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   Shaman King: Legacy of the Spirits Soaring Hawk / Sprinting Wolf - Review  

Devoid of Spirit
by Anna Marie Whitehead

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Very Easy
COMPLETION TIME
5-10 hours
OVERALL

1/5

Rating definitions 

   The word "shaman" is defined in the dictionary as one acting as a medium between the visible and spirit worlds. Take a pack of teenagers, apply this definition, mix with many different varities of spirits; bake for one hour, and the resulting recipe is for Shaman King: Legacy of the Spirits. Though it's not the first game based off the Shonen Jump manga, it is the first RPG to appear in the series. Broken into two seperate entries, much like a Pokémon game would be, Shaman comes in two flavors: Sprinting Wolf and Soaring Hawk; each has spirits the other does not. Sadly, with horrible music, an average battle system, a short run to the end, and no replayability, it's hard to tell which would be the easier bitter pill to swallow.

   There are some battle systems that work in principle, and some that work once they're put into effect. Legacy's system is heavily the former, and far too little of the latter. Much like other collection games, the main character Yoh uses his captured rabble - spirits that haven't passed on to the next world in this case - to battle other shamans' collection of spirits or other incarnations. Battles are simple: Yoh will square off either against randomly encountered spirits or other shamans. Tedious memorization of which spirit's attributes and types match up get thrown out the window; attacks that aren't as effective are marked in green and those that will be extra effective will be highlighted in gold, and completely ineffective attacks are greyed out. What makes the battle system lopsided is one spirit picked up early in the game's plot far outstrips everything else in power, except against one specific type of enemy which only shows up near the very end of the game. Additional problems with the battle system include a disgustingly high chance to miss for both the enemy and the allied spirit. To add insult to injury, the encounter rate is completely batty. In some cases Yoh can travel large areas without meeting a single foe; yet the next time he goes through, he could encounter enemies as often as every step. These random encounters are rarely, if ever, necessary to actually level up any spirits, and so this flaky encounter rate is a severe annoyance.
Raar Huge level gaps
At the end of battle, spirits gain experience, Yoh gains experience, and yen is earned. Spirits gain new attacks every 5 levels, up to a maximum of 6 attacks, except these attacks all have a finite amount of uses (usually 20-30, except very special attacks which are 5) which when attached with the aforementioned huge miss rate, means constant returning to the one save spot in the game to rest and recharge the spirits' powers. Yoh can combine his spirits together to create more powerful spirits, including many that are otherwise unattainable; as well, each version of the game has a handful of spirits that are unattainable in the other title. Every 10 levels attained, the types of spirits that are combinable increases to include more powerful versions. Sadly, few of these spirits are useful. Overall, the battle system is not very well thought out nor is it enjoyable.

   Those that enjoy sweet music and fitting sound effects should continue to search for different game. There are so few tracks, and they're annoying to boot, that wise RPGamers will soon turn their volume off or down to an absolute minimum. That's not even taking into consideration that the graphics are of similar lackluster quality. While the anime stills of the characters are neatly done, little else about the game stands out at all, especially when the characters are moving during directed scenes, there's odd little snafus. These include sluggishness and characters zigzagging crazily to get down stairs. Beyond the obvious problems, no positives particularly stand out to counterbalance the issues.

   Thankfully, the game is soon defeated and can be polished off in as little as 5 hours. Those who choose to play longer will doubtfully last more than 10, although more hours would be needed to round out a complete collection of spirits. The shortness of the game stems partially from the fact it is laughably easy. What difficulty an RPGamer will run into is simply the frustration of a poorly-made battle system and an incomplete plot. While Yoh does prevail in the end (which of course, is the way most RPGs end up), the story leaves horrendous gaps and unfinished business, leading to believe that to tidy up all these loose ends, a sequel will be required. Woe betide such a game if it is unfortunate enough to be graced with the same qualities as this one. Hopefully any further Shaman King titles will also be a little more original; the idea of spirits, the battle system, a tournament-style play all have been seen in many games both recently and stretching back a number of years. While they are put together differently in Legacy, the end result does not show much actual unique content.

Tbbht Memory Game

   One of the well-done parts of the game, so few and far between, is the localizatation. The dialogue is written in a humorous fashion, which matches well to overall feeling of the game, mostly given by Yoh's persona. The characters each have distinct personalities (even if some are two dimensional). Character evolutions, while played out quickly, do follow logical order. Not all characters are exactly endearing though, even some of the good guys. Aside from good dialogue, there's little else to say positively. The menus do their job, though they're small and rarely used. The world map could have been set up a lot better, as choosing different locations to move to requires cycling through the list in the same order every time (the order in which they were revealed), instead of simply being able to jump to the next closest location. It's simply one more aggravating aspect of the game.

   Like many games based off anime, Legacy falls short of the mark of being anything good and seems like simply another glob of goop flung out to the masses in an attempt to assuage their thirst to play the characters from their beloved anime series. The premise of the game is a good one; however, the actual presentation lacks so much. Especially with the game so open to a sequel, any further forays into the Shaman King world will need to have some huge improvements before it becomes truly playable, let alone fun and enjoyable. For those enamoured of the anime series, it may still worth giving it a shot. Even those RPGamers enamoured of collection games, though, are recommended to either steer clear or be prepared for disappointment and a load of frustrations as they attempt to crawl through the game.

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