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Legendary RPG Alundra Ventures Into PlayStation Store PS One Classics

Alundra

I remember being at Tokyo Game Show the first time I saw Alundra. It was in the Sony booth on a single monitor in line with a number of other titles, with little signage. There wasn’t even an attendant managing the area. Important games often have multiple monitors, lots of signage and possibly special happenings as well as a person assigned to work the area, answer questions, help with gameplay, etc. Alundra had none of that. The presentation at that Tokyo Game show was a metaphor for the game itself – confident, yet unassuming. But appearances can be deceptive – and that was never truer than with Alundra.

I knew what I was looking at the moment I laid eyes on it. I let out a little gasp – OMG, is…is that a new Landstalker game? The look of the main character and the isometric perspective was unmistakable. I could scarcely believe it was what I thought it was. I tracked down someone to help me in the best Japanese I could muster. They kindly got me in touch with one of the staff working on the title. “Is this a Landstalker sequel?” I asked, barely able to hide my excitement. No, it wasn’t, they explained, but it looks that way because it’s made by some of the same staff and is more of a spiritual successor. All I heard was “yes”, essentially.

The next few months were a blur of activity as I pestered Japan and our Sony America account manager for information about the title, and begged for the opportunity to localise it. The title was amazing, and I had to be the one to get it released. It couldn’t languish in Japan or be sacked with half-hearted localisation – that would be a crime, well, in my eyes at least. I was the games’ number one US fan and we had to be the company to bring it out in English. Fortunately, Sony saw our passion, and our account manager put in a great reference for our work (thanks, Tina, to this day!), and Sony Japan let us license the game.

Alundra is a game about dreams, control, loss, and redemption. The title character has the ability to enter the dreams of people and see what lurks in their unconscious. When he washes up on the shore of Inoa Village after a freak storm destroys the ship he was on, a kind Blacksmith takes him in to heal. Before long, it’s clear that something is wrong in Inoa and Alundra uses his special ability to enter the minds of the tortured villagers to save them from… well, that’s something you best discover for yourself.

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Alundra’s level design is unique in that the overworld is a kind of hub and the player alternates between real dungeons that hold secrets and treasures, and the dungeons in the minds of the tortured souls he meets in Inoa. That design lends a very special rhythm to the gameplay that I haven’t experienced with any other game.

Fans have called Alundra the PlayStation’s Zelda, and I really can’t fault that tag. The game has all the Zelda-isms down – challenging gameplay, great level design and amazing puzzles. Plus, it has the charm and backstory of a Landstalker (the spiritual successor, right?) and cool animations to boot. But the place where Alundra arguably trumps Zelda is with the breadth and depth of its dark and detailed storyline that starts off sounding like carbon copy of one of the Link games, but soon blasts off into the stratosphere, leaving that children’s story in the dust.

The more time you spend with the characters you meet in the village of Inoa, the more you believe they are alive. You laugh with them, you hurt for them, you cry with them. It’s a very emotional story woven in a delicate and precise way. The sense of dread grows as the story moves on, until the feeling of urgency becomes almost overwhelming – you WILL solve this puzzle, because you HAVE to save that poor villager whose life is at stake. When you lose a character, you begin to take it personally. They feel like your friends. And when the game comes to a close and the special animation at the end plays, there’s a sense of supreme satisfaction and a little sadness that it’s over.

That anime mention reminds me of one more story about the development of the US version. The opening movie and song don’t exist in the Japanese version. There’s a great amount of animation at the end of the game, and I felt that some of that should be intercut with gameplay at the front of the game to really get people excited about what they were about to play. So I had a rock track created for the new opening, created some 3D transitions (spiked ball, sword, Alundra logo), captured a bunch of gameplay, and used that to make the new opening. If you let the new opening play, and then wait, the original Japanese opening will play after the title screen. I made it alternate so players wouldn’t be cheated out of anything – they could still see the original Japanese opening if they wanted.

The music in Alundra is not to go without mention, either. The composer is Kohei Tanaka, a prolific and accomplished Japanese composer for television, anime, OVA and game music. In addition to Alundra, he notably handled music on much of the legendary Sakura Taisen series, Tengai Makyo (Ziria), Granstream Saga, Bionic Commando, Resonance of Fate, and Dragon Force 2, amongst dozens of other games. His moving themes in Alundra are a huge reason the game has the emotional resonance it does. Every place in the game has a look and a feeling, reinforced by that his wonderful composition.

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The graphics in Alundra have aged amazingly. Way back in that gaming era, the design chose to make a 2D sprite-based game with isometric perspective instead of a polygon game with low-resolution textures, Alundra is perhaps the best-looking RPG from the PlayStation era. The graphics have aged beautifully, and all the detailed and amazing sprite animations for the characters seem even more fantastic and intricate now.

The actual gameplay is straight action-RPG. You have the ability to jump, equip items and weapons, and you attack enemies in real time. The puzzles range from challenging to insane, and the isometric perspective forces you to really consider your moves carefully before you jump, because your eyes can play tricks on you with the faux-3D perspectives. The dungeons have bosses; you collect life gems to extend your life, and special items will help you reach formerly inaccessible place.

Alundra Image

It’s been 15 years since I first played it, and I still love it. Give it a chance if you haven’t experienced the classic adventure or relive one of the crowning achievements in PlayStation gaming history.

Alundra is available now for £3.99/€4.99 in the PSone Classics section on PSN. For more details, follow MonkeyPaw Games on Twitter or visit www.monkeypawgames.com.

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Comments

54 Comments 12 Author replies
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Alundra was one of my favorite PSone games. Thanks for bringing it back.

Just wanted to be the first to say THANK YOU!!!! loved this game when it was originally released and with PS1 compatibility coming to vita gonna be best thing ever, Alundra in my pocket hell yes

chrisboers 15 August, 2012 @ 11:12 am   3

Sounds like an interesting game. As I’ve missed PS2 and PS One, I might have to check out this game.
Big question is: will it be compatible with Vita, after Firmware V1.8 releases?

AsmodeanBT 15 August, 2012 @ 11:14 am   4

Meh. Let me know when the Suikoden series is available as classics.

great perfect timing as i was getting ready to go out & get a PSN paper voucher.

since you here victor ex-woking design head boss any word on lunar-1complete & lunar-2 eternal blue complete.

oh & Vay & popful mail. :)

^THAT right there while i love alundra please i beg of you suikoden 1+2 PLEASE

    Ray Almeda 16 August, 2012 @ 11:26 pm    

    Suikoden 1&2 heard loud and clear! We want it too. Still trying to get some traction.

remembering playing the first and the second alundra game back in my PSone days. It was/is an awesome game indeed!

Great… where’s the PS+ update? I know one is JC2, but what is the other?

plus it funny you said about landstalker as i keep tellink mike kebby from SEGA to re-release it on PSN perfect for plus members FREE & cheap as a bar meal for non plus members. ;)

AoNekoAmaru 15 August, 2012 @ 11:28 am   10

Much love to all of you involved in making this possible~<3

Im starting to think the PS Move must be monitered! Who needs marketing when you can see and hear all PS Move useres :P

Was talking about this about a month ago, wondering if it would come to the PS Store.

I loved both Alundra 1 and 2! Thanks!

Chocobo115 15 August, 2012 @ 11:31 am   12

Awesome job.
Any chance you can get the Lunar games on the store too?
Both Silver Star Story Complete & Eternal Blue Complete?

    Ray Almeda 16 August, 2012 @ 11:28 pm    

    Of course, we’re trying to get Lunar brought back. Same story…tricky licensing. But we’ll keep on trying.

Kalinho_PL 15 August, 2012 @ 11:33 am   13

@7
probably Borderlands

Awesome! I assume this will be an NTSC (USA) version?

KillaT2501 15 August, 2012 @ 11:46 am   15

Keep releasing classic games and I’ll keep buying them especially with Vita compatibility on the horizon

Catkiller1 15 August, 2012 @ 11:47 am   16

Couldn’t wait for this, so I purchased off the US store last year!

Alundra 2 now please!

@7 @11

If it is JC2 and borderlands then this is two more games i already purchased on the store when they had plus discount. I’m sure they are working their way through my download list

GaiaScythe 15 August, 2012 @ 11:50 am   18

PSone Classic means PSP as well, right ??

PSP is not dead :DDDDDD

WilledLexington 15 August, 2012 @ 11:53 am   19

Will this work on my Vita with the new patch? otherwise meh. (But if it does whoooooo)

This is a great game .. welcome back Alundra! The puzzles throughout this game are the best that i’ve every played in my gaming history. I’m sure this will make its way to the vita as well at some point, maybe time to get a platstation vita then.

Carnivius_Prime 15 August, 2012 @ 11:55 am   21

Decent game but I already bought it off the US store last year. Good news for fans of it who don’t have a US account though.

Silent_Gig 15 August, 2012 @ 12:14 pm   22

Alundra is a fanatastic game, i implore anyone who hasnt tried this gem to give it a try. For 3.99 you cant go wrong!

Like others, I purchased it from the US store, it’s one of the best games I have ever played. They certainly don’t make them like this any more, good news for those in Europe who don’t yet have this but again it shows a complete lack of respect to Europeans that they have had to wait so long. Be it Sony, the developers or publishers, understand that we like these games too and try not to be so petty squabbling over who get’s what. Remember, keep your loyal customers happy and everybody wins.

    Ray Almeda 16 August, 2012 @ 11:37 pm    

    Yeah, we understand the frustration in having to wait. The US market gets their games first simply because it is a bigger market with just one language. The EU is bit more complicated and fragmented. There are a lot of moving pieces. I wish we could get all the games out at the same time too. We’ll work harder on our end to do so. Thanks for your support in the meantime.

I officially love you guys now. simple as. Keep up the fantastic releases.

TimmyShire 15 August, 2012 @ 12:40 pm   25

Yes! One of my all-time favourite games and most definitely still a classic having replayed it in the current gen era.

Definitely buying this and it’s going STRAIGHT onto my Vita when that’s possible. Is that possible yet?

Legendary indeed! This was one of the first games I bought on the PS1, and spent many an hour playing to the end. One of the best 2D RPGs out there, it’s up with Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana. £3.99 is an absolute bargain to be able to pick up and play it once more, I will be buying this and Sound Shapes this week.

Roll on Vita Update, this will be on there as soon as it goes live later this month :)

I remember Alundra 2 fondly, never got to play the original.. Will pick this one up the moment the store updates.

On a far more important note, will this game be viable for use on Vita on the 28th? Not all PS classic games will be after all

    Ray Almeda 16 August, 2012 @ 11:39 pm    

    If you liked Alundra 2 you will definitely love Alundra 1. Quite honestly, this is a much better game. Regarding Vita, we haven’t made our announcement yet but you should be pleased.

liamlangan 15 August, 2012 @ 1:00 pm   28

A PS1 game as good as this is one that PS+ members should get free, also never played the first Alundra but certainly do have fond memories of it’s sequal

Awesome! Totally forgot about Alundra, which is odd because it is a great game. Will be buying this later tonight.

Now we just need Tombi :p

Fantastic – I used to own this, but I lent it to a guy I worked with and never saw it again…….. Superb release. Will be even better when I can run it on my Vita!

squatch1983 15 August, 2012 @ 1:19 pm   31

Yeah, only 3 years later than it appeared on the USA PSN. lol

sheldipez 15 August, 2012 @ 1:20 pm   32

I thought todays PS+ games where Siren Blood Curse and Borderlands? Where did JC2 come from?

Now this is what I’m talking about! :D
Very nice of you to bring us this fantastic title, all hail monkey paw!

For those of you on the fence, try it, and put some time into it, you’ll love Alundra.

sheldipez 15 August, 2012 @ 1:35 pm   35

@31 I wonder if thats US only? That post doesnt appear to be posted on the EU site only the NA site.

sheldipez 15 August, 2012 @ 1:41 pm   36

Ignore that, appears JC2 is already on US PS+. Not one I’ve got but not one I was in a rush to play.

Thanks! Alundra is nice, good puzzles throughout the game.
But we want Suikoden!!!

CassyChan 15 August, 2012 @ 2:26 pm   38

Alundra is one of my favourite games of all time, I remember playing it when it came out and I loved the story. The gameplay, mix of locations, soundtrack and visuals were also fantastic, but it’s always the story and its characters I remember most fondly from way back in the 90s. I actually still have a sealed copy of the game and a sealed copy of the official strategy guide (as well as the unofficial guide and a few other bits) from when I used to collect games and game related stuff a lot more, lol.

Like I said it’s one of my favourite games and I still enjoy it today as much as I did when it first came out, it’s aged really, really well. Definitely one to check out for those into ARPGs, Zelda style games or any kind of story/adventure games of that gen.

Thanks for bringing it to the PS Store, I look forward to playing it on Vita once it gets the firmware update that allows it to play PS1 games later in the month :)

bobbycuckoo 15 August, 2012 @ 3:14 pm   39

great news but I will have to wait till I can see those sprites on the lovely OLED screen. gonna gave to stump up for a 32gig when the Paine classics come to vita or my portable reto machine as I call it.

Tenchuwoh 15 August, 2012 @ 3:16 pm   40

I want Tenchu 1 & 2 as PSone classics :(
Please…….

bobbycuckoo 15 August, 2012 @ 3:16 pm   41

great news, but I will wait till I can play it on the lovely OLED screen on my portable retro machine. gonna need to stump up for a 32 card when the psone classics are available.

Thanks for bring us Alundra :). But is USA version. What happened with europeans versions with european language translations :(?

Silent_Gig 15 August, 2012 @ 3:56 pm   43

I just saw the store update, the game is listed as Japanese?!

MONKEYPAAAAAWWWWWWW!!!!!!?!

    Ray Almeda 16 August, 2012 @ 11:43 pm    

    There is some confusion on the packaging since the data was submitted long ago. Alundra is not in Japanese, its English. Please ignore that JP flag logo until we can get that fixed. Sorry!

helghast102 15 August, 2012 @ 4:18 pm   44

One of my favourite games of all time, finally.

Would it be out of the question to ask for an Alundra 3?

WebmanGTI 15 August, 2012 @ 4:53 pm   45

Can anyone tell me if this is in English?

The description mentions an English manual but the icon has the Japanese flag.

SpiderMike_X 15 August, 2012 @ 10:50 pm   46

It is in English and the gameplay is sound, as are the sound effects but the animated sequences AND the soundtrack are too slow compared to the original release. Compare any gameplay video with this EU/JP hybrid and u will see something is drastically wrong with the media files. Hold off till a fix/NA version is offered.

SonicAlpha 16 August, 2012 @ 10:06 am   47

I still have my original copy, such a great game :)

CassyChan 16 August, 2012 @ 11:55 am   48

Just had a look on the Store and yeah the icon says it’s a Japanese release. Also, what’s up with the two preview images? One is a very low quality screen with a site’s watermark on it like it’s been taken from a google image search and the other is a very poor quality screenshot from Alundra 2, which has a drastically different visual style. That’s also not to mention SpiderMike_X’s issue with the game. Did a test listing accidentally make it to the official Store update or something?

Making out it’s in Japanese, putting up one poor quality preview image and another fom a different game isn’t going to help the sales of this classic!

    Ray Almeda 17 August, 2012 @ 1:34 am    

    This game was first submitted for emulation 10 months ago. The icon system has changed since then (we didn’t have the US import icon at the time). The images were placeholders and we’re updating those now. Please give us a few days.

    Regarding the slowness of the videos, we’re looking into this. We think there was a problem during emulation as there are ways to allow 60hertz to run at 50hertz, see the Arc games. While the game is playable, we expect to offer a fix for this problem.

    We’ll let you know shortly. Thanks for you patience.

SpiderMike_X 17 August, 2012 @ 2:47 am   49

Not just the videos.

I’m going to highlight AGAIN that the soundtrack also suffers from the change in emulation resolution. Just in case you guys skirt around my original complaint.

When a soundtrack is so detrimental to the enjoyment of a title it’s hard to label it ‘unplayable’ but that’s what Alundra is to me right now, until these issues are addressed, which I am sure they will be as Monkeypaw did a fantastic job with getting Arc’s version changed when they mistakenly popped the JP language version on the EU store, so I have faith in them.

But don’t we have testers for a reason? A little due diligence in future would make all the difference. I’m still a fan, though.

    Ray Almeda 17 August, 2012 @ 3:04 am    

    Yes, you are right, it does effect the soundtrack. It is the same root problem, however. We *think* this might be an emulation flag, where there is a way to switch a game from 60h to 50h, but that flag was missed during the emulation process. And yes, there is a QA process that the game goes through following emulation. How an error this obvious is missed can be categorized a mystery. [DELETED] happens…let’s just get it fixed! Sorry for the trouble.

    Victor Ireland 17 August, 2012 @ 4:22 am    

    No one is skirting your complaints.

    The process isn’t as cut and dried as it seems from the outside. We have no way to test the emulation ourselves before it goes live. All we give them is the Sony product codes, and Sony pulls the images and handles the schedules and emulation checks internally. Given that Arc I-III were 60Hz NTSC titles with animations at 29.97FPS and were emulated to play properly on European sets, we really didn’t think that there would be a problem with Alundra at all. But either the emulation isn’t up to handling the conversion, or some internal emulation parameters were handled wrong. We’re working out what happened and seeing what the best way to fix it is. Hang tight.

raziel86ita 17 August, 2012 @ 6:55 am   50

I loved Alundra!! I’m from EU, Italy and i think that this is one of the most underrated action jrpg’s ever made, and the soundtrack is simply perfect, i agree with everything that Victor Ireland said on review. I have to do a question, unfortunately as someone said some posts before the Eu is less supported than that US store, for example i’m waiting for Breath of fire 4 classic with avatars but i don’t think that they will be pubilished here, and i will do a lot of example like this expecially for contents, every week there are a lots of themes but so few avatars and demo’s or games. However do you a favor, play alundra like if you’re doing a dream, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing experience.

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