Destiny Links (Nintendo DS) Review

By Shane Jury 04.07.2010 1

Review for Destiny Links on Nintendo DS

Over its six year reign as a sales monstrosity, the DS has played host to more role playing games than any other handheld, or even possibly home consoles, has seen in the same lifespan. Granted, a large number of these are Japanese RPGs, like Soma Bringer and the trilogy of Tales Of games, and some have been neglected for a translation and release overseas, so DS owners may have never seen some of the finer points of the system's catalogue. Thankfully though, Nintendo’s DS is region free - when not taking locked DSi-enhanced / exclusive cartridges into account at least - so importing is a highly viable option to get hold of these games. Chances are that if you were to for a foreign RPG you'd gone for a larger publisher, so one of the first you might consider picking up is Destiny Links, from development studio Bec and publisher Namco-Bandai. Should we be lamenting the lack of a European or US version for this game?

Destiny Links is primarily action based, and features a narrative full of islands and pirates. Initial reaction to seeing this game may give the impression of a title similar to Secret of Mana, as the two are quite similar in looks and music style. A better comparison, for gameplay at least, would be an offline Monster Hunter. To start off with, you’re asked to create and name your avatar character based on one of eight portraits, ranging from a young musical shipman, to wise sages and pirate captains, and each has a number of different colours to choose from. This is purely an aesthetic choice; each caricature starts off with varying stats and different weapons, but all of them can equip the same items at any point, so any decision isn’t vital to the rest of the game.

Once that’s done, you’ll see your character on a ship, as part of a crew heading for Amasia Island. The story goes that you have been sent there by a royal government to investigate its sudden appearance, as it was believed to be a fairy tale, referred to in those stories as Clockwork Dream Island. Once there, you have to help out the villagers you meet, and subsequently investigate the strange ruins on that island, and the many islands that surround it. This is where the main gameplay, in all its mission-based structure, lies.

Screenshot for Destiny Links on Nintendo DS

Each island has three safe zones; the area that your ship is docked in, the place where the tradesman ship rests, and the local village. Each village has a number of residents waiting to ask for your help, usually to find X number of items, or kill Y number of enemies. Past each village are a number of connected areas where these missions are taken care of - dungeons or levels if you will - and it is here that your reactions and weapon skills are put to the test.

The trademan ships provide the means to customize and alter your weaponry, for both a strong offense, and a tough defence. It isn’t just about handing over a few coins however, as you’ll need materials from monsters you’ve defeated in the dungeons to customise them, and money can only be obtained in two ways; from beating missions, or selling back weapons (often at around 2.5x the price you paid; the game takes into account the materials used to create your weapons, which are often difficult to come across, to give the selling price). As such, there is plenty of room for experimentation with different weapons and defensive bands and necklaces, which is handy considering how much time you’ll be spending fighting monsters.

Screenshot for Destiny Links on Nintendo DS

Destiny Links is primarily button controlled, with the touch-screen used instead for displaying a map, and checking up on current mission objectives with a quick tap. A and B are your main attack buttons that differentiate in power and recharge time depending on your weapon. Y lets you select one of your healing or digging items to use, in restoring wounds, or finding more synthesis parts in shiny sections of ground. The X Button is a fallback for when you’re in a tight spot, as an assist character pops up to help, provided you have a sufficient amount to pay them. These controls feel fluid and reliable, and despite how easy it is for enemies to get a cheap shot in at you, eight-way movement ensures it is always possible to avoid potential hits.

Missions vary with each one assigned, although most follow a set requirement; battle through the creatures in each island’s area, and reach the boss creature at the end (after completing a set number of tasks). As such, unless you experiment with equip items, weapon synthesis, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the weaknesses of enemies that result in double the number of dropped items, you may quickly grow bored with the structure of the game; it can become quite repetitive.

Of course, one of the Destiny Links’ largest obstacles in regards to potential importing is its native language. It poses a challenge as, not only is it in Japanese to begin with, the game uses a mixture of all three Japanese writing systems; the two kanas (hiragana and katakana), and kanji. On the whole, one would assume that a game based on pages upon pages of text for giving out missions would be almost impossible to get on with should you not understand them, and in a way they are right, though the game does compensate in a way. Numbers are immediately visible in all conversations, and all new topics of conversation are highlighted in blue, so finding, accepting and finishing missions isn’t at all difficult. A lot of the plot, and details of how new ship recruits can help you, will most likely go over your head, but the game is fully playable, give or take a few ‘where do I go from here?’ parts you’ll run into.

Screenshot for Destiny Links on Nintendo DS

Upon its announcement, one of the key features of Destiny Links that Namco-Bandai made a big fuss of was its Wi-Fi connectivity. More limited than initially believed, it is nonetheless a highly useful feature of the game, wherein you can gain your friend’s customised character as an X assist, complete with all the stats he or she has up to that point. You can also visit their ship for supplies, send messages, and trade statistics and data; all in all a helpful addition to gameplay, both to wane off the repetitiveness of the main mode, and extend longevity.

Owing to the vast number of missions to complete, numerous islands to visit, lots of items to customise, and ship personnel to recruit, Destiny Links will last any player quite a while should they choose to aim for 100% completion. The language barrier will definitely be an issue for some, but here is a game that, in attempting to be user-friendly, subverts the problem to a degree. Due to that, coupled with enjoyable if slightly repetitious gameplay, lush visuals, and catchy music, Destiny Links is a worthy candidate for an import.

Screenshot for Destiny Links on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

An unfortunate casualty of Namco-Bandai’s refusal to translate some of their biggest Handheld projects, Destiny Links is still fun to play even in its native language. It's by no means a perfect game, but on a system that pioneers new experiences and fresh takes on older styles of gameplay, Destiny Links wouldn’t work nearly as well on any other platform. As a potential start to a DS enthusiast’s import library, this is as good a place to begin.

Developer

BEC

Publisher

Namco Bandai

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

I've sampled this and really enjoyed the first part that I played. It's a shame no Third Party publishers have bothered to twist Bandai Namco's arm to get hold of this and Hottorake - two very good RPGs stuck in Japan Smilie

Thanks for the review, Shane Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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