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Three years ago, developer Cattle Call released The Legend of Legacy on the Nintendo 3DS. While the game had a lot of promise, its lack of personality resulted in it being a somewhat generic JRPG that tried to replicate the style of old-school JRPGS from the early 8-bit days. Because of that, I never felt like I needed to complete after spending around 20 hours. It’s a shame really, because I really wanted to like it. Luckily, Alliance Alive fixes nearly every issue I had with The Legend of Legacy and I really enjoyed playing every minute of the game.

Alliance Alive is set in a world where demons rule over the humans. 1,000 years ago, a war between the two races escalated which, as a result, left the world separated into different realms. While many humans have become complacent with their daily lives, there are those who have formed resistances to hopefully one day live better lives. At the start of the game, we meet Azura and Galil. Azura is the daughter of the head of the resistance and dreams of one day seeing the fabled “blue sky” instead of the sealed off sky thet live under. Galil is Azura’s childhood friend and tends to get dragged off into whatever she wants. As the story progresses, they are joined by friends and new faces who all end up sharing a common goal.

Suikoden series creator Yoshitaka Murayama (Suikoden I & II) was brought in for this project, being responsible for the game scenario, doing a wonderful job of making the game’s narrative and cast of characters shine, which is something the previous game lacked. My only disappointment is the lack of time some of the characters actually get. Azura, Vivian, Galil and Professor Altein get quite a bit of time to stand out at first, but the rest get regulated as background characters which, chances are, you won’t focus on as much. That’s also because of the battle system that I both loved and slightly disliked.

Alliance Alive uses the same battle system that was used in Legend of Legacy with quite a few improvements. If you’ve played older JRPGs like Square Enix’s SaGa (SaGa Frontier/Romancing SaGa) series, you may be familiar with this system. You are able to equip all your characters with two of any weapon types, and the more you use them, you gain a higher chance of learning a new skill in that class. Overall, it’s a pretty simple battle system where you are able to cycle between a few screens that showcase a list of available skills for each weapon class you’ve unlocked and any healing items you have equipped for each character. Your last selection is also saved, so you can use auto-battle to simply repeat the last actions until the battle is over or need to do something different.

Each character has their own base stats and they actually don’t gain any levels as you defeat monsters. Instead you gain talent points and on occasion extra HP. There is also a weapon skill that only appears during certain conditions which is the “Final Strike.” When characters or party members take a certain amount of damage, a character will awaken and unlock this ability which can be used by spending a certain amount of MP and at the cost of your weapon breaking. This means that the weapon won’t be usable for the rest of the battle until it is restored, which later in the game can be done simply by resting at an inn. This is very convenient as you won’t need to buy a brand new weapon to replace it.

Talent points play a very important role to help you in battle. You can increase your expertise with each type of weapons, as well as magic, by allocating your talent points to that particular type and by doing so, gain helpful abilities. You can lower the cost of using certain weapon skills by 1 MP, raising the chances of learning new skills. This proves to be very helpful in the long run, so deciding early on how you want your team to be set up is important. Don’t go wasting precious points, but even if you do it just means fighting more enemies to gain more.

You won’t find any resurrection items or spells in the game, instead your fallen character can return by using a heal spell or item on them. This is very useful because if you are trying to heal a teammate with low health and he is KO’ed, they are still healed, only the amount of maximum health they have drops a bit and does so at least until you sleep at an inn where it’s restored to their max health.

While the game is split into different scenarios at the beginning of the game split into teams of 3 to 4, eventually you able to form a team of five characters for battle. It’s also important to play with grid formations, something I really didn’t start using until about midway through the game. Placing characters in certain formations in the 3 x 5 grid, you gain bonus stats which include increased attack power and a boost in defense or magic, so playing around with the formations is to your advantage, especially in later boss battles and you can always try and make your own by visiting the Tactics Guild.

Speaking of the Tactics Guild, you will come across different guilds on your travels. Aside from the Tactics Guild, you also have; the Blacksmith Guild which will create new weapons and armor for your characters, the Library Guild which offer research on characters and enemies, the Recon Guild which can help lower enemy counts, and the Signimancy Guild which will create new spells for you to use in battle. As you progress through the game, you will be able to create more Guild locations across various locations on the map, recruit new people to fill those guilds and in turn improve items, spells and other things that can be made. More importantly, the guilds will also offer support in battle by attacking enemies, lower defenses, and scanning them.

The game isn’t too difficult until the last quarter, especially during one boss fight where your party is split into three teams, where you need to evenly split your team to survive. The battles before the boss fight aren’t bad, but then you have a boss who can wipe out your team with their ultimate attack which you have to hope they don’t constantly spam. I think I died around 5 or 6 times in that battle until the boss decided not to spam their ultimate attack every other turn, so rather than getting a game over and having to start at the last save point, you can start off the boss battle again.

While the game has a great visual art-style, at times it can become a bit bland in a certain location. I actually really enjoyed the more simplistic look of the characters which gives more of a retro look. I mean, who can’t help but love a mad scientist who fights on a giant mechanical duck that can cross lava? As for music, I honestly can’t even remember any of the tracks from the game outside of the overworld theme which you will hear a lot. Nothing in the game is really memorable in terms of soundtrack, and that is a bit dissapointing.

I love the fact that you are able to proceed how you want at the start of Alliance Alive. You will spend a lot of time in battles and worst of all, you won’t know if an enemy is too powerful for you outside of boss class enemies on the field. It’s leaps and bounds better than their previously released game and while there are still more things that can be done to make an even greater experience, it’s worth playing for all the different ideas placed that blend very well.

Nuke the Fridge Score: 7 out of 10