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PSP Fanboy hands-on: Yggdra Union


Wow, Yggdra Union is tough. That's probably the first thing you'll say after getting through a few matches of Atlus' upcoming PSP SRPG. It'll take a few battles to wrap your head around the unique mechanics of the card game, and although the game does an excellent job of holding your hand, don't expect an easy romp, even in the second battle in the game.

Yggdra Union is a tactical card RPG that will test your tactical capabilities through and through -- there's no grinding here to be found. Battles are typically multi-tiered: just when you think you're done with a level, a new set of increasingly difficult reinforcements appear. However, because your character's morale (essentially, their HP) carries over from battle to battle, across every level, each battle is decisive. If you make too many mistakes with one character, you'll notice that they'll be at a serious disadvantage in upcoming battles. And don't think about grinding to level up your characters: you can't. The story moves at such a brisk pace that your success depends solely on your ability to choose the right cards, and decide exactly how to move your characters through the map.

The basics of battle are easy to explain, but the full ramifications won't truly make sense until you get the game in your hands. Before each conflict, players can choose a certain number of cards. Cards will grant players special abilities, but also have important stats like number of spaces players can move, card strength and weapon affinity. Quite possibly the most important thing to pay attention to is the weapon affinity: certain weapons are stronger than others, and these will be one of the primary factors of a battle's success. For example, swords are stronger than axes, but axes are stronger than spears. Spears, on the other hand, are stronger than swords. This circle gets more complicated with the introduction of magic users and archers.


Players must position at least one character next to an enemy to engage the battle. However, depending on the unit placement, a Union can be formed of more than one character. If players position characters to the diagonal of a male lead character, then those additional characters are swept into battle -- whether or not the players want them to or not. It's crucial to keep in mind the order of when characters will attack, and what weapon affinity they have. An amateurish mistake is to simply send as many people into a battle as possible, without thinking about the various conditions in play.

Battles, for the most part, carry themselves. You could stop pressing anything and see the stronger victor succeed. However, you can change the ebb and flow of the battles by commanding your units to be more aggressive or passive. A momentum meter at the top increases and decreases based on your actions: if you can hold off on a while, you'll reach 100%, which can trigger the card's special ability. However, take too long in building up momentum, and your enemies may reach maximum rage, where their skills and abilities also increase. Keeping timing in mind is crucial, even in the earlier battles.

There's a lot more depth to the battles of Yggdra Union, especially in the later parts of the game. We're still slowly progressing through the compelling campaign, and we can't to report back on more. The story of an ousted Princess Yggdra trying to reclaim her kingdom with the help of thieves is quite the page-turner, thanks to incredibly likeable supporting characters and terrific voice acting (you have the ability to switch between Japanese and English audio tracks).

Yggdra Union will be available on September 16th. Stay tuned for more updates.

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