03-13-2011, 03:35 AM
So... Agent0042 plays and, on the whole, enjoys a video game that isn't part of the Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts series. I bought this when I got my PlayStation 3 and I'm currently in the fourth chapter of the game.

For those that don't know, the main character of the game is the 1800s classical music composer Frederic Chopin and the concept is that everything that's happening in the world that you explore in the game is Chopin's dream. Frederic Chopin is a playable character, who participates in the battles and in-between each chapter is an interlude in which you hear actual music composed by Frederic Chopin and learn about his life.

While the game has its problems, it has a lot of charm to it as well. The music, as you might expect, is amazing, both the Chopin compositions and the original themes composed for the game. Graphically, the game feels to me very much Final Fantasy IX, though with PlayStation 3 / HD quality. The storyline isn't the greatest I've ever come across, though it has its moments and I'm certainly curious to see where it goes from what I've played.

The battle system isn't like anything I've played before. It's a combination of turn-based and real-time. What happens is, you switch from turn-to-turn, but within a characters' turn, you act in real-time and try to get in as many moves as possible. The only thing, I can't quite seem to figure out a pattern to it, if there is one. Sometimes it will simply switch from one characters' turn to another, seemingly with no reason. And by the time you realize that it's switched, you've already wasted part of a turn. Plus, unless your character is using a ranged weapon, you have to be right up against your target in order to attack, and it can sometimes be hard to tell, so you'll blow time flailing at nothing. When the battle system works, it's great, but there are times when it can be very frustrating.

Oh, and my current avatar is a character from Eternal Sonata.

03-13-2011, 12:38 PM
Are you playing it on 360 or PS3?

This is probably the game that choice of system matters the most for. The PS3 version has a radically different ending, and certain NPCs survive much longer than they do in the 360 version. Then again, the 360 version has Achievements, whilst the PS3 version has no trophies!

If you have got the 360 version, I'd urge you to check out the PS3 one as well, if you can. It's not a question of better running of the game - the fact is, it just has a different last third of the game! The writers basically were unhappy with it, and rewrote big chunks of the game for the PS3 version.

Eternal Sonata is an awesome game - its my favourite JRPG of this gen.

03-13-2011, 05:56 PM
I'm playing the PlayStation 3 version, and yeah, I did notice that it has no trophies. It does appear that it's a fairly early PlayStation 3 title, so I just assumed that was the reason for that. Glad to know that I go the better version in terms of plot, though.

Seeing as you've played it apparently, do you know anything that I could be doing better with the battle system? I just don't get why sometimes you'll be right in the middle of one turn and then *bam*, it's another characters' turn, or worse, the enemies'.

03-13-2011, 07:20 PM
Wait. The two systems have different endings? Add some spoiler tags but could you elaborate on that? I beat this game on 360 and would mostly agree with what Agent said. However, I thought the final couple chapters were rushed and the ending was kind of thrown together. The whole southern accent elf kind of irked me too.

03-13-2011, 09:21 PM
"South accent elf," :D I assume you're referring to Salsa? Little punk, isn't she? Though I do like using her in battle.

Oh, and one other annoyance about this game. There's a disturbing lack of enemy variety. Each area seems to have two, maybe three different types of enemies. Like, there's an area that's a pirate ship and all of the enemies are takes on the same basic pirate sprite. Now, if I'm on a pirate ship, I would expect there to be pirates, but there could have also been some variety. I dunno, maybe some reanimated skeletons, or wandering sea creatures that infested the ship, just something. If the whole thing is Chopin's dream, then he had a definite lack of imagination when it came to fascinating monsters.

03-13-2011, 11:53 PM
Haha. Totally. That kind of irked me too. I think I've accepted that aspect of RPGs though, due to the different color palette/same sprite enemies that older generation RPGs used. But, considering this is the 360/PS3, I was kind of hoping for a little variety.

03-14-2011, 01:29 AM
I have the soundtrack, and it's amazing. don't have the game though... trying to find it for the 360.

03-14-2011, 01:48 AM
You have the soundtrack? How much did that set you back? I looked it up on Amazon yesterday and the cheapest copy was $93.19 used. I'm looking now, though, and I do see better prices on eBay.

03-14-2011, 05:36 AM
i own the soundtrack too, who said anything about buying?

but yeah, i like this game a lot.. it has a certain magic that i cant quite put my finger on it.
maybe its the beautiful yet cartoony graphics.
like, its celshade and at the same time it isnt.

03-14-2011, 06:10 AM
There are more enemies than it first seems in each area though, aren't there? Because many enemies mutate when they move into Light/Dark areas, powering up or powering down depending on the enemy. And the EXP you gain is dependant on what the enemy is when you kill it.

For example, in Mt Rock, you face L'Opera Standard Bearers, who transform into the incredibly deadly 'LOpera General when they move into the light. The difference in quality is enormous. It isn't just a change of name either - the enemies actually transform into something else.

Knowing how to manages Light and Dark areas of the map is key to success in this game. Sometimes, it's better to lure enemies into an area of map where they turn into something less powerful. But for levelling up, you'll want to make sure they stay in their powerful forms.

I'm not sure why your charaters are flipping over their turns like that. Did you spot that as your Party Level goes up, the game slowly kicks off the training wheels?

I.e at first, you basically have unlimited time to move and attack with each character. But as your party level goes up, it changes so when you are actually moving, a timer counts down. Let that run out, and your character's turn will end. Later still, the timer kicks in straight away.

You can set the Party level back to get your unlimited time, but you can't use some of the special moves if you do that. Towards the end of the game, the Party Level increases become less useful, putting increasingly steep demands on you for little extra reward. Just experiment and go with what works for you.

Character wise, I'd reccomend you include Viola in any team you make. Her bow might seem awkward to use at first, but if you practise a bit, you'll see that she does outrageous damage with it. JUst remember that the bow is less effective at short range - try and get a fair distance away.

As with any game like this, its a smart decision to have 2 front line fighters to tie up bunches of enemies, and one person to stay back and blast away/heal etc. That way, you can't get wiped out by one deadly move as well.

And hey, don't diss Salsa - she's great! The look of resignation on Beat's face whenever she has a go at him is priceless.

03-14-2011, 07:10 AM
Yeah, I did notice the changing enemy types, but I didn't realize that the light and dark areas affect the morphing. Excellent tip. And also that the game "kicks off the training wheels," but I still don't understand why that would cause the turns to keep switching. As for including Viola in any team that I make, I'll keep that in mind, but currently I'm not at a point where she's even around.

You can set the Party level back to get your unlimited time, but you can't use some of the special moves if you do that. Towards the end of the game, the Party Level increases become less useful, putting increasingly steep demands on you for little extra reward. Just experiment and go with what works for you.
Is this an XBox 360 only feature? My Party level is fixed - it will not let me change it.

03-15-2011, 07:14 AM
I played it on PS3 the last time I played, and Party Level can be set to any level that you have unlocked.

Just so we're clear, Party Level is an actual feature. I'm not talking about character levels - there's a feature called Party Level, which governs how the timer and the special moves work). It's all in the manual and the help sections of the tab, so if this is news to you, it's easy to check it out.

I'm only speculating about this, but the Party Level is the only reason I can think of why your characters would be flipping over. Characters only end their turn when their timer runs out.

There should be a timer on the left hand side of the battle screen. That is the timer for each character's turn. On lower levels, it only decreases when you are actually attacking. Later, it decreses any time your characters are moving and attacking, but stops if you stop moving and acting. The next Party Level after that, means that is that it only starts decreasing after your first move, but can't be stopped.

And then the Party Levels after that just have the timer kick in straight away. Basically, the game gives you lots of time to look around the battle field and work out what you want to do early on in the game. Later on, when you know how the game works, it takes that thinking time away, gives you some special moves to make up for it, and pushes you straight into battle each time.

03-15-2011, 06:03 PM
Vrykolas, I do know what the Party Level is, it's just that it won't let me reset it. I just checked and according to this (, you're not allowed to reset it unless you're playing Encore Mode, which is the game's New Game Plus feature.

Characters only end their turn when their timer runs out.
I wish it were so, but that's not what I'm experiencing. Like I said, I'll be right in the middle of a turn, as directed by the timer on the left hand side that you indicated, and then it'll just switch to another character without warning.

Would it be helpful if I could provide a video?

03-16-2011, 12:43 AM
to your question where I got the soundtrack: why, my boy, I got it for free.

03-16-2011, 12:56 AM
Heh. Sorry. I guess I didn't realize that these days that saying one "has" the soundtrack of something is synonymous with saying "I downloaded the MP3s of it."

03-16-2011, 05:19 AM
Well, in that case, its got me - I don't know what the hell's going on!

A video would only really be helpful, if a seperate camera was trained on your hands at all times. Because I suppose we should at least consider that you are subconsciously tapping the change character buttons, and not realising you're doing it.

Its pretty unlikely that this is happening, but it is possible. I just can't think of any other reasons, other than that the game is simply defective. Because this absolutely should not be happening.

Sorry I can't be of more help, but I've run out of suggestions!

03-16-2011, 05:28 AM
Vrykolas - no need for a separate camera. I can record directly from the feed to a DVD - without the need for a camera.

As for subconsciously tapping the change character buttons - erm... what change character buttons? Is this just something that I'm missing again? I don't know of there being any change character function - nor do I see any reference to it in the manual.

In any case, I will definitely get you that video ASAP - sometime within the next couple days.

03-16-2011, 05:39 AM
Press L3.

It's not a character change as such, but if you click L3, you skip a character's action (but you can't choose who to go to next or anything).

So you might be clicking L3 by mistake, when you're moving the characters around? If its not that, then I'm officially stumped.

03-16-2011, 06:24 AM
I did notice just now that the problem only seems to happen while my characters are in motion. I think that's exactly it - I must accidentally be hitting L3 while moving my characters. Well... that's annoying. I guess I'm just going to have to be careful not to press too hard while moving my characters. Or maybe not-- I seem to recall there being an option to edit the controls. I think I'll check and see if I can assign that to something else. Preferably something that I would never hit by mistake...

Edit: You can only reassign the attack button. Ah well, whatever. I'll just try to be more careful.

03-16-2011, 06:12 PM
Heh. Sorry. I guess I didn't realize that these days that saying one "has" the soundtrack of something is synonymous with saying "I downloaded the MP3s of it."

I'm quite sure that if I found the soundtrack somewhere for cheap, I'd definitely buy it. but for now... mp3 it is.

03-16-2011, 09:18 PM
Agent. That's exactly your problem. Even 50 hours into the game sometimes I accidentally click in the movement stick and my character's turn will end out of nowhere. Kind of a stupid design flaw, considering there are plenty of other buttons that could've been used for. Or just kicked character skip entirely. I mean I never purposefully skipped a characters turn. And if I wanted to, I could simply let the time run down. It's only like 5 seconds.

03-30-2011, 12:54 PM
Eternal Sonata is amazing! I spent most of last year playing it. Unfortunately after beating it, I haven't gone back and done the extra stuff.

Alegretto and Jazz <3

03-30-2011, 04:43 PM
I finished it last night! What an ending, eh? A real mindfuck - I don't know how else to describe it. But excellent. (And long too.) I don't have any other pressing gaming concerns at the moment, so I definitely plan to get started on the extra stuff.

I'm also planning to do a full review of the game soon. I promised it to another message board, and I'll post a copy of it here too, though some of it will rehash stuff that's already been discussed in this thread.

03-31-2011, 03:11 AM
They were saying they might release some DLC to put Trophies in the PS3 version. Did they ever get round to it?

Because that's all the excuse I'd need to get right back to playing this game again. I maxed my party at lvl 99 last time, did all the secrets, but I still find myself wanting to do more!

03-31-2011, 04:09 AM
Well, like you said, apparently they were talking about it, but it seems it never happened. What a shame. Still, I suppose we can count ourselves as lucky to have the PS3 version - I was just reading over the details on the changes that were made and indeed, some of them really are quite significant. I'll definitely take those changes over having a version that has something like Achievements/Trophies.

03-31-2011, 04:27 AM
It just bugs me when games that I really like, don't have Trophies (Valkyria Chronicles for example). I just feel like 'What was the reason to not have them'. I mean what possible harm could they do?

But yeah, at least the game came out and with plenty of extra content too. Now if they'd just release 'Tales of Vesperia' for the PS3 over here with its extra content, we'd really be getting somewhere.

The ending of Eternal Sonata is really good, as you say. I particularly liked that bit where the characters speak lines from the game against a black backdrop. That bit is really quite eerie, because they deliver the lines straight, so you understand how important lots of apparently off the cuff lines of dialogue were to the story.

JRPGs have had it rough this gen, but ES was a fine, fine game.

03-31-2011, 04:56 AM
I don't have XBOXLive - yet - but, I was wondering... on there, when you're awarded trophies for, say, Red Dead Redemption, can you win video games, or money, or whatever?

03-31-2011, 05:14 AM
Vrykolas - I could be wrong, but my understanding was that the reason it didn't have them was because it was a "launch" title for the PS3 and at the time it was released, the Trophy system hadn't actually been established yet.

03-31-2011, 07:53 AM
I don't have XBOXLive - yet - but, I was wondering... on there, when you're awarded trophies for, say, Red Dead Redemption, can you win video games, or money, or whatever?

No. The Achievement System is basically bragging rights between you and your friends.

03-31-2011, 06:57 PM
The best thing about Trophies is that they add to a game's replay value. A lot of games are so easy, you just find something that works, then rinse and repeat for the whole thing until you complete it. Trophies/Achievements often give you an incentive to explore all of what the game has to offer.

03-31-2011, 11:47 PM
No. The Achievement System is basically bragging rights between you and your friends.
ugh... that's kinda dumb, IMO. you should at least win something real... like, I dunno, a free sub from Subway or some shit.

04-01-2011, 01:44 AM
The rate at which gamers acquire these things, that'd be a hell of a lot of freebies to give away! Still, it'd be pretty cool if you finished a game and the console printed you out a tenner...

Seriously, Trophies and Achievements are surprisingly addictive. They don't cost you any money with their inclusion, and the extra hours they add to a game's life are very welcome in this age of really short games.

Besides, the 'Achievement Unlocked' sound on the 360 is one of the defining features of this gen, IMO.

04-01-2011, 11:55 PM
I suppose...

04-02-2011, 04:53 AM
In any case, it's the same with PlayStation 3's Trophy system as it with XBox's 360's Achievements system - it's purely for brags. Though I think that getting Trophies on PlayStation 3 also raises your "level" (not sure if that's true for XBox 360) also, which is also for bragging rights.

Oh, and PS3 trophies are grouped into Bronze, Silver and Gold, though again, I don't know if XBox 360 has something similar.

P.S.: ROTFL at the mail carrier who lost Viola's three letters. I spent about 10-15 minutes looking around for the lost letters until I realized that it was, in fact, referring to the three pieces of paper that you had to feed to the goats. Good gag, though, once I recognized it for what it was.

04-05-2011, 12:09 AM
It is essentially the same. The main diffeence is Gamerscore. Each unlocked Achievement adds a certain amount of Gamerscore to your total. This amount is supposed to be appropriate to how difficult the Achievement in question is. In practice though, it often feels a bit arbitrary.

Some tasks (particularly in JRPGs) are incredibly hard, simply because of the time and exhaustive seaches of the game world that are needed (Find every item in the game, open every single treasure chest etc), and hardly ever give an amount of GS that comes close to being adequate reward for your pain and suffering.

Anyway, the GS points from all your games add together to give you your career Gamerscore. Some people try to get this as high as possible, by buying (or renting) terrible games, just to get all the Achievements. That's the Dark Side of Achievement gathering to some. I don't see the point myself, but if these people really want to waste even just a couple of bucks on games like 'Legendary', then that's their business.

On the PS3, the closest equivalent would be comparing how many Platinum Trophies you have (Each game has only 1 Platinum Trophy, awarded when you have unlocked all the other Trophies in the game).

There is fun to be had though, and like I say, it extends the life of your games greatly in some cases. Its been my experience that they work better on action games, though. RPGs (hopefully at least) already have good replay value and/or incentives enough to explore and find everything.

04-05-2011, 12:23 AM
Final Fantasy XIII's best Trophy seems to be pretty madness - you have to acquire every type of item within the game, including all types of weapons, etc.

04-05-2011, 12:40 AM
You only need 1 of each character's Ultimate weapons, but yeah, that is a seriously crazy one. The only saving grace is that you don't need to have all the items at the same time - you just need to have owned them at some stage, even if you later sold them or whatever.

But still, it's a punishing task. It also means you have to defeat pretty much every enemy and every secret boss in the game. Because many of them (including the last of the hunting marks, the toughest enemy in the game) have unique items.

Another crazy Achievement is 'L'Cie Paragon', which requires you to get a 5 star rating against all 64 or so of the hunting Mark bosses.

04-05-2011, 01:19 AM
Yeah, that's a pretty tough one, though it's not nearly as difficult as the getting all items. And beating the toughest boss gets you an accessory that extends the time allowed to get a five-star.

Getting back to Eternal Sonata, one thing I really like about it is that it allows you to easily access all of the music in the game from the menu. For a game that's so heavily based on music (and which has such excellent music) that's a a great feature to have. And the music in the game really is excellent, and not just the Chopin pieces. The battle themes are particularly catchy, particularly "Your Truth is My Lie / Your Truth is My False" and there are a lot of great location themes as well. The ending themes "Heaven's Mirror" and "Shape of Life" are also beautiful.

04-05-2011, 02:32 AM
Question; Do you play Eternal Sonata with English or Japanese dub? I found the Japanese to be better, but that's just my opinion.

04-05-2011, 02:42 AM
With the English one, though now that I've played through once, I may give the Japanese a listen at times, just to see what it sounds like. I have seen it said on other boards that people generally find the Japanese vocals to be better. I don't know very much Japanese though, and I've never gotten much enjoyment out of listening to things in languages that I don't understand, though since the game has subtitles too, it may be worth a try.

Oh, and Byrd, I believe you wanted more details about the differences between the two versions of the game. Well, I've been doing a bit of reading up on it and, apparently, In the XBox version, Count Waltz dies after your first battle with him and Legato chooses to drink the enhanced mineral powder. In the PS3 version, Count Waltz does not die and he orders Legato to drink the mineral powder. He then joins Legato for the penultimate battle and gives the usual villainous speech to the party about how he doesn't want to be forgotten, wants power, blah blah blah. Other differences I know of - there is a segment in the PS3 version in which the party explores an enchanted mirror in Baroque Castle that is not in the XBox version at all. Also, in the Double Reed Tower, there is a scene in which "explains the emotional significance of his camera, it being a cherished possession left to him by his father...and Allegretto immediately teases him about it, makes him cry and run away, and acts like it was no big deal that he just dismissed an important part of Beat's life. When Polka explains what Beat was feeling, Allegretto pretty much dismisses her too, though marginally less blatantly, since he likes her." This scene does not occur in the PS3 version. And speaking of Allegretto, the scene in which Allegretto meets with Polka before everyone goes to Baroque is a lot different, and depicts him as much less of a jerk.

PS3/360 Story Differences - Eternal Sonata Message Board for Xbox 360 - GameFAQs ( - this here has a good summary of story differences between the two versions.

04-15-2011, 04:22 AM
All right, I've been working on this on and off for a few days now, and I'm at least reasonably satisfied with it, though I probably said a bit more than I needed to (my reviews aren't usually quite so lengthy.) Nevertheless, here goes...

(Eternal Sonata is available for both XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. Note that Frederic Chopin isn't even featured on the cover of the XBox 360 version, which hints at just how different the two are.)

"Frederic, you said before that this whole world is all just a dream you're having, right? But if you're in your own dream, how can you be so completely positive that what's happening is only a dream. And if what you're experiencing in the dream is so realistic to you, how you can even tell what's actually the real world? And to prove my point, you didn't read my mind earlier. You were wrong. I was thinking about leaving Tenuto. I want to go out into the world and live my own life, even if it only exists inside your dream. I don't know how much time I have left to live, but I want to live what's left of my life in a positive way, bringing happiness to others. I just want to help people somehow." - Polka - Eternal Sonata

(A field of flowers that absorb sunlight during the day and then bloom only at night - do you choose to call them "Death Lights" or "Heaven's Mirror"?)

Eternal Sonata is a Japanese RPG released in 2007, originally known by the title Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream The game was originally released for the XBox 360 console, but was issued for the PlayStation 3 about a year later with a significant amount of additional content and two additional characters made playable.

As the game opens, famed Polish composer Fr�d�ric Fran�ois Chopin lies in bed, seriously ill, attended by his older sister, mother and personal physician. As he lies there, he has a strange dream, one which seems to mirror the events of his life... At first, Chopin does not find himself much invested, believing it to be only a dream. However, as the story continues, the line between dream and reality begins to blur...

Fitting with the theme of the story reflecting the life of Frederic Chopin and being Chopin's dream, all of the characters and locations are named after various music terms. For example, names of characters include Jazz, Crescendo and Viola, while locations include the Sharp Mountains, Forte and Ritardando.

Regarding the characters, for the most part, everyone that's playable has something important to contribute to the story. Except for that one character, each character has their own role to play and each contributes something important to the story and the game would have been less without them. While Frederic Chopin is key to the story, he is rarely (perhaps never?) your avatar that navigate in the field. That role usually goes to either Allegretto, or Polka if Allegretto isn't in the party at the time.

(A young Polka holds hands with her mother, who knows, even now, that her daughter will face great difficulties and challenges in life.)

Both of these characters are able to use "magic," which for them, isn't such a good thing. In this world, anyone who can use magic also has a vaguely-defined incurable illness that is always fatal. Because of this, Polka has been shunned because people fear that they will catch her illness - a baseless fear, as the illness isn't contagious. The game, for some reason, is rather unclear as to exactly what this "magic" is. In Polka's case, it seems to be the ability to heal others, but here's the thing - all of the characters possess abilities in battle that seem to have magical effects - such as being able to heal others, enchant their attacks with elemental powers, or other such things that theoretically wouldn't be possible without magic powers. What's more, every character possesses a stat called "Mag" that increases each time you level up. It's true that for Chopin and Polka, it seems to be much higher than that of the other characters, but still, if they were truly the only ones that could use magic, than none of the others should have it.

If you read other reviews of this game, you may see a fair few complaints about the story. It's true that as far as RPGs go, some elements are rather generic. The themes are the sort of thing you would expect - revolution against a hostile force, trying to make something of one's life, taking responsibility for one's actions, etc. etc. In fact, certain lines and aspects feel feel very Kingdom Hearts in nature - such as a reference to character having a "jewel in her heart that shines brighter than any other." However, what's important to note is that much of what you see and hear within the game is symbolism, based on the events of Frederic Chopin's life. What's more, there are quite a few character-based moments that are definitely entertaining. If the game gets people to think, then I think that it is worth the time and money. Even more so, if they really learn something both about Frederic Chopin and the history of the early 1800s, or even better if their experience playing the game encourages them to seek out additional information.

Of particular interest - this is one game where your choice of console makes quite a bit of difference. The game was originally released for XBox 360, but if you have both that and a PlayStation 3, there's only one real reason why you might consider playing on XBox 360 instead of PlayStation 3 - the Xbox 360 version makes use of the Achievements system for the XBox LIVE network, but the PlayStation 3 version doesn't have Trophies for PSN. This is, apparently, because Eternal Sonata was a "launch title" for the PS3 and it was released before the Trophy system had been developed.

Assuming that sharing your achievements within the game isn't a huge concern for you, then you're almost certainly better off playing the PlayStation 3 version, if you can get it. The Playstation 3 version includes a boatload of extras, including two characters that have been made playable that previously weren't, some entirely new locations, and new bonuses, such as the ability to dress certain characters in "costumes." But perhaps the biggest and most important changes are to the plot - apparently, it's rather like a director's cut. Entire new scenes have been added, and others have been greatly modified to either make the characters more likeable and bring understanding to them, or clarify issues related to the plot that were somewhat murky in the original XBox 360 version. Having not played the original XBox 360 version, I don't have a personal experience of the difference, but just from looking at a guide to the differences, I can tell that they're very significant - rather like the difference between watching the original Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on DVD or watching Advent Children Complete on Blu-ray.

(Visually, the battles look about the same in both versions, save the altered control scheme.)

Let's take some time to talk about the combat system. As far as normal enemy encounters go, the process is sort of like Final Fantasy XIII. In general, you'll see enemies in the field, and having an encounter with one of them takes you into a separate battle screen. Eternal Sonata, however, adds another dimension, by allowing you to control the battle conditions based on how you handle these encounters. If you just walk up to the enemy face-on, then you have a normal encounter. However, if you approach the enemy from behind, then you initiate a back-attack, which essentially means that your characters are guaranteed the first strike. (And depending on your speed, may be allowed up two turns before the enemy even has a chance to attack.) The one thing you don't want to do is allow the enemy to approach you from behind, because then they get the first strike. This has both its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, if you just have a normal encounter, you can escape from it. In fact, I've found a very valid strategy to be to escape from any normal encounter, which will then give you an opportunity to approach the enemy from the back and give you a more favorable battle condition. On the other hand, while battles are for the most part easily avoided when you don't want them, you can't run to escape on the field like you can in Final Fantasy XII. Enemies will sometimes pursue, so if you're not paying attention, you could very well end up in a back attack situation, and the game won't let you escape until one of your characters gets a turn.

Right, now to getting down to the actual battles. Once a battle is initiated, your team is taken onto a battle field containing both light and dark areas - more on those in a bit. Both characters and enemies can move about within this battlefield and are generally spaced out throughout it. The game employs both a turn-based system and real-time combat. So, as you would expect, both your characters and the enemies get turns. When one of your characters has a turn, they can either move about the battlefield, or take an action. Something that will be somewhat familiar to those who have played Final Fantasy X-2 - your characters get chain attacks. The more you attack, the higher the chain builds, in intervals of 4 up to 16, at which point you need 8 more in order to advance it to the next level of 24, and then 8 more again for the max of 32. Building this chain increases the effect when you use a characters' special ability. These special abilities generally allow the characters to either attack or heal, though they sometimes also add some sort of special effect. Believe me, you want to be using these abilities, though you have to determine the balance of how much time you want to spend powering them up, or whether you'd rather attempt to unleash multiple ones within one turn. Or even, in fact, whether you want to unleash one within a particular turn at all, because the attack chain is shared by all of your characters, and doesn't reset until one of them uses a special ability. Each character uses a different type of weapons and unlike some games, this choice actually matters. There are a variety of different weapons, ranging from the traditional swords, to Beat, who uses something like the Final Fantasy series gunblade weapons, except in his case, his weapon is a combination of a gun and hammer. He can use it as a hammer at close range, or a attack from a distance with the gun portion. Both also figure into the choices of special attacks that you get for him. There is also another character, Viola, who uses crossbows that can deliver either powerful long-range attacks, but can also be used at close-range when needed. I would like to be able to say that each character is equally useful, but with 10 playable characters (12 if you're playing on PS3), I'm afraid that this just isn't so. Some have statistics that make them obviously more powerful than others, and later in the game I found myself mostly fighting with the same party. Due to the situations of the story, though, you usually don't have the full group at your command till late, though most of the time, you do have choices. Luckily, the game only rarely forces you into situations where you have to include a particular character in your party. Admittedly, in my first playthrough (I'm currently on my second in "Encore Mode,"), I only leveled my main party to around Level 55 or so (and the others to mid-40s - characters that aren't in your battle party gain half EXP), so I didn't get the chance to explore the full range of special abilities for each character, which you gain every so often with a level up.

What's a lot different about this game from something like a Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts type game is what happens when it's an enemy's turn. In those games, you're normally either readying your next attack (or whatever other option you're taking) or doing nothing while the enemy is acting. In Eternal Sonata, it's different. Each time the enemy attacks, you have the option to Guard by hitting the circle button at the right moment. This is key, because if you successfully guard, then generally you limit the damage to taken by at least half and sometimes quite a bit more. Also, later in the game, you're offered the option to counterattack instead by hitting X. This is very powerful because it does three things - completely negates the damage from the attack, ends the enemy's turn and allows the character that blocked the attack an extra turn (about half the time of a normal attack.) There's just one problem - which great power comes great difficulty. You see, not only is the timing generally more difficult on a counterattack, but counterattack is offered at random. Therefore, if you want try for it, you have to listen very carefully for the sound effect, and not let yourself be thrown off it doesn't appear. On the whole, it's rather tough to determine if it's actually worth it, because if you miss it, then you also miss out on the opportunity to guard, and end up getting creamed by the full power of the enemy's attack. One other thing - if the enemy approaches your character from behind, then you're not given any opportunity to guard at all, at least until you're able to turn your charcter around by using circle, and this can take some time. This can present a real problem if there's more than one enemy in the battlefield and your own characters are spread out also.

Boss fights can be challenging. One problem is that later on in the game, boss fights often seem to be more of a test of endurance than anything else. Rather than having particularly powerful or tricky attacks, the bosses instead have massive amounts of HP, so the result of the battle becomes a question of which will give out first - the enemy, or your characters and their supply of items. There is no "scan" option - the only indicator that you'll get is that the enemy will appear doubled over if they're low on HP, but even this is only of limited use, because they also appear that way if they're under some sort of negative status effect, such as poison. Oh, and it's definitely worth mentioning the game's "Party Level" system, as it changes the dynamics of the battles as you go throughout the game. When you begin the game, you start with a system where you're allowed a certain amount of "Tactical Time" (at first unlimited), where you simply sit and do nothing at the start of a characters' turn and survey the battlefield. However, you're only allowed an extremely limited number of items and no special attacks. As you move forward in the game, the Party Level increases, taking away the Tactical Time, but allowing you much more in terms of special attacks, and more items. However, items max out at 40 points, but this doesn't mean 40 items necessary. Items have a point cost, ranging from 1 point to around something like 8-10 points for the most useful items. This is something else to consider for the difficult battles, becuase you can't just rely on a large supply of items to save you. Once they're gone, they're gone for the remainder of the battle.

One other annoying thing about the battles - something I thought was a bug at first - for some reason they decided to map the option to skip a characters' turn to L3, or pushing in the left analog stick. This is something that is very easy to do by accident and I didn't even realize what was happening because until I asked about this problem online, I didn't even realize what the L3 button was, exactly. Once I found out what was going on, I started using more of a light touch when moving the characters, but even now, I sometimes still skip a characters' turn by accident.

While battles could be challenging at times, one thing that I liked was that in general I did not have to spend too much time level-grinding, at least in the intiial playthrough. Of course, since you for the most part have control over your encounters, you can choose whether to take the battles as they come, or adventure through an area, and then spend some time building your characters. There were only maybe three or four times probably that I actually felt the need to do some level-grinding before I could take on a boss battle. This was good because the game has a disappointing lack of enemy variety. In any given area, there would be two, perhaps maybe three at most different types of enemies that you could fight - for example, a pirate ship that contained two different types of pirates. Would it really have been too difficult to maybe include some mutated sea creatures or something? Oh, and I already mentioned the light and dark areas, but this was one thing that increased the variety of enemies, sort of. On occasion, you would encounter enemies that could morph between "light" and "dark" forms. When in a light area of the field, they would become a completely different creature from what they would be in the dark area, and one form was usually much tougher than the other. You could choose to either take on the tougher form, or try to force it into a different area.

(The appearance of Ritardando, a small seaside village, evokes memories of Final Fantasy IX's Alexandria Castle..)

Graphically, the game is beautiful. Unfortunately, the game does not offer you the ability to rotate the camera within the field, or in any way alter the view other than by moving around. I don't know if this is because they simply didn't develop full 3D environments, but it's something of a shame, because there were many times when I was enchanted by the graphics and wished to have a better look. Stylistically, the game appears a lot like Final Fantasy IX, except, of course, with beautiful, HD/PlayStation 3 quality graphics. Even the font that they use for the opening credits is very similar to Final Fantasy IX, as are the field icons.

Music - I think it's fair to say that a game which bases itself on the life of a classical music composer and which features said composer as a playable character would be expected to have excellent music. Eternal Sonata not only fulfills this criteria, it greatly exceeds it. The game's original music is composed by Motoi Sakuraba, whose credits include Super Smash Brothers Brawl, the Star Ocean games, and the Valkyrie Profiile series. The music works exactly as you would expect it to. The battle themes are thrilling and engaging, the location themes are well-suited to each area and there are also wonderful character themes and music for the various cutscenes. What is more, actual compositions from Frederic Chopin are featured throughout the game, played expertly by Stanislav Bunin during the scenes in which the player learns about the history of Frederic Chopin's life.

Before I wrap up, I'd like to mention some pleasant technical aspects of the game. One of them is that you are offered the option of either the English dub or the original Japanese. Personally, I don't have much interest in listening to people speak in a language I don't understand, if I can help it, but this might be worthwile for some people. A number of reviewers have commented that they feel the original Japanese vocals are greatly superior to the dub, though I didn't have any problem with the English-language voices. You also have a choice of either English or French subtitles. Another nice things is the ability to skip cutscenes, which can be quite useful at times, given the difficulty of some of the battles. One other thing - the game also allows you to access from the menu any music that you've previously heard, including battle, location and character themes, and this data carries over if you beat the game and play in "Encore Mode."

Okay, I realize that this review has been rather lengthy, so in conclusion I'll just say that if you've enjoyed Final Fantasy-type games in the past, or other games of this nature, then you'll likely enjoy Eternal Sonata. To be sure, you're unlikely to find another RPG featuring a 1800s classical music composer as a core character, nor one that would take breaks from its gameplay/story to provide you with a life history of said composer. Even if you don't have time for the game at the moment, or don't have a system to play it on, the soundtrack in itself is worth a look.

("The Shape of Life," or "The Snail and the Caterpillar")

One other thing - a sidenote - I'd like to share something, a cute little parable of sorts that was included at the end of the game called "Shape of Life." Since it doesn't have anything to do with the plot of the game itself, it doesn't spoil anything. You can find it here ( - somebody posted a script of it there. As the person who posted it mentioned, you have to have patience to see this, as it doesn't appear until after the message "Fin" appears. And here ( is the music that goes along with it.

05-03-2011, 03:32 AM
(Eternal Sonata is available for both XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. Note that Frederic Chopin isn't even featured on the cover of the XBox 360 version, which hints at just how different the two are.)

Actually, Frederic Chopin IS there, playing the piano in the middle of the image, look closely between Polka and Beat.

I just finished this game today, xbox 360 version, liked it pretty much but got a bit annoyed with the plot holes, a lot of things were left unexplained.

Per example:
In MT.Rock Jazz talks about Bass and Tenor, it's the first time he talks about them and the last, so much for character development...

I don't really get it why Polka was "destined" to die by throwing herself to the sea or why her mother knew about it.

We kind of assume that their journey was done a few times, there is a time loop since Polka always has Retto's stone and the old woman near the fortune tree remembers her. But it's never explained :(

And why did a hole to another "place/dimension" opens after Legato uses the Mineral powder, yeah I know the glowing agogo made it special, but a freaking hole in space!? When we find him he doesn't even react, we just fight him and then we can save and proceed to the next boss.

The last boss at least made sense to me! For Chopin, these character were fictional and created by him, thus representing each of his qualities/traits so if he could easly beat them then he would have weak qualities/traits. In the end, he is a strong human being with strong qualities, as long as you are able to win the battle ;)

I get the impression that due to DVD space or time they kind of rushed the last part of the game, there are a lot less voiced cut-scenes later in the game and I notice a graphical downgrade (lower quality texture and few objects to make a blunt place) on the Coda Ruins, maybe to make enough space for other parts of the game.

Any thoughts on all of those?

05-03-2011, 03:45 AM
The PS3 version has proper cutscenes before the boss fight in Double Reed Tower, explaining what is going on. If you want to know more about Tenor, just talk to people in Jazz's camp, and some of the people in the pub outside Count Walktz's castle.

ES is no different from most RPGs, in the sense that the final third of the game (roughly from after your party meet up and head through the Teleporter to those ruins leading eventually to Mt Rock, sees increasing redundancy of the more minor characters/supporting characters.

It happens in all RPGs. The closer you get to the end, the greater the focus hardens on the core characters. Anyone who has played FFVIII knows this only too well!

05-03-2011, 04:19 AM
Heh. You're right, iddalai - Chopin is there, good catch. I never would have noticed, though, if you hadn't pointed it out. Anyway, Vrykolas makes some good points, but you're right that there are some plot holes. The PS3 version really does do a much better job of explaining some of this stuff, and from what I've read of the changes, it also has some much better characterizations.

Oh, and regarding the whole hole-in-space thing and Legato not even reacting when you find him...

It's done much better in the PS3 version. Instead of Count Waltz dying and Legato drinking the mineral powder, Count Waltz doesn't die after you beat him at Mt. Rock and he orders Legato to drink the mineral powder. Then, later on, you fight them both at the Double Reed Tower and Count Waltz gives a villainous speech about how he wants to live forever.

Another thing that's apparently changed is that in the XBox 360 version, Polka pulls a bad fortune off the Cello Tree, just as the woman predicted. In the PS3 version, she draws a blank fortune, which I guess is intended to show that the future isn't fixed in stone.

05-03-2011, 12:37 PM
That does make more sense, but I still can't help thinking that the original concept for the last boss was originally different, and that they only changed it on the PS3 version based on the fans complains (which is good, since it means someone is paying attention).

Vrykolas, just because it's done on most RPGs it doesn't mean it's right :) They should explain each character throughout the game and not burst out a lot of information right before the end (even though they do it all the time). I get a feeling that these RPGs are borrowing to much to the Deus Ex Machina plot device (this is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object), not ES specifically since these last hour news flash events don't really help solve anything on the game's plot.

But I still loved ES! Great game.

05-03-2011, 11:48 PM
That's a little harsh though, seeing as how Tenor isn't even in the game at all! He's a character from Jazz's backstory, and an inspirational figure to the rebel movement. But he's already dead when the game begins (and Jazz himself is a secondary character), so any relevance Tenor has, no matter how interesting he is, is purely as a figurehead.

And I think you have to be reasonable about these things. RPGs already cost a lot of money to make, particularly now that voice acting is required. But even before that, it was an accepted fact that these games would have 'Command Staff' party members (who are fundamental to the main plot), and secondary characters (included to add colour and flesh out the game world, plus provide the gamer with more choice).

It happens in WRPGs and JRPGs. You can usually construct your party however you like, but certain characters will perform the bulk of the main plot duties (even if you don't use them, such characters usually do all the talking in cutscenes etc). Because they are more intimately tied to the main plot.

So in FF7 for example, your command staff would be Cloud, Tifa, Aeris, Barret, with everyone else being to a greater or lesser degree, supporting characters.
In Mass Effect 2, it would be Shepard, Miranda, Jacob, Joker and TIM, with a significant supporting role for Mordin, and everyone else as supporting characters.

In Eternal Sonata, the command staff is Allegretto, Beat, Polka and Chopin. Other characters may get signficant sections where they help out, but the story always returns to focus on these core characters at the crunch moments.

It simply isn't ever going to be feasible to have every party member on the A list, whether your party is 6 people or 60 people. Because telling a truly absorbing and well developed story for even one character, making sure they have lots to do and say, giving them enemies of their own to contest against etc, is a huge undertaking.

There's only so many big dramatic scenes of true importance to the plot to go round. Its only natural that the command staff characters end up getting the lion's share of those scenes.

05-04-2011, 02:00 AM
Yes! Tenor is not in the game at all!! Should Tenor be in the game it would make sense for Jazz to talk about it. It may also be my memory acting up, when do they talk about Tenor in Andantino? I talked with everyone the first time I visited, but I can't recall if they talked about Tenor then...

I understand that not all characters can have a deep and explained background or motivations (we know almost nothing about Viola per example).

But the thing with Tenor and Legato ticket me off, it's just me so don't bother with it too much. It's what I feel.

There are a lot of games that fail drastically in plot issues way worst then what I whined about ES.

For me, it's the only thing that stands between ES and one of the greatest games I've ever played.

It's a business, a lot of stuff get's rushed or cut because they want to make the best available product with the minimum production time (and sometimes quality), so gems like ES are quite welcome.

As for FF7, all characters had some kind of background and a clear motivation, they didn't mention characters that weren't in the game, and you had an event for each character related with their backgrounds (this doesn't mean that the story was perfect, but on that subject it was pretty much covered). I'm just saying... :)

05-04-2011, 02:25 AM
Yeah, Eternal Sonata does have some faults when it comes to plot, no doubt about that. For me, it's really more certain other issues that keep me from enjoying it as much as I should. For example, something that I forgot to mention in the review - the complete lack of any sort of map or even an on-screen mini-map to help you keep track of where you were going. You pretty much had to guide yourself by memory and what enemies you had already defeated or passed. Most of the time, this wasn't too rough, but there were definitely some times when I got pretty mixed up. Also, while this may be one of the things that was mentioned before related to the budget, the general lack of variety in the types of enemies you fought on the field really did bug me. They could have done better than two or three different types of enemies at most in each area. And even as you went on, a lot of those were just palette swaps essentially of the ones you had fought even earlier in the game.

Anyway, as far as Tenor goes, the reason that he talked about him was really to give a bit more of his own history. Tenor couldn't be in the game because, if I'm not mistaken, he's dead - killed by Forte. Not sure of the exact details, though, my memory's a bit hazy on that point.

05-04-2011, 02:35 AM
I'm not saying that some characters don't have story - unless a game is seriously rushed, most characters have soms story. Its just that only a few are important to the main plotline.

I honestly don't see why Tenor should be in the game. He's just a historical figure, who happens to be from the recent past. He's basically regarded as a hero, and Jazz is trying to emulate him, but doesn't feel like he's half the man Tenor was. Games don't have to include every person and place they mention, just so long as you understand why they have been brought up IMO.

I certainly wouldn't have objected to him showing up in a flashback cutscene or something, but like you say, its not a major thing. It really just illustrates how much Jazz fades into the background at the end - even if you complete the secret dungeon and resurrect *that* character, he barely has any dialogue with them, and still has the same cutscene in Double Reed Tower, where he talks of them like they are still dead.

Most RPGs have areas where costs have obviously been cut. Final Fantasy 12 has Arcadia for example, where the game suddenly has cutscene style encounters that instead play out in the normal game world, for example. Plus, the whole jounrey to Arcadia across about 4-5 hubs of terrain has about 2 cutscenes, which is bizarre, as the rest of the game has about that many or more in every area.

Anyway, to learn more about Tenor in Andantino, speak to the guys upstairs in the pub, and they tell you about him. Bass (there are actually two guys in this game called Bass. I'm talking about the guy in Jazz's camp, not the pirate with Captain Dolce), also has something to say about him.

05-04-2011, 03:10 AM
I certainly wouldn't have objected to him showing up in a flashback cutscene or something, but like you say, its not a major thing. It really just illustrates how much Jazz fades into the background at the end - even if you complete the secret dungeon and resurrect *that* character, he barely has any dialogue with them, and still has the same cutscene in Double Reed Tower, where he talks of them like they are still dead.
I'm working on my Encore Mode playthrough, but I haven't had a chance to do that yet. That's a bit disappointing to hear - given how strongly those two characters are connected, I would expect there to be more. Still, I'll reserve judgment until I've seen said scene for myself.

I've also read read that you can get an altered ending if you lose the final battle and I'm eager to try that out as well. (Don't mention anything about it, though, if you know about it, unless you put it in spoiler tags. I want to find out for myself.)

05-04-2011, 03:21 AM
I don't think its physically possible for my party to lose the final battle. I levelled my main party up to Lvl 99 in the secret dungeon - nobody tells my guys no!

Annoyed me a bit that you don't get any more skills after a while. I thought at least that I'd get a super duper, ultra special move if I hit max level, but sadly not...

05-04-2011, 03:27 AM
After a while you stop getting skills? Aw. That is disappointing. I was hoping for some spectacular skills as well. I'm only at about level 50 right now, and that's for my main team.

As for not losing, well, hee. Though, of course, if you just let your characters standby and do nothing...

BTW, would I be right in thinking that there's a 99999 damage cap for each individual hit? I did see a 99999 after a very strong combo, which makes me think that's the max.

05-04-2011, 03:37 AM
I'm not sure - Viola always does ungodly damage with her bow, and even the secret dungeon boss folded in seconds against her onslaught (well, she was lvl 90+ after all!)

The thing that *really* bugged me, is that Frederick never gets the 'Applaudissement Sonique' power, that he uses at a certain point in the game. I felt sure I was going to get it when I reached max level, and was... somewhat upset when I didn't.

05-04-2011, 01:56 PM
The characters learn their skills on different levels depending on which version you're playing (xbox / ps3).

On the xbox version all characters stop getting skills at level 63. On ps3 its on 70 something.

And I agree that a map would be useful, I got lost a lot on the pirate ship, every screen looked the same.