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Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light PSP

Published by Ignition Entertainment
Developed by HitMaker
Release Date: 27th October 2006
Price: £29.99

Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light, an introduction.

I’ve come to the conclusion that every current console except the PlayStation 2 is in desperate need of some quality RPG titles. The same can be said for handhelds too and the PSP is no exception. It’s quite a surprising state of affairs when you think about it. Quite a few PlayStation 2 games have had a quick and dirty port to the PSP and you would have thought some of the better RPG’s would have also made the quick trip from PS2 to PSP. Instead we’ve had to rely on new RPG’s to arrive and they haven’t been coming thick and fast. To make matters worse, those that have arrived haven’t really been the classic RPG experience that we would have hoped for. Let’s take a look at the latest RPG to arrive on the PSP, Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light.

What’s the game about?

Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light is set in the world of Lunadia. Blade Dancer Gerard had once defended the people against an evil emperor that ruled the land. Gerard was thought to have been defeated by the emperor’s Dread Knight. Mysteriously though the emperor was defeated by an unknown hero. You’ll play as a young warrior named Lance. At the beginning of the game Lance arrives on the island of Foo seeking training in the martial arts. On his travels Lance dreams of a beautiful girl who is asking for his help. But was it just a dream? One thing’s for sure Lance is going to get a whole lot more than he bargained for.

What’s good about the game?

Blade Dancer is, all things considered, an enjoyable PSP RPG. Most of what’s here is absolutely fine without being particularly impressive. However, the crafting element in the game is excellent. You’ll be able to take raw materials that you’ll purchase, find or collect from fallen enemies and craft them into weapons and items amongst other things. Combining spring water with a herb for instance will create a potion. Of course you’ll need to obtain the recipes for items you’ll want to create and part of the appeal with the game is managing to get hold of these recipes. That said however, it’s possible to craft from ingredients so it’s possible to ‘acquire’ recipes from other sources, if you’re so inclined. Should you find a special item it’s possible for an appraiser to dismantle the object and give you the recipe for it, enabling you to create it at any time. Crafting is really useful because as long as you have the correct ingredients you can craft the item at any time. You could craft some potions whilst out in the field rather than having to head back to town to purchase some, for example. Other influences can affect the result of your crafting (different characters will have different results) which adds more interest to the whole process. Of course the fact that crafting is uncomplicated and easy to learn is also a bonus.

There aren’t random encounters in Blade Dancer. To initiate a battle you’ll have to walk Lance into one of the floating skulls that you’ll see when out in the field. These skulls are colour-coded to signify the strength of your opponents, which is a nice touch as it means you can avoid enemies who might be too strong or avoid wasting your time with enemies who may be too weak when you’re trying to level up your characters. The battles in the game are in real time, although they do have a strong turn-based flavour to them. The combatants line up exactly how they would do in a turn-based battle and each character has a Lunar Clock. When the Lunar Clock has completed a rotation an “!” icon will appear which signifies that the characters can then attack, use a Lunability, use an item, run or equip an item (equipping still allows you to perform another action). When you give or receive damage during a fight your Lunar Gauge will begin to fill with Lunar Power. This Lunar Power is used to carry out Lunabilities which are element based. There are even group Lunabilities which are more powerful. You have to be careful with Lunabilities because your enemies can use them too and these attacks will also take power from the gauge.  As you can probably guess then the idea is to prevent your enemies from using these attacks and keeping the power in the gauge just for your attacks.

Finding out which items and characters you can interact with can seem pretty much like a chore at times in an RPG. Blade Dance gets around this problem by allowing you to target (with the square button) all items and characters that can be interacted with. Once targeted you simply press the X button to carry out the appropriate action. This may seem a small thing, and it is, but it takes some of the tedium out of the experience.

What’s bad about the game?

One of the biggest complaints I have with this game is that it seems to take Lance an age to get from A to B. He appears to run very slowly and it only serves to drag the pace of the game down. The quality of the story is also a little disappointing and a little uninspiring. Conversations with NPC’s are usually just bland. The game is littered with quite a few loading times and once again, this is to the detriment of the pace of the game.

How does it look?

The graphics in Blade Dancer look OK but they do have the same problems that a majority of PSP games seem to have. Most of the textures in the game look bland and uninspiring. The same can be said for the towns and most of the locations you’ll visit. You’ll notice characters simply pop-up out of thin air when walking around, which is disappointing. It’s not all disappointment though. The characters models are good and the anime style movies are actually very impressive. You’ll notice a day and night cycle in the game and whilst it’s not particularly impressive, it’s nevertheless a nice touch. None of the load times are obscenely long which lessens the damage from the sheer amount of them.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light shouldn’t cause deaf gamers any problems. The dialogue in the game is subtitled. The cutscene dialogue is simply displayed in white text with no character portraits or names placed alongside the text, which is a little unfortunate. The dialogue in the main game does feature character portraits and names placed alongside the text though. The text is also placed in dialogue boxes to make it easy to read. In both the main game and the cutscenes you’ll need to press the X button to continue the dialogue, meaning that you can read the text at your own pace. Any objectives for missions you’ll acquire are shown in text and you can recall these instructions at any time. All tutorial messages are shown in text. The game also makes a good use of icons to inform you of status effects and such like.

Final thoughts.

Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light is one of the better RPG’s on the PSP at the moment. It’s let down, to a certain extent, by not having a really enjoyable story but there are some impressive elements of the game that help to compensate for this. The crafting system is first class and a very useful addition to the game. The battles are also enjoyable and despite being carried out in real time they should also appeal to fans of turn-based battle systems. It may not be the RPG classic that most would have hoped for but there’s more than enough here to keep RPG fans happy for 25+ hours.

Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light is one of the better PSP RPG's. The story and the character conversations could have been more interesting but an enjoyable battle system and an impressive crafting system mean this is an RPG well worthy of your attention.