Were this a first-generation release (and, as Gust's first PSP game, I suppose it is in a way), it would be a little more understandable, but the issues it sports have seemingly long been overcome by other developers on the system. Chiefly among these is just that the game doesn't feel optimized for the platform. It's as if they took the code from the PS2 game, copied it to a UMD and called it a day. The result is a game that almost exclusively relies on the molasses-slow seek and load times of the UMD drive. Even on the newer PSP-3000, which I used to review the game and which has a built-in cache to buffer content from the UMD ahead of time, the game is a hitching, pausing, sluggish turd of a product.
I do realize there's more to porting a PS2 game to the PSP than just re-burning the contents to the small disc, but that's certainly what it feels like, effort-wise. With the exception of a new, smaller and far less eye-pleasing font, a few new playable characters and some new items to craft, there's not a whole lot of rudimentary changes to the game itself. An option to install around 250MB of common content (which is then theoretically plucked from the Memory Stick instead of the UMD drive), dubbed Jump Start, seemingly does absolutely nothing. I watched the MS access indicator light like a hawk and nine times out of ten, the grinding chug of the UMD drive was the only thing indicating there was loading going on.
And thus, the biggest issue with the game is made glaringly apparent everytime you do anything that's not already on the screen. Pull up a menu? Load. Talk to someone? Load. Enter a battle? Tons of loading. Pull off a move within that battle you just loaded up? Load. Enemy does the same thing? Load. Even just jumping, an action mapped to the circle button and used extensively in the field, sometimes causes a hitch. It's utterly unacceptable, plain and simple, and spells the agonizingly slow death of any fun the original game had.
I'm not going to harp on the game anymore. It's a disaster, and should be played by absolutely no one. If you want to play the original PS2 game, by all means, do so. It's a simple, cute little alchemy-driven RPG that's not quite up to the level of some of Gust's other games, but certainly decent its own right. The PSP version is something you give to people you absolutely despise, like mortal enemies or those convicted of war crimes. On second thought, not even they deserve the kind of torture this game brings.