Dodge that Attack!
Hero's Saga Laevatein Tactics is a unique game with a funny name. This game is a turn-based tactical RPG with combat unlike anything else on the DS right now. Battles take place on a grid, much like many other titles in this sub-genre, but once units move next to another and attack, things start to look much different.
Once combat starts, the battle moves to another screen in which your hero and his soldiers square off against the enemy leader and his squad. Both sides get three turns to battle back-and-forth, and during each turn you have four attack formation options. The standard attack option offers balanced offensive and defense. The charge option is a less accurate option that will have your units go all out in an attack that then leaves them wide open during the counterattack. Selecting phalanx will increase your team's evasion and accuracy, but lessens attack strength. If you use phalanx when your enemy charges, their attack will miss completely. Finally, you can just defend, not attacking.
After selecting the type of attack, you must decide if you want to attack the soldiers in front first or go directly for the leader, as the goal is to finish off the leader. Most of the time it is best to thin out the enemy soldiers first to weaken the force. Units are divided up into classes depending on what weapon they are equipped with. The main character Ernesto starts off using a sword which designates him as the fighter class. After the first battle, I obtained an axe which would change him to a barbarian. Weapons have different ranks, so the higher the rank, the better the stats. There are seven different weapon types with each type offering two to three different job classes and skills depending on the specific weapon used, so the customization is almost endless. Hero's Saga's combat is really fun and offers a ton of strategy, making it the true highlight of the game.
I'll have to say that even if I still have trouble pronouncing the name, I'm in love with Hero's Saga Laevatein Tactics. It's a wonderful blend of grid-based tactical gameplay and Ogre Battle style team combat. This has easily moved up to the top of my most wanted list. Keep an eye out, as Hero's Saga will be coming out on September 29.
Emanuel: I really had no idea what to expect from Hero's Saga when I first picked up the demo build. When I first saw the DS's lower screen, the first thing I said to myself was, "Great, another DS SRPG." It was then that I noticed that something was slightly different. Along with the usual character sprites, there were little bases on the field. That was the first clue I got that this game was a little different. Sure enough, as soon as I tried my first hero group battle, I knew this was something I haven't seen much of from this genre on the DS.
Grids and More.
The game can best be described as Tactics Ogre meets Advance Wars. The graphics, pace, field maps, and setting are all reminiscent of Tactics Ogre, by which I mean it has a tried-and-true SRPG presentation and staples. The Advance Wars part kicks in with the hero characters and the squads of soldiers that they control. On the field map you only see your heroes, but in combat enemy NPCs and your hero are accompanied by a squad of soldiers to aid them. I enjoyed the three round rock-paper-scissors battles that went back and forth every time an enemy NPC and my units clashed.
Your hero's weapon determines your troops classes, and there are quite a variety of units that your heroes can lead into battle. I particularly enjoyed the archer class as it made taking bases that much easier. The bases on the field were very important while I played, as they allowed me to boost the morale of units within range and to heal heroes and their troops when they entered the base.
The best part of the demo had to be when I took the fight to a boss who refused to leave the safety and comfort of his castle. I lost a lot of good units in the fight (not permanently, though they were generic ones anyway), but their sacrifice earned me a cool axe at the end of the battle, which in turn allowed me to change my troops' class for future fights. I was an old fan of slower more traditional SRPGs, but I grew a tad tired with the genre over time. It feels like Hero's Saga delivers a fresh twist that I haven't seen in many other DS SRPGs while at the same time reminding me what I liked about this genre in general. This game turned out to be another pleasant surprise during Run to the Sun.
Sam: Yesterday at Aksys we were given the opportunity to try out their new tactical title Hero's Saga: Laevatein Tactics. Instead of discussing the game in full, I'm mainly going to focus on my experience with the multiplayer, which would probably have Michael gleeing with excitement.
Laevatein's multiplayer feature is local, which sadly means that you and a friend have to be sitting next to each other to enjoy it. It can also only be accessed after a certain point in the game, but if that requirement is met, you can play a series of two-on-two battles with a friend. The battles are set up so that the player picks two characters but can only have one character on the field. With the game's rock-paper-scissor battle mechanics, the goal for each player is to see if you can outwit your opponent. Each character is also equipped with a "Valhalla Break", which is a devastating special attack that can generally destroy all the units on the field. Since players only have three turns, they must plan their turns wisely in order to defeat their opponent... something I didn't do.
When Michael and I were playing, there were moments where both though we had each other. We were down to our final characters: Clefi the Mage versus... Clefi the Mage. It got to a point where Michael and I were exchanging blows but never enough to actually kill one another. At one point I muttered (without looking too close to the screen), "Awwww man, I'm going to die." To which Michael responded, "Uhhh... yeah, you are!", even though according to him and Bo from Aksys, I completely had the upper hand and didn't even notice. Not one bit. I had a Valhalla Break that I could have used, but didn't even notice that Clefi had been glowing yellow for an entire turn. In the end, I lost because I chose to attack instead of using my special, allowing Michael to win and me to be left completely confused because I didn't even notice my Valhalla Break. Fun times.