Mood is just what it says, and the mood someone is in can affect his/her battle performance. Trust is slightly more important in the long run because it measures how much the character trusts Ein and will affect the ending. The level of Trust and current mood are expressed on screen by an icon such as a musical note, heart, and others.

    Movement is not completely free roaming. When the player is in "Move Mode," arrows are up, which indicate where the player can move. Once a room is passed, the player can't backtrack. The A button can then take the player to "Look Mode," in which items can be examined. When looking, players must carefully watch their Trigger Points, as examining items highlighted in red will cost a point. TP can be regained by defeating enemies in battle.

    Combat in Riviera will start with the basic mold of RPG fighting, then add some notable tweaks and twists, one of which is called "Over Drive." This is measured in meter form; as a given character gives and takes damage, a special meter fills up. When a character's meter is full, the Over skills are usable. This meter fills faster if a comrade dies. All of the Over skills have levels, and continued use of a skill will work it towards a level-up.

    There are also "Execution" skills. These can be used at any time, regardless of how full one's Over Drive meter is. But don't expect to do much damage if you have a low meter; the power of the attack is dependent upon how full the gauge is. Every enemy has a "Rage Meter." Damaging the foe will fill this meter up, while passage of time will deplete it. The type of attack an enemy performs (from the options of normal, Rage, and MAX) will depend on its Rage status. Normal is just what it says, Rage attacks are performed when the meter is near full, and MAX attacks are performed when the meter fills up.

    At battle's end, players are given a score for their performance. The amount of points awarded is based on several things, including the time it took to win, power of the final attack, and so on.

    As the game goes on and certain requirements are met, players unlock extra goodies. One thing that becomes available is a "Practice Mode," which lets one discover the best strategies to drop the bad guys. However, this area isn't for leveling or building up the bank, because what happens in the practice fights will not be carried into the main game.

    Riviera: The Promised Land will ship to retailers on June 28th. Check us out for a review right around the same time.



    -Eric Emerson