Some titles beg to be remade or rereleased; Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth, the PlayStation strategy role-playing game, is not one of them. It's not that Hoshigami Remix is bad, but it's wildly inconsistent and harshly demanding even on normal difficulty. It's also not a very good choice for a gamer on the go: Battles are long and the learning curve is steep, so short sessions are not only unsatisfying, they are often impossible. There are some good ideas at work here, but the game asks a lot of you and doesn't give a lot back, which makes playing it feel more like work than fun.
The main character of Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth Remix is Fazz, a mercenary who receives a surprise request for help from the king of Nightweld. The kingdom is under attack by the Valaimians, and he needs a hand from Fazz and his soldiers for hire. As it turns out, there is more to the invasion than meets the eye, and it's up to you to keep the powers of the ancients from falling into the wrong hands. It's nothing new to the world of RPGs, though Fazz turns out to be a bright and resourceful hero, and he'll stay interesting long after you stop caring about the plot. There are also some branching story paths that will determine which characters can join your party, as well as a number of alternate endings. It isn't the greatest tale, but there's something to be said for keeping things non-linear.
The RAP gauge is one of many complicated factors to consider.
The basic plot outline may not be too complex, but Hoshigami's core gameplay is quite intricate. At first, it will seem simple enough to anyone that's played a turn-based strategy game before. At the onset of battle, you place your mercenaries on the battle grid, and each one takes turns moving to available squares, attacking an enemy, or performing other available actions. From here, the game breaks free from prevailing standards, most noticeably in how turns function. Each character has an RAP gauge, which stands for "read for action points." Each action you perform drains the gauge, and the turn is over once the mercenary has fully depleted it. In theory, this means you can move, attack, and use an item all in the same turn, though there are benefits to not consuming the entire gauge: The more energy left in it when you end the turn, the sooner the character's next turn will come. The RAP meter is an excellent addition to the standard gameplay, and fully grasping its benefits is a big key to success in battle.
Were it combined with more intuitive gameplay elements, read for action points could have added some nice spice to orthodox conventions. But you'll find other aspects that have been convoluted to the point of unfriendliness. Spells aren't just spells, they are coins called coinfeigms. Each coin is infused with a particular type of magic, such as fire, earth, ice, or lightning, and each type has a number of different spells that can be earned and cast. Mana has an equivalent in the form of coinfeigm points, but the points are applied to the coin, not to the character. As a result, a character's ability to cast the spell depends on how much energy is left in his RAP meter, as well as how many points remain on that particular coin. Coins can also be upgraded by engraving seals on them, and just as there are many different coins available, so too are there a bunch of seals to apply. Seals and coins fit together in dense ways, so where one seal may increase a coin's effectiveness, another may render it almost useless. You can also engrave seals in pairs, which may enhance the coin further than if you applied each separately. How do you know what the effect is going to be? You don't. You will either need a photographic memory, a spreadsheet, or an FAQ to know how seals will affect coins, and to what extent. It isn't as though the game itself clues you in to this or anything else, so you'll be left to your own devices.
Confused yet? Well, there's more. Each character is aligned with one of six deities, which impacts how effective their attacks will be on other characters. If your mercenary follows Amu, he'll be strong against followers of Zeneth but weak against Gote. Furthermore, you'll earn devotion points as well as experience points during battle. Once a character advances a deity level, he can learn skills and gain (and lose) proficiency with certain weapons. You can also switch deities, enabling you to gain abilities from multiple gods.