Riviera: The Promised Land

Riviera: The Promised Land

Developer: Sting
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: July 10, 2007

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Let's Go Down to the Riviera

    Back in 2005, a gem of a title came out for the Game Boy Advance, Riviera: The Promised Land. Now, almost exactly two years later, the PSP will be getting its own version of the game. This time around, it'll come with upgraded graphics and a number of new additions. For veterans of Riviera, the added features in the PSP version will bring a refreshing spin on the original; for newcomers, it'll be an interesting delight just the same.

    The new additions to Riviera include 50 new, hand drawn illustrations which tie-in with the game's 90 events. The game will feature full voice acting for the first time, in both Japanese and English. An entirely new episode, which is not included in the Japanese version, will be thrown in along with a new dungeon and new allies. The illustration gallery and music gallery will also be making a return.

    Riviera is a classic; it's a tale of good versus evil that's deeply rooted in Norse mythology. The story follows Ein, a Grim Angel, who sacrifices his wings for a great power. Ein's home, Asgard, is in turmoil due to the fearful return of the their old enemies: the demons of Utgard. The gods of Asgard fought in the Ragnarok war a thousand years ago against these very same demons. Now, Ein and his Grim Angel buddies are forced to descend upon a magical land named Riviera, and finish the demons off, once and for all.

"One might presume that Riviera is a kid's game, light-hearted and fluffy; it is anything but that."

    One of the most interesting features of the game is its battle system; it's simple, intuitive, and well-designed for an on-the-go handheld gaming experience. Enemy encounters can be avoided at the very beginning with the flee option, so there won't be too many annoying random battles. Choosing the fight option will result in another choice: formation. There are two formations; the first has two characters up front with one at the back, and the second is the exact opposite. The first formation is best suited for a physical attack strategy, while the second is best for magic. This also highlights the fact that the battle squad is comprised of only three characters at once, so choosing who stays and who goes is important. Equipping the characters with items is also important; this is the only way to learn new skills and actions. Be warned though, these items will break after a certain amount of usage, and there is no way to repair them. Choosing what items to use in battle will also play a big role on the overall strategy in battle. The actual battles themselves are completely turn-based and features something called an Overdrive Gauge. This gauge, when filled, can allow characters to unleash a powerful move called "Over Skill." Again, these skills have to be learned from the equipped items. Over Skills are not unlimited though, the Overdrive Gauge can shatter when the most powerful attacks are used. If the Overdrive Gauge shatters, it'll only mean that Over Skills can not be used for the remainder of that particular battle; it will return to normal afterwards. In addition to regular battles, practice battles are perfectly set up for that always fun RPG grind. The reason for this: items will never break in a practice battle, so players are able to fight without ever worrying about losing something from the inventory. Battles will also be evaluated with a ranking system; the higher the rank, the better the rewards received. Attaining an S ranking, which is the highest rank possible, raises the chances of receiving rare items.

    Another interesting aspect of the game is the unique Trigger system. Triggers are special points in the game that allow players to open chests, read signs, or jump to another platform. What makes this interesting is that some of these Triggers will require the use of Trigger Points (TP) in order to execute certain actions. TP is gained after battle; the better the rank, the more TP received. Some Triggers will require button combo input or excessive button-mashing, instead of the usual TP.

    The visual style that's incorporated in this game may be a little misleading. One might presume that Riviera is a kid's game, light-hearted and fluffy; it is anything but that. Riviera is rated T for Teen and for good reason. The game is heavy on text which plays strongly on themes of death, betrayal, and even some sexual innuendo. Coming off that last note, Riviera is in fact a pseudo-Dating Sim, aside from being an RPG first and foremost. Ein will meet five girls who will comprise the remainder of the party. The game provides lots of choices in story and dialogue which will revolve around the interaction with these ladies. This of course means that the story will change considerably and so will the ending.

    The music-tracks in Riviera are quite varied. Adventurous fantasy themes that are reminiscent of SNES era RPGs make the bulk of the soundtrack; however, there are a few songs that are an exception. For one, the song "Destiny" is a J-Rock tune that sounds befitting of a racy battle.

    Riviera: The Promised Land will be released on July 10, 2007 in North America. That'll be exactly two years and twelve days since the initial GBA North American release, which was June 28, 2005.

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