Mimana Iyar Chronicle Review

Mimana Title

Title: Mimana Iyar Chronicle
Developer: Premier Agency, Aksys Games (Publisher)
Game Type: PSP
Download: 443 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Action RPGs have been an interesting breed of game since their origination way back in the early days of gaming.  From games like Tales of Phantasia, Star Ocean, and more, they’ve brought more action-oriented gameplay to the Role-Playing Game genre for many gamers to enjoy, both being those that like RPGs and those that are interested in action games.  There have been countless franchises in this, and even other genres sparking from within, like Hunting RPGs and more.

One thing that Action RPGs have shown in recent years are new games coming that are trying to mimic other games.  Hunting RPGs, for example.  Monster Hunter showcased a certain type of RPG that spawned in a similar manner to games like Phantasy Star Online, but added some unique twists and turns.  As a result of Monster Hunter, many other franchises tried to modify the formula and make their own experience, from Soul Sacrifice to Ragnarok Odyssey to God Eater.

Another such series that has tried to be mimicked is called Tales of.  This type of game has offered 2D and 3D games, and has had many different types of games try to mimic it’s unique battle system.  In the PSP generation, this was apparent with one game from Premium Agency, the same developer who created Skies of Arcadia.  As our newest blast-from-the-past writing, here is our official review of the PSP game, Mimana Iyar Chronicle!

Story

mimana Story

The plot of Mimana Iyar Chronicle takes place in the world of Iyar.  In Florelmos, once the capital of a great empire, there is a young man named Crais working for a Mercenary’s Guild, throwing his money away with gambling.  The bitter and impatient man is soon brought together with a young girl named Sophie, whom has hired him as a body guard as she searches for magical gems to find a place called the Temple of Water.

As Crais travels with Sophie, his bitterness and hatred towards children is shown right off the bat.  While there are reasons for his bitterness, he is shown as a very bitter and mean person.  His character grows by the end of the story, but much of the game will likely be spent being annoyed by his constant pestering and whining towards Sophie.  He is a very unlikeable character for the majority of the game.

The story of Mimana is a biggest part that is in question.  The game lasts a little less than 15 hours, and by the time things really kick off, it draws to a close.  The story does build up to a very interesting and intriguing points, but it feels like it is too short, and the way it ends feels like you’re not near towards the end of the tale.  It’s not a bad story, but it’s not a particularly great one either.

Gameplay

Mimana Game 0

Mimana Iyar Chronicle is a Console-Style Action RPG.  At its very base, that is what kind of game it is.  Throughout the game, you will be traveling through various dungeons and environments, fighting enemies in real-time battles.  While the game isn’t mission-based, like many recent ARPGs on the PS Vita, it’s more of an open setting, where its exploration and the store progresses as it goes.  I would compare how the story progresses similar to a game like Ys Seven.

As you play through the game, you will have the city of Florelmos, more or less, a base of operations.  This is said because you always return to the city after exploring each dungeon and defeating each major boss of the game.  You will always come back to Florelmos and rest in the Inn, only to see more story scenes and find out your next target location.

The story sort of progresses in chapters, based on each major dungeon you explore.  This is because you get new story scenes after you complete each one, and all of the shops in Florelmos will update with new inventory for you to acquire each time you clear a major boss and need to return to the city.  There are three main cities in Florelmos.  One is for items, one for equipment, and one for magical accessories to increase your stats or elemental stats.  Every time you clear a boss, check these shops as they will have updated inventory.

Exploring the world is in an open-world setting, but at the same time, it’s not.  When you go through each area, you have to go through an area to get to the next.  However, when you do traverse to the next, the game gives you a huge point-to-point map to choose the next area’s name before you go in.  You do explore every area openly, but that map system gives the illusion that it’s not a purely open world.

When you explore each area, you will be running through one area to the next, opening treasure chests for new items and fighting random battles that spark as you walk through any area that isn’t Florelmos.  These battles will spark and take place on a plane separated from the exploration screen and will take you back to the map/exploration part of the dungeons once you are finished with the battle.  This is one differentiation from most PS Vita ARPGs that more or less have battles taking place without switching to a different plane or screen.

Mimana Game 1

Battles play out in a similar fashion to the battles of the Tales Of series.  You are placed on a 2D plane and you fight monsters in real-time by running up to them to do three-hit combos with your sword or by casting spells to launch at the enemy.  This style is very similar to the 2D games from the Tales Of series, but it has differences.  Unlike those older games that are strictly side-scrolling in battle, Mimana allows you to move up and down to give somewhat of a 2.5D effect in battle as well as being able to move to dodge incoming attacks.

As you fight through battles, you will be watching enemy health meters to drop to zero for the enemy to be defeated by your party.  The biggest thing about battles in Mimana is that they aren’t nearly as easy to fight as most other ARPGs.  When you slash at an enemy in most RPGs, you always hit them if they’re fight in front of you.  If you’re under-leveled in Mimana, though, you won’t.  I found several battles in a row towards the beginning of the game where not only was I not leveled high enough for fights but I’d be right in front of an enemy and have more than half of my sword strikes go right on top of them and miss.

That aspect makes the game prove to be quite difficult, especially during boss fights, where enemies can do drastic amounts of HP damage in a single blow, even if you are properly leveled and prepared for the fight.  There are some healing and teleporting points around each dungeon to help you, but regardless of that, until you get to a high level and find more of the recruit characters for your party, you’re going to be struggling through many battles by what feels like an unfair Miss system.

Throughout the game, it will be a constant process of going to a dungeon, finding the gem, clearing the boss, and returning to Florelmos.  While this sounds like it could be repetitive, the game is short enough that it’s not.  From start to finish, Mimana Iyar Chronicle will probably not take you much more than 12-15 hours, at the most.  Unlike many other RPGs like it, it’s not a very long game.

Controls

As far as controls are concerned, Mimana isn’t a very hard game to get used to.  Although it is a PSP game and an Action-oriented RPG, it won’t make you use all of the buttons on the system.  The game also doesn’t hand 3D perspectives, so there’s no need to swap any controls to be put onto the Right Analog Stick.  While you certainly have the option to do so, there isn’t much point in doing so.

You can use either the D-Pad or the Left Analog stick to move your character around.  This is the same, whether you’re exploring or in the middle of a battle.  The rest of the game will primarily be using the face buttons to operate the game.  You will be using the X Button to interact with objects and people in the field, and for your three-hit physical attacks in battle.  The Square Button will be used for casting spells and skills, the Circle button for blocking incoming attacks, and the Triangle for opening the menu.

On the PlayStation TV, the controls are exactly the same.  None of the trigger buttons are used and you will solely be using the D-Pad, Face Buttons, and Start Button as you play through the game.  It’s not a very hard control scheme to understand, though there’s nothing in the game to show you what does what.  It’s all on you experimenting until you figure it out.

Presentation

Mimana Pres

The presentation for Mimana is a mixed bag.  On some points, it shows something unique and interesting.  In other ways, it doesn’t showcase that.  As far as the physical presentation goes, it’s also got ups and downs.  The most unique part of this is exploring areas.  When you do this, you will be controlling a 2D character on a plane with 3D renders.  Everything around you from forests to streams to mountains will be rendered with 3D models.  But you will be a 2D character within that.  This is a unique point.

The downside to the presentation is how the game looks.  With the game stretched on the PS Vita’s screen (as well as on the PlayStation TV), the 2D models took a fair hit.  The 3D environments look fine, but all of the 2D-rendered models are pixelated, especially in battle.  It’s pretty easy to tell a fair number of blemishes and jagged models when you’re in battle.  While this doesn’t affect how the game plays, it does affect how it looks.

As far as gameplay goes, the game plays well.  Everything goes by smoothly, and all of the load times between each area go smooth.  But one thing to note is the audio.  While the game does have good English Voice-Acting, the music is something to be addressed.  In more than a couple dungeons, there were situations where there just wasn’t any background music at all.  At least a couple of the dungeons have complete silence in the background until a battle starts.  We aren’t sure if this was intended or not, but it feels very off and very strange to just not have any sort of background music at all inside a dungeon.

Summary

Mimana Iyar Chronicle is an attempt at recreating the Tales formula for a franchise of its own.  The formula does work at providing a unique and challenging experience.  However, with a plot that feels incomplete, a short campaign, and visuals that have taken a large hit on the transition to the Vita, it’s difficult to recommend this game to anyone but Tales fans looking for a fix until the release of Tales of Hearts R. 

6/10

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