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Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  
Ratings:  Early Childhood
Memory Req.:  
Info:  http://
If you have even a passing interest in RPG's you're probably already familiar with the name Kartia. It sold well over 100,000 copies in Japan in the first month of it's release and has to be the most hyped game of its type since the immortal Final Fantasy VII. Now, finally, it has made it to US shores and the question is, "Hype aside, is it worth your money?" The short answer is "yes". For the long answer, keep reading.

For the most part Kartia looks and plays a lot like Atlus' other RPG/Strategy title, Tactics Ogre. But there is one element that differentiates Kartia's gameplay from its sister title and lifts it to a level all its own. You see, what really makes Kartia unique is the magic system. In the game "kartia cards", silken or wooden cards inscribes with magical "text", are used to whip up everything from coffee to swords to phantoms. So if you're in a battle and your war hammer isn't getting it done, pull out a card and create a war axe. Or better yet pull out a card and create a monster to fight along side you. The various "texts", which are represented by Japanese characters, can be combined in many, many ways so as to create a multitude of spells and weapons. This system adds a lot of depth and, thus, a lot of replay value to the title. This is a good thing.

Another interesting feature of Kartia is the Arena. Kartia's story is laid out as a series of chapters. Each chapter includes several conversations which basically lay out the who and the why of the impending climatic battle. At the end of each battle you are given the opportunity go to the Arena. If you accept, your hero/heroine takes on a group of phantoms. If you lose the battle you go on to the next chapter no worse for the wear. But if you win you are given various items which you can use later in the game.

In addition to the above Kartia also features beautiful FMV sequences that move it's intriguing plot along, an addictive 2 player mode (this review would have been longer but my roommate and I felt compelled to play through all five of the VS scenarios. . . twice), the ability to play through two different storylines, and character design by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame. When you add all this up you get a game that brings something new to the genre and promises hours of entertaining gameplay and replay. If you're a fan of RPG's or fantasy strategy games Kartia is one title you won't want to miss.

Oh yeah, the longer is "yes", too.

Chris Shade

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