Reviews

Game of the Month - July 2006

The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch

PHOTO

The life of an adventurer isn’t always that exciting. For young pilgrims Julio and Chris, the protagonists in the PSP role-playing game The Legend of Heroes II, it’s sometimes downright tedious, filled with extended sequences of tidying up other people’s rooms, swabbing the decks of a ship, and discussions about who’s going to wash whose underwear.

Of course, no one said that Rome—or the world, for that matter—was built in a day. In the villages that dot the world of The Legend of Heroes, it’s a tradition for young men and women to go on a coming-of-age journey, a silver sword hanging from their hips. The journey takes them to a set of shrines, each with a magical mirror that lets the viewer see the future events that will shape his or her life. The tradition’s kind of faded by the time this game begins, but Julio and Chris—two young friends since childhood—have become the first people in their village to take the challenge in five years. Along the way they’ll learn more than they’ll ever care to know about the Moonlight Witch and all the other mysteries of their land, and naturally, the fate of the world will eventually fall into their hands…

Yes, there’s sweeping (although admittedly rather linear) adventure to be had in The Legend of Heroes II, follow-up to the PSP RPG Bandai released last year. Although the turn-based RPG is a bit slow-paced at times, it’s hard to imagine a game that’s better tuned for the PSP’s abilities. The graphics (lavish 2D character portraits over workmanlike 3D-ish backdrops) are sharp and oftentimes beautiful, with effects such as lens flare highlighting the developer’s attention to detail. Progress can be saved at almost any time during the action, and this turns out to be a godsend, as the game’s noticeably more difficult than the previous one.

As before, a neat pet system adds both levity and flavor to the proceedings. The heroes can acquire an animal companion such as a rabbit or dog, and the pets can collect items hidden in the environment or even take part in battles. The game wisely does away with random monster encounters, and the enemies are smart enough to avoid fights with the heroes when they’re clearly overmatched.

While The Legend of Heroes II is not particularly revolutionary on the story-telling front, all the neat little features add up to create a stress-less, immersive adventure. It may be a familiar spell, but it’s still powerful.

—Greg Orlando

Sequel Silliness

Despite what the title would have you believe, Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is actually the fourth game in the Legend of Heroes series, which started back in the early ‘90s in Japan. A Tear of Vermillion, released in the US last year, was the fifth, and the sixth, called Umi no Oriuta in Japan, hit PSPs in that country a few months back. Will Namco Bandai complete the US trilogy? Time will tell.

COVER

  • Available: Now
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
  • System: PSP
  • Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)