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E3 Impression

Legend of Heroes II: Prophesy of the Moonlight Witch

05.17.2006

THEO LITOWSKI
E3 CORRESPONDANT

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? Sweet.

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.

SCREENSHOT

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.

SCREENSHOT

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.


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Console:
· Sony PSP

Release:
· June 2006

Publisher:
· Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Developer:
· BEC


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