The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch - Staff Retroview  

But What Does She Say About It?
by Sean Kepper

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20 to 30 hours
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   The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is the second game, following Tear of Vermillion, in a three game series within the Legend of Heroes series. In the original Japanese, Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is the first game in the trilogy, and if played in the North American order, it looks older than the first one.

   There are two main protagonists in the story. They are Jurio, a village boy and his childhood friend Chris, the daughter of the village's chapel priests. Upon reaching the age of majority they are tasked with undertaking a pilgrimage around the world. They must first visit the five great shrines to receive visions before being considered adults.

   Their first vision leads them to see that something dire is occurring in the world, but only fragments are shown to them at any one time. Furthermore, the Moonlight Witch also left behind prophecies in each town as she performed her pilgrimage years ago. Every single one of them comes true. The heroes vow to help overturn the prophecies that were left behind by using the ones that they themselves were shown.

   The story is very simplistic and there is nothing much to do outside of the main storyline. It is a very linear game, much more so than the first title. In fact, it is so linear that they don't even bother adding treasure chests to the game. Well, there are a few of them, but only in a pair of dungeons. The localization is a poor one indeed with many spelling and grammar errors, as well as some awful choice of words. That being said, it is a world ahead of what is found in Tear of Vermillion.

   Even though the game is linear, the player is left scratching their heads about where to go next. This happens frequently in towns where story scenes occur when walking into seemingly random areas. Thankfully, this doesn't occur too often and is only a minor inconvenience.

Yo-ho yourself. Where is my rum? Yo-ho yourself. Where is my rum?

   The characters are endearing. Jurio and Chris are joined by a plethora of others throughout their quest, but there are never more than four in the party at a time. None of them are particularly more powerful than the others, but unlike most games, Jurio and Chris always seem to be at a lower level than their teammates. It is quite difficult to level them up, as individual fights tend to be nasty and experience is scaled based on the character's level. Levels mean a lot for the characters--at times even more so than equipment. A single level up for the party can make the following challenges a lot easier.

   Higher levels see the heroes acquire better spells, higher stats and more health. There is no customization; the heroes simply get what is predetermined for them. The array of spells and abilities is a far cry away from what was available in the previous game, which leads to a little boredom when it comes to picking actions.

   There are no random encounters. Instead, the monsters wander around the same areas that the heroes do, and they can be avoided. Weaker enemies will run from the heroes, whereas stronger ones will chase them. Should they touch, a battle starts. Battles in The Legend of Heroes are fought out in a strategic manner. Battles are turn-based and characters act based on their agility. Each side is placed on opposite sides of the rectangular battlefield, similar to battles in the original Lunar games. Heroes are limited by how far they can move and sometimes some waiting is necessary to pull enemies in close enough to attack them.

   Individually, enemies are nasty, as they tend to deal a lot of damage, even to well equipped heroes. It isn't uncommon to have to heal between every battle. Even so, battles tend to be trivial, as enemies can usually be dispatched quick enough to remove any fear of them knocking a hero out. For the most part, the few boss battles don't add any more challenge to the mix. Of course, if the enemies zerg a single character (such as when Jurio charges the enemy and they get their turns next), the fight will often turn bad very quickly. Often, patience offsets much of the difficulty. The enemy parties don't differ greatly from each other. For long periods of time, the heroes will be fighting against the same monsters, which will possibly always be found in the same numbers and formations. This repetition takes something away from the game.

I do hope you clean yourselves! I do hope you clean yourselves!

   The graphics are clean, as are the special effects. There are no 3D models--the game uses sprites. They are typical anime-like character designs and suit the game well. The character portraits used during conversations could have used a little more variety though. There are some FMV sequences strewn about the game, and they are well done. In fact, this title looks very similar to its predecessor, but is not as flashy. All in all, it doesn't do a good job of showing off what the PSP can do.

   From the audio perspective, the sound effects are standard fare and the music suits the game well. Most of the time, the music is pretty light-hearted and easy to listen to. While not groundbreaking, there is nothing negative about it either.

   While not an amazing game, The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is nonetheless fun and an easy game to play on the go. Its save anywhere feature and the PSP's sleep function make it a perfect game to play for five or ten minutes at a time. It doesn't sport the flashiest graphics, world-shattering music, or the best of storylines, but it offers up a decent experience that could easily be enjoyed during the quiet periods between the releases of its superiors.

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