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Obscurity: Riviera: The Promised Land


You know, sometimes the best things in life are the things that you just stumble on to. For example, I've discovered Jet Set Radio Future from that dual disc with Sega GT, Feel the Magic from the cover art at a local Gamestop, and Armored Core: For Answer in a Game Informer magazine. However, while those games have spin-offs (well, Jet Set Radio Future is the spin-off of Jet Set Radio), sequels (The Rub Rabbits), and even both (Armored Core 1-4, Ninebreaker, Nexus, Last Raven, Formula Front, and For Answer), the game I'm going to be talking about today is a little something called "Riviera: The Promised Land."

I've discovered this little gem of a game in a magazine of Nintendo Power. Was there an article about it? Nah. Was there a preview about it? Not that I know of. So how did you hear about it? By a lone, one-page ad. Seriously, that's how I learned about the game aside from an eventually three paragraphed review that they eventually did, but it's still somewhat hard to believe that from one little ad that I've experienced quite possibly one of my most favorite games of all time.

Now, that sounds a bit much when I've experienced games like Shadow of the Colossus, The World Ends with You, Uncharted 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Peace Walker and many many more, but it's not because it's that good that I love it so much, but rather, that I feel like it's tailor-made for me. I mean, millions of people say that "this video game" or "that video game" is so good, but I never seem to get into it. Chrono Trigger? Couldn't get into it. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past? Couldn't get that damn library book down. Ocarina of Time? I could barely get past the Deku Tree. Majora's Mask? Was too put off by the time limit (as well as that freaky ass moon...).

Now you gotta understand something: It's not like I HATED those games... I mean, I've beaten Chrono Trigger at least AND I've watched and enjoyed OTHER people playing The Legend of Zelda (the only one I've beaten was Minish Cap), and it's not like I'm one of those people who hate what everyone else likes (I've bought Gears of War 3 and reserved Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3) nor am I the guy who brag about listening to indie bands... I simply like what I like, and I just couldn't like those games.

But I love Riviera: The Promised Land... Oh God do I love it.

"This will be my world"

After tracking down a copy of the Gameboy Advance version of Riviera: The Promised Land (which involved my uncle driving me all the way downtown to get it... I so appreciated it), the minute I got home, because I get motion sickness easily, I popped that sucker in and started playing it. I was so enthralled by the story about Ragnarok, the coming of demons, and demon-slaying angels that hours had flown right by and I didn't even noticed it. Now, at the time, I hadn't really experienced great JRPGs at the time such as Chrono Trigger and Tales of the Abyss, so Riviera's simple story was somewhat of a stepping stone for me to jump into the genre.

The story, in a nutshell, is about two angels who comes to Riviera, a sacred land where beings called Sprites live, to sacrifice it to stop the coming of demons. One of the angels however, Ein, gets "killed" and "revived" by a goddess named Ursula who takes his memories away and have him live among the Sprites in Riviera in order to have him sympathize with the Sprites and stop the angels from sacrificing it. It's that story about conspiracy from higher authories, doing the right thing, and preventing a much bigger problem. Sure, it's no epic, but at least the story is pretty decent, although looking back, is pretty familiar territory.

However, what sets Riviera apart from all the other games is that it incorporates elements of the "renai" genre (you may know it as a "dating sim"): Throughout the adventure, you'll earn the hearts of your lovely teammates (such as the kind-hearted Fia, the childish Lina, the tomboy Serene, and the ditzy Cierra) by winning them over with the choices of dialogue and actions. I really like this element of the game because it's not only something that is seldom seen (though games like Star Ocean and Tales of Symphonia had it) but because it really makes you more attached to the characters, especially Ein, when you yourself are making some of the choices instead of just merely watching the scene proceed.

Not only that, but you'll definitely feel the tension as there are some VERY interesting choices to make. One of them for example, being one of my favorite moments in the game, has you choosing which girl needs to stand on a "pressure plate" in order to open the door, essentially boiling it down to "who do you think is the fattest?" It's very humorous to see the character's reactions as well as Ein's explanations ("Well, I figured since you were the oldest..."), making you enjoy the characters even more. And sometimes, the best moments can even be times when you don't have to make a choice at all, such as when Lina fell into a river, grabbing one of the girls who in turn grabs another, a la the "domino effect." I've played through the game several times and it's still so heartwarming to experience little scenes like this. Sure, there's no betrayal, politics, identity crisis and whatnot, but it's that kind of simple story that you can just enjoy.

This is the "Good Life"

However though, no matter how great the story may be, none of it matters if I could never get that far. Thankfully however, Riveria seems to have my horrible playing skills in mind, allowing for an easy to understand battle system: You simply pick which three characters to fight, what formation to use, and what weapons and items to bring. When you go into battle, you can choose what weapons you've brought to use, but you don't get to choose what enemy you target. To me however, that just simplifies things so much, yet makes the battles so much more interesting as you're not making your own plans, but rather working within the limitations of the game since you can't even bring more than four items into battle.

It's also VERY easy, albeit somewhat time-consuming (for me, upwards to an hour and a half though this is remedied somewhat by the PSP's sleep function) to grind in this game. Yeah, remember in JRPGs, to get stronger you had to fight the same old enemies over and over again until you were strong enough to fight the boss to unlock the next part of the story, which contained new enemy that you're going to eventually fight over and over again again (intentional)? Well in this game, although you have limited item usage, you have to use an item by a character repeatedly in order to level them up and learn a special skill with the item, which is TOTALLY easy. I mean, it doesn't matter if it hits or misses, you just have to USE it.

"Sideline Story"

But don't think there's no depth to the battle system because grinding is easy: You still have things like elemental weaknesses and resistence but you also try to manage the enemies' "Overdrive" bar (a meter to use Special Attacks) so that they don't get it filled and demolish you as well as managing your item usage as they are limited like Fire Emblem. Not only that, should you fall in battle, the games not only gives you a boost (a section of your Overdrive meter) but they even start the enemies with their HP down a little, even on boss fights. And should you fall again, they'll take ANOTHER HP deduction as well as giving you even MORE Overdrive meter! And they'll even do it a third time! When I first played this game, I merely chose my favorite characters, my favorite items, and merely mashed buttons until I won, even if I had to lose three times in the row.

Some of you may say that this video game holds your hand too much, like how they simplified walking around... WALKING AROUND is simplified into just pressing the direction of which way you want to go! It's just that simple! No wandering around aimlessly nor any of that overworld junk. You may say that that makes the game way too easy... But you know what? I personally love it when a video game holds my hand. I mean, I love checkpoints, easy difficulty, streamlined adventures for a very good reason:

I shouldn't have to be good to enjoy video games.

I mean, had Ocarina of Time included like a hint system and Ninja Gaiden had a Easy mode, I so would've enjoyed them! I mean, what's the point of making the ending if no one's going to reach them? I still haven't beaten Final Fantasy 13 because I'm still stuck in some boss fight, nor Vanquish because of its relentless difficulty on Normal (Automatic takes the fun away). It's times like these that I just want a invincibilty code or something so I can still PLAY the game, like what Saint's Row 2 did: You can never die but you are have to do the action yourself, which most of the time you wanna do anyway! Riviera may not have that, but at least it gives me an out so that I can still enjoy the game.

Yeah, let's throw a rock at it, I'm in the mood to piss a demon off.

You know, it's been years since the GBA version of this game came out, yet I still pop it in every once in a while to replay it again, doing the same choices as I did the first time (you never forget your first). I may be one of those people who basically play a game once and never touch it again, but there's just something about Riviera that makes it so good... And apparently, I'm not the only one considering that they released the game more than four times:

The game originally started out as a WonderSwan Color game exclusive to Japan (which makes sense considering the nature of the title, more on that later), meaning that it wasn't released offshore for anyone else to play. However, Atlus and Sting must've loved the game enough to remake the game into a Gameboy Advance title to be released overseas into the good ol' United States of America, allowing people like me to play it. Then, a mere few years later, the Gameboy Advance version of the game was ported to the Playstation Portable with new features such as voice acting, though this was AFTER it was ported to cell phones in Japan. And as if that wasn't enough, they took that port (the PSP version), added in a couple of tiny (as in VERY tiny) features and called it the "Special Edition" (also exclusive to Japan). Damn... That's a lot of porting.

But why so many ports? After all, this was a game that got, according to reviews, 6s and 7s across the board... Not to mention much of the action was exclusive to Japan, such as the original WonderSwan Color version, the cell phone versions, and the Special Edition. And, adding on to that, the game was published by Atlus, meaning VERY limited quanities... I still have yet to own a new copy of the game, though I do have three copies of the game though (the Gameboy Advance version and two PSP version when one of them broke). So naturally, low quanities of the game combined with low amounts of advertising equal... a VERY small following of the game, at least where I'm from; From where I'm from, practically no one has heard of it, even to this day. Even on Gamefaqs there's like only a double-digit amount of pages of treads about it... Gears 3 got that many treads BEFORE it even came out!

So that's why I decided to write the blog on it instead of Feel the Magic (because there is a VERY devote following for the Jet Set and Armored Core series)... I felt that this, to me, was a great game that hardly anyone heard about. Sure, there's been a small covering of this game with its scant ads and tiny reviews (I think Destructoid did a review if I'm not mistaken), but I'm sure like 99.5% of the gaming community hasn't heard of it, let alone played it.

But I have played it... And I loved it. And I still do.

"Nothin' But The Beat"

- "Petals dance for our valediction and synchronize to your frozen pulsation... Swirling wind sings for our reunion and 9.8 is my acceleration." - Mili

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About Dreamweaverone of us since 12:51 AM on 08.07.2009

Destructoid Trading Card courtesy of StriderHoang!

If you want to know more about me, you can check out my contribution to the "10 things about ourselves" blog, that Mr. Andy Dixon asked us all to write as well as any other personal blogs here:

"10 Thing about Me!"

"Top 10 Favorite Videogames!

"Most Life-Changing Game"

"Top 10 Fetishes"

I also used to write blogs about videogame themed doujinshi (yes, really). There aren't many written yet, but the few that are written can be seen here. If you enjoy these, feel free to message me on any recommendations, suggestions, or if one of the images I've chosen is too naughty. :P

Part 1: Monster Hunter and Kid Icarus: Uprising

Part 2: Demons Souls and Darkstalker

Part 3: Blazblue

Part 4: Super Mario Brothers

Part 5: [email protected]

Part 6: Persona 4

Splatoon (no doujinshi)

I don't just restrict myself to videogames though!

Two Siblings - Fela Pure

The Amazing World of Gumball porn (ya, really)

The Amazing World of Gumball porn part 2: Nicole Watterson edition!

Let's get a little (gay) hentai in here (NSFW!)

I'm not horsing around, but she is! (Oh, this is totally NSFW)

Another one of Dreamweaver's fetish blogs! You know you want some! (NSFW)

I also have done a couple of Comments of the Week! Check out some of the articles here!

Comments of the Week 1 - Prototype

Comments of the Week 2 - Ready for Round 2?

Comments of the Week 3 - Rhyme for Reasons

Comments of the Week 4 - Oh, dream-maker, you heart breaker...

Comments of the Week 5 - Number 5 has arrived!

Comments of the Week 6 - Better check the clock...

Comments of the Week 7 - From out of the blue!

Comments of the Week 8 - Alive once again!

Comments of the Week 9 - Robo Revolution!

Comments of the Week 10 - Don't need no Facebook

Comments of the Week 11 - Just can't live with you

Comments of the Week 12 - Crazy creations

Comments of the Week 13 - Just another day

Comments of the Week 14 - Prototype Pt.2

Comments of the Week 15 - It was just a Tuesday edition

Comments of the Week 16 - What you've been waiting for

Comments of the Week 17 - Monday surprise

Comments of the Week 18 - Kick that candy bar, I got a bounty for y'all

Comments of the Week 19 - The "Why am I not playing Splatoon right now?" edition

Comments of the Week 20 - "What the what!?" edition

Comments of the Week 21 - This tastes funny

Comments of the Week 22 - E3 2015 Edition

Comments of the Week 23 - A little too happy

Comments of the Week 24 - Am I doing it right?

Comments of the Week 25 - Doing things in the dark

Comments of the Week 26 - What's going on over there?

Comments of the Week 27 - Go ahead. Swallow.

Comments of the Week 28 - Let's all gather 'round!

Comments of the Week 29 - Can't get it up edition

Comments of the Week 30 - Keep crushing my weiners

Comments of the Week 31 - Don't open that door!

Comments of the Week 32 - Don't be scared, come inside

Comments of the Week 33 - Don't try this at home

Comments of the Week 34 - That kid's kawaii

Comments of the Week 35 - Major... I'M BURNING UP!

Comments of the Week 36 - You have eyes. What do your eyes see?

Comments of the Week 37 - In a place they'd never look.

Comments of the Week 38 - So our country could win.

Comments of the Week 39 - It makes a man hideous.

Comments of the Week 40 - Time for a taste test.

Comments of the Week 41 - Trick or Treat edition

Comments of the Week 42 - iDroid edition

Comments of the Week 43 - Atom bomb baby, little atom bomb

Comments of the Week 44 - Shadow of the Night

Comments of the Week 45 - バーガーベスト, ですよね?

Comments of the Week 46 - The Gift of Family

Comments of the Week 47 - My Gift to You

Comments of the Week 48 - Praise the Goddess, SANTA'S COMING!

Comments of the Week 49 - CHRISTMAS is OVER? Goddess damn it!

Comments of the Week 50 - We made it!

Comments of the Week 51 - The one after the blackout

Comments of the Week 52 - MY CANDY BAR! (featuring Mike Martin)

Comments of the Week 53 - Who in the world wished for snow?

Comments of the Week 54 - You're creeping me out

Comments of the Week 55 - Love Love Love

Comments of the Week 56 - Lots of Love

Comments of the Week 57 - New look, same great taste!

Comments of the Week 58 - Better late than never

Comments of the Week 59 - The 'still a week behind' edition!

Comments of the Week 60 - Don't reach for the remote, this is not a rerun!

Comments of the Week 61 - Still trying to catch up

Comments of the Week 62 - Working overtime

Comments of the Weel 63 - You're not seeing double!

Comments of the Week 64 - The reason why I'm not playing Quantum Break right now

Comments of the Week 65 - Take a break from Dark Souls III, you earned it.

Comments of the Week 66 - Take a load off!

Comments of the Week 67 - I needs it!

Comments of the Week 68 - Now we wait for Overwatch to come out.

Comments of the Week 69 - I see what you did there.

Comments of the Week 70 - We're all soldiers now.

Comments of the Week 71 - I will be watching over you.

Comments of the Week 72 - Die... Die... DIE...

Comments of the Week 73 - Ready to go primal

Comments of the Week 74 - E3 2016 Edition

Comments of the Week 75 - Activating self-destruct sequence!

Comments of the Week 76 - The 99.537% Reality

Behind the scenes look at Comments of the Week (Also, fuck it, totally NSFW!)

And just for giggles, here's a couple of blogs that I've personally enjoyed writing myself!

Videogame references in The Amazing World of Gumball (not porn edition)!

Pokemon Rap - Dibs on Miltank

Band of Bloggers: Stories from the Capital Wasteland

A Fantasy Fulfilled: Adventuring Akihabara

Short Story: Love Over Time (videogame related)

Ice Climbers fan fiction part 1: Siblings of the Summit

Ice Climbers fan fiction part 2: Siblings of the Stadium

Ice Climber fan fiction part 3: Siblings of the Subspace
Xbox LIVE:TraitortoHeaven
PSN ID:TraitortoHeaven


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