Are you the type of person that enjoys old games? I do, as long as its good. Old games are like wine, it gets better with age but you need to be careful it’s not spoiled. Yggdra Union: We’ll Never Fight Alone is a tactical RPG developed by Sting and released in 2006 for the Game Boy Advance and then re-released on the PSP in 2008. Are you ready to enjoy an anime-style tactical RPG with unique combat mechanics? I sure am since I’m a sucker for unique games.
The game follows the story of Yggdra, princess of Fantasinia, whose country is being invaded by the Bronquian Empire. While fleeing from pursuers, she meets Milanor, a renowned thief, who decides to help her to fight the Empire in exchange of for her castle. From the atmosphere, the game is set in some kind of fantasy middle age period, with people using swords, spears and magic to fight while having demihumans such as mermaids going around. The game is mainly divided into two moments: conversation and combat. In the first one you see the cast talking with each other and deciding what to do, developing the plot. While the plot is nothing special it is good enough, with a few plot twists here and there to spice up the game.
Combat is where the game really shows its full potential. You control you characters on a grid map, alternating turns between your faction and the enemy’s. At the beginning of each turn you select a card. Each card has a movement stat, indicating how many cells you can move your units during each turn, and a power stat, basically how much damage you will inflict to the enemy Morale. When you move your unit next to an enemy, you can start combat between the two, Each unit has different statistics and weapons, which determines the outcome of the combat. The losing unit receives damage to their Morale based on the active card, the performance in combat and other modifiers. When a unit’s Morale hits zero it’s removed from the map.
When two units are fighting, the screen will divide in two, with each half belonging to one side. In this game each unit is composed of more people, for example you could have 8 thieves fighting 8 valkyries. The attacking unit has the initiative with a charge and the defending unit counterattacks. After that they start hitting each other until people start dropping like flies and one of the two sides is wiped out. During combat the player has a limited amount of control. You can tell your units to be passive, which charges up a special bar, or be aggressive, which drains the aforementioned bar in exchange of a damage bonus. Each card also has a special effect, which can be activated only when the special bar is full.
After the first few battles you will unlock the ability to perform Unions. This is where the game starts becoming really challenging and positioning your units in the right places is crucial. Unions permits your units to be linked to each other so multiple units can battle at the same time. Of course the enemy can do the same so you have massive battles where you can annihilate the enemy in one turn or get wiped out yourself. One thing I should mention: Morale is not restored at the end of each level, meaning that keeping your losses at a minimum whenever you can is important. On the PSP the game difficulty is on spot, not being too easy but not being too frustrating either. On the other hand, if you get the original GBA version… Let’s just say it will be an interesting experience.
Yggdra Union also has a few different endings (with the PSP getting an extra ending) which helps with the replayability. The GBA version’s frustr… “unique pacing” means that there is no difficulty setting there while the PSP gives you a Hard Mode after you finish the game the first time (still easier than on the GBA…). The game also hides a lot of items and some characters can only be obtained by performing some specific actions, which will motivate some players to complete the game multiple times.
The plot, while not being especially noteworthy, is solid enough to support the interesting combat system that the folks at Sting created for this game. This is one of those old games where you actually have to think and try hard in order to beat it (unlike many present games, excluding one specific action RPG series), which is always good in my book. Even after a decade, Yggdra Union is still etched in my memory as one of the most interesting and difficult games I ever played. If you want to pick up another equally interesting game try out Riviera, another RPG from Sting set in the same universe. What are you waiting for? Take your PSP / GBA out of the drawer and start playing right away!
You can find Yggdra Union on the PS Store (available for PSP and PS Vita) here: https://goo.gl/xKxBA7