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Una Obra Maestra

  • Dyhalto
  • 03/05/2016 01:49 AM
If you haven't heard of Legend of Heroen before, despite being one man's work-in-progress for over twelve years (practically since Day 1 of RPGMaker2000), that's because it heralds from the Spanish RM community where apparently it's some pretty big stuff. Possibly even comparable to our own Hero's Realm in stature.

The neat thing about projects that take years to finish; in playing from beginning to end you also witness the evolution of the gamedev's own skills. The beginning of Heroen is very simplistic and RTP-centric, both in visual techniques, which Soeufans would later master, and plot devices used.

I remember a simpler time... when burying people in a throne room wasn't considered a dumb idea.

Visual: 5/5
Like I said, the game opens with pretty standard graphical appeal. The hero sticks out because of his vibrant color scheme while being laid out against a backdrop of plain ol' RTP. Some lighting and sparkle effects are used thoughtfully, but they're nothing to write home about. But then it gets better.
And better.
And better.

This isn't just some cheap overlay schlock. By the time I'm exploring the final dungeons, there's visual artistry being meticulously applied that I can't even wrap my head around. "How the hell did he do that?" Magic barriers, personalized teleports, changing storm clouds, rotating sunbeams, that lava'y powder effect... Most of the late-game cutscenes must have each taken weeks to implement, and I imagine at least three of those twelve years went into the gargantuan ending sequence alone.

But then, out of the furthest depths of left field...

What the hell is this crap doing here?

Not one iota of attention was paid to the battle system. It's as DBS as DBS got in those days, complete with an RTP bestiary right up until the last dungeon. Even the attack animations are defaults. I'm pretty sure Soeufans knew that battles were the weakest link, because their importance was gradually phased out in the latter stages. More on that in the Gameplay category.
In spite of this blemish, everything else in the game is just so outright gorgeous that I can ignore the uglification done by combat.

Audio: 5/5
More phenomenal work to be spoken of.
Here, we don't just have a decent selection of BGM plus the usual suspect sound effects. During cutscenes, the music is masterfully choreographed to the action, and extra attention has been paid to using SNES-era sound effects only. Or to be specific, Enix sound effects only, going so far as to give dialogue boxes that repeating dot sound Enix staples like Terranigma and Soul Blazer had.
Speaking of Soul Blazer, Legend of Heroen's beautiful opening credits sequence using 'Ode To Lisa' still lingers in my memory.

Upon bringing us to the game's climax, Soeufans must have gathered all his composer buddies and called in some favors, because almost the entire soundtrack turns into top-notch original music. I wish I was a little more unscrupulous so I could steal them for myself =)

Storyline: 5/5
The first villain encountered is a witch who gathers dark energy by turning the population of a small village into RTP skeletons. If you stop and think about what's actually happening here, it's both disgusting and ridiculous. Chalk that one up beside burials-in-the-throne-room.
We all did dumb stuff back in the infancy of the RM scene. One of my brainiac moves was putting a thieves guild in the middle of the ocean.

Legend of Heroen marches on, ignoring it's early absurdities and carrying us through a largely non-moving storyline. The hero, Herion (not to be confused with Heroen, the game's title) spends 95% of the game searching for his father and each major quest narrows the search down by minuscule amounts.
What carries a player's interest are the game's characters, and in particular, their various antics played up using the aforementioned stellar theatrical techniques. At one point I was given a pair of new party members who felt like roster-filler, both with zero backstory and identical fighting styles to boot. After their lively escapade in the desert, I became quite attached to them.

And in the last few hours of the game, the top blows off completely, volcano style. So much awesome stuff happens during the climax. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will say that it's nothing like what anybody would come to expect by then.

Gameplay: 5/5
Remember how I mentioned the default battle system being gradually phased out in the closing parts of the game? It's true. There're even points where you'll go through an entire dungeon without a single random encounter; emphasis being on the puzzles instead. Among your repertoire of problem solving appliances is a hookshot, claws, fireball spell, revealing device, and a few other less essential ones. Often it boils down to simply using the right device when cued, like firing the Hookshot when you see a faraway peg, but there're still some tricky maneuvers from time to time.

Minigames are heavily employed as well, except most of them aren't optional and all of them have some learning curve to ride out. Luckily, they're all fun (until you lose 30 times) and fairly original. Magic duels, dodging boulders while scaling a cliff, ship boarding battles, even crossing the desert is a minigame.
And whenever I'm starting to get frustrated after countless failed attempts, I just have to remember the alternative : Random battles.

Overall: 5/5
Heh. I wrote this entire review and forgot to mention the legibility of the translation. It does the job well, but not without noticeable flaws. The biggest offender is gender confusion. Occasionally someone will refer to a guy as "her" or vice versa. Otherwise, there's some spelling mistakes, some grammar boo-boos, and some choice words not quite up to the intended meaning.

Defeat your enemies by using their chemical composition against them.

ProTip : There aren't enough Magic Spheres to complete all skillsets. Everyone needs at least one though, so use them strategically.
Get Edilgarath's 'Thunder Hit' and Katy's 'Beating Up'.