A Proper Start: Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere Post Image

Console RPGs. They are challenging for me! The menu systems that accompany many console RPGs, especially Japanese console RPGs are not easy for me to learn. They are often complex and provide far too much detailed information early on. They tend to overwhelm and discourage me when I start a new game. I did not grow up playing very many console RPGs or Japanese RPGs. I'm not used to all of the organisational conventions and menu navigation conventions that are common to this genre. However, many of those console RPGs are highly acclaimed by many people for the storytelling, so I try to play them sometimes. Most console RPGs that I've played don't offer much in the way of accessible and user-friendly tutorials that walk you through the menu and battle system. If at all. One of the breaking points of my Final Fantasy VII experience, and one of the major reasons that led me to quit was because the entire inventory management and battle system confused and overwhelmed me to the point that I no longer wanted to deal with any of it. And because the story, characters, and protagonists in Final Fantasy VII were utterly un-engaging and uninteresting, I had no reasons to continue playing.

My experience with learning to navigate the menu and battle system in Odin Sphere isn't anywhere near as terrible as what I experienced in Final Fantasy VII, but similar frustrations did play into the reasons why I started — then stopped — playing this game one year ago. Two years ago, when Odin Sphere was released, a friend of mine played it, with me looking on for a good chunk of the beginning of the story. Since I sort of already knew I'd find the story interesting, I had incentive to pick up the game again, struggle through learning the game's basic systems, and stick with it. It turns out the inventory and menus are not difficult for me to grasp. It was easier than I remembered it. As someone who was not raised playing Japanese console RPGs, this is a very accessible game.

The game doesn't seem as difficult as people on Twitter have mentioned, but maybe I have a different idea of what a hard game is like. I am also playing on Easy mode, so. Yeah. :-P It's still challenging in Easy mode, though! Unlike Sigma Star Saga, which was a poorly-executed shmup/RPG mash-up, Odin Sphere is a successful side-scrolling beat 'em up/RPG mash-up, in my experience so far. I can actually say that I am enjoying the game play, which is something that I don't think I could actually say for most Japanese console RPGs that I've played. I am finding the story interesting. Although some of the characters are irritating and problematic, I'm invested enough in the story to want to know what happens next. At this point, I'm about six hours into the game, and I'm enjoying it.

  1 comment for “A Proper Start: Odin Sphere

  1. 12 June 2009 at 18:39

    I have yet to play Odin Sphere so i cant say much about that. But i will agree with you on your thoughts about Japanese RPG’s. I’m a pretty hardcore roleplaying type. I like juggling around equipment to optimize my gameplay, but when it comes to the JRPG’s, i always get lost.

    I think it has a lot to do with earlier experience. I´m sure that no one in japan will have a trouble picking up a Final Fantasy game and mastering it pretty quickly. They know the style of those games. Compare that to people like us who haven´t played every single Final Fantasy game, and you get – well less trained people.

    It´s like movies. If you haven´t had any earlier experience with a horror movie, well then you might get very scared by seeing a low budget badly cut horror flick. But if you do have that experience, well then you are used to it and know your way around – and hence need something better produced to scare you.

    I guess its all about how we where brought up, and what games we had, when we where kids :-)

Comments are closed.