Solatorobo: Red the Hunter is a game developed by CyberConnect2 and originally released in Japan in October of 2010 by Namco Bandai. It saw a European release in July of 2011, published by Nintendo, and will see a North American release in September of 2011, published by X-Seed. It is in the Little Tail Bronx series with Mamoru-kun and Tail Concerto and has a light novel prequel adaptation.
Solatorobo takes place in the mysterious region called the Shepherd Republic, a set of islands floating above a sea of clouds and plasma. The main language is presumably French, due to dialogue having french words fit in as sound effects, and the only inhabitants are anthropomorphic dog and cat people. But don't let that stop you from playing this game!
You take control of Red Savarin, a dog boy who works as a hunter (freelance worker) along with his sister, Chocolat Gelato. At some point before the game starts, they take on a quest that leads them to a ship to steal information. Red sneaks aboard the ship riding a specialized robot called DAHAK and this is where the game starts. You'll be led across every island in the Shepherd Republic, doing odd jobs here and there until you can perform the game's ultimate goal: something I won't even go into detail for because it would be spoiling the entire plot!
The story is very well made and compelling. The writing is perfect. No character seems out of place (except for those meant to seem out of place) and the game seems to make you want to believe you're right there with them, following their every move and helping them along the way.
No, that's a stun gun. Why would Red wield a sword?
The main part of the gameplay is the battling. For the most part, you throw your enemies. Granted, this isn't your only attack, but for a good chunk of the game there's no other way to defeat enemies. You start by grabbing the enemy then spamming the A button as fast as you can to throw them up in the air. From there, you can either jump up and throw the enemy out of the air as a combo or you can let the enemy fall to the ground and lay there, stunned for a few seconds.
There are other things you can do, as well. If you get bored with the daily grind of taking quests one after the other, you could go fishing for giant hermit crabs attached to battleships. Or you could join an air-race not much unlike the flying sections of Diddy Kong Racing. If you're not up for racing or fishing, however, you could always go on a minor sidequest to find kittens that have pieces of extra images you can view in your ship's cabin.
Unfortunately, if you wanted to do only main storyline quests, and never anything else, drop the game right now. Some main storyline quests require you to have a certain hunter rank that you will NOT get unless you do optional quests. Thankfully, you only have to get around 10 points to level up (the amount never changes with your level), so it's not too bad.
Trust me when I say the graphics look better in-game.
While you play, you're always accompanied by infectious pieces of music that will never leave your head. Ever. Whether it's the opening (And then to CODA, by Tomoyo Mitani) and ending (Re-CODA, by Tomoyo Mitani) themes or the in-game music, you'll probably find yourself humming the songs randomly throughout the day. All of the songs are nice touches to each place you go. Everything fits in place.
The sound effects are great, too. Nothing sounds out of place and wrong. It sounds like those sound effects belong in that world. My only gripe is how all of the gratuitous French is pronounced. I can't understand half of it. I know I shouldn't be griping at all, seeing as the voice actors for this game were Japanese, but hey, from what I understand, they're not saying "SAVWALYU" or "BOUJOO" or "Comonsnala".... Wait, that last one was Simlish. Oh well. As I was saying...
The graphics are great. There is a distinction between your character and non-enemy NPCs (you're in 3D, they're in semi-3D) that makes it easy to tell everyone else apart. The locations were very well-made, as well. Each location is unique in its own right and you can tell everything apart. The colors are bright and wonderful, as well.
As for the character sprites/models, not many people look alike. Red's a red dog that looks nothing like anyone else in the game. Red's sister is a pink dog (although she looks like a cat) and I have seen no one else in the game that looks like her. Some minor characters that appear once even have their own appearance no one else has. Everyone gets their own special appearance unless they have generic names such as 'worker' or 'merchant', and it's very nice to behold.
Overall, Solatorobo: Red the Hunter is a great game. The gameplay is spectacular, the audio is terrific, and the story is wonderful. The furry overtones might be a bit scary (due to the whole 'yiff' thing, which should never have escalated to mean what it does now) to some, but if you can get over it you can probably expect it to hit almost everyone's top ten.
GAME RATING: 9/10