Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
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|Solatorobo: Red the Hunter|
European cover art
|Artist(s)||Hirotada Okabe (art director)
Nobuteru Yūki (character)
Yoshitake Taniguchi (mecha)
|Series||Little Tail Bronx|
|Distribution||DSi enhanced cartridge|
Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, originally released in Japan as Soratorobo -Sore Kara Kōda e- (ソラトロボ -それからCODAへ- lit. Solatorobo: And Then, to CODA?, with "Solatorobo" being Japanese for "Sky and Robot") is an action role-playing video game developed by CyberConnect2 for the Nintendo DS. Originally in released Japan by Namco Bandai Games in October 2010, an English version was later made available by Nintendo for Europe in July 2011 and Australia the following November, along with a North American release in September 2011 by Xseed Games. It is the spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto, and, like its predecessor, features artwork and character designs by manga artist Nobuteru Yūki, and music by Chikayo Fukuda and Seizo Nakata. The game includes animated cutscenes produced by animation studio Madhouse, as well as vocal themes by performed Tomoyo Mitani.
Set in a fantasy world made up of floating sky islands populated by anthropomorphic dogs and cats, the game focuses on a canine freelance adventurer named Red Savarin who pilots a flying mecha. On a seemingly ordinary task to obtain a lost pendant, he encounters a mysterious young cat-person named Elh, and becomes involved in a series of events that reveal the hidden truth of the origin of his world and the ones who live in it.
The gameplay consists of the player controlling the protagonist Red Savarin and his mech, the DAHAK. The player can grab, lift and throw many objects and enemies. When without his mech, Red Savarin can swim, climb ladders, activate many smaller objects such as switches and treasures chests, and stun enemies with his Stungun.
Later in the story, the player activates a secondary feature called "Trance". By defeating enemies, dealing damage and taking damage, the player builds up a meter which they can then activate to force Red Savarin into his "Hybrid" form. Here he is markedly more human in appearance and his mech activates many new abilities. Near the end of the game, the player activates a final form named Septentrion, which consists of a brief "shoot-em up" style combat scene.
The game consists total 80 quests where the player advances his Hunter rank in order to progress the main storylines. The game also has more quests via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection where the player can download many more quests throughout the game. The North American version lacks online-support as it already has all these additional quests available on the Game Card.
The game also has mini-games like fishing and racing games as well.
The story's setting is in Shepherd Republic where two races of people—the dog-like Caninu, and the cat-like Felineko live. The floating islands rest above a sea of Plasma. On such islands, French is the native language. Though many different occupations exist, forming an economy much like ours, a large part of the workforce revolves around Hunters. These freelance laborers are hired by anyone in need to do just about any job, whether it be working as a bodyguard, cleaning sewer systems, exterminating massive bugs, or even just babysitting.
Part 1 of the story focuses on the conspiracy of the Organization Kurvaz. Red Savarin is requested to obtain an important file that has been stolen. To retrieve it, he boards a massive airship called the Hindenburg, deep within which he finds a mysterious medallion. Suddenly, a gigantic creature called Lares rises up through the plasma sea beside the ship and heavily damages it. As Red makes his escape from the burning Hindenburg he runs into a mysterious Felineko child, who has passed out. At risk of his own life, Red carries the child out of the ship onto his personal craft, the Asmodeus, where he learns the child's name to be Elh. Before he knows it, Red finds himself in an epic journey sweeping across the Shepherd Republic to uncover the mysteries of the medallion and stop Bruno from controlling Lares.
The Part 2 of the story focuses on Red's origins as a Hybrid and the mysterious operation known as Operation CODA (known as Continent Orientation Defloat Alignment). Red and his friends first encountered Blanck and Nero, Hybrids who first attacked parts of the Shepherd Republic but despite his efforts, he was no match against the two. Red learned from Merveille that he is like the two, the explanation that he can go into Trance and found out that she created him 9 years ago. Soon as they found out the truth, Baion, a hybrid who was awakened pre-maturely from his sleep and the creator of Blanck and Nero, started to initiate Operation CODA and plunging the world into destruction by summoning Tartaros. Red and his friends must do everything to stop Operation CODA and Baion before the whole world is destroyed.
The main characters of Solatorobo consist of anthropomorphic dogs, known as "Caninu", and cats, called "Felineko". Players control the titular Red Savarin[k 1], a 17-year-old mutt breed Caninu who makes his living as a Hunter, an adventurer and fighter-for-hire. Characterized as being an "alpha dog", he also suffers amnesia and pilots the robotic mecha Dahak throughout the game, which serves as both his primary weapon and means of travel. He is accompanied on his jobs by his adoptive sister Chocolat Gelato[k 2], a mechanically-minded Pomeranian Caninu who supports him over Dahak's com system. Much of the story revolves around Red's relationship with Elh Melizée[k 3], a mysterious American Shorthair Felineko he encounters on an early mission, and who keeps him at an emotional distance due to a dark secret in her past, with even her gender initially left ambiguous.
The principle antagonists include members of the Kurvaz guild, an organization that uses blackmail and intimidation to get what they want from the Shepard Republic, and plan to unleash an ancient evil force called Lares. Led by the German Shepherd Caninu Bruno Dondurma[k 4], his associates, known as the Kurvaz Special Operations Unit, include Opéra Kranz[k 5], a Russian Blue Felineko who pilots the Robo known as Tiamat; Calua Napage[k 6], an ocelot Felineko who rides the OverMephisto; and Gren Sacher[k 7], a Kishu-Inu Caninu in command of the Mephisto. They are assisted by Bruno's secretary Merveille Million[k 8], a Collie Caninu, as well as Béluga Damiens[k 9], a lynx breed Felineko bounty hunter who flies the Salamander and becomes rival of Red's.
Solatorobo was first implied in 2007 by an artwork on CyberConnect2's website. The game was later revealed March 2010 under the title "Solarobo" by the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu and the release will coincide with the 15th anniversary of the studio. The title was changed into "Solatorobo" later. Part of the staff working in the game, and any stuff who worked or Tail Concerto, includes Hiroshi Matsuyama and Takayuki Isobe as the directors, Nobuteru Yūki,who previously worked for Tail Concerto, for both Human and Anthromorpic character design, Yoshitake Taniguchi of Super Robot Wars fame for the mecha designs, Yoshiki Yamakawa for the Opening movie direction and Madhouse for the opening movie. The game was presented at Japan Expo 2010 in France under the title "Project Coda", the demo was translated in French, which have rumored a western release. A release for Europe (including Russia and Turkey) and other countries (South Africa, Australia, New Zealand) was confirmed by Nintendo on April 2011 and it was released on 1 July 2011, named Solatorobo: Red The Hunter. The game was released on October 28, 2010 in Japan with a normal and a collector's edition, the collector's edition will include an artbook, a soundtrack CD and a "Prelude disc" DVD for the purchase of the game. Namco Bandai aired 100 commercials of Solatorobo the 21 October on the TV channel Tokyo MX in an attempt at challenging a Guinness World Record.
XSeed Games confirmed on IGN that they were going to release the game in North America. It was released November 24, 2011.
The music for Solatorobo was composed by Chikayo Fukuda, who previously wrote the soundtrack for Tail Concerto as well as titles in CyberConnect2's .hack series. She collaborated with singer Tomoyo Mitani under the group name "LieN", with Mitani performing the game's opening and ending theme songs "And Then, to CODA" (それからCODAへ Sore Kara CODA e?) and "Re-CODA", respectively, as well as the insert song "Ryuusei ☆ Kirari" (流れ星☆キラリ Shooting Star ☆ Kirari?). A soundtrack featuring a selection of 24 songs was packaged with the limited edition of the game in Japan, as well as the standard edition North American version by Xseed Games. In October 2012, an official commercial soundtrack called the Solatorobo Perfect Soundtrack (ソラトロボ パーフェクトサウンドトラック Soratorobo Pāfekuto Saundotorakku?) was released in Japan by Namco Bandai Games, which featured 80 songs across two discs.
The title received a total score of 33 out of 40 from Japanese magazine Weekly Famitsu based on individual reviews of 9, 8, 8, and 8, earning it the publication's Gold Award. Sales were low in the region, however, with the game entering the Media Create software charts as the seventh most-bought title in its debut week with 21,915 copies.
Solatorobo earned mostly positive ratings in Europe and North America, with a 75% average score on aggregate review website GameRankings, and a 76 out of 100 from Metacritic, and game's overall bright tone and presentation were generally praised by critics. Some, such as Nintendo Power, remarked that the title went against the then-current video game market trend of "brooding teenagers and grim space marines" calling it "a game that captures the bold, experimental spirit of the NES era with some of the finest production values seen on the Nintendo DS." However, criticism was reserved for its lack of challenge and over-abundance of dialogue, stating that "its 20-hour quest is padded with a few more conversation scenes than it needs." 1UP.com similarly felt that Solatorobo's pace was hindered by too much text, calling it "an excellently localized treat to read, full of life and never clumsy; unfortunately, the game's major issue is that it just doesn't know when to shut up." While reviewers such as Destructoid found the gameplay as a whole to be "repetitive" and "mediocre", it commented that Solatorobo's unique visual style and well-produced cutscenes could have been the foundation for an animated film.
Eurogamer stated that the title "feels familiar, but it's unlike anything else," calling attention to it unique presentation that was "a great surprise and a breezy pleasure to play." The website also felt that while the narrative was "a little too lacking in subtlety" and the combat "may lack depth" it was nonetheless in "the top tier" of Nintendo DS role-playing games. Official Nintendo Magazine echoed this sentiment, calling Solatorobo "spirited, full of life and packed with ideas, this is one-of-a-kind," while others such as GameSpot found the overarching to story to be "dull" and "rarely challenging," and that the game as a whole "feels conventional and doesn't quite reach the soaring heights it could have."
Solatorobo was nominated for DS Game of the Year, Best Adventure Game, Best Story/Writing, Overall Game of the Year, and Best New Character for "Red the Hunter" in the 23rd annual 2011 Nintendo Power awards. The magazine would later rank the game as the 268th greatest title released for a Nintendo console in its December 2012 farewell issue. IGN would also nominate the game for "Best 3DS/DS Role-Playing Game" during its "Best of 2011" awards feature.
A light novel adaptation named Red Data Children is published in Dragon Magazine. The novel is a prequel of the main game, taking place seven years before the game's main storyline. The story is written by Daishi Kitayama and illustrated by Dmyo.
CyberConnect2's president and CEO, Hiroshi Matsuyama, has revealed at a Namco Bandai event in Barcelona that his company is interested in developing a sequel to Solatorobo: Red the Hunter. Although he confirms they already have a story ready for a supposed sequel, he also stated that there is no platform or release period planned for it yet.
Notes and references
- レッド・サハラン Reddo Saharan
- ショコラ・ジェラート Shokora Jerāto
- エル・メリゼ Eru Merize
- ブルーノ・ドンドルマ Burūno Dondoruma
- オペラ・クランツ Opera Kurantsu
- カルア・ナパージュ Karua Napāju
- グレン・ザッハー Guren Sahhā
- メルヴェーユ・ミリオン Meruvēyu Mirion
- ベルーガ・ダミアン Berūga Damian
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- "コンシューマソフト週間販売ランキングTop20" (in Japanese). 4Gamer. October 31, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
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- Official Japanese website (Japanese)
- Official European website (English)
- Official North American website (English)