Jade Cocoon 2
Enter the Wormhole Forest...
This is a game that I truly enjoyed, and I'm rather sad that this game hasn't gotten as much publicity as it deserved. Here's the gist of the game with no spoilers: You're a Beasthunter named Kahu. A Beasthunter fights dark forces called Kalma. They do so using powerful creatures called Divine Beasts. In this game, you collect Divine Beasts, train them, battle Kalma with them, and go on adventures! When you're Divine Beast is a high enough level, it may transform (evolve), taking on a whole new form and becoming a lot stronger. WIth so many Divine Beasts in the game, it offers a greater lasting appeal than many people give it credit for. The Battle System is easy to master and fun, allowing you to control many Divine Beasts without confusion. If you haven't tried this game yet, do so as a favor to yourself if you're a big RPG fan. This game is especially good for long time Pokemon fans and other sorts.
Pokemon's Twisted Big Brother
During the early days of PS2 releases, the Pokemon craze was finally dying down and most of its oh-so ridiculously loyal adolescent following were finally sprouting up and jumping ship. Ironically, that's around the same time that this remarkable little game hit US shelves. It may not be as highly acclaimed as others, but it truly holds its own as far as original storyline, characters and customization. First off, you can only carry 8 monsters, Pokemon let you have 9. BUT, your attacks were limited and there was no way of fusing together and "cross-breeding" two monsters. In this one, you usually find the eggs to hatch the monsters you plan to use, others (like Pokemon) will just come up and ask to befriend you. Finally, the sheer look of the scenery and of the monsters themselves in this game are anything but the cute little beasts you would find winking at you from your Gameboy. They're sinister, macabre and rather creepy at times. Just as the characters in the game can be, basing most of the story and such around tribal and other-worldly influences. Monsters are still based on 4 elements, but you can mix and match to your liking. You CAN store the little beasties that you don't feel like using, so you don't have to ditch all the time. And no monster is weaker or stronger than another kind, so you're allowed to personalize. As far as early japanese turn-based strategy games are concerned, this one is the unspoken hero. It doesn't try to be flashy and over the top. It just is one heckuva good time. And no, you don't have to "catch'em all!" to win. There's a story, a plot, a motive, and definitely a challenge. Have fun.
"So . . . Watcha Gonna Do?"
While most reviews for this game are rather positive for the most part. Most people that I've talked with about this game appear to prefer the original PS1 game over this one. I haven't played Jade Cocoon so I can't offer my opinion on that game, but if you like Jade Cocoon 2 then I do recommend trying to track down a copy of the first game.
Jade Cocoon 2 suffers from a rather generic story about the newest beast hunter Kahu getting cursed by touching the fairy Nico. In the immortal words of Nico, "so . . . watcha gonna do?” Will you save Kahu and cure him of his dark curse that will turn him into a monstrous Kalma by collecting the four forest orbs of water, wind, earth, and fire? Will you collect all of the orbs before Kahu is consumed by the darkness within?
The game is rather diverse in terms of characters, but many of the characters aren't all that great. The hero feels as generic as can be for the most part and his various rivals range from annoying to inspiring. Though, the real heart of this game in terms of characters is the sarcastic Nico who follows Kahu around often making jokes and misbehaving with statements that get Kahu in trouble. Nico is also happy to make cat calls at inappropriate times at Kahu's expense as well.
My opinions on combat in this game are rather mixed. The game uses a turn based combat system with placing divine beasts in 1 of 8 spots on a grid surrounding Kahu at the center. Each of the spots represents an element or two and reflects the kinds of attacks that can be performed in that location. Each of the corner spots represents the union of two elements while the center spots are pure element locations. This divine beast formation on this grid can have major impacts on the game. You'll want to place a divine beast with high HP and DEF in the centers of the formations since those creatures protect Kahu from attack while the divine beasts on the corners will probably be best developed to have two elemental attacks instead of one. The major problem with combat though is you can't choose your target. This makes it hard to quickly punch through a breach in a rival beast hunter’s formation to damage his shields or for you to eliminate divine beasts you encounter on the map with the least number of attacks. During combat you can turn your formation wheel to decide what sort of attacks you will use that turn ranging from a stat buffing earth formation, an annoying wind formation, a healing water formation, or an offensive fire formation.
Another important aspect of the combat system is the merge system. Merges can only be performed at the temple in the Room of Life. In this room you can gain information on all of the divine beasts in your bench, the various seed beasts that you've acquired, and change the names of your divine beasts. The most important aspect of this room though is the merging though. The various seed beasts all come with their own attacks and unique special talent. Your divine beasts will gain the talent of the selected seed beast and its attack, but be warned that your divine beast may only hold four special talents and two elemental attacks. This forces you to decide early on how to develop a divine beast since the amount of experience you need to raise a divine beast to the maximum level of 20 increases each time you merge.
Outside of combat the only major thing you can do is take on jobs in the lounge at the temple. These jobs can range from defeating a certain beast hunter to finding a certain item. The reward for finishing these tasks can range from items, divine beasts, and money.
The game offers a rather strong visual style. The game is rather pleasing to look at, though the lack of facial movement when characters talk is rather depressing. With the amount of time and effort that went into crafting the world one would think that facial movements would have been included. Though, to be fair the forests tend to be rather similar in terms of appearance so the amount of overall work done on the visuals is rather small. The cut scenes before the boss fights in the forest are impressive though.
The game does have rather fitting music, but none of it feels exceptional. You'll enjoy if for what it is, but you'll probably not want to listen to the soundtrack outside of playing the game.
The game does offer a lot to do in the post game. The forests become deeper and a series of tournaments open up. You can also gain access to special tournaments if you collect all of the medals of various types of divine beasts. These tournaments allow you to compete with only a certain type of divine beasts like Mau or Leif. On the downside some of these services already existed with an underground tournament in the fire forest starting on level 2.
Lasting Appeal: 9
I loved this game. I had the Best experience with this game. Jade Cocoon was showed to me by my uncle, he taught me how to play it. The imagination in this game is wonderful.
Pokemon meets Monster Rancher
putting those 2 together would sound about right for how this game works in theory, alot of monsters are found and combined together to make one solid game, i thoroughly enjoyed the visuals of this game and i am a big fan even though it is somewhat rare.