Adventures to Go is a Japanese Role Playing Game that was released in Europe back in February 2010. The game is a Playstation Portable title although PS Vita owners, desperately seeking new games to play on their handheld, can give it a go by downloading it off the Playstation Network. This Natsume release stars a teenager named Finn who has decided to pursue a career in adventuring as a means of making some quick cash. A profession that involves travelling to distant lands and battling dangerous monsters sounds like a lot of hassle though, so our cunning protagonist has devised a way curtailing those job hazards.
The town Finn was raised at has a facility named Adventures to Go, which serves as a fantasy training simulator of sorts were aspiring adventurers can hone their fighting skills. By paying a small fee patrons can be teleported to different regions were they can scrap with summoned creatures in relative safety. Clearly the populace aren't very bright as sixteen-year-old Finn is been the first person ever to suss out the financial potential of Adventures to Go. If someone posts a request at the guild, asking for pork ribs, why bother trekking off to the woods seeking swine? Just summon a piggy at Adventures to Go, slaughter it faster than you can say "time to meet your maker Babe" and collect your reward.
As far as plot goes that is pretty much it. Adventures to Go is not one of those RPGs blessed with a Final Fantasy style convoluted storyline. For the most part the focus is on Finn performing odd jobs for the guild although things eventually transition to a showdown with demons that are miffed about their treasure being swiped by Adventures to Go during the company's level creation process. The narrative doesn't treat itself too seriously with a lot of silly humour being the order of the day. During his quests Finn will interact with shopkeepers who hit on the female members of his party, a fairy like monster who pays extortionate amounts of dosh for shampoo and a grumpy sister who bemoans Finn's lack of assistance with household chores.
For the bulk of the game Finn will battle his way through dungeons of his own choosing that can be generated by selecting Adventures to Go from the town map. Creating levels is a breeze and merely involves chatting with the blonde lady situated at the information desk. Using a simple menu you pick the size of the level, the region you want to explore (there are deserts, caves, woods etc) and finally the type of creatures you want to face (such as undead, beasts, bugs etc.) Before venturing off it's recommended that you pay a visit to the nearby shops to stock up on weapons, armour and restorative items. What's this? The item shop is out of sunscreen? I better abandon the desert adventure or else my pale complexion is likely to turn lobster like.
Exploration of the early levels is a little dull as you start things off with just Finn traipsing across barren regions. As the story progresses things get more involved however with the stages becoming more maze like and three other companions joining Finn on his moneymaking schemes. The trio of pals include a witch love interest, a religious knight and a noble thief. There's not much to differentiate between the cast of characters aside from the weaponry they wield. The ladies get the option of using ranged weapons, the knight can use spears permitting him to strike multiple foes from melee range and Finn wields a sword because that's what RPG heroes do.
To complete a level, strictly speaking, all you need to do is locate the portal that returns you back to town. As making cash is your ultimate goal it is however recommended that you check out any huts or pedestals you come across. Interacting with these structures may yield money or free items although if you are unlucky they can also harm you courtesy of collapsing roofs. In the words of Admiral Ackbar "It's a trap!" Disrupting your exploration are a plethora of monsters who Finn gets to face in random encounters that can spring up whenever he takes a step (that's why I dislike walking, it's not because I am lazy I just fear getting ambushed by mythical creatures.)
Whenever a battle begins the surrounding area transforms into a grid-based map were your characters and opponents take it in turns to perform actions. By using a limited number of action points it is possible to move your party members and attack any hostile in range. Ending a turn prematurely also permits you to defend, which reduces any damage you take or initialize a devastating pre-emptive strike that makes your warrior attack anyone who ventures within their weapon range. During combat you can also use items from your backpack and cast magic.
I have to say that the game's spell system is rather neat. The number of magic crystals you carry determines how many spells you can cast and the effect of a crystal is dependent on what fragments were used to create it. Magic crystals can be used just once and recharge at the end of the day, so it's best not to waste them on every critter you encounter. When creating crystals it's fun to experiment with the different fragment types to see what you will get. Will you get the power to buff someone, heal an ally, torch an enemy with a flame or maybe even summon a goat? Okay I made that last one up. I was kid-ding.
Overall Adventures to Go is a fun little game. The combat system is tactical, yet the levels themselves don't take too long to complete making it ideal to play in quick bursts during your travels. At the time of writing I have invested twenty-five hours into the game and have about three more quests to go to finish the main story. My only issue with the game is that it can get a little repetitive, especially when you have to grind stages to earn enough funds to upgrade your gear. Still for a relatively inexpensive dungeon crawler it's not a bad purchase for RPG fans looking to play an adventure on the go.
Plot: Although the plot doesn't play a major part of the game, it does push it on slowly. Basically you have your personal quests and then your job quests. Your personal quests are linked to the plot and the job quests are more for simply making money or to waste a couple of days until the next chapter of the plot appears.
How you complete these quests is what makes Adventures to Go differ from most fantasy games. Although you do become the hero at the end of the game that saves the world, most of the game involves you summoning dungeons and choosing the enemies you want to populate it. It sounds a simple idea and to be honest it is but there can be so much fun had out of it. You need to find a unicorn horn? Then it's best to order plains as the area you want and magical beasts for the enemies. Although the game never leaves you lost at what to do next for too long, it's nice after trying a mixture to finally see the enemy you're after and getting the drop you've been waiting for.
Graphics: Although not the best I've seen the PSP produce, they aren't too bad. Although the dungeons are fairly basic the characters and enemies are fairly detailed when playing and when watching cut scenes you have your typical Japanese manga style characters.
Sound: Worth turning off to be honest. The characters have no voice and the same music at any stage in the game, be it dungeon crawling or cut scenes, has the same annoying monotonous music throughout.
Controls: Like with most turn based role-playing games, it's all about the menu selections so once you know your way around the menus; you pretty much know how to work the game.
Lifespan: Adventures to Go took me around 37 hours and that's including the main quest and nearly all of the side quests. I only stopped with the side quests due to them beginning to repeat themselves. They always asked for me to retrieve a different item but it was basically off the same enemy but with a different name towards the end.
Overall: Unfortunately, once you've played Adventures to Go, there's nothing to make you load it up again. It's one of those games that while you're playing it, it's enjoyable but once it's done, you probably aren't going to remember too much about it in the future.