PS3 Reviews: Trinity Universe Review

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Trinity Universe Review

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Graphics:

 

7.4

Gameplay:

 

6.8

Sound:

 

7.2

Control:

 

6.9

Replay Value:

 

7.0

Overall Rating:       7.1

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

NIS America

Developer:

Idea Factory, Gust, NIS

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

RPG

Release Date:

June 29, 2010

Here’s the thing: there are JRPGs and then there are…well, JRPGs. Believe it or not, the titles that fall into this category can be quite diverse in terms of style; Trinity Universe is one that places all its anime artistry directly in your face from the get-go, along with the purposely cheesy voice acting, humor, and zany overall structure and style. In other words, it’s about as Japanese as Japanese can be; this is no hybrid effort like Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII, which includes various elements that could be considered distinctly Western in nature. Therefore, as is the case with most productions by NIS, Gust, and Idea Factory, this new combined effort targets the niche gaming crowd that spends many hours lost in the likes of Disgaea and Atelier. Unsurprisingly, Trinity Universe features characters from both the aforementioned series, which screams “fan service” even louder. Now, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this and I know the hardcore fans would be satisfied, but that doesn’t erase a few major problems.

Due to the extreme “nicheness” of this particular game, personal preference will play a larger role in determining the general appeal. Therefore, the inherent quality of the graphics aside, most will either be instantly attracted or repelled by the visuals. They’re colorful and loaded with that over-the-top anime character detailing where nobody appears to be over the age of 12, yet they’re all supposed to be around 18 or 20 years of age. That’s either your cup of tea, or it isn’t. The in-game graphics are bright and cheerful, and there’s plenty of imaginative creation involved in the depiction of both enemies and allies, but it does lack what I like to call “current-gen polish.” There’s good variety to the backgrounds and environments but a lot of the landscapes and dungeons leave a lot to be desired; it just needed another coat of gloss and veneer. Sadly, we don’t see too much of that in JRPGs nowadays, as many have noticed.

The sound is even more subjective than the graphics, as this style is unique to the anime world. See, if you go in thinking this is your standard dramatic RPG, or if you even believe for one second that these designers are taking themselves seriously, you’ll be appalled at the childishness of the entire endeavor. If, on the other hand, you know what to expect and enjoy the repetitive, cheesy innuendo in the jokes and dialogue, and you don’t have a problem with a convoluted and essentially meaningless storyline, you’ll be fine. The voice acting fits the style because the characters have to be voiced in a certain way; you will either hate it or find it amusing. The soundtrack fits as well, although we could’ve used a few more tracks for our exploring and fighting, and the sound effects are a little off-balance and in some cases, generic. But it isn’t bad; the atmosphere is always very lively and the sound typically contributes positively to the experience…again, if this is your thing.  Always remember that caveat.

Although Trinity Universe steals characters from both the Disgaea and Atelier franchises, the gameplay is closer to the latter. This certainly isn’t a strategy/RPG; it’s more of a standard turn-based RPG with familiar traditional elements, which should definitely appeal to fans of PlayStation role-playing classics. At the start, you can choose to play as Kanata, the Demon Dog King, or Rizelea, the Valkyrie. Both storylines will overlap at some point in the game but you do get the benefit of different perspectives, and there are always plenty of optional dungeons to tackle. So in other words, if you get into it, this game will be well worth the price of admission; we’re talking a good 50 hours at the bare minimum. If you just steamroll your way through, you can probably complete one character’s story in under 20 hours. But where's the fun in that? Games like these are best experienced if you partake of the many options available to you; i.e., tackling optional dungeons, power-leveling characters, finding and “synthing” better equipment and items, etc.

Exploration of the Netherworld – a bizarre place in space where all sorts of random items are floating about – is very limited; you can really only select a particular item, and then choose to search, check any of the available Events, and see if it has a Dungeon. You can also visit shops and the inn but besides that, the only real exploration you’ll do is within those dungeons: this is where you run around in standard third-person view, seeking out various treasures and battling enemies in standard random encounter format. When the enemies show up, you get your old-school turn-based style that so many of us have missed. And in a nod to Disgaea, it really is pure turn-based, in that all your characters can move and act to the fullest extent of their abilities; when they’re all done, the computer will get its turn. There is some depth to the proceedings, but it’s a pretty straightforward affair throughout the adventure.

You spend AP when you execute a skill; Square is a standard Rush attack, X is a more powerful Mighty Blow attack, Triangle casts a magic spell that hits all enemies on screen, and Circle is for a special skill like Cure Star. You can also decide to skip your turn with R2 so you can save up AP for a more devastating chain of attacks the second time around; the trade off is that you leave yourself entirely susceptible during the first round. If RPG fans remember the Legaia series, where you had to select different attacks in a certain sequence in order to execute a special ability, this is similar. So five Squares or Square, X, X, Triangle will perform something extra nifty at the end of the chain; you can just check a character’s menu to see what moves are available. To complement it all is a Synthesis system akin to what we had in the Atelier games; raw materials can be fused to create one-of-a-kind weapons, items and other pieces of equipment. You find these items during certain events and in dungeons.

When exploring a dungeon, your main goal is to destroy the gravity core, so the thing (whatever it is; it could be Lumpy Milk, Candy, or something equally strange) will float out of harm’s way. Inside, though, there will be plenty of enemies to fight and if you press Square, you can execute a “Search,” which points you in the direction of treasure. After destroying the Gravity Core, you have a limited amount of time to exit the dungeon and this is when some rare items pop up, so it’s sorta like a mad dash to the exit, all the while attempting to snag some great stuff. This is all well and good, but the flaws are obvious. First of all, too much of the supposed “depth” in combat really doesn’t come to light until much later in the game, when you get four characters in a party, become much stronger, and have much better skills and equipment. And even when you do have all that, the fighting still boils down to your standard button presses and there’s a lot of repetition and grinding.

Secondly, you really have to be into this style and presentation. Personally, I have a high tolerance level for cutesy anime and even so, the incessant ADHD voiceovers started to wear on me, and as the story is so absurd, it’s hard to really care about what happens. That’s fine for Katamari Damacy but even the silliest JRPGs should have a relatively decent plot and characters. Sure, you’ve got familiar faces in Etna, Pamela, Flonne, Violet and the Prinnies, but you really won’t care unless you’re a big fan of both Disgaea and Atelier and in the end, the combat doesn’t seem all that fulfilling. However, this being said, there’s plenty of leveling up and grinding to do – which many followers of such styles will like – and there isn’t anything necessarily broken about the gameplay, control, and overall structure. I did feel as if you moved too slowly when wandering about, but most of the basic stuff is quite solid. It’s just not top-quality.

It’s always difficult to gauge a game like Trinity Universe, especially when you’re not necessarily a member of the targeted demographic. But I love my JRPGs and although this style has sort of worn thin with me, I understand those who enjoy it and for what it is, NIS America’s latest isn’t really a bad production. It’s even quite good in some respects. It’s just underwhelming.

7/10/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (22 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @ 10:10:01 PM
Reply

I might have to give this a try since it isn't like the Disgaea battles. You don't seem to like anime much these days Ben.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 7/10/2010 10:12:53 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:01:57 AM

Just a coincidence I was a playing a very anime-ish RPG at the same time I did an article about the genre.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:29:16 AM

Now that I looked at the video I see your point, I do enjoy this sort of thing but when it is concentrated like that it can be hard to take. Or at the very least you don't want someone walking into the room while you are playing it.

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DeathOfChaos
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 9:54:30 AM

I would be proud to be playing something that was made by a company that actually stuck to their Japanese roots.

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DazeOfWar
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @ 11:19:55 PM
Reply

Good review Ben. I was wondering what this game was about and know I might check into later down the line.

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Lenoxseer
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @ 11:57:55 PM
Reply

Ive been wanting to play this.

BEN,
Do you have any screenshots? Thanks

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:01:06 AM

...might want to click on the picture up there that says "Screenshots."

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Lenoxseer
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:04:36 AM

boy I feel dumb now. I spaced it. I tend to always skip the blue box in reviews and go straight to the article. Your reviews are just that interesting. Only reviewer I trust anymore.

Last edited by Lenoxseer on 7/11/2010 12:07:11 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:49:56 AM

Thanks. :)

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Lenoxseer
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:03:38 AM
Reply

I really hope NISA announces Ar Tonelico III at their event next week. I cant wait to get my hands on an english release. I like the japanese version I have now, but with the Ar Tonelico series the corny english voice overs fit the world perfectlly. On a side note Ar Tonelico III is more of a dramatic story this time around for anyone who was wondering.

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SayWord
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:16:28 AM

I would love artonelico 3! It looks really really fun! Also looking forward to atelier rorona and neptune!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:29:54 AM

I hope they announce it too, the last rumor was that it was coming stateside. And well I don't read or speak any Japanese, I'm just a lazy American.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 7/11/2010 12:30:29 AM

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Highlander
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:41:53 AM

I thought Ar Tonellico III had been announced for the US?

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shadowscorpio
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 2:37:35 PM

I'm actually digging Trinity Universe but I think Ben nailed it when it comes to this game.
I do appreciate it for what it is though. AT3 looks very interesting as well and I'm glad to hear that there will be depth to the story line. After not getting Tales of Vesperia on PS3 I've been looking forward to this one.

Have anyone seen clips for Neptune? Looks alot more polished than Trinity Universe. NIS hasn't had the 'best' looking games this gen but I like to see that they are improving on it.

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Highlander
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:41:19 AM
Reply

So, Trinity Universe is essentially the same as Cross Edge only instead of sprite graphics it's a 3D presentation now?

Not sure I can slog through another one of these right now. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Cross Edge, it's just that it's not the kind of game I can be bothered t play straight through because the story just isn't there to grab you. So in the end it's more of a pick up - put down toy that I play for an hour or two when I have the urge.

Trinity Universe sounds very much like that.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 12:50:29 AM

Sort of. If you already did Cross Edge and you're not into doing something similar, I wouldn't recommend it.

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Highlander
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 1:08:50 AM

Hmmm.... I liked Cross Edge OK, it's just not the kind of game I can play right through - unless I am totally in that mood. If I get tired of playing with cross Edge, I may give Trinity Universe a look. I wasn't really expecting anything more than that from this game, but with the little time I have for games right now, I have to have more than Trinity Universe offers. A decent story would be a good start, but that's not what this game is about, so....

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kraygen
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 2:30:43 AM
Reply

I guess I've never played an rpg like this, it doesn't sound like anyway. Not sure that I would get into a silly nonsensical story like that. One thing I like about most of the turn based rpgs I like to play is the deep engaging story.

Some humor along with the drama going on is great, it's how life is, but this sounds more corny and just non stop silliness which I'm not sure I'd be into.

I was really interested in this tho, so maybe I'll just wait till its cheap and then try it out to see how I like it.

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DeathOfChaos
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 9:58:16 AM
Reply

People wonder why the Japanese developers are catering towards the western audience.
They come out with a turn based RPG, something people have been WANTING and complaining to have, and then people complain about getting it. This is exactly why Wada is the way he is and why FFXIII turned out the way it did: Americans complain about what they want AND what they don't want..

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shadowscorpio
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 2:44:49 PM

Well you know different developers 'develope' different style games. Square used to hit all the avenues when it came to JRPGs. They used to do it very well. These days no one knows what to expect from them anymore but it seems like dissapointment is becoming a reoccuring trend pertaining to SE.

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mastiffchild
Monday, July 12, 2010 @ 3:45:14 AM

I've got a TINY bit of sympathy for the Wada's of this world(I do mean tiny though!)because SE are a pretty massive concern and they see WRPGs just coming into their own in sales terms this generation(Mass Effect and Bethesda''s games)and they're wondering if the JRPG can be as massive n the west these days.

IDK why they think it but I guess they did research but they feel that we westerners don't generally take to turn based combat these days. they want a bigger audience more than anything and feel that doing trad turn based is only appealing to the niche over here.

They may be right, IDK, but I would love to see something a bit more involved myself, if I'm really honest, that just turn based in JRPGland but they NEED to strike a balance, not take all control from us(give us more!)and not make the battles simple, near hack and slash affairs when adding a little action.

Thing is those who are loudest are those upset with the likes of SE over their favourite games no longer being the kind they're getting but as THAT is the niche market in the minds of SE who want FO3 levels of praise and success every single game you can see how they might still ignore the fans that saw them through some pretty lean times, crappy attitude and a bunch of what amount to lies!

Another fact is that unless your game is part of a grand series like DQ or a remake like CT your game will like as not get panned for being a strictly turn based affair in most places.

So, imho, it's a bit of a mess right now and nobody is sure where this will go. my money would be on them eventually finding a middle ground that works or that we'll get used to as they will keep chasing the bigger sales in the west regardless of what the long term fans say.

There will al;ays BE games like this which possibly stick too rigidly to fan service and staid combat and other JRPG mainstays of yore but I don't see a big budget series that isn't already guaranteed to be turn based staying that way.

If, however, Wada thinks that westerners don't like this kind of thing simply because ME2 sold ok(hardly FF numbers though so, you know, it's a bit much sometimes)then you really have to wonder. Maybe if Versus stays exclusive(who knows?)we may see the mooted KH action based gameplay added to to give more strategy to those who want it and a compromise may arise from that but otherwise I see little hope of FF going back to proper turn based ,myself-not under the current regime who seem all to happy to annoy their most loyal fans. I see both sides of this one and honestly think that each should just give a little if we ever want to see SE hit the kind of form that the pre merger days saw.

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Sancho
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @ 4:36:16 PM
Reply

So am I the only one that noticed during the trailer in the long list of names they changed the Galaxy Beauty Pirate to "Flat Chested" Pirate?

Last edited by Sancho on 7/11/2010 4:41:56 PM

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