Initially launched in Japan in 1994, Stay A Stay garnered a cult following attributable to its non-linear construction — one during which every selectable character is given its personal story. The Nintendo Swap HD-2D remake marks the sport’s first official Western launch, which is nice information for the JRPG style. Contemplating the style’s shaky historical past with localization, any reintroduction to beforehand inaccessible titles is all the time appreciated. It merely means extra choices for non-native-speaking JRPG followers.
Sadly, Stay A Stay‘s haphazard pacing and underdeveloped mechanics make a launch that gives too little too late.
Stay A Stay Overview: Undercooked Time-Hopping RPG
Stay A Stay‘s central situation resides throughout the very construction that makes it stand out from others within the style. You possibly can start the sport as any of the seven playable characters, every that includes their very own gimmicks. The prehistoric chapter introduces merchandise synthesis, for instance, whereas the close to future one includes a protagonist who can learn individuals’s minds.
On paper, the system is a canvas ripe for an expansive JRPG expertise of unparalleled scope. In apply, nevertheless, it leaves a lot to be desired; chapters are too quick and too self-contained. Not one of the tales overlap, leaving each character standing on their very own. Whereas some respectable vignettes exist all through, Stay A Stay’s chapters battle to actually resonate. Ranging anyplace from half-hour to 2 hours, there isn’t sufficient to chew on.
The current-day chapter is among the most egregious examples. After a short monologue, you’re introduced with a fighter-select display. From there, you marathon six one-on-one fights with no dialogue exterior of intro quips. After defeating everybody in your means, you tackle the ultimate boss, which options the chapter’s solely different cutscene.
The distant future finds itself on the other finish of that spectrum. The strife between its stranded crew members results in genuinely attention-grabbing character moments with palpable stress. Sadly, the complete part is devoid of fight sans the chapter boss. There may be an elective online game console with the chapter’s solely battles. Whereas they play similar to these in the principle sport, this turn-based distraction would not function any development, rendering it inconsequential to the grander image.
This lack of significant development runs by way of the vast majority of a typical playthrough. Gameplay methods, plot threads, and characters are launched and tossed on the drop of a hat. Any mechanical complexity is made moot by the brevity of every character’s particular person story.
A Climactic Showdown
After all, there is a motive for all this. In a baffling design choice, the primary 80-85% of Stay a Stay is merely an introduction to the ultimate chapter. An eighth chapter unlocks after finishing the degrees related to the primary seven characters, and it is simply as quick as these for the preliminary solid. After a collection of occasions that we cannot spoil, the right remaining chapter begins.
Miraculously, this final act simply barely salvages Stay A Stay. With out delving into particular narrative components, you choose any of the unique seven characters as a celebration chief and recruit the others in preparation for the ultimate battle. You are additionally given full freedom in regard to social gathering composition, which performs a task on this chapter’s pretty intensive elective content material.
This part is crammed with elective dungeons that do not supply entry with out particular energetic social gathering members, and its dungeons home a few of the strongest gear for his or her respective characters. They vary from easy 10-minute romps to expansive and convoluted mazes, lots of which embody secret bosses.
It is right here, increasing on its RPG components, that Stay a Stay turns into genuinely partaking and begins to shine.
However it’s all elective content material. When you do not care concerning the secret bosses or finishing the entire dungeons, the epilogue boils all the way down to spending 10 minutes recruiting three social gathering members, grabbing a sword from a mountain peak, and heading to the ultimate boss.
You may seemingly spend a while grinding out of necessity; characters have too few development alternatives of their respective tales. However even then, there is not far more room for progress. With each character buying their remaining expertise at Stage 16 — which does not take lengthy — Stay A Stay nonetheless feels underdeveloped.
Stay A Stay or Stay A Die
Even when the remainder of the sport supplied the liberty and breadth of elective content material current all through the ultimate act, fight would not supply a lot on the entire. Stay A Stay‘s battles happen on a grid, with flip order determined by a meter that fills progressively.
Each motion, from activating a talent to orienting a personality’s place, causes everybody’s meter to refill concurrently. The system generally requires eager spatial consciousness with components to contemplate, akin to enemy velocity, vary, weaknesses, and resistances, nevertheless it by no means actually deepens.
At its most tough — particularly throughout sure elective dungeons — it’s satisfying sufficient to maintain you invested. At its worst, it feels such as you’re on autopilot. The overwhelming majority of Stay A Stay hardly ever checks your understanding of its mechanics. At the same time as late as the final word dungeon, spamming the identical few AoE or devastating single-target assaults turns into the go-to technique. With the absence of useful resource administration and no magic factors to contemplate, therapeutic expertise can be utilized with out repercussions, and most expertise simply do not matter.
Stay A Stay Overview — The Backside Line
- Closing chapter opens issues up significantly.
- Some attention-grabbing tales and mechanics.
- Takes too lengthy to correctly start.
- All chapters are too quick.
- Most chapters do not have sufficient fight.
- Lack of MP administration holds battles again.
Even at its finest, Stay A Stay seems like a poorly blended shot of adrenaline. The overwhelming majority of its runtime is dominated by unremarkable, self-contained narratives and gameplay methods which might be discarded as quickly as they’re launched. By the point it expands upon its attention-grabbing components, you are already inside attain of the top credit. A poorly balanced battle system would not assist its case both.
[Note: Nintendo provided the copy of Live A Live used for this review]