Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth was a game caught in the shuffle. The PlayStation 1 SRPG saw US soil over a year after the release of the PlayStation 2, and it was overlooked in favor of the next wave of prettier, easier video games. Now, 5 years after its original release, Aksys Games has decided to blow away the layer of dust and remix it for the Nintendo DS.
"Aksys Games ... developed two new difficulty levels, leaving the original version of the game relatively untouched in the appropriately named 'Hard' setting."
Hoshigami takes place on a floating continent called Mardias, a place torn by the warring Kingdoms of Nightweld and Valaim. Fazz, the main character, is the leader of a band of mercenaries who become charged with protecting some ruins from the Valaim armies. On top of that, there's a looming evil that threatens all of Mardias. That's where the story starts, and where Fazz begins his adventure.
Combat is, like all SRPGs, turn-based. Allies and enemies take turns bashing each other's heads in with a variety of weapons and the use of magical coins called Coinfeigms. Said Coinfeigms are powerful, single spell items that require an amount of their individual, self-recharging Coinfeigm Points to use. This opens up the magical abilities to any character, not just the stereotypical mage. On top of that, each character can align him or herself with a deity, and by attacking while aligned characters can learn new skills.
All of that gets left in the dust compared to the innovation of the Ready For Action (RAP) system. The most important thing in any SRPG is the timing and coordination of attacks, and Hoshigami takes that idea one step further. Every action, from the distance a character moves to how hard a character swings their weapon, uses RAP which in turn determines how long until your next action. So you can take lots of little steps and little swings or really long steps and really powerful swings. Big actions leave characters open to enemy attacks, so players should plan accordingly.
Hoshigami's first incarnation was plagued with an incredibly steep difficulty. If you weren't power-leveling, you were dying. Aksys Games knows that players were put off by the frustrating experience and have announced in an interview with RPGamer that they've developed two new difficulty levels, leaving the original version of the game relatively untouched in the appropriately named "Hard" setting. When playing on Normal or Easy mode, gamers will have ways to avoid the hated "once a character dies, he's gone for good" rule that was the bane of so many multi-part battles. And speaking of multi-part battles, players will now have the ability to suspend data, heal, and adjust equipment between fights. The RAP system, which some people claimed to be too confusing in the original game, has been left intact while giving the player a better idea of what's going on and graying out unusable options.
Playing an SRPG is normally a solitary affair, and Hoshigami Remix doesn't set out to change that. But by utilizing the Nintendo DS's WiFi capabilities, Aksys is letting players trade items and equipment to let the hardcore SRPG veterans help out their casual gaming friends. This game aims to fill the strategy game gap in the DS's repertoire, so prepare to explore Hoshigami Remix and its six unique endings when it's released state-side in June.