GSQ6: Ein-lander

I have weirdly specific memories of Riviera — I played the game for review back in 2005 and used it to while away an otherwise agonizing hour-long wait at a nearby Italian restaurant as they tried to figure out my take-out order. (Sautéed vegetables are apparently trickier than you’d think.)

Thankfully, Riviera was strikingly good. Not only did it kill that hour of hungry torture, it kept me entertained for another dozen hours or so after that. It also managed to completely overcome my misgivings about dating sims, graphical adventures, and many other things I normally dislike in my games. The trick, I think, is that Sting managed to incorporate all these elements into something that resembles an RPG and came up with something weird and unique and yet internally consistent from start to finish.

Phil did a bang-up job breaking down the specifics in his write-up for GSQ6, so you should read it and soak in the science.

16 thoughts on “GSQ6: Ein-lander

  1. As much as I loved Riviera, I fully admit to abusing that practice mode for grinding, because it was there to abuse and some more fragile items couldn’t really be grinded without it. ^^;

    Still, I had a great time with Riviera. That RPG/visual novel mix works pretty well, and even its QTEs make sense within the game’s design. Definitely a game I’d recommend.

    • I hated practice mode so much in Tactics Ogre that I always ignore it in other RPGs, so I didn’t really even know about it in Riviera. I wonder if using it would have changed my perception for better (being able to take advantage of rare weapons) or worse (gimping the difficulty).

  2. Love Riviera. I always had a hard time understanding the reasons behind the 16 slot inventory. Mainly because I’m a completion freak, but also because I have played too many Japanese RPGs.

  3. I fell in love with the game as soon as I clicked with it. I agree with Phil in that it takes a few restarts to be able to get it and then decide that you do get it enough to follow through. But when it gets good, it gets GOOD.
    My first playthrough was on my GBA, I bought the game on a whim for cheap at a local game store, and the limitations the game sets on you really intrigued me. Years later I played it through on an emulator using savestates to appease the completionist in me. It was fun to see all the little events and items I had missed on my first couple of legitimate playthroughs, but I didn’t get that feeling of accomplishment I originally did. This game is NOT easy (unless you just max all your stats through practise mode).

    • I guess I owe myself another restart.

      My recollection is confused at best, but I recall it had pretty, pretty graphics, and kept confounding my expectations.

  4. The practice mode, as noted, is there for a reason. Quite a few items won’t cough up any stat bonuses or overdrives simply because there’s too few of them or they just flat out don’t have enough uses. I used it, big-time. And enjoyed it, strangely enough.

    The game was great. It’s one of the most different, but awesome, JRPGs I’ve played. The fact that I couldn’t put it down is probably very telling.

    Oh, and it’s very, very pretty, even on the GBA.

  5. Funnily enough, the GBA port of this game was the first Atlus game that I bought, and I only bought it because it had cool box art and looked fun. I used the Practice Mode, and abused it. While playing the game the “proper” way without using it may be a better expirience, you still need to use it in a certain few situations, like those x1 use items you get that you can only get once.

  6. In 2005, I spent a lot of time playing Dragon Quest 8 and Atelier Iris. The same year, there were several freeware, worksafe, and fan translated visual novels that surprised me with their writing — A Midsummer Day’s Resonance and The Poor Little Bird. And I made sure to buy Riviera GBA that year as well, since I liked the game’s moe-style graphics, but I was kinda “meh” about its gameplay.

    By contrast, I’ve bought several translated RPGs this year, but I’ve spent much more time with RE: Alistair, as well as the translated versions of Game Dev Story, Sakura Wars 5, and Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side DS. I’m definitely not mainstream any more…

  7. I missed this game when it came out, I think it had to do with Nintendo power’s review ( a 6.5 mainly complained about a slow pace)

    • I’ve been playing this in anticipation of Knights in the Nightmare PSP, with the caveat that they’re pretty much only related due to a common developer. It’s got a hell of a lot of charm, and while the spritework on the PSP version *has* been filtered and smoothed, the very clean artwork used in the bulk of the plot is definitely appreciated. Plus, it’s on PSN, which is handy for keeping the clutter of a gamer at bay.

  8. With shame in my heart, I admit that I could never finish this. I simply ran out of usable items. Even using practice mode.

    Now, when I say I ran out of usable items, I mean only one character could do anything in battle because the “OMFG that’s fast” loot wheel screwed me over… when I ever managed to get past the horrible mini games.

    I have never been so frustrated with a game in my life.

  9. I wouldn’t even call Riviera an rpg so much as a puzzle game. Which is to say, there *are* multiple options but a specific one is decidedly more effective, and finding/using it is a matter of careful planning and good reflexes.

    You know, like Tetris except the blocks talk about their feelings.

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