RPG Review #58: Jade Cocoon

#58 is upon us right before the dawn of April. To the few of you that had Spring break in March like me, congratulations on wasting it. For the rest of you, it should come soon enough. Anyways, Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu, developed by Genki and localized by Crave Entertainment (apparently I played the PAL version) is a rather forgotten RPG in the Playstation 1 times. It wasn't well received because, at the same time, Pokemon came out for the Game Boy and everyone loved that. Meanwhile Jade Cocoon is notable mostly for being rather short and all. That's a good thing since it allows me to review other RPGs faster! I actually had to postpone playing this game at one point, because I had a lot of real-life troubles with schoolwork and I desperately needed to catch up. But then I managed to pull through with this game. An interesting one, to summarize it at its least.

Gameplay: So yes, Jade Cocoon has a lot of similarities with Pokemon, mostly in its combat system. At least there's no random battles where you go, as the minions, as they are called here, are visible on the field. Upon entering combat, the player draws his weapon ready, and can attack at will, defend, use items, or summon one of their own minions. And of course, it isn't a Pokemon-like game without catching the wild minion you want. Of course the weaker they are, the better chance at catching them. Catching minions here is pretty easy honestly.

But fighting them can be a different story. There's elemental types as you'd expect, but only four, and certain minions can strike with certain types of attacks like status moves and elemental attacks. Some are really nasty like the ones that take your HP to 1. Earth beats Water, Water beats Fire, Fire beats Air, and Air beats Earth. Easy to understand. As for leveling, the character and his minions do it differently. The minions simply beat up the wild minions to get experience and levels, but the player character does not gain experience for killing minions. He gains levels by catching minions. And of course, it's a loss if the main character gets killed in a battle, even with other minions still alive, and only one playable character or minions is allowed on the battlefield. Unfortunately, enemies do not follow this rule, so it could be 1 vs. 3 at the worst. The closest thing to trainer battles in Jade Cocoon is very sparse, so it's not really anything to note other than your opponent having themselves and one minion help them.

The playable character has 12 empty cocoons, which are similar to Pokeballs. They can be replenished by talking to the Nagi maiden (either the character's wife or another one later on in the game) in which they purify the cocoons and refill the empty amount while storing them (similar to a Pokemon PC). There, you can merge two minions, enhancing stats, or spin them for money (similar to releasing them, and this is the way to get money in the game apart from selling equipment). You can have up to three minions with you at a time. It's hard to keep them in good shape, especially in battle since you have to risk your character coming in just to use an item in battle. Grade: B

Characters: The main character and silent protagonist is Levant, a boy in the village of Syrus, who marries Mahbu, a Nagi woman. Levant is the new cocoon master of Syrus, going in the footsteps of his father Riketz. There are some memorable faces in the only town here, but there's not much in the way of characters, really. The interesting thing about the characters is just how horrible the voice acting is in this game. Few characters have it, but the ones that do sound terrible. And then the character designs are quite bad. Levant's running animation in the game is pretty dumb. Actually, the way to command Levant on field is weird too. He functions like one of those tank games or something. I wish there was much better in this game as far as characters are concerned.

There are many minions too, most look butt-ugly, especially when it comes to merging. In the main game, I was only capable of catching 67 of the 171 or so minions available. The rest are in the endless dungeon known as the Eternal Corridor, and it could possibly take weeks to get every single one. I didn't even bother with that, so I just stopped playing after the main plot. Grade: C

Plot: As I said, Jade Cocoon's plot is short. Some didn't like this, but I sure could take a short RPG. Levant lives in Syrus, talking with his soon-to-be-wife Mahbu, being scolded at by spoiled kid Lui, etc. This all changes when he has to take up his father's mantle as Cocoon master. Syrus is attacked by demonic minions known as Onibubu, and people are cursed to fall asleep without waking up. It's up to an old sorceress known as Garai to repel it, and she ends up helping Levant and Mahbu. Then, it's basically up to Levant for the rest of the game after that. He gets help from the blue Cocoon Master, Koris, as well as the bird man Kikinak, on the herb needed to cure villagers. People then start acting suspicious, and Garai is outed as a demon.

It's then that the Time of Gathering occurs. Garai dies in the sacrifice, and then powerful magic sweeps Syrus, turning everyone to stone, except for Levant and Mahbu, the latter of which turns into a fairy. Levant then journeys to the Temple of Kemuel, seeking aid from the Nagi people there, and revisiting forests to prepare to fight the Chosen One of Darkness. Apparently Levant was the Chosen One of Light, and that the man who was the Chosen One of Darkness was someone he saw in a dream. And surprise, it's his father! But they work together to restore everything to what it was and that's it for the game. Yep, short. Hard to follow and somewhat uninteresting. Grade: C

Music: This was actually not bad. Serene forestscape music sometimes helps, and the bass that drives the main battle theme is quite good. Pretty good music all around. Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B-

Not really all that exciting, but Jade Cocoon held a small glimmer. I didn't feel nauseous when playing it, and when I really got used to it it played rather well. Good music, but forgettable plot and bad characters. Gameplay at least was intriguing.