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Rondo of Swords Review

by: Hollan ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Rondo of Swords was distributed by Atlus in 2008. It's yet another DS strategy role-playing game, as if there aren't enough on Nintendo's handheld. While the game is solid, I'm not sure it does enough different to be anything more than mediocre.

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    In the kingdom of Bretwald the king has just died, and during the funeral the neighboring kingdom of Meir attacks and tries to kill the prince (Sedric, the main character). Sedric and a few men at arms escape (if you pass the first battle) and flee to the Shalem Emirate for help restoring the rightful heir to the throne. Now, I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but the beginning of the story-line is so much like Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (besides one small spoiler) that it immediately loses any points for originality. Can't strategy role-playing games have a different story-line? Or a different setting besides pseudo medieval Europe with magic?

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    Rondo of Swords plays a little bit differently than most strategy role-playing games. For one, when you move a character they can attack more than one enemy at a time. They can attack as many enemies as are in their area of movement by running passed them (for the melee fighters, magic users and archers attack from a distance). This is handy because you can take out more enemies more quickly, and it's a big plus as the game is very difficult.

    The game also utilizes the touch screen quite well. You move your characters around it with the stylus while the top screen displays the character's status. It is intuitive and fun to use.

    Another plus is your characters don't disappear if you they are injured in battle (unlike Fire Emblem). They stick around, although they are wounded for a while. However, you can still use them.

    My biggest grip with the gameplay is the level of difficulty. In most levels, unless the prime directive is too kill all the enemies, it is better to work your way through as few as possible. In many cases, you must keep Sedric alive for the entire campaign or you will lose. So, while you need to level up to get more powerful, it is extremely difficult to do if you want to actually pass the level. Also, the rules for the AI seem different than they are for the player controlled characters. The AI's archers can shoot arrows way out of their range, while the player controlled archers can't. It's this amount of unfairness that make the gameplay downright frustrating.

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    Graphics and Sound

    Rondo of Swords looks lovely. The chibi characters on screen are cute and the backgrounds are simple but nice looking. There wasn't a lot of innovation going into it, as the graphics look like many other DS games on the market right now.

    Sound wise it's a little weak. There are pretty much a bunch of rousing songs that sound like they belong in a cartoon version of Robin Hood or something. Yes, it sets a certain mood, but this mood has been set again and again in many strategy role-playing games in the past. Must we constantly rehash it?

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    Rondo of Swords can be either fun or frustrating, and it comes in waves. There are levels I had a great time deploying my characters and getting through, but there were also levels in which I wanted to pull all my hair out and throw my DS. My biggest problem in how unfair the game is. Yes, I know life isn't fair, but a DS game is not a life simulator. The same rules should apply to my characters and the enemy AI. I don't mind being outnumbered or challenged, but when it's outright unfair it is no fun.

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    Rondo of Swords is all right, but it isn't anything new. Gameplay wise, there are some nice touches, however I don't think that's enough to call the game innovative. It's following a tried and true method of strategy role-playing games, and while it reaches the same level it does nothing to rise above them.

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    Rondo of Swords