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on 29 March 2009
So Chopin is on his deathbed and having a dream where he meets people and they go on a voyage through a music-inspired world. A bit weird but the result is still beautiful, so we'll play along. This game has plenty of things that could have been improved, but overall I liked playing it.

The bad:
- Linear story, you don't any important game/world-changing choices through the game. In fact, in one or two occasions you'll have to backtrack to find some things and it really won't be intuitive that you should do so, which is not very coherent with the whole game.
- While most enemies have different attacks and can morph between two types, effectively doubling the number of enemies available, there are still few per area of the game and many battles can feel exactly the same.
- Not easy to accurately position the characters, especially against larger enemies, and that might make their attacks miss completely.
- No in-game explanation of status properties of items and attacks.
- Some puzzles are too much trial and error with no hints on what to do, and so become tiresome and not fun.
- A few character voices can be a bit irritating and they always have their arms in an awkward position, they don't go down to the sides of the body.
- Some cutscenes are very long and not particularly interesting or logical.
- Easy to get money, even without selling photos (game meechanic).
- Equiped items don't reflect on your character's appearance.
- Characters are not balanced.
- Story has a lot of nonsense.

The good:
- Beautiful, great bright colors, pretty environments.
- Special attack chains are fun and impressive. Attacks in general are nicely done.
- The names of the worlds, characters, etc. are fun and everything is related to music.
- Camera behaves well for the most part.
- Good, beautiful music score.
- Battle system evolves, giving you more difficulty with more options and power, making you have to pay attention to battles and thus making them more of a challenge.
- Some of the characters are actually fun and it's nice watching them interact.
- Boss battles can be a real challenge.
- Shows facts on Chopin's life, although in a boring way.
- Has an Encore mode where the game becomes different (read about this, haven't tried it yet).

All in all, while not a great game, I don't regret buying it and when I finish some other games I'll do the Encore mode. Hope this was helpful.
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on 15 May 2008
I will admit to not being the biggest JRPG fan, having never seen a Final Fantasy game through to it's conclusion, but I know what I like, and I loved Eternal Sonata, so much so that it made me actively seek out other Japanese RPG's for more of the same.

Everything about this game is a hit; the visuals are simply gorgeous, the whole game is wonderfully imaginative, the combat is fully engaging and fun, the story is an absolute delight, and despite a linear storyline there are still plenty to be done in this rich and beautiful game. It's definitely a game with replay value and it's a game that's an immense amount of fun to play.

I got through the game in about 24 hours in total, which admittedly is a little short, especially considering that Lost Odyssey, the most recent Xbox 360 JRPG is 60 hours long, but I'd say I fully enyoyed at least 22 of them. I definitely intend to play it again just because it's such a wonderful experience. You will be sitting through some rather long cutscenes, and the story does get rather preachy, but these minor problems did nothing to dent my utter enjoyment of this game.

Considering that I got this game for less than £20 from good ol' Amazon, in retrospect if I had known how good it was I would have gladly paid £40, and at £15 you would be hard pressed to find a better game. Every Xbox owner who enjoys a good colourful game with some real nice combat has no excuse for not buying this simply amazing game. 9/10 (rounded up to 5 rather than down to 4)
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VINE VOICEon 26 October 2007
Eternal Sonata is one of those games that delivers a refreshing twist to an already-outdone genre. When I first read that it was a RPG set in the dreams of the dying composer Chopin, I almost laughed. Such a crazy idea would never play out well! Or, will it?

Firstly, I'm going to talk about the graphics. Eternal Sonata definitely impresses on just about every graphical level; the cutscenes rival the very best Disney movies, and the in game cell-shading in a real-time world is truly breathtaking. The atmosphere in this game is truly astounding, little details like light flourishes through tree canopies, and floating petals from flower fields...It truly comes together to make a spectacular, dreamy world to play in. A minor annoyance is that the camera is fixed, and thus there's no freedom to look over the dreamy landscapes, and it leaves you wondering what beauty lies just beyond the paths you are forced to walk. A quick note, although the camera is fixed, never once does it become awkward, or get in the way. The camera is done just perfectly, in my opinion. Another note, this game runs as smoothly as butter, and there's never any frame drops! I want to say this has been recorded at 60fps but don't quote me. It's just smooth.

The story revolves around Chopin, and his party of followers that he meets whilst in his dreams. The voice acting isn't terrible, and definitely gets better as the game progresses, but this is after all a Japanese RPG, so we can forgive that aspect. Characters are so vibrant, and the personalities are so real, for once there's an RPG where you actually care about the characters! I suppose this is almost playing a book, with Disney film style graphics, there's real depth and character, and real involvement on the player's behalf.

Music? The score to this game features music composed from Chopin, as well as some specially-performed tracks, and overall the music is absolutely stunning. It's graceful, elegant and definitely beautiful to listen to. This is just another aspect where this game excels!

There's no more random encounters, either! All enemies are present in the world, so you have the choice whether to fight or not. The levelling system isn't the best, either. Save for a few boss battles, you never really have any trouble with enemies, even with the weakest characters. The battles are done very well too, mixing traditional turn-based techniques with a clever time limit which promotes quick thinking and a little button bashing. Overall, I think its a very good system and it makes for fun play during the long long hours spent on this game!

Overall, the game is stunning. Great visuals, stunning musical score, and a gripping story. There's fairly limited replayability, though. As once you know the plot and how the game ends, there's very little reason to go back other than to witness the sheer splendour of the environments once more. Definitely an RPG worth having.
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on 8 August 2011
This is one of the finest RPG's available on the 360. Stunning graphics, great battle system and a unique story.

I am guilty of playing some games and losing interest fast, that did not happen here.

I strongly recommend this game especially at the brilliant price Amazon have it at - it's a no brainer.

Enjoy.
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on 23 October 2007
So what makes Eternal Sonata special?
The story follows Chopin, a composer on his deathbed drifting between reality and his dream world and his friends, a young girl named Polka, Beat, Algretto and Viola. It follows their exploits against the evil Count Waltz whose taxation of organic powders, forcing his citizens to buy mineral powders is pretty much the root cause of all the problems, although you'll see they all have their own reasons for visiting the count (except Beath who pretty much follows Algretto.)
The graphics are simply amazing. I personally liken them to Baten Kaitos on GC. They are quite cartoony, but are simply inspiring due to the variety and detail that has gone into every location. It probably has the best looking sewer and cities that I have ever seen, with waterfalls in the background, and people and animals all designed with care and attention to detail.
The game is turn based, but also action based at the same time-(a unique system to say the least.) When it is your turn to move (and this will depend on your party level) you have a certain amount of time to do what you want-i.e. standard attack, special attack or magic (and this varies depending on whether your in the light or dark, but then light and dark also affects your enemies attacks too!) When you defend you're given then chance to block, but you will need to have excellent timing. The fighting I personally feel is excellent.
As expected characters level up increasing attacks, magic etc, and you can buy weapon upgrades, and for extra depth find musical scores and take photos (you can only take photos with Beat.) The music is absolutely amazing. Some work from Chopin, (an actual french composer who composed most of the music used in the game-but you'll see more about the real composer in the game as it gives some information about him throughout) really makes the game special.
Personally this is a great game, and its depth will inspire and create new lovers of RPGs-but this is a really story heavy game- (and it can be tedious from time to time,) so if you aren't really into games for their stories, then I would probably stay away, but this is a great game and worth a shot if you're curious or a fan of RPGs.
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on 15 August 2009
Story: 6.5/10 (A unique, simple concept, but not exactly memorable...)
Character: 6.5/10 (All are likable, but none lovable)
Gameplay: 9/10 (I found it genuinely addictive)
World: 8/10 (There are mundane areas, but overall it's a place of beauty)
Graphics: 10/10 (They're not realistic; they're like a painting. And that works perfectly in the context of the game)
Music: 8/10 (Beautiful, but not varied enough)

Pros:
- The concept is unique: it's based on key events in Chopin's life.
- I have a feeling that they didn't want to over-complicate aforementioned concept. They don't; the story's pacing is spot on.
- I'll admit it's difficult to care deeply for the characters; but, having said that, they're all likeable.
- The world is beautiful. And the character designs are all very nice too.
- The score, for the most part, suits the game well; the tranquillity complements the artistic, dreamy graphics.
- There are no random battles!!
- The battle system is one of the best - if not the best - I've found in the genre. It may not suit everyone, but that's relative. You can move around for a limited time, planting attacks and special attacks on the various enemies in the battlefield. The time given to you lessens as you progress; supposedly making it a little more challenging... There IS a bit of button bashing, but I preferred that to a series of selections: attack - monster 1; item - potion - character 2; magic - fira - monster 1 (yes, I do find that a bit mundane).
- Parts of the dialogue are full of meaning.

Cons:
- The story is pretty basic.
- Way too easy (especially if you make use of Beat's photography to earn Gil; I didn't do this until the 5th of the 8 chapters; until this point I'd been only marginally challenged).
- The bosses aren't all that challenging either...
- You have no control over the camera's angle.
- Some of the voice acting is cringeworthy... (I turned it onto Japanese at one point; subtitles avoided this from being problematic)
- There are a few cringeworthy scenes too (Claves' key moment, anyone?).
- It didn't bother me, but parts of the dialogue are preachy.
- The game's incredibly short. It took me little more than 20 hours to complete this. Sure, I didn't explore EVERYWHERE, but the areas I missed were simply alternate routes from one location to another.

Conclusion:
A short and sweet JRPG. The story is nowhere near as engaging or complex as those of the Final Fantasy or Tales of series, but I don't think this is MEANT to be an epic. It was instead created to be a unique piece of art; a metaphor. Play and appreciate it for what it is; don't buy it if you want a mainstream JRPG.
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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2009
Having been thoroughly hacked off by the poor quality of recent JRPGs like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Last Remnant, I finally got around to playing through Eternal Sonata after a pleasant experience with the demo back when it first came out and boy oh boy what a treat this game was.

Having the fairly bizarre premise of composer Frederic Chopin dreaming on his deathbed of being trapped in a traditional Namco 'Tales of...' game(That's what it is, lets face it) seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity to me, as this angle of the plot never really seems to contribute a huge amount to the proceedings, with the plot instead being more focussed on the adventures of a pair of street urchins called Beat and Allegretto as they and Chopin himself(Seemingly unfazed by the garish anime world he's now living in) teamed with a young girl called Polka(Yes, all the characters have musical themed names) as they begin initially seperate journeys with the same goal and end up in a struggle between a ruthless dictator and a resistance group in what initally comes off as a generic JRPG plot, but if you scratch the surface, the whole thing reveals a surprising depth with a metaphor laden story that dwells heavily on the nature of existence and death and isn't afraid to get into some rather thick eared exposition and monlogues to the camera as events progress. It really does begin quite deceptively simple and that works excellently in the game's favour.

Unusual plot aside, the gameplay is joyous. With random battle free landscapes and dungeons punctuated by genuinely fun to play and engaging combat that never gets overly complex or overlong at any point. This is a seriouly fun JRPG gameplay wise, with a lot of mainstream appeal if this sort of game doesn't usually speak to you.

Visually and aurally the game is likewise a feast, with stunning anime inspired visuals and a deeply stirring soundtrack made up heavily of Chopin's own music and surprisingly free of the usual J-POP fluffy floaty fare that usually gets thrown into games of this sort.

It's not a long game though, and things can feel a tad repetitive at times, but never enough to spoil the fun.

Eternal Sonata is a wonderful JRPG and I can only hope that Namco continue to bring us such delightful games in the future(And yes, that is a hint I want a release in Europe for Tales of Vesperia already. What's the hold up?)
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on 11 February 2009
I would first like to point out that, before buying this game I was completely unaware of Chopin being a real person, and that this was a game exploring his last few hours.
With that out of the way, I would just like to say that eternal sonata is one of the best jrpgs avaible for the newest generation.
The story, which all takes place in the dying composers mind, is well thought out and while not as brilliantly written as a final fantasy game, still stands above the majorities of jrpg's.
The battles are entertaining, while ultimatly being a standard turn based system, the implementation of movement and having to hit buttons in real time keeps you involved.
Graphicly even two years after its release, I still feel that eternal sonata is one of the best looking 360 games i have come across, maybe even the best looking next gen game in general, everything is bright, colourful and beautiful, you are literally playing a disney film.
Music in the game come from either Motoi Sakuraba or Frédéric Chopin himself, and either way it is enchanting, the lush orchestrated pieces will stick in your head as well as set the mood for each section of the game

Though I could continue to sing praise towards this game, I feel there are a few slight flaws with the overall package that should be mentioned, firstly the difficulty, when compared to other jrpgs such as dragon quest is pretty much non existant, while this may suit the younger generation, those of us who have been playing since the Snes or even NES days of rpgs may find this a little too simple.
My final complaint is with the sections inbetween parts of gameplay, when the game will break you away from the alternate reality to remind you that the composer died a very young age of a horrible diesease, which to say the least is a buzz kill.

Overall, a thoughly good jrpg romp, with an interesting battle system and beautiful graphics and music that will keep you keep you entertained for a while, but veterans of the genre should expect to finish this game in no time.
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on 29 January 2009
This wonderful little title has surprised me as standing out among your standard and generic J-RPGs into something a little more special if unorthodox.

Well first of all before mentioning any of the extreme difference from most Japanese , let's mention something you can't escape noticing when playing this game : The beauty. This game is a visual and audio masterpiece , both sides compliment each other for a magical experience , something very artful that is quite absent in most modern games nowadays.

The Graphics are some of the most pleasant cel-shaded experiences you will find at the moment and the music is taken from the works of a famous real life composer who also is used as a playable main character in the game funnily enough. The soundtrack in itself is a classical masterpiece.

Okay now onto innovations in the typical genre of Japanese RPGs.

One of the gripes of a typical Japanese RPG for gamers who tend to like action , is the whole battle menu system most games in the genre have. In other words choosing actions from a list and watching the outcomes being played out in turn based sequences you feel like you have no real control over.

Eternal Sonata dares to be different though by giving us real time movement and action within the standard turn based battle affair. In other words character still take turns .... but now positioning , moving and pressing buttons to attack is done by the player in real time.
So now we have a J-RPG where we actually feel like we're doing the fighting for once. ( Well besides stuff like Zelda of course )

Although combat options and strategies are somewhat limited ( some might say it devolves into repetitive button mashing combos ), it's given me a breath of real time excitement within battles in a J-RPG for a change, rather than sitting back and watching cut scenes of each attack from a typical menu based system ( which feels even more mind numbingly repetitive than the above ) You feel much more involved in the action in this way.

Even though combat system is limited , it does actually does evolve as you progress through the game though .... as you go along you will to learn to block , combo and counter attacks. All these come in form of real time button reactions , which makes the player feel more involved with the action than they would in a standard menu based RPG.
You will need your wits and reactions about you when you play this RPG ..... no casual sitting down and choosing from a list of attacks here.

Another thing important is character position , obviously sneaking around your opponent to attack the back/side is obvious. But this game also makes use of shadows and lighting. Characters will use different moves depending if they are standing in the light or the shadows.

Also another thing this game does away with which has been an increasing trend in JRPGs for the last few years now , is Random battles / random monster attacks. You can see the monsters you will fight against on the screen , so you can avoid them if you don't want to be sucked into a fight.

Unfortunately the battle situations thrown at you are quite limited also. I there was never a situation when there wasn't more than 3 monsters in one battle ..... and the bestiary / monsters catalogue is very lacking. There only seems to be one or two kinds of monsters for most areas ... and even though later on you'll find alot of them are palette swaps. Boss battles feel amazing though , even despite the low enemy counter and monster pool.

Other down points is the length of the game , quite short for an RPG.
It's such a beautiful looking and sounding adventure, you really wish it went on longer than 20-40 hours.
I haven't played a game in a long time ( Especially on X-box ) that has won me over with pure magical charm.

Unfortunately you can only do so much in the game , as this is an RPG with not much freedom to explore , which in a way is a huge step back , which is ironic after the daring innovations in the battle system it took courage to employ.
This is pretty much a RPG on "rails ". But it is a concentrated experience though.

Another annoyance / disappointment is although the dialogue in cut scenes, cinematics and battle scenes are fully voiced , the dialogue in game exploration scenes are all text. Loads of games still do this nowadays, I can't understand why with all the next gen technology and capacity availible to us.Maybe taking voice actors time is more expensive than we thought.

This title has voice options available in both English and Japanese with subtitles too.
The english voice actors do well i think with the material available.
The dialogue can be weird or over dramatically cheesey, so it can't be helped ... haha ....

Anyway the cinematics eventually won me over as I got more into the story though .... but it all ended too soon for me. There was more potential to be explored with this game and it's story.

Another thing that might throw people off is the ambiguity of the storyline ! Not many people I believe , will appreciate the philosophical nature of the story (Especially when most 360 gamers are adrenaline shooter nuts ).
The background / concept of the tale somewhat be hard to grasp, which is ironic since the nature of the characters themselves can be read plain as day and morals are presented somewhat too bluntly.

Plus as a reward for finishing each chapter , you are presented with a free boring history lesson of the life of the composer featured in this game complete with photos. It's the equivalent of someone forcing you to watch their holiday slides... haha ... easily the most boring thing on 360 to watch .... but I forgive the game for that because I love the rest of this game so much.

As much as I love the visuals, the star of the show is definitely the music. The soundtrack of this game is a theatrical masterpiece of classical music reinvisioned ! A lot of the music in this game is based on classical works of a real life famous Victorian composer who also stars as a main character in this game !
The music is the perfect partner for these amazing cel shaded graphics , along with a sprinkling of beautiful voice-acting for the cherry on the cake !

Eternal Sonata has earned a place in my top favourite RPGs of all time for it's daringness to go outside the box and delivering a rare and magical experience of beauty and morals.
All fans of J-RPGs should give it a go. But it's such a marmite title, even alot of it's target audience has been unaccepting of it because of it's differences.
But I love it. I was happy to experience this orchestration of elegance !
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on 15 June 2008
Eternal Sonata is a strange premise, you play a game (a JRPG) about polish composer Frédéric Chopin. It might all seem strange and quirky, well thats exactly what Eternal Sonata is. If you enjoy JRPG's you are going to absolutely love this to bits. Its beautiful to look at... I mean jaw droppingly pretty. This game will really show off the capabilities of your 360 and your HDTV with rich clean colours and animations.

The game itself plays like any normal JRPG, play as a team of oddly dressed characters all complete with funny hairstyles to save the world from an evil force. The true differences lie in the little touches I don't want to spoil it for anyone but lets just say this game has dramatic if a little obvious twists. The way the game plays is also similar to other JRPGS... Turn based(ish) hack, slash and magic your enemy to death. it introduces a clever light and dark system which adds a layer to the combat, on top of this you have your timer which kicks in as soon as you take a step and later on in the game as soon as your turn starts. As you progress through the game you will probably find that you way out level your enemies. Fights are still fun none the less. You have a whole array of wicked cool magic attacks and specials to your disposal, all look amazing and are wonderfully eccentric. The game also has a few other nice touches in combat that help part it from the competition it's nothing revolutionary but its nice.

This game does stumble a few times unfortunately and they are some pretty big hurdles too. The entire quest should not take you more than 20 hours, while lengthy by most game standards this is relatively short for a JRPG (not including the weak attempt at getting you to play the game through twice) Also the story while interesting and a little kitsch, its extremely predictable and linear, so those looking for something to get lost in may find this is not the game for them. The game also features a lot of cutscenes some of which teach you about Chopin's life and music, it's a nice idea but its dull and breaks the games pace up.

Even with it's shortcomings, Eternal Sonata is a shining gem of a title, and something the 360 sorely needed, if you like JRPG's that don't take themselves too seriously or if your just looking for something pretty to stare at, look no further.
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