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Developer:
Falcom
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PSP
Release Date: June 20, 2006

by Josh Ferguson




While the PlayStation Portable has its share of RPGs, the problem is that there have yet to be any that really stand out among the crowd. In June 2006, Namco Bandai decided to give the handheld another try with their Legend of Heroes sequel, Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch. So is Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch the RPG that PSP owners have been waiting for? Read on to find out.


The storyline in Legend of Heroes II is actually supposed to take place before the original game, so technically the sequel is actually a prequel. This latest installment of the series follows two young teenagers named Jurio and Chris, who are going on a pilgrimage to visit five magical mirrors that will give the teenagers visions of what they are to do with their lives. Soon after, the two discover that their pilgrimage happens to coincide with the prophecy told by a woman known as the Moonlight Witch. Jurio and Chris will then travel through the game, discovering their connections with the prophecy and, in true RPG fashion, how they will save the world.


One of the biggest annoyances throughout Legend of Heroes II is the fact that players will be forced to constantly backtrack through towns and other areas to trigger further events. Also, there are often times when it becomes difficult to figure out where you are supposed to be headed next. While it is common to see this in an RPG, the problem is that the game desperately needs some sort of mission screen, where the player can see their current quests. This could easily help with making the constant backtracking and searching less of a problem. Also, while the idea of being able to save at any location is ideal for a portable RPG, this can also cause some problems with remembering exactly where to go once you return to the game. Once again, this is another area where the mission screen would become very useful and ideal for this type of game.


Unlike the majority of role-playing games, the Legend of Heroes series doesn’t feature random battles. Instead, the enemies actually appear on the screen and you can tell when a battle will be initiated. Often it is possible to avoid combat completely by merely running away from the nearby enemies. This usually isn’t very difficult to do, and is great for anyone who tires of the constant random battles that are associated with RPG titles these days. Throughout the game, the player will be able to take advantage of avoiding these battles, but so can the different enemies. As you travel through the game, you will often encounter enemies that aren’t as powerful as your party characters. When the enemy realizes they have a disadvantage, they will often turn away and try to run the opposite way of your party. This addition of enemy AI is something that makes the series quite unique, and is definitely an interesting add-on to the games.


As far as the actual combat, Legend of Heroes II is similar to the original game and features a turn-based combat system. Combat takes place with your party standing on the right side of the screen and the enemies located on the left. During combat, your characters can perform their basic physical attack, cast magic spells, use the wait command to move their location, and perform deadly attacks when their power gauge is full, known as “finishing moves,” which are basically one-hit kills against any average enemy. Each of the characters' “finishing moves” differ from one another, and can be performed once that individual’s power gauge is completely full. Filling a character's power gauge is actually quite simple; whenever a character performs damage or receives damage, that individual’s power gauge will start to fill.


For the most part, all of the core elements of the combat from the first installment are returning in this game, including the pet system. Early on, players will receive a small animal that will constantly follow behind your character throughout the world map and occasionally even help in battles. The type of help you receive from your pet is determined by the kind of food that you feed the animal. Some foods might give the animal the ability to increase your party’s defense, while others might allow it to perform a strong magical attack.


Aside from the pet system, overall, the combat in Legend of Heroes II does little to differentiate itself from the average battle system in an RPG. The combat feels somewhat slow paced, and often character turns feel completely wasted if the enemy is a good enough distance away that your physical attacks won’t reach.


Graphically, Legend of Heroes II is a fairly good-looking game. While the 2D sprites aren’t overly detailed, the character portraits are quite the opposite and are very good looking. The game also features a large amount of environments that are pretty nice looking too.


The sound in Legend of Heroes II could have been better, but what’s there is pretty strong. While the game may have faired a little better with some voice work, the soundtrack does have some decent tunes alongside your quest.


Easily one of the weakest areas of the original Legend of Heroes was the flaw with the dialogue. It should be noted that the second game has definitely seen some changes, and the dialogue is far stronger than that of the previous installment. Also, if you’re looking for a portable RPG that will keep you occupied for a while, Legend of Heroes II should definitely succeed. The game could easily take a player around 20 hours to complete, and should definitely please RPG fans looking for a lasting title.


Overall, Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch may not be the best RPG for the PSP, but it certainly isn’t unplayable. The game continues to share many of the same flaws as the original, but the long quest and the improved translation certainly help. Still, if you were a fan of the original Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion, then you will no doubt enjoy this game, too.


Final Grade: 69%


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