Eternal Sonata


Eternal Sonata

Infobox VG
title = Eternal Sonata


developer = tri-Crescendo
publisher = Namco Bandai
distributor = Atari (Europe, Australia)
Microsoft (Asia Except Japan)
designer =
engine =
resolution = 720p
version =
released = Xbox 360
vgrelease|Japan|JP|June 14, 2007
vgrelease|North America|NA|September 17 2007
vgrelease|Europe|EU|October 19 2007 [cite web|url=http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=166356|title=www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=166356 ]
vgrelease|Australasia|AUS|November 15 2007 [cite web|url=http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/data/934162.html|title=http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/data/934162.html ]
PlayStation 3
vgrelease|Japan|JP|September 18 2008
vgrelease|North America|NA|October 21 2008

genre = Console role-playing game
modes = Single player, local co-op
ratings = CERO: A
ESRB: T
OFLC (AU): M
OFLC (NZ): PG

platforms = Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
requirements =
input = Xbox 360 Controller, Sixaxis, Dual Shock 3
media = DVD-DL, Blu-ray Disc
Nihongo|"Eternal Sonata"|トラスティベル ~ショパンの夢~|Torasuti Beru Shopan no Yume|Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream is an original role-playing video game created by tri-Crescendo, one of the developers of "Baten Kaitos" and "Baten Kaitos Origins". The Microsoft Xbox 360 version of the game was released on June 14, 2007 in Japan, September 17, 2007 in North America, and October 19, 2007 in Europe. The game was also released on the Sony PlayStation 3 with additional content as nihongo|"Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream - Reprise"|トラスティベル ~ショパンの夢~ ルプリーズ|Torasuti Beru Shopan no Yume Rupurīzu on September 18, 2008 cite web|title=Namco Bandai Announcement for PS3|url=http://ps3.ign.com/articles/820/820146p1.html] in Japan, a North American release will be available in October 21, 2008 (release date announce as of 9-15-08). cite web|title=E3 - Namco Bandai News|url=http://www.rpgamer.com/news/Q3-2008/071508b.html] and a European release will be available in February 2009. [ [http://www.namcobandaigames.eu/en/press/30/ ETERNAL SONATA™ TO CHARM ITS WAY ONTO PLAYSTATION 3 IN EUROPE] ]

The game is centered around the romantic pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 39. The story envisions a fictional world dreamed by Chopin during his last hours that is influenced by Chopin's life and music, and in which he himself is a playable character, among others. The game features a selection of Chopin's compositions played by pianist Stanislav Bunin, though most of the in-game music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba. The game's battle system centers around musical elements and character-unique special attacks. Light and darkness plays a part in the appearance and abilities of enemies on the battlefield, as well as the types of magic that can be cast. [cite web | url=http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3158051 | title=1UP.com - Eternal Sonata Preview | work=Alice Liang | accessdate=2007-03-17]

tory

The game is presented in chapters and each main chapter is named after one of Chopin’s famous works (For example, the chapter ‘Revolution’ is named after the ‘Revolutionary Etude’). The plot of the game follows two distinct narrative strands; the first, and main narrative, is the story of the fictional world that Chopin is experiencing while on his death bed. The other narrative provides historical information on Chopin’s life that is considered relevant to current plot developments in the fictional world and is displayed at key points during the course of the game. This narrative is accompanied by a rendition of the piece the chapter draws inspiration from.

The fictional world contains two major kingdoms that are currently on the brink of war, Forte and Baroque. Polka, a young girl that resides in Tenuto, a village within Forte territory, has a terminal illness. A side effect of any terminal illness is the ability to do magic; this leads normal people to stay away from magic users for fear of catching the illness. Polka is constantly told by her Mother that she must one day throw herself into the sea and that she will understand why when the time comes. In the mean time, Polka tries to make a living selling floral powder as a healing agent but can’t compete with the price of the tax free ‘Mineral Powder’, an addictive miracle cure supplied by Forte Castle. She later meets with Frederic Chopin who offers to help escort her to Count Waltz, the ruler of Forte, so that she may plead with him to increase the price of Mineral Powder.

The pair later encounters two young orphan boys, Allegretto and Beat, who are also planning to ask Count Waltz to lower taxes so that they can feed other orphans in their town. As they travel, Allegretto and Polka draw close to one another, and they feel a strange connection. Polka also learns that strange creatures called "agogos" react completely differently around her than anyone else by radiating a strange glow.

The group is arrested once they reach Forte but they’re able to escape with the help of an underground resistance group who want to overthrow Count Waltz. The resistance informs the party that they are working for Prince Crescendo, the acting ruler of Baroque, and they set off together to inform him of the current developments. Once at Baroque Castle the party learns that Mineral Powder has devastating and deadly side effects and that Count Waltz is using its addictive nature to raise a powerful army with the sole intention of attacking Baroque. Polka, still troubled by her Mother’s words, decides to throw her most prized possession, a uniquely shaped rock given to her by ‘someone special’, into the sea instead of herself. Allegretto then surprises Polka by giving her an identically shaped rock to replace it.

After learning that Forte has placed a spy among his most trusted peers, Prince Crescendo decides that the only way to prevent bloodshed is to surrender himself to Count Waltz in return for Count Waltz sparing Baroque and its people. The party manages to stop Crescendo before he reaches Forte territory, but they soon discover that Count Waltz is already beginning his attack on Baroque. The party manages to defeat Waltz in battle and prevent the invasion of Baroque but are unable to stop his advisor Legato from using a stronger, experimental version of the Mineral Powder on himself. The new Mineral Powder causes him to transform into a creature so powerful it smashes into another dimension.

The party follows Legato into this new dimension and finds it occupied by the souls of all those who perished due to using Mineral Powder. Eventually tracking down Legato, they manage to defeat him and gain access to the very core of the world. Here, Frederic Chopin announces that he is still convinced that this entire world is just his dream, his final journey before death, and that he must face his own soul before he can travel into the afterlife. He then faces the party in one final battle and is defeated.

Realising that this is the end of her journey, Polka thanks the party for escorting her and then throws herself off the cliff into the sea. Allegretto is mortified and begins blaming Chopin for Polka’s death. We then see a younger, reborn Polka falling slowly from the sky into the arms of her mother, who is obviously expecting this event. The scene, mirroring the opening, portrays a younger Polka with her mother while Chopin narrates, finally realising the true nature of this world. Young Polka then tells her mother that she hears someone calling her and her mother informs her that she is hearing the call of her ‘special someone’. Young Polka wishes farewell to her mother as she is whisked back into the air by glowing agogos.

Rejoining the rest of the party, still mortified by previous events, we see Polka rise back over the cliff surrounded by glowing agogos. Polka knows that she has been reunited with her true love and embraces an ecstatic Allegretto. Finally, in the real world, Chopin’s spirit rises out of his body and he plays his piano one last time, in a blooming sea of nocturnal flowers 'Heaven's Mirror', composing a song that was inspired by Polka.

Characters

All of the characters in "Eternal Sonata", with the exception of real-world people such as Chopin, are named after musical terms.:"Note: Character names link to their respective musical terms, not to articles on the characters themselves."

;nihongo|Frédéric François Chopin|フレデリック・フランソワ・ショパン|Furederikku Furansowa Shopan: As he lies dying of tuberculosis in the real world, Chopin dreams of this world. He appears as a tall gentleman in a long coat and top hat. He fights with a conductor's baton.
"Voiced by:" Mitsuaki Madono (Japanese), Patrick Seitz (English)

;nihongo|Polka|ポルカ|Poruka: A 14-year old girl with a death sentence hanging over her head: she can use magic, a sign of disease in their world. Because of this, she is shunned by many, but still has a pretty upbeat and sweet personality. Chopin mentions she reminds him of his sister, who also died of tuberculosis. She fights with a parasol.
"Voiced by:" Aya Hirano (Japanese), Erin Fitzgerald (English)

;nihongo|Allegretto|アレグレット|Areguretto: A 16-year old street urchin with a Robin Hood complex, willing to steal to feed the less fortunate. He's confident and strong, but not stupid. A revolutionary at heart, he does have a soft side, mostly shown with Beat, whom he has taken as a little brother, and Polka, whom he loves. He fights with a one-handed sword.
"Voiced by:" Hiro Shimono (Japanese), Sam Riegel (English)

;nihongo|Beat|ビート|Bīto: An 8 year old orphan whose most prized possession is his camera. While he often does not get the point of what Allegretto and the others are saying until later and maintains an air of innocence, he is no stranger to fighting. He wields a hooked rifle which can also function at close range as a hammer.
"Voiced by:" Yumiko Kobayashi (Japanese), Mona Marshall (English)

;nihongo|Viola|ビオラ|Biora: A young farmer the party meets in the countryside. She's a tough-talker and can handle herself, being slightly older than the others in the party. She fights with a bow. She has a pet named Arco who tags along with the group.
"Voiced by:" Houko Kuwashima (Japanese), Megan Hollingshead (English)

;nihongo|Salsa|サルサ|Sarusa: The guardian of Agogo Forest who the party meets while imprisoned in the Forte Castle dungeons. She is quite brash, outspoken and energetic at times. She fights with Solar Rings.
"Voiced by:" Mika Kanai (Japanese), Amy Rose (English)

;March: The guardian of Agogo Forest. Salsa's twin sister. She tends to be the more reasonable one of the two, making her a sharp contrast to Salsa. She fights with Luna Rings.
"Voiced by:" Chiwa Saito (Japanese), Amy Rose (English)

;nihongo|Jazz|ジルバ|Jiruba|his Japanese name is a transliteration of "jitterbug": Leader of the revolutionary group Andantino. Quiet and serious, he worries about the damage Count Waltz might be doing to the people with the mineral powder and the processes needed to mine it. He fights with a two-handed broadsword.
"Voiced by:" George Nakata (Japanese), D.C. Douglas (English)

;nihongo|Falsetto|ファルセット|Farusetto: Jazz's lieutenant in Andantino, she's perceptive and tough, and inwardly dislikes Claves. She fights with brass knuckles.
"Voiced by:" Tomoe Hanba (Japanese), Julie Ann Taylor (English)

;nihongo|Claves|クラベス|Kurabesu: Jazz's girlfriend and another soldier of Andantino. Later, she is shown to be a spy for Count Waltz and is killed for choosing to help Jazz instead. She fights with a rapier.
"Voiced by:" Mie Sonozaki (Japanese), Tara Platt (English)

Gameplay

"Eternal Sonata" follows many general conventions in a typical console role-playing game: the player controls a party of up to ten characters to explore the world, talking with its inhabitants, buying and selling equipment at shops, and encountering monsters while in the field. These encounters are visible, and the player can opt to avoid the encounter, if possible, as well as gaining an edge on the monsters by approaching them from behind. Experience points are awarded to all members of the party, though at a reduced rate for those not involved in combat, and characters will improve in various statistics with each experience level as well as learning special combat skills. Weapons, armor, and accessories can be used to improve these statistics, which can be purchased through money earned in combat, found in chests, or by selling both equipment and photographs which can be taken by the character Beat during battle. The player may also find Score Pieces scattered about the world, which represent short musical phrases. Various NPCs in the game will offer to perform with the party, requiring the player to match a Score Piece to the phrase offered by the NPC, with the resulting composition being ranked. Discordant matches will result in no reward, but close or perfect matches will gain a bonus item from the NPC.

Combat

While the main combat system is turn-based using only 3 characters within the party, it incorporates elements of an action game. Each character's turn is preceded by "Tactical Time", a period of time which the player can use to decide the course of action to take with that character. Once the player initiates an action or "Tactical Time" expires (a function of the Party Class Level), the player then has a limited amount of time denoted by an Action Gauge to move the character, attack the enemy, and use recovery skills or items. Regular attacks are made at melee or ranged distances depending on the weapon choice of the character, and add a small quantity of time back to the Action Gauge, and additionally add to the party's "Echoes" meter. Special skills which can include both offensive attacks and recovery skills will consume whatever Echoes have been generated to that point, and will have a more powerful effect relative to that number. When a character defends against an attack, there is a short period before the attack strikes where the player can press a button to block some of the damage for the attack, or to possibly even counterattack the blow and interrupt the monster's turn. Recovery and other one-time-use items are kept in a common pouch with a limited capacity; the player must "set" items in the pouch so that they can be cycled through and triggered during battle.

Light and dark areas on the battle field generated by the time of day, environment, and shadows of the characters and monsters will affect combat. Each party character has one or more special skills that are active in lit areas, and a similar number but with very different effects in a dark area. Monsters themselves may have a dissimilar set of powers in the area of the battlefield they are in, while other monsters will actually change form when they move between lit and dark areas. The player can manipulate the nature of areas using special items, but this can also be affected by the monsters themselves, or through dynamic changes on the battlefield such as the shadow of a cloud moving across the ground.

As the player progresses through the game, they will increase their Party Class Level. Each improvement in level grants some bonuses while also imposing additional limits on combat. For example, one Party Class improvement increases the number of slots for special skills for each character, but at the same time, cuts down the amount of Tactical Time and time available in the Action Gauge.

Audio

Eternal Sonata features a large soundtrack, mostly composed by Motoi Sakuraba, with seven of Chopin's compositions performed by Stanislav Bunin and presented in 5.1 surround sound. Featured music of Chopin's include Étude Op. 10, No. 12, Étude Op. 10, No. 3 and Polonaise Op. 53. A Japanese aria composed by Sakuraba titled nihongo|"Heaven's Mirror"|鏡天花|Kyōtenka is also performed by Akiko Shinada for the soundtrack. The game's background music was released in Japan as the four-disc album nihongo|"Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream Original Score"|トラスティベル ~ショパンの夢~ オリジナルスコア|Torasuti Beru ~Shopan no Yume~ Orijinaru Sukoa on 25 July, 2007 under the King Records label.

Development

Says director Hiroya Hatsushiba: [ [http://kotaku.com/gaming/we-want-to-know/chopins-role-in-eternal-sonata-explained-287143.php We Want To Know: Chopin's Role in Eternal Sonata Explained ] ]

For the localization, the game's text was proofread by the Frederick Chopin Society in Warsaw. The localization team wanted to be as historically accurate as possible, without losing the original message of the script. [ [http://blogs.ign.com/EternalSonata/2007/09/12/66074/ Eternal Sonata - Lost in Translation ] ]

On April 23, 2007, the ESRB posted their rating for Eternal Sonata [cite web|url=http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/23/esrb-lists-eternal-sonata-on-xbox-360-and-playstation-3/|title=www.joystiq.com/2007/04/23/esrb-lists-eternal-sonata-on-xbox-360-and-playstation-3/ ] listing the game as being intended for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, when news of this quickly spread, the ESRB removed the listing entirely. [cite web|title=N4G.com : ESRB pulls Eternal Sonata. listing|url=http://n4g.com/News-36536.aspx] On September 11, 2007, Bandai Namco's official site listed Eternal Sonata as coming soon to PlayStation 3, yet also listed the Xbox 360 version as being "available now." Again, as news quickly spread, the information was removed. [cite web|title=Namco Bandai site shows Eternal Sonata and Beautiful Katamari coming to PS3|url=http://www.joystiq.com/2007/09/11/namco-bandai-site-shows-eternal-sonata-and-beautiful-katamari-co/] The following day, scans from Famitsu were released, confirming the game as being released for the PlayStation 3. [cite web|title=Famitsu Scans|url=http://www.jeux-france.com/images0_4_21765.html] On September 14, 2007 Bandai Namco officially announced Eternal Sonata was coming to the PS3, during Spring 2008 in Japan.

In addition, Namco Bandai stated that there will be features exclusive for the PlayStation 3 version. This includes new playable characters, Crescendo and Serenade, who played a major role in the plot of the game, but were not playable in the Xbox 360 version. It will also include a new clothing system, in which the player can freely change his/her character's costume. [cite web|title=Offical Website for the PS3 Version|url=http://namco-ch.net/trustybell_ps3/index.php]

Reception

Anticipation for the game seemed high prior to release, with the game having reached number four in Amazon Japan video game pre-orders [ [http://news.punchjump.com/blog/2007/05/15/%20xbox-360-rpg-trusty-bell-reaches-no-4-in-pre-sales/ News Blog] entry. Retrieved May 16, 2007] not long after a demo was made available on the Japanese Marketplace, and even number one on Amazon Japan's video game charts not long before the game's release. [ [http://www.xbox360fanboy.com/2007/06/05/eternal-sonata-no-1-on-amazon-japan/ Xbox 360 Fanboy Blog] entry. Retrieved June 5, 2007] Famitsu rated the game 9/9/9/8, for a total score of 35/40.cite web|url=http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=7857|title=GamesAreFun Famitsu Scores|accessmonthday=June 20|accessyear=2007] During its release week, the game reached second place on the Japanese sales charts. [http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=7911 GamesAreFun Japanese Sales] 6/11-6/17. Retrieved June 20, 2007] The following week, it had placed 35th. [http://www.psxextreme.com/ps3-news/1445.html] [http://kotaku.com/gaming/soupy-sales/simple-2000-the-japanese-hardware-chart-273421.php]

At E3 2007, it won GameTrailers.com's award for Best Role-Playing Gamecite web|url=http://www.gametrailers.com/player/22619.html|title=GameTrailers Best of E3 2007|accessmonthday=August 6|accessyear=2007] and IGN's award for Best Original Score on Xbox 360, and was a runner-up in Best RPG, Best Artistic Design on Xbox 360 and Best Use Of Sound on Xbox 360.cite web|url=http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/806/806808p4.html|title= IGN: Xbox 360 Best of E3 2007 Awards|accessmonthday=August 6|accessyear=2007]

In Europe and the U.S., it received many high reviews. Metacritic has a score of 79% based on 53 reviews. [ [http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/eternalsonata?q=eternal%20sonata Metacritic - Eternal Sonata] ]

IGN gave the game an 8.3 claiming that it had some of the best visuals on the 360 and had great combat. They also stated that "the soundtrack is astounding" and claimed the story did a great job of teaching the player of Frederick Chopin's life. However, the game was criticised for being too short for a JRPG, and for the lack of exploration. Xplay gave the game a 3/5 praising the combat, soundtrack and visuals but complained that there were too many mini games, a poor story and too many RPG clichés.

Notes and references

External links

* [http://namco-ch.net/trusty_bell/index.php Official Japanese Site]
* [http://namco-ch.net/trustybell_ps3/index.php Official Japanese Site for PlayStation 3 Version]
* [http://eternalsonata.namcobandaigames.com/ Official North American Site]
* [http://www.eternalsonata.eu Official European Site]


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