I’m pretty big on JRPGs. These days it seems like that’s okay, but a few years ago there was a steadily growing faction within gaming that said it wasn’t cool to like that kind of game anymore. Joke’s on them – gaming’s never been cool, so play what you want and enjoy! One of the more recent JRPGs I’ve checked out is Machina of the Planet Tree ~Planet Ruler~, a JRPG adventure that hearkens back to the glory days of the original 32-bit PlayStation.
Machina of the Planet Tree stars Cram Lanvelouche, a researcher with possibly the worst name in videogames. It’s very difficult to take him or his quest to research ancient artifacts seriously with such a dumb name, but take it seriously you will! Cram teams up with an AI, a witch and others to explore ruins and battle monsters. The plot’s nothing too original, consisting almost entirely of anime tropes we’ve seen a thousand times before, but it’s on par with your average JRPG from the era it’s emulating so that’s not a huge deal.
Meanwhile, you’ve got a pretty decent combat system tying things together between cutscenes. There’s a combo system similar to something like Xenogears, where you’ll link various attacks together to achieve maximum damage or inflict status ailments on your foes. You’ve also got your usual array of super attacks and magic to manage. Combat’s interesting enough to keep you playing, though later foes can become HP sponges and fights can take awhile.
The graphics bear mention: the sprites are a little grainy and low quality given what we’ve come to expect these days, especially given that the game runs at 640×480 natively. I didn’t particularly mind this given the game’s obvious influence by the PlayStation era, but you’ll have to go in knowing that this isn’t going to be a visual showcase. Character and area art, meanwhile, is gorgeous and well made, so it’s not all bad. Music and sound are par for the course, and I didn’t find any of the tunes sticking with me after the fact.
Machina of the Planet Tree ~Planet Ruler~ isn’t going to shake anyone’s world, but for around $10 it’s a passable adventure that may inspire some retro memories from the early days of the original PlayStation. The plot’s largely forgettable, but the combat will keep you playing through – and I’m sure we’ve all played JRPGs where that was the case! If you’ve got some extra time and a picture of Hamilton’s face burning a hole in your pocket, you could do worse than to check this one out.