The JRPG genre comes in many shapes and sizes. It is a genre as rich with history as any and doesn’t seem to be losing any steam with age. The Nintendo 3DS has been home to quite a number of JRPGs and Stella Glow is one of the latest to join the ranks. Taking nods from popular franchises such as Disgaea and Fire Emblem, Stella Glow utilizes a strategy RPG style mixed with a rich story set in a high fantasy world of witchcraft. While it may not be as complex a title as those it takes inspiration from, Stella Glow proves to be a solid strategic JRPG title that sticks to the basics rather than breaking new ground.
Following amnesiac Alto, Stella Glow is set within a world where music no longer exists due supposed calamities that songs have and may continue to cause. After his adoptive family is affected by an evil witch’s song of destruction, Alto sets out on a quest to save his adoptive mother and bring the witch who caused this to justice.
It is about as classic a tale as it gets but it is through the game’s anime-esque story telling and characterization that Stella Glow really sets itself apart. It could very easily have felt old hat but infusing anime tropes and style with the typical fantasy tale feels refreshing. It doesn’t hurt that the game features full fledged voice acting throughout and some fantastic anime cut scenes that really add to the story in a big way.
The game plays very much like your typical strategy JRPG, much like Disgaea or Fire Emblem you are placed onto a battle map, move your character, target enemies, etc. There isn’t exactly much to write home about here, it is the same sort of system countless other games have utilized before it and it doesn’t really do anything to mix things up.
Story portions of the game progress through conversation screens. This can become a little bit tedious if you are wanting to simply get to the next battle, as there are some stretches of dialogue exchanges that could last up to half an hour if you are listening to it all rather than tapping A through it. That said, the game does do a good job to invest you in the story so that you would likely be keen to follow the conversation threads.
There is no over world really to speak of, instead you must follow the linear path and progress through the story through the conversation threads and partaking in battles that occur throughout the story. However there are portions throughout the game in between missions called ‘Free Time’. In the ‘Free Time’ you can do things like shopping or visiting different areas of the town and building relationships. It adds a little bit of depth to the game but ultimately the game always feels rather linear and locked into its certain track that you must simply ride along.
Visually the game is gorgeous, the character designs are phenomenal and the vibrancy of the art is really pleasant on the eyes. The in battle sprites and maps are also well detailed and the character sprites are particularly cute. While the visuals are great in Stella Glow I’d be remiss not to mention the fantastic audio experience on show here. Not only is nearly all dialogue voice acted by some legitimate voice actors including Christine Cabanos, Matthew Mercer, Kyle Hebert and Cristina Vee just to name a few. Alongside its stunning soundtrack the game has a great theme song which appears a few times throughout the game. Overall a great experience both aesthetically and aurally.
Stella Glow is a game that doesn’t challenge its medium or innovate it, instead it serves as a shining example of a polished strategic JRPG that aims to entertain and that it does. With an all star voice cast and an anime inspired aesthetic and story this would be a fantastic game for anime and manga fans to jump into. Stella Glow is a simple JRPG title that is a great entry into the genre and a fun little romp for long time fans looking for something light weight to spend some time with. Stella Glow is a stellar example of a polished JRPG.