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From the second we got our hands on it, it was clear: Ragnarok Odyssey is basically Monster Hunter in the Ragnarok universe - and given both franchises’ impressive pedigrees, we're absolutely okay with that. This “solo hero versus huge baddie” beat-’em-up is coming to PS Vita this year, courtesy of Game Arts and XSEED. We got the chance to take one of its hammer-wielding heroes for a test drive, bashing in the brains of porings (read: adorable pink slimes) and giant orcs with equal impunity.

If you haven’t heard of it, Ragnarok Online was something like online RPG royalty back in the early aughts, most famous for its multitude of job classes and memorable monsters. It makes sense that we should kill these cutesy titans in a fully 3D third-person hack-’n’-slash, and Ragnarok Online’s existing job classes lend themselves nicely to varied combat roles for Odyssey. Game Arts, who’ve put out cult classics like Grandia and Lunar, have done a bang-up job of bringing the Ragnarok universe’s cheery, colorful art style to life.

That said, combat focuses on getting in melee range and busting out big-damage combos. We mainly played as the Hammersmith, a class that wields a comically-sized sledgehammer that has an enormous spiked drill for a head. Sending enemies flying across a room with each swing was immensely satisfying, and there looks to be quite a few opportunities for skilled players to bust out impressive chains of attacks. As with any good third-person brawler, smacking your opponents into the air for some follow-up combos is highly effective against single targets.

You won’t be going it alone through RO - the game’s tuned for four-player online co-op, and balanced groups will have an easier time taking down the intimidating bosses (some of whom are skyscraper-sized compared to your hero). There are six classes to choose from: Hammersmith, Assassin, Hunter, Mage, Cleric, and Warrior, each with their own unique abilities and weapon styles.

After swinging his hilariously-oversized weapon, and devising numerous MC Hammer references we can make, we’ve got our hearts set on playing as the Hammersmith once the game’s released in the states. XSEED wasn’t giving a particular month for when RO will come stateside in 2012, but with the game already out (and selling well) in Japan, things are looking good for Ragnarok Odyssey’s enjoyable, action-oriented gameplay.

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