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Developer: Max Five | Publisher: Atlus
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 12/20/01 | Genre: Strategy RPG

By now, we have all experienced Final Fantasy Tactics on the Playstation. (If not, please leave your computer, go down to your local retailer, pop down 20 bucks for a brand new copy, play the game, and then come back and read this review) The Strategy/RPG genre that was made famous by FF Tactics has finally been improved upon. No, I am not talking about another Vandal Hearts or Shining Force sequel... I am referring to Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth--a wonderful PSX title that is a must buy for any Strategy/RPG fan.

Before we continue on, I need to get something off my chest. I have read a lot of bad reviews about Hoshigami. Some claim the game is just too difficult--while others suggest that the gameplay is not balanced. Sure, I admit that this game is challenging and it can seem a bit unfair and unbalanced� However, if you have been following the Strategy/RPG genre for several years, you will be able to see the huge improvements that have been made. While reviewers will be quick to give high scores to Final Fantasy Tactics--which was much more unbalanced and difficult that Hoshigami, I find it very hard to believe why they would condemn such a great Strategy title.

Now that is off my chest, lets go on with the review. Hoshigami is essentially an upgrade to the Final Fantasy Tactics engine. Graphically it looks nearly identical to FFTactics. However, the engine has gone through a few changes. First off, the camera system has been modified. Instead of being able to move the camera angles up and down, the player is only allowed to swing it left and right at predetermined points on the screen. At times, the camera can be in an awkward position and make it difficult to see where you should move. However, this problem should be resolved whenever this game engine is updated into a 3D engine.

If you keep looking closely, you will also notice that the dialog has been modified. All of the characters in Hoshigami are anime characters. When a character speaks, an anime mug shot appears in a box with text. Also, during the more intense story moments, a larger sized anime character will appear for our heroes to converse with. While this change in dialog is very subtle, it helps add a great deal to the dialog.

The graphics in Hoshigami are well below average. However, one must remember that this is an older Japanese Playstation title built off the Final Fantasy Tactics engine� So while the graphics aren't very visually pleasing, you will find that the gameplay is deeper than the depths of the ocean. You can build up your characters with the skills you want and equip them with magic. With so much variety in the characters, you can see how you can tackle any given level in hundreds of different ways. However, due to the many ways you can defeat a level, it can become very frustrating if you choose the wrong strategy. This is the one downfall to such a deep system.

Hoshigami is an awesome Playstation title that Atlus has taken the time to deliver to the US. While some may be turned off by the primitive graphics, this title is so deep and contains so much replay value--that you will be playing for months without ever getting bored. However, at times the game can be challenging and you may have to rethink your strategy in order to defeat certain levels. Remember, brute force and an all out attack isn't always the answer!

By Kaleb Rutherford - 12/18/01
ESRB Details: Mild Violence

Screenshots for Hoshigami

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