Legend of Heroes II: Prophesy of the Moonlight Witch
Wearing bellbottoms is hip, and Legend of Heroes II is the
bee's knees. Seriously, when a spiffy game like this comes out for such a
square system like the PSP, it really jives. My pet rock thinks
Legend of Heroes II is radical, but I don't always trust his opinion.
Playing this game on the PSP was a blast from the past, with gnarly
character sprites and a rocking battle system. If you own a PSP, check into
it. If not, check into it anyway. You can always be convinced, dig?
It all started when I saw two unoccupied PSPs in the Namco-Bandai
booth. Legend of Heroes II? I hadn't heard anything about this
game from the show floor. No press releases or media kits had mentioned
it. I stumbled upon it by chance, hiding in the shadows. I'd heard of
it, certainly, but I didn't expect it to be lying about. I was pleasantly
surprised when I picked it up and began playing it. It has a retro, SNES
feel, but the graphics are smooth and easy to watch.
The gameplay started out with a lad named Juniro walking around his
hometown. I chatted with his elderly Uncle Tap before wandering around
town some more, stumbling into my own house quite by accident. One
standard RPG overnight sequence later a redheaded girl named Chris stopped
by to pick Juniro up for their upcoming "pilgrimage." The trip is
intended as a "coming-of-age" event, where people journey to a series of
towns and temples. It seems to be a co-ed field trip; crazy kids. Juniro
slept in, oddly enough, and they left late for a special pre-pilgrimage
ceremony. They were to be presented with a Silver Dagger as a symbol of
their status as pilgrims. One concert and a foiled heist later, and
they were on their way.
The graphics were soft and cute, with a real retro feel. The
character sprites have big heads and colorful costumes, and the character art
is classic RPG/Anime. The sprites are numerous and detailed, though,
and one had to smile at the whimsy of it all. The landscapes are richly
textured though noticeably flat, with standard 2D RPG features like trees
and rocks. At a few specific times, like when the character was walking
near a cliffside or on the beach, I could see where the PSP's graphical
capabilities shone through. Enemy characters were drawn
two-dimensionally from the side, as were battle sprites for characters. While not a
good example of what the PSP is capable of doing, it's a good example of
why not every game needs better graphics than the last.
Battling was a blast from RPG past. The menus were simple and
straightforward, with RPG staples like "Attack" and "Skills." Choosing these
options had the expected results: the characters attacked and used
special moves. Also as expected, Chris (the young lady) was a healer, while
Juniro was a melee fighter. Three caveats to the battle system: (the
first) You choose your characters moves at the start of your turn, and all
the people in battle take their turn as their speed indicates. (the
second) Taking and giving damage filled up a "Power" gauge, which, when
filled, allowed the characters to unleash a special "Finisher." It filled
quickly, and in the few minutes I battled unimportant starting fiends,
I used each of their ultimate attacks twice. (the third and final) The
character can only attack enemies within a certain range of them. When
the character attacks an enemy, they will (depending on the attack)
move towards it. The same goes for enemies. If, in the course of the
battle, you manage to move too far away from an enemy to attack it, you
won't be able to until it moves closer, probably to attack you. The
character's range is indicated by a round gradient of color during their turn.
This can be troublesome, especially if an enemy moves away from
you between your selection of the attack and its execution.
Altogether said, Legend of Heroes looks like a great RPG
title. If you don't really like RPGs, this is not a hybrid or anything to
wean yourself onto RPGs with. It's classic, unadulturated, RPG gameplay
on a new console. The gameplay, plot, and characters seem oddly
familiar, and are probably so far out, they're, like, totally
in. Orange is the new pink. My pet rock also thinks your bellbottoms make
your butt look nice.