Important Importables: Soma Bringer preview

Sections: Action, Columns, DS & DSi & DSi XL, Features, Genres, Handhelds, Japanese Imports, Role-Playing

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The Soma Bringer box art

Title: Soma Bringer
Price: $48.90
System(s): Nintendo DS
Release Date: 2/28/08
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Monolith Soft)
ESRB Rating: N/A

Soma Bringer is an interesting effort from Nintendo and Monolith Soft. It basically is everything that people wanted Children of Mana for the DS to be – a fairly straightforward action/RPG/dungeon crawler with the primary focus on customizing characters and providing an effortless battle experience.

The only thing generic about Soma Bringer is its story, which possesses many of your standard RPG stereotypes. A mysterious girl is found early on who joins the good guy’s team. There’s a possible catastrophe facing the planet. The good guys really don’t expect to get entangled in everything but somehow become humanity’s last hope. The main guy and the mysterious girl get all lovey-lovey.

But Soma Bringer is redeemed by the stylish, anime-style character designs, the bright and vibrant environments, the various customization options for characters, the smooth battle controls and an easy local-wireless multiplayer experience.

The reason it deserves attention (and a stateside release) is that Soma Bringer could be the spiritual successor to Square Enix’s Mana series. Yes, I know that the Mana series is going strong, but it has lost its way and focus. Soma Bringer possess the same colorful characters and environments, battle system and spirit that the old, good Mana titles once had.

Welt reaches for an item in battleBattle

Battle looks like it will be incredibly simple and easy to navigate. Attacks, skills and magic spells are all assigned to the four action buttons on the DS. If you press the right shoulder button while on the main control page, the control scheme will shift to four additional attacks, skills and spells that are assigned to the buttons. If you press the left shoulder button while on the main attack page, then it will move to an item screen where four items are assigned to the four buttons.

Since there are three characters fighting at once, one controlled by the player and two by the computer, battle can get quite frantic. Continually attacking an enemy at once will break the opponent’s defense. After that, the opponent is temporarily stunned and attacks will do more damage.

There is also a zoom feature where you can zoom in and out on your characters in order to get a better view of what everyone is up to. It’s something that any good overhead dungeon crawler should have,and the screen-shots make it look like it handles nicely.

Cadenza would look awesome wielding a spear

There are loads of character options in Soma Bringer which guarantee that no two games will be alike. There are eight different main characters and, in the beginning, you can choose which one will act as your avatar. (Initially there are only seven available initially, as Idea has to be unlocked.) Each has natural abilities and talents, but you can choose to make each of them into whatever kind of character you desire.

There are then six different classes to pick from: battlers, darks, gunners, kanbus, koas and somas. Your character’s class type determines the weapons, armors, skills and magic they can use. Even though the names seem a bit strange, they can be considered equal to warriors, dark knights, archers/gunners, ninjas, paladins and mages.

After that, players earn ability points and character points to learn skills and to boost statistics. Since there are 20 levels for each skill a character to learn, which make the skill more useful and powerful. Plus there are four character statistics which affect the character’s stats.

A lush backdrop sets the stageMisc

Soma Bringer catches your eye with its colorful characters and environments. Even though the subject matter of the story will inevitably get darker as it draws near to the ultimate confrontation, for the most part everything lives very vibrant. A wide color palette is used to create the characters’ world, and the characters themselves. Everything and everyone looks unique and individual.

Also a nice touch is the multiplayer. Sadly, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is not used in this title. Local wireless is enabled so players can team up with friends to take on different dungeons. It’s always nice to have another multiplayer game for your system, especially when multiplayer is so simple on the DS.

It also has a storybook feel, as the main storyline progresses through chapters. It seems like this will enhance the fantasy setting by making it all feel like it is an elaborate theater production or fairy-tale.

Soma Bringer really looks like it could be a phenomenal DS title. It would be amazing if Nintendo decided to release it outside Japan. Since other Monolith Soft titles like Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos were translated and localized, it seems only natural that Soma Bringer would be as well. Perhaps if it is, and does well, then maybe Xenosaga I & II for the DS will be translated and released as well.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Since Important Importables has already covered two other DS otome games (Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Season and Duel Love), it seems only right that Otometeki Koi Kakumei: Love Revo DS!! gets a review as well. If you don’t miss a single installment of Important Importables, or want to know right away when the next column is up, then sign up for the Gamertell Newsletter and RSS feed.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewedDuel Love.

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