Yggdra Union Review

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a few years back a little-known developer brought out a fun albeit unknown RPG on the GBA. The handheld was littered with cult hits (more so than any other platform), and RPGs seemed to be the basic currency in which they came. That game was a strategy RPG/card game called Yggdra Union.

Recognizing the level of quality in the original Yggdra Union game, publisher Atlus decided to take a chance on the franchise, bringing it back to the PSP for a modern audience of gamers. The result is an addictive-but flawed-strategy RPG tactical gamers will most likely inexplicably love.

Unlike many RPGs (even strategy RPGs these days), Yggrada Union’s story isn’t particularly noteworthy. While it more than serves as a vehicle to advance the gameplay through various theaters and stages of progression, the plot itself is fairly clich√©. (But to be fair it was originally on the GBA, so their working space was limited.) In the game, the kingdom of Fantasinia is invaded by the Empire, who as we all know is never good. Taking her sword, Yggdra flees the chaos and begins a journey of making friends, beating bad guys, and ultimately defeating the empire and restoring peace.

The blurbs on the case describe Yggdra Union as a card game, but that’s a slight misnomer. While it certainly involves the use of cards in battle, it’s not the same as, say, the Marvel card game. There’s much more depth to Yggdra Union than people would expect when they see “card game,” so if you’re skeptical based on that point don’t be.

Like almost every strategy or tactical RPG ever made, the game takes place on an overhead grid map, and you move your units to and fro. At the beginning of each turn you pick a card which then gives you a value relating to how your party can move on the grid. When you end up in a fight, you have less control than most similar games. Your options come down to aggressive mode, passive mode, or do-nothing. Aggressive mode makes your entire group act like barbarian berserkers, and they use a lot of energy fighting which then requires them to enter passive mode to regain said lost energy.

While this sounds like a glorified version of console RISK, there’s thankfully more to it than that. For example, while you can use weapon cards for battles, it’s just as important to recognize what your enemy will be using as the game utilizes a rock/paper/scissors type strategy where certain weapons have advantages over others. Combined with this is the fact that some units prefer one type of weapon, and using that card will give then access to a special ability to use in-battle which can often change the course-if it’s not used against their weakness. You can also create “unions” by lining up characters with your instigating party in a specific manner, which adds a whole new level of depth.

It’s hard to explain in writing, but it’s fairly easy to pick up once you get to playing. Suffice it to say that despite the limited battle control, there’s still plenty of tactical necessity to satisfy strategy RPG aficionados and some fun, engaging combat.

Yggdra Union isn’t without its faults. Obviously being a GBA port the graphics and audio aren’t quite to the level PSP owners expect these days. They’re better than the original, but by no means drool-worthy or even nod-worthy.

Perhaps the biggest flaw is how unforgiving it can be for a handheld title, which are usually supposed to be more forgiving given their pick-up-and-go nature. There’s no real way to heal units in battle (or regain “morale,” as the game calls it). The only times you can do so are when picking up randomly hidden healing items, or when you level up. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the penalties; supporting characters when they die get reset to level 1, and if a main character dies it’s Game Over. With how lengthy some of the maps take to clear, and how easy it is to have a battle go absolutely wrong, most people will have at least a few moments of screaming at their PSP and resetting. In a brilliant move developers added what’s essentially a dumb-down mode for those who consistently fail a map. If you keep losing and resetting, the game continues to decrease difficulty until it bottoms out at the very easy level which SHOULD offer no problems to anyone who knows what they’re doing.

Even though it’s not for everyone, Yggdra Union is still a solid game strategy RPG that the hardcore crowd will enjoy. It’s difficult, strangely addicting, and shows gamers that there’s more ways to be successful in the tactical/strategy RPG market than copying the Final Fantasy and Ogre Battle franchises.

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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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