Space age RPG!

Posted on September 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm by Ian Brown

The Nintendo Wii has had a distinct lack of RPGs available in its first full year on the shelves; this has been noted by many critics and fans alike. This startling trend started on the N64; however, as there are so few RPGs on the console, all games that are announced are met with media frenzy and Opoona is no different. Opoona has been out in the US since early 2008, and has finally been brought to Europe by Koei.

Opoona screams cult following. Following a completely unique path it tries to combine traditional RPG aspects with lifestyle simulator pieces in a futuristic, space age world. The universe is defended by a single race that are all very round and have a ball that they are able to use to power up and destroy the evil that is slowly creeping back over the universe. Opoona and family are traveling on holiday for the first time and their spaceship is attacked, causing them to crash land on a planet call Landroll.

Opoona is separated from his family, his parents are critically ill, and his siblings are taken to different parts of the planet, who he later finds. Opoona has to quickly adjust his way of life to this electronic lifestyle of the Landroll and take the abuse that the locals will give to him for being an alien. Unfortunately, Opoona also has to pay for his parents' treatment and is headhunted to become a Ranger. A Ranger is someone who will battle against the evil that is encroaching the peace on Landroll. The metaphor is as transparent as looking through the window. The game is all about independence, growing up and dealing with people who are different to yourself; however, this isn't new territory for an RPG.

Opoona has a rich and interesting culture that has clearly been crafted with much care; unfortunately, a lot of this care and culture has simply been destroyed by some poor localization and translation. There are various typos ridden across the game, directions from characters advising Opoona to travel through a door that doesn't exist to their right and characters whose names change halfway through the game.

This is all forgiven by the game's brilliant battle scheme. The game can be controlled entirely one handed, by the nunchuck. When in a battle (which are all randomly generated), the player simply needs to push the controller in any direction and power up the Energy Bonbons and then release. Depending on how powerful the charge is and what direction the Energy Bonbons has been charged in will entirely depend on how it launches and kills the enemy. Throughout the battle scenes the Z and C button are used to use items and go back, and outside of battle they access an extensive menu screen where Opoona can buy new items, watch TV, check his bank statement, his e-mails and just about everything.

The controls can take a little while to become accustomed to, and at the first attempt can be a little confusing and hard to navigate through. However, it just takes a few goes at the one-handed control system and everything just falls into place very easily. The controls themselves are very responsive and there's no delay time at all.

Throughout the battles there is a strict two-minute time limit and if Opoona goes over this timer he automatically looses and has to pay for his hospital bills and to be picked up from wherever he fell. You can't always guess how to kill the opponents in battle, so it can be literally just waiting for Opoona to be hurt before the correct attack can be administered

The visuals throughout the game are, frankly, odd. The quality of the graphics is high, and there are some brilliant landscapes, and the vastness of all of the cities and outside areas are very impressive. It's just the characters in the game that are a bit of a let down. All of the characters have a thick black border around them, in a very cartoon style; however, the lines around the circular characters aren't anti-aliased and will often have a stray pixel just a little too far away from the character. However, the colours are all vibrant and the character design is great -- it's just the implementation when moving that lets it down a little.

The biggest letdown of the game is the overly structured feel. It feels very linear, and although there are chances for Opoona to do his own thing, the main missions have very little room for change or error and everything is very mission-based. Although there are times when the missions fall into the background, they are too far and in-between.

Final Verdict - 8/10

Opoona is one of those once-a-generation type games -- for many hardcore RPG fans this will be a bit of a letdown, but for others it could easily be heightened to the level of the Mother series if another game does come out.