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Eternal Sonata on Game and Player

Eternal Sonata

Zach Hines  //  November 16, 2007

A traditional RPG with a Romantic twist.


hhh, the sounds of Romantic music stir the soul of man with their melodious tones. What then, pray tell, would they have to do with video games? Normally, nothing. However, when used as the backdrop for a game, they add a touch of refinement to something that is generally not thought of as being "refined." Eternal Sonata is an RPG for the Xbox 360 in which this generations-old musical style is a welcome surprise.

Eternal Sonata, published by Bandai Namco, is for the most part a traditional RPG with a few twists. The Romantic musical era permeates the game, most prevalently the setting of the game itself. While on his deathbed in 1849, famed composer Frédéric François Chopin (whose real-life events play into the story) dreams of a world in which those who are near death are granted magical powers that can be used to help those around them. However, the general populace of this world fears and shuns those with these powers as though they were contagious. Frédéric meets a young girl named Polka who, deathly ill, can wield magic. Along with a host of other musically named characters — Allegretto, Jazz, and Beat — Frédéric starts to wonder what reality truly is and if the world where he is dying is indeed his reality or simply a fantasy.

Chopin's twilight journey is to
a world inspired by music.
Graphically, Eternal Sonata is a wash of color that looks especially wonderful on a HD set. While not overly realistic in its presentation, the game's lighter tone and spirit are represented very well in its characters' anime-style look. Characters are creatively designed, each with their own musically inspired weapon (Frédéric has a saber conductor's baton, Jazz uses a large, trombone-like broadsword, and Allegretto has a sword fashioned after a violin). Unfortunately, your character never gets different looking weapons throughout the entirety of the game. You'll receive new weapons, but they (along with armor) never change the appearance of your character. While not a hindrance, new and better looking equipment is a staple of RPGs, and its absence hits a sour note.

The gameplay of Eternal Sonata is similar to other Active Time Battle systems. Each character is given an unlimited amount of time at the beginning of their turn to decide what to do. After their first action, time begins to run out. During their turn characters can move around the area, attack enemies, and heal each other. As you progress, new and more powerful special abilities become available. One unique addition is the use of light and dark powers. Sections of each combat zone are bathed in light and covered in shadow. Depending on where your character is standing, certain actions become available while others are disabled. It adds a nice touch of strategy that matches the emotionally polarized Romantic sound. What is more is that certain enemies will be affected by light and dark as well, changing in both physical appearance and abilities they can use.

Dark and light combat powers echo
the polarized Romantic sound.
Sound during battle is fairly standard, with an assortment of grunts and groans and explosions to accompany the quicker pace. Frédéric is capable of some attacks that have very haunting sound effects accompanying them. Outside of combat, Chopin's music peppers the game in a way that compliments its fantasy setting. New chapters of the game are broken up with sections of Chopin's music being played in the background, accompanied by slides and information about Chopin and his work. You can even collect pieces of Chopin's music to be played with NPCs in the game that can unlock special items based on how well you sync with them.

Eternal Sonata is hardly a tour de force, but it does do a lot of things right. It has a unique setting with memorable characters (though some of the voices are horrendously bubblegum), a fun if not terribly creative combat system, and has a great visual aesthetic. The game's greatest strength certainly stems from its namesake, in that the inclusion of the works of Chopin strengthens the game throughout. If you own an Xbox 360 and are looking for a good RPG with an enjoyable story, then Eternal Sonata will enliven the hills with the sounds of music...minus Julie Andrews, that is.

Eternal Sonata





Namco Bandai

NA Release

September 17, 2007


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Unique story and setting
  • Chopin's music


  • No visual character upgrades
  • Combat somewhat easy

G&P Rating

Articles by Zach Hines


September 8, 2008


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