Kartia Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Good
   Kartia is a strategy RPG, and in general, I like traditional RPGs a lot 
more than strategy RPGs.  Traditional RPGs place the emphasis where it 
belongs (on the story line) while also having  a decent amount of battles 
and exploration, while strategy RPGs are often about little more than 
running around getting in battles, tediously building up your characters' 
experience levels for hours on end.  So needless to say, when I first 
started playing Kartia, I wasn't too thrilled at the prospect of sitting 
down and getting in battle after battle for the whole entire game.  
Fortunately, the battles are so well-designed and the plot is so good, that
all these doubts went out the window and I was having a good time faster 
than you can say "Methoosala."
   First of all, as far as I got in the game (and I got fairly far), it is 
completely, 100% linear.  After choosing to play as one of two characters 
(each of whom has a different story line which meet each other at various 
points in the game), you will find that the gameplay structure is identical
in every single part of the game (or "Episode").  There are some non-
interactive story line sequences, then you fight a big battle, then there 
are more story line sequences, and then it's on to the next Episode, where 
the process is repeated.  Surprisingly, the game's complete linearity 
didn't bother me at all because the game is so tight, so focused, and so 
   The battles are interesting to say the least.  In addition to the main 
characters in the game, you can create a set number of Phantoms in each 
battle, which are generic monsters which will fight for you until the 
battle is over or they are killed.  Also, there are three different kinds 
of Phantoms, which are play-balanced using a Paper, Rock, Scissor-type 
system.  Rather than just attacking anything in sight, it's important to 
attack the right enemies with the right Phantoms, or you will face the 
consequences.  Also, if you get a friend to bring over his memory card, you
can battle his party in a two-player duel, and even trade items with him or
her if you choose.
   Kartia's story line is very good, but it's not at the epic level of 
Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, or Wild Arms.  Those who usually skim 
through the text in RPGs quickly just trying to pick up the major points 
will find themselves lost in a hurry.  You really have to pay attention to 
catch everything that's going on, both during conversations between 
characters and when a character is thinking to himself.  Elsewhere, the 
battles can last a while, but the game engine itself is very quick and 
painless.  There is no running around building up your experience levels at
all, and there is almost no load time to speak of.  Some of the story line 
sequences are pretty long, but they are well worth the time to get every 
juicy line of dialogue.  Also, the music is outstanding, and the graphics 
are good, but not amazing.
   Only a few flaws prevented me from giving this game the "Awesome" rating
it came oh so close to reaching.  The entire game has a sort of 
unspectacular feel to it, from the good-but-not-great graphics, to the 
great-but-not-that-great plot.  And as clever as the design is behind the 
battles, there are still some major issues that should have been worked out
regarding balance.  All of the characters only have 100 hit points, and 
sometimes all it takes is two spells in a row by the enemy and one of your 
characters could be dead before you even had a chance to heal.  And if 
anybody in your party dies (besides the Phantoms), you have to start all 
the way over from the last place you saved.  It's a little hard to justify 
having to start the battle all the way over from the beginning when you've 
got the enemy down to nothing but one more unit and that one unit kills one
of your characters.  There's no reason why you can't spend a turn to revive
your fallen party member, and I would even settle for having them 
un-revivable for the rest of the battle.  But when one insignificant, 
un-defendable death makes me start the battle all over again, that's not 
challenge, that's just poor design.
   Flaws aside, Kartia is still a very good strategy RPG that every role-
play-gamer should at least rent.

Back To Reviews


© 2001 ivan@mastergamer.com