You’ll Never Gonna Stop This Game!
Ah, translation errors. They make up some of the greatest internet memes and photos of all time. Don’t get me wrong; localizing a game full of content can’t be a simple task. Just look at the issues that plagued the otherwise phenomenal Ys VIII, and you’ll see how even a top professional publisher has localization problems. While the humor of the situation is always enjoyable, it can kill an experience, especially when they’re incredibly prevalent. You may have guessed by now, but Azure Saga: Pathfinder is chock full of translation errors from its inception, and it sadly dulls an otherwise memorable experience.
Azure Saga: Pathfinder is the story of Synch and Noide, a man and his android, as they, disobeying orders, crash land on a mysterious and technologically deficient planet. Think Star Ocean here, and you’ll be on the right track for the whole “advanced heroes discover a backwater planet”. Still, the plot is fine, with Synch and Noide using the cooperative humans and their kingdom (the planet exists in a sort of medieval time period) to find a proper power source in order to fix their vessel. Interestingly enough, Synch and Noide are capable of defeating the terrifying creatures (known as hollows) that plague the planet, something that both surprises and impresses the kingdom. Your goal of escape becomes more difficult as you continue to grow your party and attempt to sneak away from it all.
Gameplay in Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a real treat, and it’s the first thing you really get into after experiencing the opening exposition. The majority of the game consists of large puzzle like maps that you can explore with your sprite-like characters. While traversing the land, you can pick up items, harvest designated locations, and move or interact with objects to access different areas. Maps are big enough where save point designations also serve as transports to far away map locations (of places you must have already visited prior to using the transport). Additionally, you’ll find random NPCs on the maps that may offer various side quests, and you’ll also find yourself engaged in many random battles.
Those battles are really where Azure Saga: Pathfinder shines, too. Each fight consists of classic turn based combat, where three of your characters face off against a variable amount of enemies. You have multiple avenues of attacking these enemies, too, as your characters can choose to attack solo or with a united assault (a special ability that draws upon a combination of skills from each character that deals massive damage). Additionally, characters have an ultimate fury attack and an assortment of skills to help them through tougher situations. When it’s all said and done, Azure Saga: Pathfinder features combat that’s reminiscent of the glory days of RPGs but adds plenty of innovation to the mix to keep it fresh, enjoyable, and, most of all, addictive.
Combat, however, is also one of the biggest reasons I have to fault this game. Once you complete a battle, the character who lands the finishing blow makes what I imagine was supposed to be a witty quip. Unfortunately, due to some translation mishaps, the quips become a pile of trash. Here are three examples of the tremendous killing blow comments some characters say:
- “Just like playing video game.”
- “You’ll never gonna stop me.”
- “A perfect aim.”
And if you think that is bad, just know that it gets worse when dialogue becomes more complicated (I mean, check out the screenshot below of a simple conversation). It’s an ugly flaw that rears its unbearable head far too often, and it’s something that really damages the overall experience. I’m a writer and English teacher, and this game commits a litany of sins in its misuse of the English language. I’m not sure how much it would’ve cost the developers to hire someone to edit and clean up their mistakes, but I’d like to offer my services for low prices.
Sound in Azure Saga is pretty solid, featuring some memorable tunes and nostalgic sound effects. Thankfully, there are no voice actors to butcher their performances due to just the worst translation misakes, so the overall sound direction actually benefits from the poor scripting. This is a good thing, too, as you’ll spend lots of time roaming maps and battling – making a good soundtrack worth a thousand words… in this case, I mean that quite literally.
On the whole, Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a real treat for nostalgic RPG fans. The turn based combat is a return to classic form for the genre, and it proves that the system is still enjoyable and functionable. Innovative additions to combat and gameplay mean that, while continuous random battles can become tedious, there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be gleaned from the game. And while sound and visuals do a solid job enhancing the experience, the writing is poor, and the dialogue feels forced. There’s nothing worse than comments coming out of left field to force a plot advancement (and don’t even get me started again on the translation issues…). Watch some gameplay footage and read some more reviews, as Azure Saga: Pathfinder strikes me as a game that only niche RPG fans of old will really appreciate – and they’ll probably thoroughly enjoy the experience, too.