My feelings on the Inuyasha anime have been fairly mixed over the years. When I saw it as a child, It had me hooked and I was seriously drawn into it, but over time I started to notice more and more problems with it. The series has some very strong and powerful moments, but there are two problems. The first of these is repetitive nature of the plot that is paced like a bad JRPG where every arc ends when Inuyasha almost kills Naraku but he gets away due to some bullshit reason. Additionally, the fight scenes also seem to be based on turn based RPG logic because it they always seem to end when Inuyasha remembers to use that super powerful move he just learned 40 episodes ago to destroy the enemy. And the second reason was just how cringeworthy our central characters are. Inuyasha is an overconfident dumb ass with a massive ego and Kagome is your typical Mary Sue only with bitchy anime girl disorder, and I would know since most of my Twitter followers also have this disorder.
I have not watched the show in years and should probably watch The Final Act at some point, but for now we have a shitty RPG based on it. Funny thing about Secret of the Divine Jewel is that this game was made in the US. It is not an RPG brought over from Japan like The Secret of the Cursed Mask on the PS2 despite them sharing a similar name scheme. There also were two other RPGs based on the series that were only released in Japan; one on the PS1 and another on the WonderSwan Color. Of note is that the subtitle of the WSC one is Kagome no Yume Nikki. Ignoring the fact that it contains the title of another game that I will be reviewing fairly soon, the title translates to “Kagome’s Dream Diary” and I feel proud as fuck for knowing enough Japanese to tell that without looking it up. And by that I mean I know what each of those individual words mean from seeing them used elsewhere. I don’t actually know Japanese but I will one day. The pain of not being able to play Rhapsody 2 & 3 or the other Sakura Taisen titles due to a language barrier will go the same way as my dysphoria some day!
But anyway, another funny thing about Secret of the Divine Jewel; this game sucks! Okay yes, that’s not the most original statement to make about a game but this game is just NOT good. There are a few decent facets of it to go over fairly quickly. The first that comes to mind is the music. While the instrumentation quality is barely above GBA level, I do quite enjoy the tracks themselves. Some stand out tracks include the opening theme, the world map theme, the boss theme, and the final boss theme. Not only are each of these tracks memorable, but they capture the same atmosphere as the show.
I would also like to praise the graphical direction of the game. Chances are, these graphics could have been done on the GBA as well and did not require that much technical power, but to be honest I really don’t give a shit. I quite simply liked the idea of seeing these familiar characters in pixel art form and said sprites were well put together. I also recall the graphical designs of the settings looking quite decent. None were especially astounding but they were satisfactory nonetheless.
And that’s where the positives end in regards to this game. Now, let’s get into the negatives, aka the meat of this game. I pointed out at the start that Kagome is your typical Mary Sue character. Whoever wrote the story for this game apparently did not agree and thought that this game needed ANOTHER Mary Sue protagonist to be brought into the plot in the form of Janis, an American transfer student that falls into the Bone Eater’s Well while looking for Kagome. She ends up with Kagome, Inuyasha, Miroku, and those other two useless characters because she has a Shikon Jewel Shard and some McGuffin called the Kamuitama. I hope you remember the latter because that is the only reason Janis has any importance to the plot.
This ability of course gives Janis God mod powers and makes her a target for demons, and the plot is based around returning the power to the God that previous possessed it known as Datara. In addition to the series main villain Naraku, there is another demon known as Gorai who seeks to control Datara and you all stopped listening at “Murican transfer student” didn’t you? Yeah, I’m pretty convinced that the plot for this game was a fanfic that someone on the game’s developments staff wrote during their High School years, or maybe they just took it off Fanfiction.net and decided to use it themselves? I’m sure whoever wrote it must be mortified by now if that’s the case.
While the storyline is effective at capturing the atmosphere of the show and the personalities of the main cast, this all suffers because Janis is among one of the most shallow RPG protagonists I have ever seen. Yes, I said that Kagome was a Mary Sue, but she at least has a personality and fits into the storyline. In Secret of the Divine Jewel, just about EVERYTHING revolves around Janis and the rest of the cast is just there for the ride… at least from what I played as I could not bring myself to play that far into the game.
While such an approach to storytelling could work well if Janis had a personality… do I even need to write the rest of this sentence? Usually when someone says a character “has no personality” it is either a hyperbole or the person saying it does not have enough experience in critique to tell the difference between thin personality and no personality at all. When I say Janis does not have a personality I mean it literally. Fi from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had more of a personality than Janis did. Her only dialogue consists of speaking the obvious and whatever she needs to say to push the plot along, and SHE is the character the plot revolves around!
The gameplay is not all that great either. The first thing one will notice is an absurdly high random encounter rate because those are always fun. On top of that, running from battle will only have the character whose turn you used up flee, and if you get killed with one character left you still get a game over even thought no one else was killed. The dungeon design is mostly simplistic paths with the exception of the first one which was a labyrinthine swamp area where everything looks the same. Lastly, most battles have no challenge involved since they can be beaten just by spamming Inuyasha’s multi targeting OP wind scar.
The catch is supposed to be that you need to build up a five point system similar to that of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light that are built up during battle. The problem is that enemies are still so simplistic to get rid of because you have six party members, all of which have multi targeting attacks. So yeah, battles are easy as hell but the fucking random encounter rate is what makes things worse. Yes, there are repel items that drain the random encounter rate… for about 20 seconds while costing a lot and taking up limited inventory space.
I once again need to reiterate that I have not completed this game, nor do I have any intention of doing so. The battle mechanics aren’t horrible and the repel items (I forget their names) can aid with the encounter rate, but the problem is that you still have nothing to make things remotely compelling. Even if some things were to improve, I’d still be forcing myself to continue because this game is just not fun.
If one is looking for an Inuyasha RPG, I’d recommend The Secret of the Cursed Mask on the PS2. I’ve barely played it, but it’s a hell of a lot better than Secret of the Divine Jewel, which clearly was meant to always remain a secret.
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