Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel Review

Inu Yasha means "dog demon warrior" in Japanese; it’s also the name of a very popular anime series. The animated program chronicles the adventures of Kagome, a girl who can travel through different time eras in Japan by means of a time portal found inside of a water well. Kagome, Inuyasha and her friends search for the shattered pieces of the Sacred Jewel — a jewel which can give its owner great power that can be used for either good or evil.

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel is an RPG game set in the universe of the anime television show, and what this means for fans is a very accurate rendition of the characters, environment and plot of the series. For all others, the game will still have a certain amount of appeal because the plot is quite novel and offers an interesting storyline regarding the ability to warp to different time periods in Japan’s history.

You start off the game not as Inuyasha or Kagome but as the character Janis, a middle school girl in the USA who finds herself moving to Japan because her father’s job has been relocated there. She eventually makes friends with Kagome, and goes back in time in a quest to remove a powerful Shikon jewel fragment that has been embedded in her body. By the way, the jewel also gives her magical powers.

Gameplay is a combination of plot development and battles. The frequency of random battles you encounter will probably be the most that you have ever seen in any RPG game, and that includes the original Final Fantasy title which was often criticized for the numerous battles gamers had to face during their progress in the game. But if Final Fantasy was considered irritating in its random battle frequency, Secret of the Divine Jewel has to take the gold medal, the silver medal and the bronze medal for battles during gameplay. In case you couldn’t tell, this isn’t a good thing.

In the game, Janis leaves the secure and safe confines of her middle school, enters through the "Bone Eater’s Well" in a nearby monastery and is transported to the Feudal era of Japan. Pretty cool, right? But this elation will only last a few minutes as you suddenly realize that you will engage in random battles (and I use the term random loosely) almost every step you take. I’m not joking. Move a step, you’re faced with a battle. Take another few steps, the battle screen shows up again. Run like mad, oh, too bad: another battle.

When I faced this dilemma of not being able to go where I wanted to go because of the overwhelming incidents of battles, I really thought that the game was somehow broken. How could the production and testing teams possibly have let this game out the door like this? In one of the brief moments I was able to walk for a few seconds without a battle, it suddenly dawned on me that this is as good as it gets. The frequency of battles is how the game operates. Woe unto you if you enter a location where you have to find your way out or you need to meet other characters. You’ll be faced not only with dead ends and futile attempts to find a way out, but you’ll be relentlessly tortured with wave after wave of monster battles for your efforts to advance in the game. You can’t avoid the battles, because they’ll follow you everywhere. You can run, but you can’t hide.

In many cases, you will face at least one battle per second as you hopelessly try and attempt to move just a few feet from your location. It’s great if you want to level up your characters, but being virtually slowed down to a halt is absolutely ludicrous. Of course, in time you’ll be able to collect enough items to make yourself an orb which lessens the number of battles you must face, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever reach that stage because you will have tossed your DS out the window long before then.

To put all of this in perspective, think of this experience as going on a long trip in your car, but having to fill up the fuel tank every few feet that you drive. Your destination may be a fun place to visit, but the trip itself will take all the fun out of any possible enjoyment that may be inherent in the final destination. That’s exactly how I felt about ISDJ. The game itself has some good things going for it — a pretty good storyline, some entertaining gameplay (when you aren’t doing those horrible battles), and a good rendition of the Inuyasha world. But the painful repetitiveness of the fights wipes out all pleasure of the game because the process of doing anything takes so long.

Engaging in battles encompasses the use of the main characters and their associated super character. In the case of Janis, she has the use of a couple of demon monsters named Shikioni in the beginning of the game. These secondary characters are your principle fighters while their human counterparts can use items and heal. Items are collected, picked up or bought in stores and they can modify, enhance or cure. Skills are acquired for each member by learning them and can be used for various situations during the game, such as in battles (where you’ll use them most often) and other conditions.

The upper screen of the DS takes care of the animation and main graphic duties while the lower screen acts as a status screen, battle menu and battle action display. Text is written in cursive form and reminds me of a typical handwritten script you’d find in a school workbook. Navigating around this RPG is simple as pie, and follows all standard procedures for this sort of game. You have your selection of attacks, healing herbs, special attacks, items which modify your attributes and cures for abnormal conditions such as paralysis, poison and others. The game also allows you to make special orbs or amulets to enhance your defense or offense and other qualities of your characters.

In case you were worried that the battles were the only horrendous issue in the game, fear not. The graphics aren’t exactly the best that have ever appeared on the DS. In fact, they’re probably on the bottom of that totem pole, as they actually look more in league with a Color GameBoy Advanced title. The artwork is adequate, but nothing to write home about, either.

Inuyasha: Secret of the Divine Jewel had the potential to become a small jewel in the handheld RPG world, but the absolutely monstrous amount of random battles pulls this game down into the mire of excruciatingly slow gameplay and high levels of aggravation, and instead turns this game into a lump of coal. It’s sad to say, but this is probably the worst RPG title I’ve ever played, and I’ve played a lot of them. The only individuals who may find some sort of redeeming value in this game will be hardcore Inuyasha fans, but even so, it will take a lot of effort to be able to like this game.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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