I've said it before, releasing a RPG on the PS Vita has to be risky business. With a huge, and splendid back catalog from Square-Enix(though, no Secret of Mana...), and even the recent release of Suikoden 2, your RPG better be amazing. While not quite reaching such heights, Pocket RPG does have it's charm for quick bursts of play. Though I must say, I use the term RPG very reluctantly, as there isn't much to it, still, there is a nice little adventure awaiting you.
Gameplay- 5/10 Pocket RPG is a watered down dungeon crawler. There are some outside locations, but they don't offer any change in gameplay at all. Luckily, your choice in what hero you choose to play as mixes up gameplay style a bit. You have three choices, Blade Master, Battle Mage, and Dark Ranger. Choosing the Blade Master makes the game more of a hack and slash, as he slices and dices through the baddies in each stage. Both Battle Mage and Dark Ranger make the gameplay more like a twin stick shooter. Charging up magic such as fireballs to toss at opponents as the mage or bombarding your foes with arrows as the ranger. Each character has a different feel to them, though I can't say this will make you want to play through more than once. This is mostly due to the fact that while the gameplay style changes a bit, the actual game doesn't.
After selecting your warrior, you simply grind through each area until you encounter a boss. Each area consists of 3-4 different sections, though you really won't be able to tell, as there is very little differences between the sections. Areas vary, from snowy outside scenery to the more frequent dark caverns. You will be battling famous RPG baddies such as undead creatures, slimes, and a variety of creepy crawly things. There is very little imagination when it comes to enemies, but in a game billed as a RPG quickie, I didn't expect there to be.
After each area you are awarded for different feats, such as clearing a dungeon without dying or killing a certain amount of enemies within your last stretch of health bar. You can also buy upgrades and skills with you earned cash and skill points.
This is where I had a problem with the game. While skills will carry over from level to level, weapons purchased do not. Anything bought or found in a previous level will be gone when moving on and starting the next. It says you can find these items in a chest or crate early on in the new level, but I have yet to come across that. It's not game breaking, and it does offer a unique challenge, keeping your character from becoming to over powering like in some RPGs, but it is a bit annoying to finally get enough gold to grab a great weapon, only to beat the level and loose it.
Story- 3/10 While not presented to you immediately, there does seem to be a story somewhere in Pocket RPG. Just a simple, "stop the dark overlord" type thing. I'm not asking for much, but this just seems lazy, as if it was a second thought to even add one. Why not just skip story if there isn't going to be any effort at all put into it. It does nothing to hurt the game, just seems kind of pointless to even mention it.
Replay- 5/10 Now, as I mentioned earlier, each character offers a good variety of play styles. Unfortunately, as I also mentioned, the core game stays the same. So whether or not you feel like replaying Pocket RPG really comes down to how much you enjoy the game. Personally, I enjoyed using the Blade Master and slashing my way through the game. On the other hand, I don't enjoy twin stick shooters at all, so playing as the other two offered characters did not bring me as much enjoyment. Playing through the same levels again also didn't help much, and I found myself pushing through them just to get it over with. I did find the game worth a play through, maybe trying each character first to find your favorite, but going through the game again just became tedious. If you're going through just for trophies, the good news is the game isn't very long.
Graphics/Sound- 7/10 This is another category, that when you hear the name "Pocket RPG", you aren't expecting much when booting up. Graphically the game is on par with PSP or even the DS remakes of Final Fantasy games, though, the backdrops don't particularly take advantage of this. The areas are very generic and bland, mostly taking place in dark dungeons, with very few outside areas. It's not that they don't look good, it's just more that it reminds me of something one of the RPG Makers could do.
Sound effects are nothing that really stand out, but the music is actually quite enjoyable. It won't sell any soundtracks, but I did find myself surprised on the quality.
In the end, Pocket RPG is definitely worth a play if you enjoy the genre. It's a quick start up and just interesting enough to keep you interested. It's a perfect game for a bus ride or waiting for the dentist. Don't expect a Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior, but the game does have it's own charm.
While I do have a few complaints, such as a lazy story, some repetitive gameplay, and not much of a reason to play through multiple times, my biggest problem is the price is a bit too high. So unless you are a huge fan of hack and slash/RPG's, I would say wait for a sale to pick this up, or the inevitable time it will be free for PS+ members.