I don’t usually like to write pieces about the suckiness of creative works. Most games are crafted with care and I’m sure soul fragments and heart residue are often inadvertently left behind as a result of much toil.
But I gotta say, I’m sorely perplexed to see the general review scores for Eternal Sonata.
I played this one back in my college years on XBox 360. From what I remember of it, it was a pretty decent game up to a point. The premise of the story was unique and interesting – historical composer Frederic Chopin is lying on his deathbed dreaming about an imaginary world. All of the characters you play are merely acting out his unconscious dream-fantasy. Combat was fun and music-themed, and the music was good. Dialogue was…no worse than your typical JRPG. And the story was fine until the sudden climax and descent into madness.
The plot had been about an evil kingdom, Forte, distributing a magical-disease-inducing “mineral powder” to the masses in an effort to overcome a rival kingdom, Baroque. There’s a mysterious girl who’s dying of magic cancer, adventures and intrigue, pirates; all good stuff.
Then you reach a point and it feels like the developer ran out of money and just made some shit up. You’ve just joined up with the prince and princess of the “good” kingdom, who crave peace to a foolish degree. Now we’re going to kick some ass, you think. Then all of a sudden you discover they’ve left to surrender to the “bad” kingdom because they’d rather give up their kingdom than consider war. Ah, right.
You roll up and try to save the royals, but they naively want to give themselves up. The evil boy-king spurns them, saying he doesn’t want them – he wants the magical disease girl so he can study her powers, or something. Her friends refuse and smack the king around a little bit. Then things go bonkers. He orders his butler (?) to drink some wacky tonic and he transforms into a monster hellbeast.
The bad guys escape to the moon or some other crazy place. You pursue them and eventually beat them. Then you wind up in some bizarre shadow world, and well. Let me just quote you the plot section of the game’s Wikipedia entry:
“There, the party defeats them and finally fight Chopin as the final antagonist, for him to complete his destiny. Realizing that it is the only way to save the world, Polka jumps off a cliff and is reborn younger, but then becomes older again and embraces Allegretto. Finally, back in the real world, Chopin’s spirit rises out of his body and he plays his piano one last time, in a blooming sea of nocturnal flowers ‘Heaven’s Mirror’, composing a song that was inspired by Polka.”
Then you’re treated to some credits where the characters sermonize about moral and philosophical babbledy-boo.
In fairness, I’ve read that the PS3 version added some additional characters and story. Perhaps they were able to more gracefully transition to a sensical ending? Either way, aside from dutiful fanship of JRPGs, I just can’t fathom why at least the XBox 360 version of the game is so highly rated.