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Cross Edge
Score: 45%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Idea Factory
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
The concept of colliding worlds is hardly a new idea when it comes to games. We've seen it in franchises like Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros., and most notably, Kingdom Hearts. Cross Edge may very well be the biggest and most bizarre mash-up in gaming history. However, a mind-boggling number of characters does not a great game make.

Cross Edge is not a good-looking game. If I had to choose one word to describe the visuals, that word would be "lazy." I'm guessing that the developers were banking on the idea that nostalgia would overpower the target audience. That and that alone could allow gamers to forgive how last-gen Cross Edge looks. I'm a fan of both Capcom's Darkstalkers and Nippon Ichi's Disgaea. I can attest to the fact that nostalgia will not be able to help anyone shake the feeling that they are playing a PlayStation 3 game that looks like a first-gen PlayStation 2 game. When you are in battle, it appears as though the original sprites (and many of their animations) have been recycled. However, many of the special skills are fun to watch in action. Cross Edge's dialogue cutscenes consist of a still frame of background art and static images of the characters who have speaking roles. On top of all of this mess, the framerate often has way too much trouble for a game that looks like this. Like I said, it's all just completely lazy.

Cross Edge looks unimpressive, but it sounds flat-out bad. Luckily, gamers have the option to choose between English and Japanese voiceovers. The English dub assaults your ears with a more obnoxious experience than if you were to spend an entire day with the likes of Billy Mays, Kathy Griffin, Gilbert Gottfried, and Margaret Cho. While the Japanese voice track won't make you want to mute your television, the awful dialogue on the screen helps to compensate. I almost forgot to mention that the game has music. I suppose that says it all.

Hot-headed moron York and token sweet girl Miko wake up on a strange existential plane with a mild case of amnesia. After running into and teaming up with Morrigan Aensland (of Darkstalkers fame), they find a young girl who gives them a quest. For some reason, Souls (as if they are distinctive from regular souls) from different universes are being captured and hauled away to this ethereal plane. If York and Miko want to make it back to their own worlds, they must free the captive Souls and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Don't try to think too hard about Cross Edge's bone-headed narrative. Rather, try to think about how many different gaming worlds collide here. You'll team up with characters from franchises like Ar Tonelico, Atelier Iris, Disgaea, Mana Khemia, and Spectral Souls. If these franchises mean nothing to you, stop reading this review right now and completely forget about this game - Cross Edge was made for the hardest of hardcore JRPG fans. However, even they probably will have a tough time getting over how stupid Cross Edge's story is.

Cross Edge is a role-playing game that has you shuttling from story point to story point, fighting random encounters in between. The battle system actually reminds me of that from Valkyrie Profile. You line your party of four up on a grid and battle your enemies over a number of phases. During the Player Phase, you'll be able to unleash as many attacks as your alloted amount of Ability Points (AP) will allow. Each party member has a set number of AP, and you can attack until your AP meter runs dry or until you, for whatever reason, choose to stop. Then, it's all about survival as the enemy takes its turn beating up on you. Rinse and repeat, level up, get new stuff, use said new stuff to kill more monsters, and do it all over again. Learning new attacks and chaining them together is fun at times, although sometimes you'll have a hard time wrapping your head around all the nonsense that's strewn all over the screen. Dungeons introduce 2D platforming into the mix, which clashes with the already convoluted bit of strategy action role-playing. However, I found myself having the most fun during these segments.

Even seasoned role-playing veterans will find themselves slamming head-first into Cross Edge's brick wall of a learning curve. This game throws a ridiculous amount of information at you and either forgets or doesn't bother to ease gamers into the experience. Either way, it's totally unacceptable.

Cross Edge has a variable level of difficulty which uses the standard trifecta of challenge levels: Easy, Medium, and Hard. Of course, Medium is the most fair of the challenge levels. Easy makes the game a bit too easy (that does not mean simple in the least bit). Hard, under most circumstances, is often maddening.

If you do not count yourself among the hardest of hardcore JRPG gamers, you will probably play Cross Edge for about two hours before you decide the game sucks. If you pride yourself on completing every single published role-playing game to one hundred percent, you will sink a ton of hours into this game. There's a lot of stuff to collect, including different outfits. I'll give you a point of reference: role-playing (Western and Eastern alike) is probably my favorite genre, and if it wasn't for my reviewing duties, I would definitely not have had the will to finish Cross Edge. It's a painful grind, and in the end, that's just not what gaming is all about.

Game Mechanics:
Cross Edge introduces some interesting ideas, but most of them don't work the way you'd want them to. Menu systems in particular are infinitely more complicated than they should be, which makes the micromanagement (for some, the meat of the experience) a huge pain in the ass. The game is often way too busy for its own good. Weird numbers with unexplained purposes fly around the screen and it's often difficult to tell when it's a smart time to use your special abilities. There are also several glaring omissions with regards to gameplay mechanics. Why can't I view the effects of items before I use them (and likely waste them as well) for the very first several times? Why are my own party members charging me for items that will save their own lives in the future? Get real.

In combat, you can switch party members on the fly. That is a very good thing, because you'll quickly find out that some characters simply can't hold their ground against Cross Edge's more powerful enemies. If one combatant goes down, you can swap him or her out, provided you have enough AP.

There's a little bit of enjoyment to be had in Cross Edge, but the game requires way too much digging to get to it. There are people who buy every single one of these games either in hopes of another Disgaea-caliber title or as ammunition for an argument of how down with Japan they are. Nothing I say here can possibly stop them from buying Cross Edge. As far as the rest of you in the gaming populace go, hardcore or otherwise, I strongly urge you to pass on this game. The PlayStation 3 has a number of great console exclusives. Cross Edge is not one of them.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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