Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone, originally released in 2006 for the GameBoy Advance, is a tactical strategy RPG that features some rather unique battle mechanics. Instead of multiple units battling multiple enemies, only one unit at a time can fight, relying on battlefield position-dependent Unions to bring allies into the fight. Adding to the complex system are cards that represent your movement and power, adding special abilities to the fight and leveling as you use them. Much like it's predecessor, Riviera: The Promised Land, Yggdra has now made the leap from GBA to PSP, bringing with it a tweaked difficulty level, enhanced graphics, and a few other changes that players of the original game are sure to catch as they play. Were the changes enough to make a good game even better, or were they better off leaving well enough alone?
Characters: Despite some rather generic voice-acting, Yggdra's character designs by Satoko Kiyuduki are stylish and compelling. The redone sprites for the PSP version significantly heighten the charm.
The Soundtrack: Yddgra's music, co-composed by Shigeki Hayashi and Minako Adachi, truly shines in the PSP port, imparting a sense of grandeur and adventure that almost feels out of place in a portable title. Perhaps the highlight of the entire game.
Battle Mechanics: At first Yggdra's battle system may seem simple to a seasoned tactical RPG veteran, but as the game progresses I found the system really lends itself to deep strategic thinking. While only one character can initiate a battle per turn, so many factors weigh in on how that battle plays out, from the card you use to the weapons the character wields, managing aggression levels to positioning your units to best take advantage of the Union system, the gameplay is deep, complex, and ultimately satisfying.
The Shoulder Button: The added ability to skip drawn-out, often boring dialog through applied use of the right shoulder button is by-far the greatest addition to the game. The right shoulder of my PSP has never felt so loved.
The Story: While they've deepened the story a bit from the original GBA version of the game, it still feels a bit on the light side to me, more of an excuse to fight than anything really moving. Perhaps I simply spent too much time fighting to care, but it certainly didn't leave a lasting impression on me.
The Menu System: Yggdra's menu system is a bit of a convoluted beastie, where buttons that you'd think should do something don't, and vice-versa. Without a manual handy there's a good chance you could get more than a little frustrated trying to navigate.
I think it is important to note that Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone is not a game that a beginner to tactical role-play would want to pick up in order to get their first taste of the genre. While it certainly looks like an adorable anime-style RPG on the cover, once you're deep into the game it is easy to be completely overwhelmed by the complex strategic decisions you'll have to make. You'll have to manage characters, master positioning, and level up a fair amount of cards if you want to excel at the title, and quite frankly it takes an amount of thinking that would completely put off the more casual player.
Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone is a deep, involving tactical strategy RPG for the PSP that may prove a challenge for even the most seasoned armchair anime general, and if not, there's always Hard Mode.
Yggdra Union: We'll Never Fight Alone, developed by Sting and published by Atlus was released on released on Sept. 16 for the PSP. Retails for $39.99. Completed standard mode, delved a bit into hard mode.
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