In Fragile Dreams, a new anime advventure for the Nintendo Wii, play as Seto, a teenage boy who lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. When the old man he lives with passes away, Seto loses the only one he knows in the world. So, armed with only a flashlight and whatever he can carry on his back, Seto sets out into the ruins of the Earth to try and find others like him, and maybe along the way he’ll reveal the mystery of what caused this catastrophe.
At its heart, Fragile Dreams is an adventure game with an emphasis on exploration and item management. Use the nunchuck to move Seto around dilapidated train stations, run-down shopping malls, and abandoned amusement parks. Point the remote at the screen to shine Seto’s flashlight around. Shining the flashlight is how you discover items you can use as well as spotting danger. Set up bonfires throughout the areas to rest up and save your game.
Fragile Dreams has very high production values. The graphics are fantastic and imaginative on the Wii, and the lighting effects of the flashlight are superb. Voice acting is also decent, and XSEED has even graciously included the Japanese voices as an option for purists. Plus, it’s definitely a fully fleshed out game designed for the Wii, not some gimmicky waggle-fest.
Combat has a bit of an RPG vibe to it. Every so often you might have to fight off ghosts, mutant dogs, or other apparitions. All you have to do is hit the A button when near an enemy. Defeated enemies net experience points so Seto can level up, and they may drop the occasional healing item or money. Only problem is there’s no lock on feature, so sometimes your swings may not connect with the baddies.
But the control isn’t half as bad as Fragile Dream’s other major problem, and it has to do with item management. You can equip weapons like sticks and bamboo swords to give you an edge in battle. But they can break at any time and be totally useless and weak, which is a real pain if you’re in the middle of fighting enemies that can regenerate their health. And it seems real inconsistent when the weapons will break. I spent the first introductory part of the game with a bamboo sword before it broke, but the next one I used broke after fighting a small handful of jellyfish ghosts! You can buy new weapons, but the merchant who sells them doesn’t appear often enough and money is hard to come by.
Another problem with item management is how they limit what you can hold. You can store unlimited items in your briefcase, but you can only use the select few items you have ‘on hand.’ And you can only switch out items from your briefcase when you’re at a bonfire. The items you have ‘on hand’ are the only ones you can use while battling and exploring, and they’re arranged in a grid. You can rotate the items in the on hand grid to best fit the most items, but you’ll need to save enough room if you pick up any more important equipment along the way. And if your on hand grid is full, you’ll have to trek back to the nearest bonfire to switch out your items. It just seems more fiddly than fun.
Fragile Dreams is still a very creative Wii game with great rewards like creative gameplay and an interesting story. It’s just very tough to wade through the game’s problems in order to reap those rewards.
Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, and Suggestive Themes. The alcohol and tobacco references are very mild, just ancient ads on the walls and such. Violence is also very tame, you just swing at ghosts and they disappear. Blood is used very sparingly, too (I didn’t see hardly any in the game myself). The Suggestive Themes probably come from the mysterious silver-haired girl you’re trying to track down in the story. She looks like she’s wearing nothing but a couple of ripped up shopping bags. Some of the ghosts and monsters you fight are pretty nightmarish, and might give young kids bad dreams. Heck, the merchant with the giant chicken head would give ME nightmares! So because of this, Fragile Dreams is best suited for older kids, teens, and adults who enjoy Japanese anime cartoons and adventures.