Kitsu Saga: First Impressions

Posted by | November 2, 2010

Ever imagined what it might be like if we combined Avatar: The Last Airbender and Naruto? You’d probably come out with a jMMO a lot like Kitsu Saga, the newest release from Aeria Games & Entertainment Inc. for the massively-multiplayer market. Also throw in a cute, plush fox-spirit (a kitsune) to hover over your shoulder, and you’ve got it. Shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that these two cartoons came to mind when I started up this game and jumped into the fray—it is, after all, their animé themed MMO release.

Upon launch, there’s cute, lilting music and a fox spirit flying around. And you’re greeted by a sweet little tune that involves a flute and a maraca shaking sound. This song gets played intermittently through the play of the game. Mostly while you’re hacking through various and sundry wildlife.

Kitsu Saga Opening Screen

Making a character can be a pretty rewarding, but strange, experience.

Play an anime character in Kitsu Saga

You have to choose between two different schools of martial arts: Tiger and Dragon. Both of the martial arts communities have their own ideas about how to tackle the problems in the world one of them is a sort of religious order of righteous Eastern paladins whereas the other one sees the world as a seed to that must be let free to grow and prosper. However, they don’t seem to differ much after that—they’re both pissed at the villain du jour and want to prevent them from wrecking the world.

The game has the usual selection criteria for picking gender, hair color, hair style, eye color, face structure, and size—but it doesn’t really have that broad of a set as many. More or less simplistic, but at least it doesn’t bog down creation. Looks like outfits are built in game out of armor and inventory items as well (similar to World of Warcraft.)

And you don’t start with your kitsune. Although you get your fox spirit quickly near the beginning after kicking in the fangs of some snakes.

Kitsune fox-spirit accompanies you in Kitsu Saga

My kitsune, Ricebowl, also has an odd tendency to give me quipped life advice as we ran along through the landscape together. “Don’t forget to go outside and get some exercise!” and “Try not to stay up too late, you don’t want to be sleepy in the morning.” Not that I disagree with the sentiment, it’s quite interesting to see a video game telling me to get exercise. Perhaps they’re trying to be socially conscious of the fact that this game will attract younger children and they could get sucked into the game world.

Place-to-place movement can be amusing since it’s possible upon receiving a quest or a waypoint to just click a button and your character autopilots directly there. There also seem to be items which will teleport you directly (using a radio button toggle the size of a grain of rice.)

Problems with this game mostly come down to the poorly designed user interface. While it runs very smoothly—without any clop for me on my computer—it doesn’t seem to have anti-aliased fonts, and they’re so small sometimes they’re difficult to see and read. Sometimes text overlaps; the chat window combines a bad color (orange) with the small font and aliasing problems to make it hard to read. The buttons have a low profile, and the interface screens are tiny and difficult to pluck out. In fact, it seems to also work on a radio-button effect on-screen sometimes that’s a little odd.

The first zone in Kitsu Saga

The game is cute, the music is nice, but it’s hard to immerse.

The quests are very Eastern oriented, in keeping with the animé theme, and I only played through the first zone. Right up until I met some nine-tailed kitsune demons that took giant gouges out of me. Due to my difficulty reading the chat, I wasn’t able to engage with other players (and they didn’t talk to me much either) so I cannot comment on the social aspect yet. Although, I suspect that if I’d gotten myself a group, I might have been able to take down that giant, fan-tailed fox. Instead, it chased me all the way down the road, into the town, and carved me up like a Halloween pumpkin.

I probably won’t continue playing Kitsu Saga, but for those interested. It is currently in open beta.

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