Thanks to KEMCO for the review code
Title: Justice Chronicles
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: 03/31/2016
The main game/story
In the surface area of Illumica, the commander issues orders to a small squadron of soldiers to investigate the world underneath the surface known as Laft. One of the main members of this squadron is a boy named Kline, who after witnessing a girl get attacked underground, risks his life to save her, only to be put in a near death situation. With the help of a god named Rooselevy, Kline is given the extra power needed to protect his new friends, as he investigates both the mystery of Laft and tries to find a way back up to the surface, even with the risk of death from his new partnership…
Fun fact, this is actually a sequel of sorts to a mobile game called “Fantasy Chronicle” although only a few minor things are in common with that game, so you thankfully don’t need to play through that game in order to understand the story in Justice Chronicles. In fact, you really can’t play Fantasy Chronicle since it hasn’t been ported to the 3DS yet, with it only being available on mobile devices. (similar to how Justice Chronicles was initially for mobile) Hopefully Fantasy Chronicle receives a 3DS port sometime in the future.
Compared to Alphadia (the previous KEMCO title I reviewed), these visuals are a huge improvement over the basic graphics from that game, with much more detailed sprites and backgrounds along with better animations. The menus are also drastically improvement, being easier to navigate with helpful information displayed on the touchscreen when needed, along with great artwork for each of the characters you meet during the journey.
Music and Sound
The audio is a slight improvement over the repetitive soundtrack found in Alphadia, but not by much. The game does start off with a nice anime intro, but in terms of the music heard during gameplay, most of the dungeon themes are rather forgettable at best, with the music that plays during towns and the story scenes being much better in terms of quality and setting the story in place. Battle themes on the other hand range from mediocre to just OK, thought they sound like there was a lot more emphasis put into them than the themes from Alphadia.
For a JRPG, the battles play pretty much like you’d expect them to at first, with a first person perspective and careful planning of turn based strategy required to defeat the opponents you run into. Battles usually take place via random encounters, and a party of three (technically six which I’ll get to in a bit) must work together to defeat the enemies on screen. Similar to Alphadia, Justice Chronicles also has an element system, where each character has an element unique to them and can learn moves from other elements via Magic Meteorites. Some enemies are weaker to certain elements compared to others, which adds a bit of strategy that helps out quite a bit in tough boss battles. Like you’d expect, each party member gains EXP at the end of the battle, even the ones who didn’t participate. Battles can even be adjusted using the Y button, to go from a decent pace to really, really fast if you just want it to be over quickly without watching everyone take their turn. This prevents battles from dragging on too long, meaning that if you’re in need of EXP, materials or gold you can easily turn the speed up and just go nuts on the enemies.
Speaking of materials, what makes Justice Chronicles stand out from the ordinary RPG is the implementation of a Minecraft-esque crafting system, in order to allow players to find materials that can be used to create stronger versions of the equipment you currently own, or new pieces altogether, not unlike the one that also appeared in Dragon Fantasy. In fact, there isn’t much variety in the in-game shops when it comes to equipment, practically giving you no other choice but to hunt for materials to improve your weapons. Most of these can be found in randomly generated blue spots in the dungeons, where a bundle of materials will be found upon coming in contact with the spot. Others can be obtained only by defeating specific enemies, and outside of that, you also need a small bit of gold to forge the item. This is a rather interesting way to expand your arsenal compared to other RPGs, and it made the dungeons actually feel like more of a treasure hunt than your typical RPG dungeons simply because you’re discovering items that actually go to use. Sure, you can find the occasional chest that contains a healing item, but most of the interesting finds stem from the crafting spots.
In terms of the overall difficulty, Justice Chronicles is rather flexible. You can choose to turn on an easier difficulty setting with weaker enemies, but also change it to a harder one if you feel the need to. That being said, regardless of the difficulty, there will be certain bosses that’ll require strategy, meaning you can’t just mash the same button over and over again. The aforementioned equipment crafting helps out a lot in this regard, which prevents the game from feeling too frustrating or cheap. That being said, sometimes you’ll take on optional requests that will reward you with hard to find items, gold or materials, and some of these can be very tricky if you do them too early. Especially if a miniboss blocks your way and you need to take it out to reach your destination. Still, if you do decide to take up the challenge, it’s incredibly satisfying to go out of order and gain some powerful crafting materials early on.
At the start of this section, I mentioned how there are technically six characters in battle compared to the usual three. These extra characters aren’t really normal party members, but they still level up and gain stats. Known as shells, you can pair them up with certain characters to have them use a random skill whenever they feel like it. Some of them like Rooselevy can be really devastating towards bosses, while others like Letz or Taurus can help protect the party. Since you can’t control them, there’s really not much to do with them besides pair with them for stats and the hope of getting helped in a pinch. You can equip accessories to them though, so if you play your cards right, you can make certain characters turn into unstoppable duos of destruction!
In conclusion, Justice Chronicles is a much, much better improvement over Alphadia in almost every way. Maybe that’s because the developer changed (From EXE Create to Hit-Point), but whatever the case, this is a very enjoyable RPG adventure that I had a lot of fun playing. From a surprisingly interesting story to quick, enjoyable battles, I really did see that Justice Chronicles felt right at home on the 3DS compared to the mobile version. From the fast pace of the battles, to helpful minor additions like a map on the bottom screen, I spent quite a bit of time with Justice Chronicles, certainly more than I initially expected to at first. The story does start off a bit slow during the first hour, but then things start to pick up, so hang in there and you’ll be in for a good adventure. Here’s hoping we get Fantasy Chronicle ported to the system to complete the series on the 3DS, along with other hidden Kemco gems. Perhaps The Sword of Hope will finally be rereleased on the Western Virtual Console? I sure hope so…
I give Justice Chronicles a 9 out of 10, and I really do recommend this hidden gem to RPG fans looking for a enjoyable game to play over the summer. It has a good amount of content for the $10 price tag, and while it is a bit more expensive over the mobile version, I do feel that the ability to play with real buttons and a helpful map make this the superior version. This is definitely a hidden gem on the 3DS eShop, and I can’t recommend it enough for the handheld.