Baroque (Wii) Preview

By Adam Riley 18.12.2007 6

One genre that the Wii has been lacking in since launch is that of the role-playing game, with the only major entry being The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a title many people now deem as more of an adventure than a true RPG. Now, though, Atlus is helping Japanese developer Sting bring its remake of classic game 'Baroque' to Wii. After it launched back in June of this year in Japan on the PlayStation 2, it is finally being translated for the Western market, with the Wii edition in tow. But has the wait really been worth it or should it have stayed in the Far East?

First of all it might be worth noting just who Sting is and what its reputation is like. Most of you may not have heard of the small Japanese outfit, but way back in 1996 it teamed up with Squaresoft to create the strategy RPG 'Treasure Hunter G' on the SNES, a game that has just hit the Virtual Console in Japan this month. Other than this, Ubisoft enlisted the team to port both Evolution games from the DreamCast onto the GameCube in the form of the critically mauled double-package 'Evolution Worlds'. More recently, though, Sting has picked up a strong cult following for its two highly-rated GBA strategy titles, Riviera: The Promised Land (which originated on the WonderSwan Colour and has now been ported to the PSP) and Yggdra Union (which is also coming to Sony's handheld). The great thing about the company's remakes as well is that a considerable amount of effort is poured into each one to make sure Sting's loyal fans get the best deal possible. Riviera on the PSP was a large leap from the original WonderSwan and subsequent GBA versions and in the same breath Baroque is significantly changed from its Saturn roots.

Screenshot for Baroque on Wii

Speaking of which, the very first version of Baroque came out on the Sega Saturn way back in the middle of 1998, complete with a gorgeous soundtrack from Masaharu Iwata, the genius behind many a fantastic musical score (Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, some of Final Fantasy XII tracks and Odin Sphere). It was a decent-sized hit, ranking in the Top 5 upon release, probably raking in around 40,000 sales in its short time on the chart. Following this, the game was ported to the PlayStation to offer it up to a wider audience that would greater appreciate its dark style and first-person RPG action goodness, and then eventually the decision was made to remake it for the PlayStation 2. Said PS2 version, though, has been deemed by some to not be as good as the initial product, partially because of the Iwata-san score being replaced, but also because the feel changed thanks to a Third Person viewpoint being put in place to help players with the battle mechanic taking away some of the game's atmosphere. However, this negative reaction only came from stalwart fans of the first Saturn and PSone editions. The kicker, though, was that whilst they were not particularly pleased, Famitsu also did not look upon the remake too favourably either, giving it a terribly average score of 27/40 (three 7s and one 6, which by Famitsu's is pretty poor). The result? The game entered the Media Create chart at the tail end of June 2007 at the lowly position of No.25 and considering the No.10 game that week only had 30,000 sales, it certainly was not a strong start, and one that was not built upon as it did not even chart in the entire Top 50 the following week. Therefore, it was assumed that, as with past versions, Baroque would not see the light of day outside Japan. Now Atlus is set to give it a chance, though, it has to be hoped it receives a much warmer welcome from both the Press and consumers alike upon its US d

Screenshot for Baroque on Wii

Thus players must take control of the game's protagonist and set off with the aim of 'healing the world' as atonement for his sin. However, this is sin is one he does not remember committing as he has no memory and is simply working from an instruction given to him by a enigmatic character with red pupils. His punishment is to enter the Neuro Tower, a place that was once the residence for the Order of Malkuth (a strange religious cult, run by False Angels wearing fake wings, that believes God requires saving, rather than humans), but is now infested with dangerous Meta-Beings. What proves to be extremely interesting, at least from a gaming perspective, is that the inside structure of the tower changes on a regular basis, meaning the game is a random dungeon crawling, action role-playing affair, in a similar vein as Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon or Shiren the Wanderer. And the mystique is helped along by Baroque's dark graphics and unique visual style, courtesy of Kenjiro Suzuki-san's character designs.

As you make your way through the various floors of the dungeon, using the very handy Angelic Rifle that can annihilate Meta-Beings, players will have to keep their wits about them, scouring for new items and ammunition to aid them on this perilous journey to find the key to the deep, dark secrets that have been locked away for far too long. And remember, that in the crazy world of Baroque, death is only the beginning of things to come in this sinister, twisted fantasy world...Each time your character actually dies, the game reveals more secrets about the desolate world! Then there are other unusual aspects, such as the mysterious Wandering Maidens, two inhabitants of the Neuro Tower that have not been distorted as much as other beings wandering around. What secrets do Alice and Eliza hold that keep them from transforming like the rest?

Screenshot for Baroque on Wii

One problem with dungeon-crawlers is that the fighting style can sometimes be extremely awkward, as found in Pok

Screenshot for Baroque on Wii

Final Thoughts

Baroque promises to engage and mystify gamers in a way no Wii game has done so far. With the only RPG experiences on Wii being Twilight Princess and the quirky Dragon Quest Swords, which arrives early next year, Atlus/Sting's effort looks like being one to watch, especially as it comes out as soon as February next year. Early reviews may have been shaky, but there has been plenty of time to iron out any issues from the PS2 edition released back in June for this Wii upgrade.

Developer

Sting

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date TBA   North America release date Feb 2008   Japan release date 2008   Australian release date TBA   

Comments

That was a very good preview, thanks for the history of the game.

I am looking forward to this game, really, as I am an RPG-fanboy.
I do hope that they twek graphics a bit and maybe use some wonderful lighting. But apart from that there is something we seldom have on Nintendo-consoles:
A more unique story then the fantasy-only settings from ToS or Baten Kaitos. More like Digital Devils Saga. That's very fascintating, especially for Nintendo-only gamers like me.

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

This looks cool. I agree with Adam, let's hope they don't ruin the game adding waggle just for waggle's sake. Other than that, we (I) need more games like this on Wii.

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Looks interesting, but RPG's mostly bore me these days.
Too repedative.
Fight, Level, Fight, Level ect.

"The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a title many people now deem as more of an adventure than a true RPG."

Nothing recent about it.
Zelda's never been an RPG. (well, maybe Zelda 2 on the NES)

I always prefer exploreing, puzzle solving and a little stealth too stat-based level-fests.
(even really good ones like Tales of Symphonia or Golden Sun...its the puzzle elements I like in those games).

RPG's to their credit normaly have deeper storys then most games. (even those with cliche settings).

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Oh cool preview. I don't like the idea of a dungeon crawler though...

Thanks folks. Thought it best to give people the complete background check on this game since it's not a brand new product.

The thing that gives me hope is that Sting's latest efforts, Riviera and Yggdra Union, have been very good indeed...so I have hope for the Wii version.

Darkflame, I agree that some dungeon crawlers can be boring, but I did enjoy Children of Mana and am really looking forward to both Shiren the Wanderer (DS, Sega) and Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon (Wii, Square Enix). However, both of those look very different in style to this. It seems this gives players a lot more motion and freedom when attacking...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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I couldn't agree more that the Wii is sorely lacking RPGs. I'm looking forward to this game very much.

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