This post is uber whiny. Just letting you know.
So I’ve played my fair share of bad video games; Superman for the N64, Back to the Future for the NES, and Time Killers on the SNES, to name a few. But despite the agony that certain poorly designed video games have inflicted upon me over the years, none have really made angry. That is, until I played Crimson Gem Saga for the PSP. This game is like the opposite of fine wine, it actually gets shittier with time.
I’m not sure what went wrong with this game. It starts off with amazing potential and then it just falls down a sewer. I speculate that there might have been some kind of directional conflict or change at the offices of ATLUS during development, because the earlier parts of the game and the later parts of game are complete polarizations. To me, the most aggravating thing about this game is that it really could have been a masterpiece, but instead it ended up being a giant pile of dung.
So what is so horrible about this game? Well to start, the leveling system is completely broken. Mobs that are twenty levels below you can still two-shot you, leaving your self-esteem in the gutter. In this game, leveling is basically pointless and have no real affect on your characters, while armor and accessories play a huge role. Unfortunately for us, some asshole at ATLUS decided to make the cost of armor basically “hahaha fuck you” expensive. This forces players to grind to no end just to be able to afford all of their equipment.
Another big problem with this game is its dungeon design. The first few chapters had a great set-up; they were simple but not too simple, but then later on, the dungeons all become giant mazes, where every new room and floor looks exactly like the previous. To make matters worse, while traversing through these labyrinths, you still have to solve puzzles and look for treasures. What’s even more horrible is when you finally find the exit, but then questions whether or not you’ve found all of the items in the dungeon (especially considering how butt-ass expensive gear is, as previously mentioned), making you turn back around into the maze, all while cursing and praying to gamer-gods you can find your way back to the exit again.
The skill system is also broken. In order to upgrade your skill from level 1 to 5, you need a series of medallions (bronze, silver, gold, platinum). Now, even if say you have 100 silvers, 100 gold, and 100 platinum medallions, but no bronze, then your skill will never get higher than level 1, keeping you weak as a chipmunk. And of course, how convenient of the douchebags at ATLUS to make sure the bronze medallions are hard as shit to acquire. In total, your characters have over 100 different skills and I personally only acquired 10 medallions throughout the entire game, most I used prematurely since I just assumed you’ll be given the opportunity to get more later. Silly gamer, of course not.
The last set of issues I have with this game is its final dungeon, final bosses and ending [minor spoilers]:
So after spending endless hours grinding your life away to level up your favorite characters in preparation for the final battle, Crimson Gem Saga decides to crap on you again by taking away three of your best characters, leaving you with the worse characters, and then taking away one character slot completely (so you fight with 3 instead of 4 characters). One of the characters taken away also happens to find his ultimate weapon like 15 minutes from the end. I take that as another informal message from the ATLUS folks to tell us to go fuck ourselves.
The final boss is also a joke. If you lose the battle, you get to see the ending. If you win the battle, you still get to see the same ending. So basically, there was no point in a final boss at all. Oh and talking about the epicly horrible 2-minute long ending, here it is summarized in full:
Character 1: “I’m going to go find more stones!”
Character 2: “I’ll go with you!”
Character 3: “I’m leaving this house.”
Character 4: “I’m going to go find more stones too, but by myself!”
Character 5: “I’m uber.”
Dear Crimson Gem Saga: go die in a fire.