Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light
Game Info
Platform(s)
PSP
Publisher
NIS America
Developer
Hit Maker
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Fantasy Violence, Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice mix of real-time enemies and active turn-based combat
• Missions galore
• Crafting is both easy and necessary
• Ad-hoc multiplayer

The Bad

• Graphics could be flashier
• Story is a bit stale and by-the-numbers

 
Grade
B

Blade Dancer is another RPG brought out by NIS America for the PSP, developed by Hit Maker for SCE. This RPG offers up an early PS2-quality polygon-based experience featuring real-time enemies, active turn-based combat and a crafting system that both easy and necessary. On top of that, there is an interesting four player ad-hoc mode.

The game begins with the young hero Lance sailing to the island of Foo, where he looks to test his blade. It's not long before you realize that Lance with do anything for some adventure (he's really needy when it comes to "testing himself"). Fortunately, the place is lousy with monsters and people too incompetent to do things for themselves. Of course, there's a story about a utopian-like society that was ruined by dark powers until the legendary Blade Dancer arrived. As these stories go, Lance appears to share a similar tattoo and the story plays out, telling his tale of self discovery. The story plays out with a fair bit of script, fleshing out the characters without filling them out too deeply. For purists, the vocal tracks include both English and Japanese.

In towns, you can talk to people to get some flavor of the game world. Some will have missions you can complete outside of the main story's mission path. Towns have stores where you can purchase items, weapons, equipment, appraise items you have and even a crafting guild. As you move around, you can select targets to interact with the Square Button and interact with them using the X Button.

Outside of town, you'll find floating skulls that represent enemies. Depending on the color of the skull, the enemies can be easier, on par with you or just harder. Each of these skulls tends to have a set pattern and can respawn after a limited amount of time. Because of this you have to be careful if you want to sneak through an area without getting attacked. Since everything is in real time on the field, you have to find a safe place to access the pause menu to equip your allies, craft or tend to your team formations.

Once you enter combat, actions play out in a active turn-based fair, not unlike Final Fantasy. Players each get a turn that can be activated when their gauge fills. Enemies also takes turns as their gauges fill. When a character has their turn, you can choose to attack, use Luna, items, run away or equip (which is helpful if your weapon breaks). One of the more unique features is that both enemies and allies share a single Luna pool, which is charged through attacks. Because this is shared, players have to hope to use it before the enemy does. If they start charging attacks, you might want to attack them to interrupt it, or else, they'll steal the Luna you worked to build up.

Probably the best thing about Blade Dancer is the Crafting system. While adding Item Creation or Crafting has certainly seemed like the in thing as of late (Star Ocean 3 and Atelier Iris come to mind), what Blade Dancer has done is both easy to get into, useful and quite necessary. As you buy or gain items through your travels, you can create new items and weapons. Some times you find recipes, other times you'll just need to pay some gold to get an item analyzed so you can make it on the field. Since your weapons deteriorate in combat, it's to your benefit to keep pieces around to build new weapons. Also to take into account is how each of your party members is strong in one element, making them far more successful at certain recipes.

Along with the main story is an additional ad-hoc multiplayer mode where the player and up to three friends can work their way through dungeons. This mode is a nice addition and can add more life to the game once you've completed the main story.

Visually, Blade Dancer doesn't really do anything spectacular, but it does provide a solid polygon-based world that feels pretty well fleshed out, much like an early PS2 RPG squeezed onto the handheld. Because of this, the gameworld is sizable without being overly detailed. That's not to say that the details available aren't nice, because they are. The character models are decent, though the standard NPCs are a bit more boring than the essential players. Both ally and enemy models look pretty good on the PSP screen, due largely to the unique artistic style that helps define the cast of characters. Overall, the polygon-based graphics are good, but with some flashier effects, they would have stood out more.

The audio package is decent without standing out. Music is fairly dramatic and sets a nice tone well in the heart of the genre. Sound effects are decent and the voice acting is okay. I've heard far better performances and purists will probably want to switch to the Japanese track quickly. It's not that the English VA is bad, it's just that it feels a little stilted and stale.

If you like an average RPG tale with some fun combat and great Crafting, Blade Dancer is worth your time. The RPG genre isn't overly deep on the PSP and this title certainly fills a hole for JRPG fans.

- - Vane

ILS is not affiliated with, endorsed by or related to any of the products, companies, artists or parties legally responsible for the items referred to on this website. No copyright infringement is intended.
Game Shots