Yes I have gone for possibly the most obnoxiously long title in the history of article writing, but don’t let the title fool you, Return to Popolocrois (referred henceforth as RTP) is more than what is seems to be.
You are prince Pietro, and on the day of your birthday a mysterious woman has come to warn your father of the threat that looms over the kingdom.
Can you rise to the challenge, or will you be too busy growing onions…
The 3DS isn’t a PS4 or Xbox One, and doesn’t need to be, this game is gorgeous, the art style is fun, vibrant and (dare I say) cute.
The music and voice acting is charming, fun and (dare I say) cute, the game is stylized to match the cinematic anime cut scenes which are divine to see.
The game is also many things with in its self, mainly it is a exploration and turn based RPG with tactical elements similar to those seen in the banner saga where you can move in a restricted range, however special attacks have arcs and effect areas that reach beyond this, but require stamina and for the effect to be targeted at the enemies manually (mostly anyway).
These ranges and the damage that can be inflicted increases with level and by temporary in battle boosts that make combat easier.
These can also be affected by temporary status changes (paralysis etc.) that can be inflicted by enemies.
This makes RTP a satisfying combat game, but the game doesn’t stop at combat.
The Strange…ly good
RTP is an extension of the harvest moon gaming franchise and therefore features farming, friendship building, trading, fetch quests – I literally don’t think I have covered everything, and what I felt when I first loaded this game up on my 3DS was that I’d hate it, a turn-based RPG come farming simulator.
Yes, soon you’ll be tilling earth, planting seeds and selling the radishes and onions off for profit, with which you’ll buy new gear, new seeds, and you can see how this game works.
I soon became a radish dealer, peddling my wares to make money, and what is funny I was spending most of my gold on new seeds – soon I realised that I had a battle in some time, I had been selling enough vegetables to end third world hunger.
And this isn’t to mention the friend quests, whilst strange in context here, the point is to befriend blessed girls to attain rewards, and this basically becomes a game of ‘buy present – sell radish’
Let’s be honest, I shipped like fifty tonnes of radishes to befriend a girl, to get a reward and I think I have a problem.
The Story & Characters
Birthday boy Pietro must fight to return home and save his friends and stop a demon from ravishing the land (editorial note, I wanted to say ‘radishing the land’ here, but the pun might have been too much).
You’ll befriend a mysterious blue wolf, a fairy, a man with a pumpkin head, and many others as you look to defeat the darkness, and return to Popolocrois, you’ll also learn so epic attacks ranging from a flaming bird tag team move, to Pumpkinman’s missle attack.
You’ll notice that I have posted no negative comments, nothing that detracts from the game, but this is simply because this game is so endearing, the light, happy veneer on a darker fairytale – the well written dialogue, the easy to listen to music, the colourful characters.
Everything about this game is designed to make it accessible and fun, never to mention the fact it has enough charm to soften even the hardest hardcore gamer.
My only criticism (if you can even call it that) is that combat can be a little too easy in places, and returning to earlier areas wields fights that are almost pointless on all fronts, but this is a tiny criticism that is true of most RPG games.
Return to Popolocrois is a fun, engaging game, it is a great game in a sea of mediocrity within the genre, it has comedy, silliness and serious tones, it has characters you want to succeed and villains you want to defeat, it has radishes, and frankly there aren’t enough radishes in gaming.
Return to PopoloCrois Review
Graphics - 9/10
Story - 10/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Fun Factor - 9/10