Xanadu Next «

Xanadu Next, made by Falcom; (the Japanese developer who brought us the infamous Ys series) is a mixed bag of slime-slaying goodness. It’s true, the action/RPG department in the N-Gage library has a few vacancies, however this title won’t be filling any extended bookings anytime soon — which is a shame because XN attempts a lot and succeeds to an extent, but desperately needs a generous helping of polish to really shine.

You take the role of a hunter, hired to save a young girl from a nearby emerging monster threat. As a hunter, you choose between two guardians; this boils down to being a warrior or mage. An interesting twist is that you can change your alignment each time you level up. Now this sounded sort of nifty at first but very quickly I realized that all those hard-earned experience points I packed on towards strength wouldn’t do my spell-casting abilities a lick of good if I changed over to the other guardian.

Isn’t that the guy from THQ’s Grandstream Saga on PSone?

The combat system has a good feel and there’s a cool feature, which gives you a 1% experience boost if you take out all the enemies in that area. The bonus increases 1% with each subsequent area cleared without going back to town, so this drove me to play my best and make the most out of each trip out. For casting spells, you can hold down the button longer for more powerful attacks — a nice touch.

The graphics are up to par, but not outstanding. For instance, your character looks and attacks the same regardless of what you have equipped. The UI isn’t set up the best, unless you like accidentally and permanently discarding expensive armor with ease.

One big gripe I have with Xanadu Next is how easy it is to walk out of an area or talk to townsfolk by mistake. First off, you need to stay at least five feet away from a villager if you don’t want to start up another conversation that sounds quite a bit like the conversation you had with them two seconds ago on your last failed attempt to navigate your way out of the items store. The hot-zone for leaving an area is also gargantuan; forget walking off the screen, if you look at an exit too long you’re going to lose out on that experience bonus by leaving the area.

Xanadu Next does feature a snazzy on-screen map that clearly depicts areas you’ve been during your outing, along with entrances to each zone. The dungeon design is well laid out, too — complete with some mild puzzle elements, like pushing blocks and lighting fires.

It’s unfortunate that XN didn’t get another month or two in development, because this title could have been more. All in all, Xanadu Next is still the best action/RPG on the N-Gage right now, but that isn’t saying a ton with Requiem of Hell being the only other dude in the ring.

 

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