The PlayStation Portable was one of the most underrated handheld gaming systems. Released in 2005, Sony’s handheld featured so many iconic and hidden gems. One hidden gem, is Brave Story New Traveler, a JRPG released in North America in 2007. Developed by Game Republic and published by XSeed Games, players controlled the adventure of a young boy who is whisked away to another dimension to help save his deathly ill friend. Do our dreams come true in this Brave Story New Traveler review?
Brave Story New Traveler Plot:
Doing a little research for my Brave Story New Traveler review, I discovered that this game was actually a book first! It’s based on the novel Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe. While there are some characters from the book, most of the characters in the PSP game are unique and were created for the game adaptation.
The story begins with a boy (maybe 11?) and a girl sitting on a bench outside. Miki is gossiping to Tatsuya who is too busy to listen as he plays his PSP. She grows annoyed with Tatsuya and walks away. A few minutes later, Miki’s dog starts barking and grabs the attention of Tatsuya. He makes his way to where the dog is barking and discovers Miki is passed out near lifeless. Miki goes to the hospital and is put into a bed where the doctors are having a hard time figuring out what’s wrong with her. Tatsuya leaves her room and goes to the roof of the hospital where he hears a voice speaking to him. The voice tells Tatsuya that he can save his friend by entering another dimension in which large doors appear out of thin air. Tatsuya who is a silent protagonist walks into the entry and is transported to another dimension.
In order to have his wish granted, Tatsuya must find the five gems scattered throughout the land for the sword that was gifted to him upon entry to this new dimension. The land around him is magical and filled with creatures of all kinds including monsters. It’s a stark difference from the busy city that Tatsuya left in the real world. During my Brave Story New Traveler review, I encountered many unique and fun characters who helped me on my journey to retrieve the gems. Tatsuya is special as he’s hailed as a “traveler” but he isn’t the only traveler searching for the gems. Others have entered the land to have their wishes granted too.
Let’s take a look at some of the characters from my Brave Story New Traveler review.
Yuno: She’s a kitten, well, a cute girl with cat ears and a tail. She’s flirty, emotional, and tries to be very encouraging and helpful. I really found her refreshing as a female character and thought she was a great addition to the team with her bows and arrows. She develops a crush on Tatsuya and is a bit jealous that he’s better friends with Miki. She decides to help Tatsuya after he rescues her in a forest when being outnumbered by monsters.
Sogreth: He’s a large gator humanoid who is overprotective of his son. After Tatsuya helps rescue his son from trouble, Sogreth decides to tag along on the adventure. He is a very powerful ax wielder, but he doesn’t fall into the troupe of overlarge dumb characters, he has input in conversations and can even make a joke every now and then.
Meladee: She’s a Highlander Cheif who commands the respect of her unit. Tatsuya and Yuno want to join the Highlanders, a group of adventures who go on quests but are perceived to be too young. Meladee and her unit are found lost in an underground cavern surrounded by monsters where Tatsuya saves them. To thank him, she joins his quest and makes them true Highlanders. She wields double blades.
Ropple: He’s a super-genius magic user who only stands 3’9. He’s all about logic and science and the others continue to convince him to look at the world in others ways which is the typical “friends make us stronger” troupe. I probably used him the least amount but his magic was helpful during battles. He joins Tatsuya after his professor tells him he needs to better understand people.
Leynart – He’s a Beastkin which means he is part beast. He has large horns and his skin is gray. Leynart patrols the borders and makes sure that travelers are abiding by the laws. At first, he believes Yuno and Sogreth as thieves but after a side quest, they help bring down the real thieves to prove their innocence. He has a large shield and lance and joins the team to help fight.
Now that you know the characters from my Brave Story New Traveler review, let’s discuss what happens!
Once Tatsuya learns the rules of the other dimension called Vision, he is set free to find the five gems to fit into his sword. With his sword, he can summon the Goddess of Destiny and reverse Miki becoming sick. Picking up the forementioned characters in his travels, Tatsuya is also in a fight against Rei, who I would describe as a dick. He’s out to mess up your journey and make sure you don’t complete your wish. On occasion, Tatsuya has the ability to transport back to the real world to see Miki after he collects a gem. Later on, Rei begins to taunt Tatsuya and shows up in the real world threatening to kill Miki. The two battle on occasion before Tatsuya defeats him.
Near the end of the game, things aren’t adding up. There are multiple travelers who are hoping to have their wishes granted but Tatsuya doesn’t fit the mold of the typical traveler. He reaches the tower that is home to the Goddess of Destiny but she refuses to open the doors because he isn’t a true traveler. Instead, Tatsuya is greeted by a young girl who asks to have his sword. He refuses, as the girl grows increasingly angry trying to tempt Tatsuya by pretending to be Miki. He continues to refuse and the girl transforms into a giant toad named Onba. Onba lured Tatsuya to Vision with the hope of saving his friend but she is powerless to do so. It was all a trapt so he’d collect the gems and give her the sword to overthrow the Goddess of Destiny.
Together with the help of his friends, Tatsuya defeats Onba. The Goddess of Destiny invites Tatsuya to meet but he must leave his friends behind forever. He leaves the group and meets with the Goddess who informs him she cannot grant his wish as he isn’t a traveler. However, since Onba was the one who put the curse on Miki and since Tatsuya defeated Onba, his wish will come true regardless. The game ends with Tatsuya returning to the real world and talking to Miki about a dream she had that involved a giant toad with Tatsuya rescuing her.
Brave Story New Traveler Gameplay:
There are a few things that I love about JRPGs and Brave Story checks the box on a few of them. First, Brave Story’s gameplay for battles is random encounters. During battles, you’ll be able to pull up a menu with the commands of attack, defend, items, bravura, unity, and escape. Four of those commands are self-explanatory. Bravura are special moves that deal more damage. These special moves are available as long as you have some Bravura points which you accumulate after every regular attack. I almost never ran out of BP unless it was a boss fight in which I had to drink some BP restoration potions. Almost every battle you can fill the BP meter so it’s a big part of the game. Unity allows active characters in your party to combine attacks for mega damage. It was fun to earn new unity moves as my characters leveled up and they deal a great deal of damage. Like Pokemon, there are some weaknesses, and strengths with move sets. It doesn’t play a huge role, but some bosses and enemies are easier when you discover what they are weak against.
There’s a world map that you can travel on foot, wagon or dragon. Once you get the dragon, it’s very easy to transverse the area and clear out any dungeons you missed. For the most part, you won’t get lost or stuck. The story is very intuitive and missions move along at a nice pace. You’ll be able to upgrade your weapons and armor as each character has a specific weapon that they command. Yuno has a bow, Meladee has the twin blades, Sogreth has the ax, etc…
Some JRPGs are nothing but serious interactions and dialogue, I have to admit there were a few times when I laughed out loud with Brave Story. One particular moment was when Tatsuya falls into a hole and someone finds him and guesses his name as it was written on his sleeve. They retort to him “What type of doofus writes his name on his sleeve”. The writing is clever in most circumstances and having a laugh or two is always appreciated. There was also a bee joke that I found funny but I can’t recall it. While this was comical, I think it would be better to have it fixed but when Tatsuya runs it looks like he has to crap his pants and he’s running to the bathroom.
You can save the game only by reaching save points that are scattered throughout the land. This is one of the rare instances in which I was very frustrated with my Brave Story New Traveler review. I had just finished slogging through a quest that took nearly three hours but I didn’t see any save points. A cut scene occurred and I was transported back to a city where we could rest and heal. For some reason, I thought the game auto-saved and so I shut my PSP off. Unfortunately, it only saves at save points so I lost three hours of work. Needless to say, I was pissed.
I’m not an expert in JRPGs, I enjoy them and I can switch out equipment and grind to level up but once you get into expansive tactics and gameplay elements I tend to zone those out and just go for raw power. Brave Story New Traveler was on the easier side of JRPGs. I beat it within 25 hours and I only died twice in battle. Once from a random encounter in which I got lazy, and the other time was facing the final boss the first time. The final boss battle is a doozy and I thought it’d take me a few times to beat it but I ended up winning my second try although it’s lengthy at about 30 minutes.
One aspect that I didn’t get into during my Brave Story New Traveler review was Goalfinche battling. It’s a mini-game where you battle opponents with Goalfinches, a super cute fluffy breed of bird. They have different colors and you can hunt them in certain areas. You hunt them by capturing them in a net so it’s all pleasant and non-violent. Once you have a few you can challenge other Goalfinche hunters. I only played a few times but I can tell that it could get addicting. As I wanted to play on with my Brave Story New Traveler review, I knew I wouldn’t have time to master this but it was a fun mini-game to play while taking a break from the story.
Something very cool that I did not know during my Brave Story New Traveler review was that once you beat the game you can unlock the “Epilogue” which allows the player to unlock characters from the story. These side characters of Meena, Kee Keema, Wataru, Mitsuru, and Kutz are all available for you to insert into your party at your leisure. They all come at level 60+ with good equipment and abilities.
This was one of the first “big” spenders in my retro gaming collection which is laughable now after all the money I’ve spent. When I was just starting to collect, I would allow myself to spend $30 a week on retro video games. That quickly went out the window after a few months but during that time, I went to a retro video game store where I saw Brave Story New Traveler CIB for $35. Now, that was over my spending limit for the week, but I had never heard of or seen it in person and it looked really cool. The cover art is sideways so it drew me to it and the characters looked appealing. I ended up buying it and I’m thankful I did because I haven’t seen it since.
I played Brave Story New Traveler a year later and it was such a delight. I loved the characters and their interactions. It was such a refreshing JRPG with the character designs and troupes. I spent a lot of time in bed at night playing through it.
Brave Story New Traveler Review Score:
This really was a treat to play as it hit the sweet spot for many elements. It was a great length at 25 hours, not too short but not overwhelming as a grind fest. The characters were charming, refreshing, and weren’t afraid to have traditional roles and personalities. There’s plenty to do after the game ends and it looks great on the PSP.
Brave Story New Traveler scores a 9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Brave Story New Traveler review? Are there other great JRPGs out for the PSP? Who was your favorite character in Brave Story New Traveler? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Brave Story New Traveler, I’d love to read them.