Have you noticed that there are already an abundance of obscure RPGs on the PSP? Congratulations – you’re smarter than most of the publishers out there. This one tries to stand out from the crowd by featuring dozens of super-sized lizards and, well, that’s about it really. Koei aren’t exactly known for innovation – just look at the countless Dynasty\Samurai\Boy Scout Warriors games – and sadly Dragoneer’s Aria follows suit, being about as predictable as a predictable thing.
The game’s lead is the ponytailed and possibly genre confused knight Valen, who on his graduation day to become a Dragoon – a person who can command dragons – finds himself on an epic quest to locate six affable winged beasts to rid the world of evil. It’s not long into the proceedings that he’s joined by new party members, including foulmouthed female pirate Mary and cynical swordsman Ruslan. Naturally they all have their own skills and strengths, with Mary being able to take guns into battle.
Rather than having random battles there are instead peculiar floating eyeballs lurking around the 3D environments that you can try to run past, although if they catch up with you then a battle will occur. The turn-based battles themselves are slow and tedious – even against basic enemies some can take between five and ten minutes – and as your mana (magic) bar never â€˜levels up’ you have the same limited amount of magic at your disposal from start to finish, which makes things harder than they need to be. Battles can be escaped but chances are slim to none.
Another annoyance is the dire voice-acting and dialogue. The characters sound like American teens, talking of â€œkicking buttâ€ and warning others not to be â€œtoo cockyâ€. At least the dragons themselves are well represented – the great hulking beasts fall into different elemental groups (water, fire, etc) and can be summoned during battles. Another good thing going for it is that it’s very easy to get into with uncomplicated menus and a pleasingly simple magic system that’s similar to Final Fantasty VII’s materia system. But while these things are all well and good, Dragoneer’s Aria simply failed to set our attention ablaze.