PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Nintendo gets original

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)


Publisher: Konami

System: Nintendo DS

Price: $34.99

Age Rating: Everyone

The Nintendo DS has quietly turned into the best platform for role-playing games, from remakes of "Final Fantasy IV" and "Dragon Quest V" to original fare such as "Suikoden Tierkreis" and "Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume."

"Suikoden Tierkreis" takes place in a new world without the baggage of the previous games. Some fans of the series and its recurring characters may not like this, while others will welcome it as a breath of fresh air. Either way, they'll find the game play similar to classic "Suikoden."

The story revolves around finding the 108 Stars of Destiny, a group of people key to facing a great threat. The game begins with a band of young warriors from the same village on their first mission.

Strange things happen. The landscape changes, but after a moment, no one can remember it being different. A mysterious book grants several of the characters magic powers. Eventually they learn of the existence of other worlds and the portals that lead to them.

In battle, players can execute an automatic physical attack with all characters or give specific instructions to attack, cast spells (called Marks of the Stars), use items and so on. Certain sets of characters may join together for combination attacks that deal extra damage.

The visuals of "Tierkreis" are serviceable and the action is fast. Many lines are voiced but not very well — everyone speaks as if they've had way too much caffeine.


Publisher: Square Enix

System: Nintendo DS

Price: $39.99

Age Rating: Teen

"Tierkreis" changes the setting but keeps the game play, whereas "Covenant of the Plume" does the opposite. The play style is considerably changed — instead of exploring dungeons with a party of warrior souls, the player commands a squad of characters on a series of grid-based maps, similar to "Final Fantasy Tactics" or "Disgaea." This new element is mixed with established ones; each character is attached to one of the four face buttons, and pressing the corresponding button triggers a warrior to attack.

By maneuvering fighters to surround an enemy, a player can hit it with multiple fighters in a single move. Using one attack to pop an enemy into the air leaves it helpless against a pummeling, for example. Combos like this produce extra experience. But enemies can use this tactic as well.

The hero of the game, a warrior named Wylfred, is killed early on. Instead of being taken by the valkyrie Lenneth to become a warrior of Asgard, he makes a pact with the underworld to destroy the goddess who took Wylfred's father when he was a boy. He is granted a year of renewed life to stain a feather black with sin; if he succeeds, it'll be forged into a weapon able to kill the valkyrie.

Each battle has a quota of sin to be reached or exceeded (earning extra grants greater rewards).

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.