It Came From Japan #7 – Alundra
An RPG with action-adventure elements, Alundra targeted the West’s new-found love for quirky Japanese gameplay with a well-wrought story and intuitive game mechanics.
Over a decade later, and with the likes of 3D Dot Game Heroes about to revive the genre, Alundra represents one of the purest, most difficult yet rewarding experiences in the action/RPG landscape.
Legend told of a great warrior from the east
Upon its release, many saw Alundra as the PlayStation’s retort to the popular Zelda series. Such logic is not unfounded. After all, Alundra shares a lot in common with Nintendo’s lucrative series including a fantasy setting, an abundance of quests and a gamut of puzzles that, to this day, some players feel challenged their gaming mettle to the max.
The game was received well (Metacritic quote the game as having an 86% aggregate rating), but, for whatever reason, it didn’t spark a multi-titled franchise or a cultural phenomenon as did the games it emulated.
Your technique is magnificent…
Players take on the role of the titular Alundra, a mysterious visitor to a village stricken by a mysterious curse. An elf from the Dreamwalkers clan, much like a benevolent Freddy Kruger, Alundra has the ability to enter people’s dreams. Such a gift ultimately comes in handy, with Alundra foreseeing much destruction and calamity about to befall the unwary inhabitants of the town.
Presented as a top-down isometric platformer, Alundra might look a tad dated by today’s standards, but at the time, the graphics and gameplay were refreshing and incredibly well worked. There is an abundance of depth in Alundra, from trying to collect certain items to the game’s overall length, and compared to some of this generation’s offerings, Alundra delivers a deep, entertaining and challenging enterprise. The game is also renown for its dark and somewhat twisted nature; a trait not commonly found in sprite-based games of its ilk.
You must choose the sword or the ball. I can not make this choice for you …
Alundra was followed up with 2000’s Alundra 2. Considering you play a character called “Flint” as opposed to the wing-eared elf, Alundra 2 is viewed by those in the know as a sequel to the popular first game in name only.
Though the original appeared on the Japanese PSN as a downloadable title for the PS3 back in October of 2007, considering it’s been over two years since this appearance, we’re thinking a Western Alundra re-release is unlikely at this point.
It Came From Japan is a weekly column discussing past games from Japan that have enjoyed a release in the west on the PS1, PS2, PSN or PSP but have yet to see a PS3 outing. We discuss the title from three separate perspectives: its pedigree and how it performed upon its original release, the game in general with a view towards game-play and plot and, finally, the probability of the game finally making a PS3 appearance outside of Japan. The column covers all genres with games of varying quality and popularity given equal standing.
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