My review for Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, a CyberConnect game for the Nintendo DS.
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter is a 2011 game developed by CyberConnect 2 for the Nintendo DS. It’s the spiritual sequel to the PS1 hit, Tail Concerto. A sequel, Little Tail Story, was recently announced for Japanese mobile devices.
Solatorobo takes place in the same universe as Tail Concerto. Instead of the Kingdom of Prairie, Solatorobo is set in the Shepard Republic, a chain of islands floating above the clouds. It’s populated by anthropomorphic dogs (Caninu) and cats (Felineko). It follows the adventure of Red Savarin, a 17-year-old Caninu who works as a mercenary-like hunter. He does a lot of his work while sitting inside the Dahak, a robot which he pilots to great effect. He travels and works with Chocolat, another Caninu who drives their ship and organises their missions.
The game is divided into two parts, each of which contains a different arc of the same overall plot. Early on in the game, Red and Chocolate stumble on a young Felineko named Elh Melizée. Red and Chocolat ally themselves with Elh to put a stop to the Kurvaz, an infamous criminal organisation planning to free an ancient power known as Lares to destroy the world.
The ship Chocolate drives for Red acts as the game’s hub. There are options to move between islands, customise the Dahak’s stats, check where you’re supposed to be going next, save, and use the cabin.
The cabin contains features desugned to keep you playing the game for longer, and act as a tracker for a couple of long-term sidequests. For example, the audio section allows you to make music, using the sounds you find as you play through the game. The album allows you to view pictures, as you find the pieces of them that have been stolen by the fearsome Black Cats Gang. The theater allows you to view cutscenes, while the library furnishes more details on the world of Solatorobo as you meet certain criteria.
Solatorobo’s battle system is in real-time and consists largely of picking up and throwing enemies in a variety of ways. You pick them up by walking up to them and mashing ‘A’ until a meter fills up, at which point the Dahak will lift them off the ground. From here, you can simply throw them normally, spin on the spot and then throw for more damage, or jump and then throw for a combo. You can even throw enemies at each other for more damage. Red is able to exit the Dahak and walk around by pressing ‘Y’, which you need to climb ladders and use his stun gun. The Dahak also has a flying mode, which is necessary for some missions and sidequests (discussed below), including the racing sidequest (which is a lot of fun).
Winning fights earns Red experience, which allows him to level up and get stronger. It also earns him rings, the game’s currency. Rings can be exchanged for upgrades to the Dahak. You can choose to purchase parts that will increase its attack, defence, hydraulics (lifting power), mobility and revive (the amount of health that the robot will be revived with when its HP falls to zero). Parts which increase stats by differing amounts have different shapes; parts which increase stats by higher amounts will be physically larger. You then take these parts and attempt to fit as many of them as possible in a grid; the more you can fit in, the more you can increase the Dahak’s stats. You can expand your grid by collecting P Crystals, which are found throughout the Shepard Republic.
Red has a hunter rank, which can be increased by heading to the Quest Broker and completing quests. They come in all different types, from fetch quests to defending clients from pirate attacks. With few exceptions, quests cannot be retaken. The only ones that can are competitions and time trials, which act as a good way to earn rings. One of these, the Battle Ship, has its own location and imposes a number of challenges for Red to complete. Those familiar with Tail Concerto might even find a few familiar faces there.
Solatorobo employed an art style which I was quite fond of, which vibrant colours that really made the world come to life. It sounded good as well, with a couple of stand-out tracks. It took me around 16 hours to complete, and I finished almost all of the sidequests doing so.
Solatorobo is a fun game for the DS that looks gorgeous, with interesting characters and plot. There isn’t much to the battle system itself, but it was still a lot of fun, and there are good options for manipulating the Dahak. The game can keep you going for a while with all of its sidequests, particularly if you decide to try and find all of the P Crystals, puzzle pieces, and sounds. This is a game I’d certainly recommend to someone in search of a good action RPG.