I Am Setsuna (Switch) Review

I Am Setsuna (Switch) Review

Winter is Coming

If you’re a fan of old-school Super Nintendo RPGs, then I Am Setsuna may have caught your eye at least once. RPG juggernaut Square Enix formed the studio Tokyo RPG Factory, specifically to develop throwbacks to that era, and I Am Setsuna is its debut project. While there are clear comparisons to the time-travel classic Chrono Trigger, this game manages to stand out from its inspirations, but not necessarily in the best way.

Here is my video review for your viewing pleasure!

The story follows the mercenary Endir, who is tasked to kill Setsuna, a young woman destined to save the monster-infested world by acting as its sacrifice. As events unfold, you find yourself in the band of heroes who will assist Setsuna on her journey to the Last Lands. The story might sound familiar if you’ve played Final Fantasy X, but this tale is a more somber take, removing the lightheartedness and whimsy of Square Enix’s classic titles and replacing them with dreary dialogue and gloomy characters. Though there is a place for melancholic storytelling, the game overemphasizes it, making the experience somewhat depressing. Though the core characters are pretty likable, we rarely get to see their personalities aside from their militaristic attitudes towards completing the mission.

I Am Setsuna Review Setsuna Dialogue
She said the thing!

At least the gameplay, which borrows heavily from Square’s classics, is more enjoyable. Once you’ve received your assignment, you set out and journey through the snowbound land. Matching the melancholy tone, the environments are completely covered in snow, and the lack of distinctive locales make the world feel smaller than it is. The world map is devoid of enemies, but enter an area and you’ll find foes out in the open, ready to fight.

I Am Setsuna Review World Map.jpg
The World Map is pretty big, but there isn’t much to see.

As soon as you come into an enemy’s range, you begin the battle then and there. I Am Setsuna uses the popular active time battle (ATB) system, first introduced in Square’s Final Fantasy series. Each party member has his own gauge that fills during battle. Once filled, you can perform an action, whether attacking, using special tech abilities, or casting support magic. Additionally, party members can combine their techs to execute combo attacks that look cool and deal significant damage.

Not only is time important, but also space. If you can launch a sneak attack behind your foes, you start with a full ATB gauge, ready to go. During battle, character positions matter. If your enemies are bunched up together, you may be able to swing your sword widely enough to hit multiple foes at the same time. Likewise, stand close to your own party members to heal them with one spell. Though you can’t manually move your characters, paying attention to what attacks shuffle your enemy and party positions adds an extra layer of strategy that most RPGs don’t take into consideration.

I Am Setuna Review Combo Tech.jpg
Dual and Triple Tech Combos work wonders.

Though veteran Super Nintendo RPG fans are likely familiar with the tried-and-true battle system thus far, I Am Setsuna sets itself apart with new mechanics that are honestly hit or miss. For instance, you can build “Momentum” by remaining idle instead of instantly attacking when your ATB gauge is full. When you attack, a glowing light will momentarily appear, and pressing the Y button during that time will grant special bonuses like additional damage or added status effects. Unlike Super Mario RPG and other games that utilize timed button presses, you can easily spam the button here; as long as you hit that critical window, you’ll activate the effect, removing the depth that could have been there.

Additionally, activating Momentum will sometimes randomly trigger “Singularity,” a temporary interval when a single bonus is always in effect. For instance, during a 30-second period, your attacks may cause all kinds of elemental damage, or your characters might be impervious to death. Though these boosts sound phenomenal, the limited time period is very short and the chances of activating Singularity are entirely luck-dependent, so it’s not something you can plan a strategy around.

I Am Setsuna Review Tech Battle
Special effects happen when you can use “Momentum.”

Winning battles and tougher boss encounters nets you experience for leveling up, though that’s not the only method for strengthening your characters. You can also sell materials to forge Spritnite, mystical stones that you can use to customize your characters with magic, special abilities, and passive power-ups. Though each character has a limited inventory to hold Spritnite, you can also equip Talismans to give them more slots.

In addition, Talismans offer special permanent bonuses to your Spritnite called “Flux,” but this only occurs when you can activate the button press timed Momentum. Again, though it’s great to wield permanently buffed attacks, the random element means that you’ll have to grind for any desired powers. Additionally, it’s a confusing process that requires several looks at the tutorial page.

I Am Setsuna Review Boss.jpg
The bosses are large and impressive.

The journey takes about 20 hours, and a few sidequests and world exploration can raise that number. Though it sounds short by RPG standards, it’s pretty on par with SNES playtimes. As a Switch game, it works well as a handheld experience, though you’ll have to utilize Sleep mode since you can only save at designated areas. Regardless, doing a little exploration or a few battles is great for a break or commute. The game is fairly linear so it’s easy to make progress. As far as replay value goes, there are no deviating paths or a New Game+. Though honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to play it a second time due to the overall depressing tone.

The wintry world is bleak, and the environment is a little boring to look at. You are limited to exploring snowy areas, caves, and towers; so areas start to look the same, making the game feel more tedious than it actually is. The presentation is reminiscent of a slightly better looking SNES or early PlayStation-era RPG. At least the artwork and character designs are gorgeous, even if the visuals are bland. In contrast, the music is one of the best parts of this package, with beautiful, soft piano melodies perfectly capturing the mood for both adventure and somberness. The developers were very careful to effectively sync aesthetics with tone.

I Am Setsuna Switch Review Banner.png
And you are?

Conclusion

I Am Setsuna does a fairly good job fulfilling the role of a throwback Square RPG. The overly melancholic tone of the game and completely snow-covered world work to tell a somber tale, but it lacks the quirky fun of the classic RPGs that this game tries to spiritually succeed. Though the base active time battle system it borrows from established games is solid, the random elements added to the table aren’t as fun or well-executed. Despite these hiccups, I enjoyed my playthrough. If you’re looking for a great Square RPG, I’d sooner direct you to the SNES classics than Setsuna. But if you desire something new and have a lot of nostalgia for those old RPGs – particularly Chrono Trigger – and you don’t mind some hiccups in the presentation and mechanics, then I Am Setsuna is worth a try.

Score: 7/10

What are your thoughts on I Am Setsuna? What are your favorite classic RPGs from the Super Nintendo/PlayStation era and why? What kind of gameplay would you like to see the developers at Tokyo RPG Factory tackle next? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thank you for reading!

Weekly Panda Roundup – (S)NES Classic

Weekly Panda Roundup – (S)NES Classic

Hi everyone! Welcome to the third edition of Weekly Panda Roundup! My wife and I had another exciting weekend, mostly due to a big comic convention that we attended. I’ll have more to share about that in the next few weeks, but first I have a story.

Behind the SNES Classic Video

Our latest video, a wish list of 30 games we’d like for the rumored SNES Classic Edition, wasn’t actually the planned video for this week. I originally had another video ready to go, until something went wrong with the audio, making the video nearly unwatchable. I salvaged what I could but no longer felt that it was worth uploading. I was devastated, but I was determined to get something up for our subscribers.

SNES Classic Wish List.png

That night, we channeled all that energy into making something bigger and better, and I actually had to learn some new editing skills to put the video together. And after many long hours of writing, recording, and editing, I’m so pleased about the final product! It’s truly a video that has risen from the ashes of something that could have been. And although I’m still a little bummed about the other video, I’m so glad that this new video has been received well. Thank you for your insightful comments and awesome ideas for the system! Be sure to check out the fun video that we poured our hearts into below!

Without further ado, it’s time to round ‘em up!

Panda Logo.png

Video Roundup

We can’t stress enough how grateful we are for your support for our YouTube channel! It warms our hearts every time you share our videos and leave such awesome comments! I’m always floored by your kind words and insights. Seriously, you all are awesome. Thank you so much for believing in us, and we hope to continue to bring quality content for you to enjoy!

Our YouTube channel link is here! http://bit.ly/2nvJ2Lu

And if you’d like to subscribe after watching our videos, please click here! http://bit.ly/2oaYX1r

SNES Classic Top 30 Wish List

I sincerely hope you enjoy this video where Crystal Dragon and I discuss which 30 games we’d like to see on a hypothetical SNES Classic, why we think they’d be good fits for the mini console, and the likelihood that they could appear. The SNES has such a huge legacy, and there were many games we could have chosen. Please be sure to let us know what you want to see from our list as well as what you would like to see on your hypothetical SNES Classic! Enjoy!

Pandas at Play – Snipperclips Co-Op Part 4 – It’s-a-BE-AUT-I-FUL!

Part 4 our co-op playthrough of Snipperclips is up! In this episode, we start the second world, Retro Reboot, and make some of the most BE-AUT-I-FUL shapes. End sarcasm. Find out what ridiculous figures we cut each other up into in the video below! As always, you can start with this video or from the first episode here.

You can find the full playlist starting at Part 1 – Stabby Sticks here: http://bit.ly/2nFmc5v

Snake Pass – 2 Players with Separated Joy-Cons

Due to the aforementioned issue with the broken video, I apologize that we couldn’t upload the second part of our Snake Pass playthrough of us holding separate Joy-Con controllers. Though I had considered putting it up the day before or after the Snipperclips video, we ultimately decided to keep it consistently on Saturdays. It’ll also allow us to put the best content we can out there! So please look forward to that next Saturday!

Snake Pass Thumbnail Part 1 V3.png

Until then, you can find the playlist with the first episode here – http://bit.ly/2pezKUq

IMG_0844.JPG

NES Classic!

Closely related to the rumored SNES Classic, we finally got our hands on the real deal, the NES Classic! After months of repeatedly missing out on this rare 30-game compilation and the news that Nintendo was discontinuing the system, I believed it was all over.

And I was fine with that. It’s a 30-game collection on a fun miniature console, yes, but I played most of those games or could get them on Virtual Console. Besides, I had never even seen the NES Classic on shelves. The closest I ever got to one was being right behind another lucky individual who brought his NES Classic home. At least I hope he did as opposed to what else he could do with the system… Then came word of Best Buy’s reported final shipment, and we were determined to line up early for this.

IMG_0850.JPG

It wasn’t our first time lining up for something. After all, just at this past convention, we did a lot of that for autographs. Not to mention, we’ve had to line up for amiibo multiple times to fulfill our extensive collection. Even then, we weren’t always successful in these endeavors. Recently, I even had a nightmare story about the horrors that happened during the Wal-Mart midnight Nintendo Switch launch!

Arriving early on the morning of the final shipment, we got one out of only seven mini consoles in a line of 20+ people! Though I wish there were more stock for all the people waiting, I was so ecstatic once I held it in my hands! After nearly missing out on this system forever and a horrible Switch launch experience, it felt so good to have a launch go well…even though this is technically a release of a system that’s been out since November. Hmm, there are so many things wrong with this NES Classic situation. If the SNES Classic actually happens, I can only hope Nintendo learns from this. Oh well, one thing at time, I guess. 🙂

IMG_5004

I’ll be sure to write more about my acquisition in the next few weeks!

Next Time…!

Thank you so much for reading this issue Weekly Panda Roundup! On Thursday, I’ll be posting a new video review! And for the next roundup, I’ll be writing a special feature about those comic conventions we’ve been attending! See you next time!

How was your weekend? Have you ever lined up for a console, amiibo, or any other product? Were you able to get the NES Classic, anytime between launch and now? What would you like on the rumored SNES Classic? Let me know what you think about NES Classic, the unconfirmed SNES Classic, or any of our videos in the comments section below! Thank you for reading! Have a great week!

SNES Classic Games Wish List

SNES Classic Games Wish List

The NES Classic Edition has come and gone. Though many of us have missed out on obtaining this prized miniature console with 30 NES games, a rumor from Eurogamer suggests that Nintendo could already be looking at an SNES Classic Edition by the end of the year. I would absolutely love to see 30 Super Nintendo games all in one tiny system. But what games to include? I created a wish list of the games I’d like to see make it to this hypothetical system. Though there are some unrealistic choices, I put some thought into what games would be more likely than others, so there aren’t any licensed games on here. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of great titles to choose from! Here’s my top 30!

I also put together a video version of this list for your enjoyment!

  1. Super Mario World

Let’s face it. This list wouldn’t be complete without Mario’s first 16-bit classic, Super Mario World. This game is a masterpiece in all forms of design, whether level, graphic, or sound. And the fun factor is off the charts – Yoshi, the Cape power-up, secret exits – I love this game, and its likelihood of appearing on an SNES Classic is pretty much given. How could it not be there?

  1. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

The “sequel,” Yoshi’s Island, the green dinosaur’s first solo outing, is also a great game in its own right. The chances of it appearing are a little lower, since the game’s use of the Super FX Chip seems to have prevented it from being on the Virtual Console in its proper form. Still, this game gives me fond memories, and I’d love to see Yoshi and Baby Mario’s misadventures finally get a rerelease.

Super Mario World-SNES Classic.jpg

  1. Super Mario All-Stars

I’m probably cheating with this one, but I’d love to see this 16-bit remastered collection of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2., Super Mario Bros. 3, and The Lost Levels make it to the SNES Classic. Regardless of whether or not it counts as four games, the compilation would make the mini system feel more complete.

  1. Super Mario Kart

I know this list is pretty Mario heavy, but I’m sure Nintendo can’t resist having their mascot plumber abundantly represented. Plus Super Mario Kart is the original mascot kart racer that made the series what it is today. While Mario Kart 8 and its Deluxe form take the series to gravity-defying heights, fans owe it to themselves to experience the series’ roots.

DonkeyKongCountry SNES Classic

  1. Donkey Kong Country

  2. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

  3. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series are some of the most graphically impressive games on the hardware. At least, they were at the time. Regardless, these are some of my favorite platformers ever. The level design is masterful, and David Wise’s music is legendary. If I could only choose one to include, I’d have to go with my personal favorite, DKC2. But please Nintendo, convince Rare to put all three on the system!

Link to the Past SNES Classic.jpg

  1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

You were probably waiting for this one. Of course I want The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to be on the SNES Classic. This legendary title that set the precedent for every subsequent Zelda game, except Breath of the Wild, is so likely, that it’s just a question of when will it get announced as opposed to if.

  1. Super Metroid

On that same level is the just as impressive Super Metroid, which took the original adventure game’s premise and expanded upon it in every way. Just like with Zelda, I’m certain Samus Aran’s iconic mission will appear on the Classic. The question is: do we save or kill the animals?

Super_metroid_cover SNES Classic.jpg

  1. Super Punch-Out!!

Although Super Punch-Out!! is far less known, it’s highly likely to appear on the compilation thanks to its first-party status. No complaints here because Little Mac’s arcade boxing game sequel to one of my favorite games on the NES would be a knockout addition.

  1. Star Fox

Star Fox was a marvelous space shooter that utilized the Super FX Chip for impressive polygonal shapes pre-Nintendo 64. That chip is probably the reason we never got a rerelease on the Virtual Console, but if Nintendo can work it out for the SNES Classic, this is one of my top desired FX Chip games.

Star Fox SNES Classic.jpg

  1. Pilotwings

Pilotwings was a first-party launch title for the SNES, which likely gives it top-billing for a Classic Edition, regardless of what you may think of the game. Though I wasn’t a big fan, it makes sense to include this flight simulator for its impressive use of Mode 7 to rotate and scale its backgrounds for a true sky-high feel.

  1. F-Zero

This leads me to this other Mode 7 heavy game, the futuristic racer, F-Zero. This first-party title introducing the world to Captain Falcon has seen numerous rereleases. It’s a shoe-in for the Classic. FALCON PUNCH!

  1. Yoshi’s Safari

So why not pick the least likely Mode 7 game to make it. Yoshi’s Safari was a spinoff that required the Super Scope peripheral that allowed you to shoot at enemies while riding your green steed. Though it’s certainly a unique experience, I’d have to wonder if Nintendo would even be willing to pull this off. Still, it had Yoshi, and I enjoyed it at the time.

  1. Tetris Attack

A puzzle game that is nothing like Tetris, Tetris Attack is actually based on the Panel de Pon series, also known as Puzzle League. With a fun mechanic that tasked you to swap blocks to form three-in-a-row and cute aesthetics from Yoshi’s Island, this would be a great addition to the system, despite having never been on Virtual Console.

SuperMarioRPGSNESCoverArtUS

  1. Super Mario RPG

Another Mario game? I assure you, this is much different than the typical platformer. A joint venture between legendary RPG developer Square and Nintendo, Super Mario RPG introduced the Mushroom Kingdom to turn-based battle systems with a flair of button timing. It also introduced us to our favorite neglected puppet, Geno. SMRPG would be likely to appear, assuming Square Enix was on board.

FF VI SNES Classic.jpg

  1. Final Fantasy II (IV)

  2. Final Fantasy III (VI)

And while we’re on the topic of Square Enix, here are the other games I’d like from them. First off, we have both Final Fantasy II and III (or IV and VI following the series’ true numbering). Both games gave us endearing characters, awesome active time battle systems, amazing music, and high-quality sprite artwork. If I could only choose one to include, I’d pick III for its cast of characters and excellent villain. Though I’d hope to see both of them represented!

  1. Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger. It’s a classic, and its diehard fans will tell you it’s their favorite game of all time. This epic journey takes you on an whirlwind tour through time, with lovable characters designed by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball Z fame and a breathtaking soundtrack that I still listen to today. There’s no definite chance this game would make it on the collection, but we have to dream.

Chrono Trigger SNES Classic

  1. Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana is another game that may or may not make it, depending on what Square Enix gives, but let it be known that I’d like to see the multiplayer action-RPG find a new home on the SNES Classic.

  1. ActRaiser

The same goes for ActRaiser, which is the only of these Square-Enix games developed by Enix. I’m not sure this hybrid between action platformer and city-building simulator would be Nintendo’s first choice on their miniature SNES, but it’s a unique title that deserves more exposure.

  1. Super Castlevania IV

Continuing our third-party lineup, Konami’s Super Castlevania IV is a sensible pick, bringing a series already represented in the NES Classic to the 16-bit era. The game looked and played wonderfully at the time, so why not include this game so we can lay waste to Dracula all over again?

Super_castlevania_iv_SNES classic

  1. Contra III: The Alien Wars

Another well-known Konami game, Contra III: The Alien Wars, also deserves a spot on this list, with its series also represented on the original NES Classic. Though I haven’t played the other Contra games, I enjoyed this shoot ‘em up a lot, and I think it has a good chance of being included.

  1. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja

On the flip side is The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, a game whose series I adore, but who knows if we’ll get the game on the Classic. This hybrid of traditional 2D and isometric 3D platforming was well-received and has made it to Virtual Console multiple times, so there’s definitely the opportunity.

  1. Street Fighter II

Hadoken! With Ultra Street Fighter II on Switch being a thing, we might not see the original Capcom fighting game on the system. That would be a shame since I couldn’t imagine an SNES compilation without the World Warriors.

Megaman_X_SNES Classic

  1. Mega Man X

The same goes for Capcom’s edgier version of the Blue Bomber. Mega Man X is like the first series in everything but name. You still get to fire your buster and fight boss battles against robot master animals. Though I’d love for more X goodness to be on there, I’d go with the first entry if anything.

  1. Harvest Moon

For something completely different, Natsume’s Harvest Moon would make a perfect easygoing title. With the focus on watering crops and raising animals, it would be markedly different from slashing foes and bouncing on Goombas. The series is still popular today, and its first SNES entry has already previously made it to Virtual Console, so I can see this happening.

Kirby Super Star SNES Classic

  1. Kirby Super Star

  2. Kirby’s Dream Land 3

Going back to first-party (or at least second-party), HAL Laboratories’ Kirby platformers just have to be on the system. Kirby Super Star was known for providing eight games in one, and Kirby’s Dream Land 3 delivered a solid platformer while bringing back Kirby’s animal pals. Though I considered the spinoffs, Kirby’s Avalanche (a Puyo Puyo clone) and Kirby’s Dream Course (Kirby golf), I ultimately decided that Kirby’s classic titles should have representation first.

  1. Earthbound

And finally we come to Earthbound, that oh-so-quirky RPG that allegedly “stinks.” This story of four kids taking down animals, hippies, and aliens in a warped version of America, is one of the games I had looked most forward to for Virtual Console. Now that it’s made it, the next logical step is finding a home on the SNES Classic. Fuzzy Pickles!

EarthBound SNES Classic

Conclusion

It was difficult coming up with 30 games, especially third-party titles that deviated from the platformer and RPG genres, but this is an ideal list of what I’d like to see (that’d be possible) on the SNES Classic. Let’s just hope that regardless of what’s on there, there’s enough stock to go around so we can all enjoy it!

What games would you like to see on the SNES Classic? What games that I missed would you like to see? What are your favorite SNES games? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!