Threads of Fate - Review

World Domination Baby!

By: Howard Kleinman

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 8
   Plot 8
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete 5-15 hours  
Title Screen

Threads of Fate was possibly the least anticipated of Square's vaunted Summer of Adventure titles given the fact that it was not the follow up to a popular SNES game, nor was it a groundbreaker like Vagrant Story.  Threads of Fate is something else entirely, it is a game made to be simple fun, with an entertaining cast of characters, vivid visuals, and smooth, addictive gameplay.  In short, Threads of Fate is a truly unexpected winner from the masters of the RPG at Square.

The battle system in ToF is extremely simple to use, and as a result is a great deal of fun. Since this is an action RPG, the battles take place in real time with timed button presses causes your character, either Rue or Mint, to jump, attack or use a special ability with ease. The player has the option to play either character from the beginning.  Which character you choose has some interesting variations in gameplay.  Rue uses an axe and collects monster coins which allow him to transform into various monsters.  Mint uses to golden rings and has the ability to cast a variety of magical spells.   Threads of Fate plays more like a platformer like Crash Bandicoot than a Legend of Zelda Game.  Combat is more of a focus than finding items, though they play a minor part in the game as well.  

There is a good variety of locations that feature subtle differences in gameplay.  Sometimes you are forced to race against time to avoid being crushed by a boulder or eaten by a dragon, all the while dodging obstacles in the path in front of you.  Other times, you must play in a 2D platform style reminscent of Mega Man.  Most of the game is played out on 3D maps with ample time to explore and solve puzzles. Most of the puzzles are rather easy to solve, usually it requires using the right type of spell on the right type of location if you are playing as Mint, or transforming into the monster with the appropriate powers if you are playing as Rue, but the ease of the puzzles doesn't detract from the fact that the game is just fun to play. Boss battles usually require a bit of careful strategizing rather than just running up to them and smacking them to death.  This can be frustring since some bosses are difficult, but continue coins are very easy to come by, so there's no real threat of getting a game over and losing your progress.

Menus are handled in the familiar ring style used in Secret of Mana.  The interface is very easy to use, but has some minor problems.  On occasion, when changing a spell or monster type, the game will ignore the command.  This can be slightly annoying, but rarely, if ever will it be deadly.  Shops sell minor upgrades to you abilities which you acquire through selling some truly odd items and monster coins.  Mostly the game plays very smoothly and requires little use of menus, focusing instead on platform style challenges.

Silly Little Comment on Screen
You will respect her authority.  Really.  

The sound and music in Threads of Fate is solid support but rarely spectacular.  Still, it is generally bright in tone and appropriate to the action.  Sometimes it is used for great comedic effect.  In general while the music is not a strength, it is far from a weakness.

Threads of Fate features the ability to play as two different characters, and therefore has two slightly disperate plots.  While both plots center around the quest for a lost [Relic] (which is alway bracketed in the text for no apparent reason).  Rue's storyline is more traditional RPG fare with Rue looking for the [Relic] to resurrect his beloved "friend" Clair.  Mint's storyline, the more original and humerous of the two centers on her desire to get revenge against he sister Maya, who took her place in the succession to the throne of East Heaven Kingdom, and to eventually use the [Relic] to rule the world.  This scenario is played to extreme comic effect, and it is a refreshing change of place to play as a character who is far from noble .

 What's most surprising about Threads of Fate is its localization which is quite simply the best I've ever seen from Square.  It feels more like a game from Working Designs than anything Square has produced in the past.  Every character has their own speech patterns that are not only distinctive, but quite humerous.  Threads of Fate frequently mocks its E-rating by having Mint call people "You [Expletive]!"  The characters frequently insult each other and the effect is often laugh out loud funny.  This effect is more prominent in Mint's less serious scenario than it is in Rue's, but every character is as lively as any ever seen in an RPG.  If FFIX has a translation of this quality it will surpass Ted Woolsey's much vaunted translation of Final Fantasy VI.  This is a translation that had me shouting "World Domination Baby!" for weeks.

Cutesy or Realistic Name
Rue:  More than meets the eye.  

Threads of Fate's multiple character paths provides for good replay value.  The average player will play through both scenarios at least once to see the plotline.  As an added bonus for those who finish both scenarios there is a third ending, linking the two endings together and setting the stage for a possible sequel.  Even then you can playthrough the game again with you charged up characters, and giving you the opportunity to collect even more spells than you could the first game.  In general, depending on your ability with platform games, a playthrough should take between 5 and 15 hours.  A second game should really take little more than 5 hours, since once you acquire the right type of platforming skills, the game's difficult should drop greatly and the game should progress more smoothly.  

The visual style of Threads of Fate is bright and brilliant. While the polygon count is generally lower than those seen in games like Final Fantasy VIII and Chrono Cross, the overall effect of the low count adds to the game's charm.  The characters look like cartoons.  They all have incredibly good and distinctive animation.  The way Mint stomps on the ground in frustration is absolutely priceless.  The enemies are just as detailed as the characters, all with nice details and phenomenal animation.  Some of the effects, like the enormous hand of one villain are just plain creepy.  Others, like Fancy Mel's house are just so psychedelic that they must be seen to be believed.  Despite its total lack of FMV, Threads of Fate is a visual treat.

You know the deal-title it.
Mint is not one to admire architecture.  

Being a platformer in style, Threads of Fate's difficulty level is pretty high.  There is usually little room for error in jumps and battles and very often you'll find yourself thwarted by some very difficult bosses.  Fortunately, continue coins are VERY easy to acquire.  You simply pray in the church and pay a small amount of money.  So while the game is challenging, it is rarely frustratingly so.  Because of the leniency of the continue system I'd say this game has a moderate level of difficulty.

I've heard comparisons of Threads of Fate to Brave Fencer Musashi, a game I've never played.  That fact out in the open, I found Threads of Fate to be wonderfully original.  The variety in platform styles, the ability to play in two disperate scenarios and the phenomenal and funny localization make Threads of Fate a worthy addition to your game library if you have some small change to spare.


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