Stella Glow 3DS Review
The developer of Stella Glow, Imageepoch, no longer exists. They became defunct in May last year, a month before the release of this game in Japan. So this being their final game, did they go out with a bang? I wouldn’t say so. What’s been created is a rather inoffensive tactical RPG, which offers very little in the way of challenge. It does tick most of the right boxes, but struggles to really do much special and in some places manages to be a little frustrating.
People would normally be attracted to a tactical RPG for its battles, though they are rather easy here. Similarly to Final Fantasy Tactics, the accuracy and potency of an attack can depend on what angle you are hitting an enemy from, meaning that striking them in the back will do more damage. One unique element this game has is the ability to use “Songs”, abilities which cast effects over the whole field. Though they do feel fairly significant, they’re almost more like an exploit considering the first one you get access to prevents enemies from taking any actions. Even with that in mind it’s fairly straight-forward most of the time, but a fair few battles do end up feeling a little stretched out either by extra enemies spawning or poor map layout.
And the map design does range from thoughtless to genuinely interesting. On the lower end there are maps that will force the party into bottlenecks, meaning that you would have to deal with enemy roadblocks very slowly by taking them out one at a time. This is annoying as it slows the pace of these missions down to a crawl. The more fascinating stages take on an almost puzzle-like quality, for example there is a map which splits into sets of one-way paths which can only carry a certain amount of party members across, meaning that you will have to consider building teams to suit being separated. These kinds of stages make most of the others look like fillers by comparison, so it would have been nice to see more in this style.
It comes with a rather standard story for a Japanese RPG, where you have to find the various things in order to prevent some sort of tragedy. A few twists and turns are attempted along the way but they don’t bring too much of a shock and stick rather closely to established ideas. Character are also rooted heavily in ordinary anime archetypes so that none really stick in the mind, except for the ninja that wears a cardboard box on her head to sneak better, that’s just fun. There also seems to be a rather old fashioned attitude to women here, where many of them where next to nothing and are all intensely infatuated with the main character like a dull, and partly sleazy harem anime.
And you’ll spend a lot of time with those characters, in between missions you will be given “Free Time”, which (much like Persona 3 and 4) you can use to do a part time job, or build relationships in order to strengthen party members. It’s nice to have these as a break between fighting, but they don’t offer much as the characters you can spend time with aren’t brilliant. It’s usually over fairly quickly, but it’s an odd feeling when “Free Time” can be a moment when the game feels more like a chore.
And even outside of “Free Time”, you’ll have to hear everyone talk a fair amount, since there are plenty of dialogue scenes. It can get quite tiring, as it really feels like it pads the game out just for the sake of being longer. It’s a good thing that there is an option for text boxes to appear instantly, so that you can get through them much quicker.
It’s a shame that the developer of Stella Glow had to close on such a middling tactical RPG, and don’t have a chance to really put much out there that can shine. This sort of game could tick the right boxes if you’re looking for another strategy game to pass the time until Fire Emblem Fates comes out in Europe. Though if you’re rather picky about these sorts of games, then it’s probably best to wait for something better to come along.