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Sword of Jade: Parallel Dreams vs. Onlyoneinall
Sword of Jade: Parallel Dreams In battle, fighting some snakes with arms and six packs.
Play Time: 17 hours and 40 minutes
Review # 6 for Onlyoneinall In battle, fighting some snakes with arms and six packs.
Them's Fightin' Words
    A game like this, and yet there is only one review by Iblis. What a shame.

Sword of Jade is a game that has been in production for many years, and considering the most anticipated OHR game ever. This is indeed a game of epic proportions as you can see from the time it took to be completed. The game has very few flaws, if any, and if you didn't think it was created with the OHRRPGCE engine, you would think it was a professional game, and it does have that air to it. The game can be difficult to get into at the start, but once you do, you won't be able to stop until the end.
    The first thing you notice upon loading the game are the graphics. Breathtaking? Not exactly, but expect to be in awe. The game sports fairly cartoony graphics, as it uses black outlines for characters and such, and everyone with the exception of two people are all animals.

Whether you start with the pre opening or get right into the game (I recommend starting with the pre opening), you will notice the large amount of detail put into the graphics. The maps are varied and fit the atmosphere of each area. There are four different times of day, and this means that the maps change appearance depending on the time, and this just adds to how elaborate everything is. The graphics will pull you in and make you believe in the world you are in.

In battle, you will find your characters will have animation just as elaborate. Aside from having cool looking attack animations, they will also change appearance as you progress through the game, mostly when you get new weapons or clothes. The enemies come in large varieties, and rarely do you see palette swaps (only when appropriate). In each new area, prepare to meet many new enemies, which also vary depending on the time of day.

The graphics almost never get old, with so much variety and elaboration; it'll be easy on your eyes. The game is at times guilty of the "grid" being obvious (where you can tell one tile from the next), but it doesn't take much away from the game. If anything, the graphics will keep you playing the game.
    Storyline may or may not stop you from playing. This game has a lot of philosophy. The protagonists fight for being positive and about how life is worth living. The antagonists fight for being negative and how life is such a tragedy, and that failure is inevitable, so that unity amongst all is the way. If you are the type of person who doesn't care about a game's story and dialogue and happen to play games like Dynasty Warriors and Advance Wars without being bugged by the horrible dialogue, you probably won't care much for the story - just that you play through.

Your main character is Dogero, who happens to be (surprise) a dog person. After the situation that happened in the pre-opening, Dogero finds he has given up on life. He decides that trying to play the hero was stupid and too much of a fantasy, and wanders aimlessly, a protector who has grown weary of life... or better put, jaded.

Then along comes a friend, Mi'la (who happened to be such a smart mouth that most likely, she'll piss you off on several occasions) who takes stabs at the already down Dogero, telling him to get his ass up and stop moping. Thus, the story begins when they set off to find a wolf monster terrorizing the local town of Fralin, Dogero somewhat hesitant to even bother anymore.

Unlike most games, commercial games included, the game sports some intellectual dialogue, and characters won't spout nonsense (at least not the crappy "HEY YOU ARE A BIG MEANIE YOU GOON" kind) that you'd normally skip by holding down the keys. While many of the characters are depressed, moody and worn out and will spout out how much life sucks, they at say it convincingly, and your characters will counter reasonably as well. Everyone also moves and has different expressions while conversing, which adds to the diversity and life of the characters, so they become more believable.

More or less, whether or not you agree with the game philosophy, you will probably play through the end anyway, but if you really get into it, it will make your gameplay more enjoyable.
    This is probably the core of the entire game. The sheer amount of work put into this, really makes you feel like you're playing a game made by a professional company.

First off, the amount of plotscripting tends to just awe me at times. How much script work was put in, and how it flows just fine without a problem. It makes it hard to decide where to start.

As mentioned earlier, the game has four different stages of time. Early morning, noon, afternoon, and late night. Depending on the time of day, people are at different places, react differently, different enemies wander, new things can be found, etc. This not only makes the game more real, but with time always passing by and different times of day having other things to do, you'll have plenty to keep your hands full.

Going with the real time, plenty of things work that way as well. The Jade countdown, a time limit placed upon you is the amount of time you have before you become irreversibly jaded, Dogero anyway, and once the timer reaches zero, your game is over. This means you can't go and train to extremely high levels and pump up your characters ridiculously. While it may seem like you have to be hasty in everything you do, this is not necessarily true. You generally have enough time to get things done as long as you move at a steady pace, and by helping other people out or by doing something to exterminate trouble, you will get a white flash which will indicate that the Jade countdown is delayed, allowing you more time. Hopefully, getting through enough and realizing the value of life can help dissipate the countdown forever, but that will take a lot of work.

Also, fatigue is present in the game. There is a Saludist in every town you visit that will help train your stats to a certain degree. It reminds me of Zeliard and the sages who increase your power, where they get your life up to a certain level before you're too strong for them to help you. In the same respect, a Saludist will bring up your stats to a certain point before they won't be able to anymore. Note that training requires money, time and it brings down your stats until you decide to rest. Also, if you go long enough without resting, your stats will drop from fatigue, so you must make sure to rest every now and then. Talk about realistic.

Unlike other games, you automatically will get new weapons, and you cannot equip armor. Instead, you get icons, trinkets which boost certain stats while usually dropping HP. This makes you think carefully about which stats are in need of being raised, and doesn't allow for a super character. On the rare occasion, you will find an icon that will boost stats without any penalties, and often times you will find one that boosts a certain stat tremendously, but at a tremendous cost. Properly equipping icons will help you, while going about it all wrong will screw you over. There is a large variety of icons, so you get to customize to your liking.

Also, you obtain anima throughout the game from fighting monsters. These are usually used in crafting items or icons, or you can sell some to an anima trader who follows you around for money, or buy some that you may need.

One thing you MUST keep in mind are the choices you make - unlike some games where your choices is just an illusion to make you think it has any effect (i.e. Dragon Warrior or Golden Sun), in this game, your choices WILL matter. You must think carefully. A decision you make early on may come back to haunt you at the end of the game. If the game gives you a time limit to complete a certain task, take it seriously or else you may come to regret it! Remember, this game is quite realistic, so the choices you make will make an impact. It is something you will want to keep in mind (so make good use of all your save files every now and then)

Overall, that should cover most of the gameplay features.
    Battle is something not exactly original, but very innovative and interesting. Enemies are not found randomly (unless you use the Hunt feature which initiates a random battle), and you must run into one to fight one. Whenever you attack, a stat may go up. For example, regularly attacking an enemy will boost your strength up by a little, or using a speedy slice attack will kick up your speed a notch. In this way, the battles are not as boring and are constantly in motion and changing. This means slashing away at a tough enemy, your attack will grow eventually stronger and stronger - but this is the same for your enemy, so beware.

Skills are absolutely vital in this game. Button mashing will get you nowhere, except when fighting weak enemies from an earlier area, and you must make use of your skills.

This in turn brings up the leveling up system. When you level up, you don't get any stats boosted aside from HP. Instead, you get to choose a new skill, improve its potency or efficiency, or add a skill point. This allows extremely flexible and customizable characters, and to top it off, your skill points are replenished for each new battle giving you incentive to use them. You can also defend in battle, which increases your defenses and makes you immobile, but after you stop defending, your skill points get set to 100% (note that regular attacks boost your skill points, and you can go over the maximum). Personally, I thought the battle system was awesome.
  Map Design
    The map designs are nicely done. The towns feel like real towns, forests feel like forests, caves feel like caves, deserts feel like deserts, what else can be said? In dungeons, note that it has a Zelda like style, meaning the camera is fixed and only moves when you move to another section of the dungeon. This makes for a feel different from other OHR games. Also, when you get near a long corridor or path, the game automatically speeds up for you so you don't have to spend time walking through and wasting life. A nice feature, especially since the maps are very large and take a lot of time to get through.

Also, note there are birds (avises) that you can buy at each town to get transported to each one quickly and save time. I figure it should be mentioned in map design since it deals with moving about maps.
    The game is balanced quite well. At the start, you will find it to be difficult, and you will find yourself in dire situations, coming close to death often. As you progress however, the game difficulty drops, perhaps a bit too much as it becomes quite easy with enough healing items and the right skills.  
    The music was wonderful. I especially enjoyed most of the battle themes, and the songs for the towns and dungeons were well placed and appropriate. To my knowledge, a lot of it is original and there are a handful of ripped songs. Nevertheless, most of it is placed quite well, though I felt the songs for the final battle could have been different. It reminded me a lot of Castlevania, a bit too much perhaps.

In any case, prepare yourself, as many of the songs will get stuck in your head. Once the game gets a soundtrack out or updates all the bam songs to midi, it's gonna be more of a listening pleasure. I especially like the main battle theme (which is original, and composed by Jazz Man).
    What do you think? At first I couldn't get into it. Once I made the effort however, I spent a good chunk of my life playing it. Prepare yourself. This game is a very worthwhile experience.  
Final Blows
    Sword of Jade lives up to its hype, and it does just about everything it does very well. I felt quite satisfied after it was over (although not very - I don't seem to like endings very much). This is definitely a game you want to get your hands on, and it is worth the time you spend with it.
In this chilly weather, it'd be best to get new clothes to keep warm.

In this chilly weather, it'd be best to get new clothes to keep warm.
Final Scores
Graphics: 10/10.0
Nearly perfect. Just a few points where the grid is obvious. Other than that, it's fine.
Storyline: 8.5/10.0
I didn't totally get into it, but it was well done and the dialogue was nice. It's up to you whether or not you like or can stand the philosophy, I was fine with it.
Gameplay: 10/10.0
What more can I say? I enjoyed the battles, going around town, the different times of day, the skills system, etc. I think I missed a handful of secrets though.
Music: 9.5/10.0
Not totally perfect, but nearly so. The music will capture the atmosphere and keep your ears satisfied most of the time, aside from one or two pieces that could have been better.
Enjoyment: 9.5/10.0
Again, almost perfect. Just a few small flaws, but nothing to stop you from enjoying it.
Overall Grade: A+
Final Thoughts
    Wandering Hamster is like the official game to think of when you think of the OHR. Sword of Jade would be the official game to think of when you think of the best of the OHR.  

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