(NIS America for PS3)
By Mike Delano
Everyone loves rooting for the underdog, and in the gaming landscape of last year, the underdogs actually won. Small, personal games like Journey and Telltale’s episodic The Walking Dead cleaned up during the critics’ Best of 2012 awards, handily beating their big-budget competition. It coulda been a replay of that David and Goliath story again in the first half of 2013. Ni No Kuni was a great Japanese RPG that won acclaim for its cartoon-quality visuals earlier this year, but it was expected to be good since it had a high profile partnership with award-winning animation team Studio Ghibli. The underdog in this battle would be the recently released Time and Eternity, another Japanese RPG that features cartoon-quality visuals, but has neither the tremendous hype nor the sky-high budget of its competition. Can this scrappy little underdog hold its own? Sadly, no. Time and Eternity wins some early points for its striking anime art style and its intriguing premise of a time-traveling warrior princess who jumps back six months before her wedding to prevent her fiancée from being killed at the altar. But the story collapses under the weight of insipid dialogue, and while the engaging, fast-paced combat recalls another Imageepoch-developed title, Black Rock Shooter, that fun is stretched way too thin here and can’t hold up during the countless random battles across this adventure. Chalk this one up to Goliath.