This game does not really offer anything new or original in the way of RPG games but what is highly innovative is the combination of many different kinds of games. Take 1 part Sim-City, 1 part Diablo, and 1 part Monster Rancher mix it up and add RPG style graphics (meaning Japanese style drawings and little cartoon character) and out of the oven comes Azure Dreams.
The game plays on two different fields, one in town and another in the tower. You play the part of an amateur monster tamer who makes a living training monsters and selling them and their eggs. With the money you make you can build up the town by adding on to existing buildings or creating new ones. Put the town on the map by building a casino or try expanding your hut for training more monsters.
Casinos don't come cheap and the only way to get funds is by exploring the tower, a large monster infested structure in the back of the town.. Like Diablo this multileveled tower has a random board generator which means that the floor plan is never the same twice. The monsters that attack you in the tower are all visible and the fighting is turn-based but is still fast moving and there are minimal menus (for most of the combat you won't even see a menu). If you are lucky you will find an egg you can either sell for big money or hatch and train. Training a monster from birth will make it a "familiar" which is a monster familiar with people. You can then take this familiar into the tower as an aide. Each monster has different abilities and magic powers and combining monsters will make their attributes even stronger.
As far as the storyline goes there are a couple of love interests in town which you can pursue by making purchasing decisions or saying the right things to them. Sometimes the town member will give you missions for things or people to find in the tower. The town is constantly changing and something or someone will be different after every journey into the tower. Though talking to the people is sometimes monotonous and unnecessary the characters usually help you out with useful info.
This game does not really present any kind of new feeling to the RPG genre but it does have some nice elements. I like the dichotomy between the town and the tower. Every time you enter the tower your attributes return to level 1 though your familiars' levels stay the same so the action is pretty standard every time. The town on the other hand is constantly changing and growing which makes it seem like a soap opera. This is opposed to most RPGs where you leave places and people before you get a chance to get to know them. Here you manage your own town and the relationships you have with its inhabitants. All of the adventure and combat elements lie in the tower so if you do not like its format you are out of luck.
I found this RPG very cool especially for people who are not really into building up a whole army of characters and have problems with all of the commands they have to enter. It still posses the cutesy Final Fantasy rip-off graphics that bother me so much. (Why can't their be an RPG about regular looking non-anime people?) But past the look of the people in the game, the action is great and the more money you make the more enjoyable the game becomes just like real life.
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