Mimana Iyar Chronicles

I Want Mimoney Back

Aksys has given localizing Mimana Iyar Chronicle a valiant effort, but the game is simply too trite to be worth the money.
Author: TPS Staff
Published: May 3, 2010
These days, $40 is a lot to ask of someone -- especially when games have hit the PSP over the years that were absolutely worth it. Imagine, then, the sort of crushing desperation that would come from someone forking over two Andrew Jacksons and ending up with... Mimana Iyar Chronicle, a game that may well have worked in ages past but today stands as a reminder of just how far JRPGs have come.


Blame the recent spate of console JRPGs as of late. As bad as some of them have been, they've still managed to do something new, whether by way of innovative battle systems, system-defining visual presentation or even developed a new way to interact online. No, they aren't perfect by any means, but they have strived to help reshape things.

Hell, it's not even something limited to just the PS3; look at Dissidia: Final Fantasy as a showcase for how to turn an RPG into a fighting game, or Crisis Core[/i] for breathing new life into a game over a decade old. Granted, those are big-budget games, but even ports like [game=488]Ys or old-school revivals like Half-Minute Hero show there's still room to innovate on the PSP. Mimana Iyar Chronicle does none of that. It is a cut-and-dried peek back to what games used to be -- and why they're infinitely better now.

Fogeys like me will often claim that games "back then" were better because they had a solid foundation; fancy visuals or epic soundtracks couldn't deflect from the fact that if games were lacking on a fundamental basis they simply weren't fun. I can't think of a better way to judge Mimana simply because it doesn't have any of those distractions -- even in the small areas of advancement like a battle system.

Those battles (random encounters that happen with such regularity that you'll end up wading through the silent, look-alike dungeons rather than exploring them unless you walk slowly) are sort of a beat-em-up with hit points and magic. The 2D perspective carries with it the same quirks that a Final Fight or Streets of Rage would; imprecise attacks, enemies that can hit you (or you them) when you're not quite on the same plane, and mindless combos that mete out damage with agonizingly slow results.

Sure, you can block, or pull up a pause menu to manually issue magic orders for the rest of your party (you only control leading man Crais otherwise), or even get an up to four-strike super attack combo with a properly timed X Button press, but all these actions take time and feel clunky. Even running away isn't a simple affair; you have to wait for a countdown clock that burns according to how difficult enemies are, meaning tougher battles that you randomly encounter take longer to get away from than pipsqueaks. That's a little backwards when the game's difficulty starts out high (and no retries after a game over, you have to load your last save), sags in the middle and then becomes hair-pullingly frustrating toward the end.

If the story or characters were interesting, it might be at least tolerable, but Crais is an asshole. He regularly cuts down his female companions (some of whom are almost as cynical and uppity as he is) even while trying to get romantic with others. It's such a bizarre combination that the intended levity that comes from heavy innuendo and borderline creepy comments ends up seeming at odds with the rest of the game's archaic nature.

Aksys, it should be noted, at least tried to give the game some flavor, and their localization is solid if not at times actually amusing, but the source material and the game it's wrapped around feels so stilted and forgettable that even having a decent voice cast and a wealth of spoken lines can't really make it feel any more sufferable.

Throw in drab, maze-like environments without a map, excessive use of colored -- even garish -- lighting and music that does little to stay memorable beyond the repetitive battle themes and you really don't have much here to go to for the game's defense. There's simply too little in the way of interesting tidbits to keep anyone nibbling at what the game's trying to do -- which apparently is start a massive multi-chapter epic. If this is meant to be how Mimana Iyar Chronicle begins, I'm honestly not the least bit interested in seeing what happens next, and neither should you -- especially at $40.
The Verdict
4.0

I like old-school RPGs on the PSP, I really do, but even games released over a decade ago have more going on in terms of gameplay and inherent charm than Mimana Iyar Chronicle. Sorry, Aksys, at least you did the best with what you could.

4.0Graphics:

Character portraits and a few anime cutscenes are pretty enough, but the sprites are stiff, the environments mostly barren and the world as a whole simply a mix of RPG tropes.

4.5Sound:

Yep, there's some decent voice work here, but a lack of music in dungeons (unless you can make it to the end), basic sound effects and throwaway tracks for the rest of the music mean your PSP speakers will be sad.

6.5Control:

This is just a clunky game; opening chests, lining up to attack enemies, the ridiculous load times before fights (even with the downloaded version), all of it feels like being played remotely on a system a few generations back.

4.0Gameplay:

Everything in this game is by-the-book, save for perhaps the light dating/romance elements, which don't fit the rest of the game's throwback nature.