With the DS getting killed off by its 3D-capable big brother, it’s becoming harder and harder to find new titles for the original system that are more than mere shovelware. With this game being the spiritual successor to a cult classic and hidden gem of the PSX, as well as being a decade in the making, is Solatorobo: Red the Hunter a well nurtured developer’s dream or is it a little too aged to stand on its own against the competition?
Lovingly crafted by .hack// and Naruto developer CyberConnect2 and the spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto, Solatorobo has some big shoes to fill. Luckily enough, this game more than succeeds, easily earning a space in any RPG lover’s collection, as well as a spot among some of the greatest games developed for Nintendo’s two-faced portable.
The sheer amount of care and attention placed into every last detail is a welcome change compared to a lot of rushed titles released as of late, and the feeling that one is playing a work of passion instead of a construct of profit is refreshing to say the least.
Without giving up any details, Solatorobo is about Red Savarin, a hunter who performs odd jobs ranging from dock worker to mercenary, in a world above the clouds. He’s barely making ends meet as he steals an odd medallion and discovers a strange feline (yes, it’s in an anthropomorphic world) who informs him that his actions threw him into the midst of an evil plot to take over the world and offers him riches beyond imagination in a contract for him to save the day.
In the course of fulfilling this contract, you and your trusty mech suit battle feral beasts and the largest guild of hunters around all while helping others with random tasks- earning cash for upgrades and leveling up along the way.
The combat is simple and extremely fun considering that most of it boils down to mashing the A button to pick up and hurl your foes, the story is light-hearted and enjoyable, and the customization and sheer amount of content are refreshing- making for an all-around pleasant experience.
The game’s length is deceitful, with some clocking it in at a mere 8 hours; which is extremely short for an RPG. But one can easily squeeze 10-12 hours from the title before reaching the end credits and put it down feeling a sense of accomplishment. Each quest was designed with the portable system in mind- ranging from 5-15 minutes long and giving the ability to save after completion, giving the player perfect chunks of gameplay for on the go.
But be warned: At the end of the credits the game urges the player to continue, and for good reason- Part 2 is still left to play, the second act feeling in itself to be a full-fledged sequel and adding an additional 10-12 hours of gameplay with new mechanics and enemies abound and even then there’s more quests to be completed. Pictures and pieces of the game’s soundtrack are hidden inside the game, available to be viewed in your ship’s cabin once found, adding further value to this content stuffed title. One shouldn’t be surprised to find they’ve crossed the 40 hour mark to reach 100% completion, and that’s just the single player.
Also included is the Air Robo GP, which offers both single player and multiplayer airplane races reminiscent of Diddy Kong Racing, with more planes being unlocked as quests and races are completed.
With the incredible amount of value and enjoyment found in this game, I can wholeheartedly recommend it become part of any DS gamer’s collection- there’s a reason why copies of Tail Concerto can fetch as much as $150 online nowadays and I can see this game following suit…
out of 10
- Tons of content and customization
- Simple yet addicting gameplay
- The most important quality for a game to have: It’s fun.
- Graphics could be better, even for the DS
- Combat can get occasionally repetitive