My first game review for the Month of May, I am excited about this guys. Reviewing stuff that is, not so much this game.
Sands Of Destruction is a title by Sega and released by Nintendo for the DS. My first impression of the game and box cover was favorable. It looked like it would be an interesting RPG to spend some time on. Now quick, with a title like Sands of Destruction what is your first thought about what you will be doing. If you guessed causing the end of the world as you know it, you would be completely right and this is totally contrary to the save the world plot that is standard of, well, every game out there. The blurb on the back of the box says this, "Change your future, change the world! Join Kyrie(Our villain everybody) as he ventures through oceans of sand with Morte(Female Joker Ripoff), a mysterious girl crusading for the "World Annihilation Front," on a rebellious mission with her troop of recruits(Her Sword). Fight colossal monsters, battle tyrannical beastmen, and ultimately... discover that Kyrie holds the key to world destruction. The future of the world now lies in your hands."
Now you might be thinking that this game has a bit of promise, you get to play as a villain before he gains the power to destroy the world. That is what I thought too, then I watched the opening. It looked very nice, and is about 5 minutes long and shows you just how much of a lier the box is. Well aside from the sand sea(srs wtf). This is just the demo mode cinematic and I have not gotten far enough into the game to see if it came from somewhere, but I get the feeling it was made just for the opening. After that you have a ten minute start to save time with ok to mediocre voice work as we get some back story from a beastmen nation of wolves. After that we switch over to our villain and learn he lives a sheltered life in a small town in the island of summer(not kidding) where chores are going into caves and fighting scorpions and toads looking for a special item requested by his uncle that is guarded by a sandwhale. You might want to get used to that formula, cause you will be doing that kind of thing for the first quarter of the game.
I could not bring myself to get past it as time ran on, due in part that I could not get into the setting and the voices of your leads(aside from the gravely voice of the bear Taupy). Part of the battle system, that I quite like overall actually, is a system called quips. You give a little one liner and you get an increase in defense or attack or even double exp if they go off. The problem is that some of the more annoying ones always go off, and you need it too because if you don't get that boost to defense you will die very quickly as your lead's defense is horrible on its own. With everyone pulling combos on you get to hear the same line get said over and over, often enough that he starts talking over himself to get the line off when you get hit 8 times in one attack. I would want to end the world too if I had such a whinny voice too.
The combat system itself was very fun, with most battles feeling very fast paced even for a turn based system as you string together combo attacks. You have flurry attacks that are controlled by the Y button and strong attacks handled by the X button. A brings up your magic and items menus. Starting out you just have one flurry and one heavy that you can put together for a three hit combo by hitting X and then Y or Y and then X. It does not matter until you gain customization points from fighting and level up your starting attack. Leveling up your flurry attack give you a second attack in the flurry line, so combos can become Y+Y and then X, and so on. You get two action points a turn(Until you get better gear/gain levels) and a critical hit will earn you an additional hit as will getting 10 hits in a combo. The crit bonus only works once, but if you string ten more hits you get to bring out your special. Very fun times to be had with this battle system.
Now for the setting, this world is based of an anime and it shows. You have a world that is covered in a sand sea with four islands. That is it, no other land masses to be found and they all have their own season associated with it. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter with each island ruled over by one of the 12 the great Beastlords and the other two acting as support and rivals to their leaders. Now I watch quite a bit of anime, but this setting just seems like it was lazily put together. Pandering to an audience of adolescent forum RPers form sites like Gaiaonline or something. I am not say it is so horrible and that no-one should play in just that it is not something that would keep my attention. If you like these kinds of settings and can deal with sound-bites that endlessly repeat go ahead and buy it. However if this is not your cup of tea story wise, I say rent it just to check you the battle system.