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The Spirits are willing

  • nhubi
  • 09/07/2014 05:12 AM
Spirit Legends is a first time game from a duo of school friends who thought up the story in their pre-teen years and after a decade and a half decided to release it as a game. So with those parameters in mind, let's begin.

Straight after the intro you are immediately in a fight with two rats, it seems a bit sudden and I did wonder at first if there was an error, but once the fight is over you get a message from your starting character, Tootsie the Fighting Cat that her owner will love the present she's bringing him, a dead rat. It's hysterical, and having owned cats myself growing up I know just how much they love to bring you dead things to show their love and devotion.

So our cute feline friend brings home her present and then as all is right with the world goes to sleep, only to find that during the night something occurs and when she awakens the next morning she can talk and reason. Overjoyed by this revelation she rushes outside to find that not only can she talk, but so can all the other animals and the humans have suddenly become barely sentient. It's almost a Freaky Friday scenario but with a human/animal transition, rather than generational. But the animals being the caring creatures that they are decide to take over the running of things until such time as their owners regain their senses.

Quit horsing around back there.

So our heroine Tootsie and her feline friend Oreo, yes like the cookie, decide to venture out into the wide world in search of a sage to help them understand what has happened. Along the way they pick up another party member, Josie, a dog with a caring and loyal streak and find their way to the wise-man's home. When they finally do meet him, he of course has become an imbecile, but his pet rabbit has all the answers. She directs our brave trio to a local shrine when not only do they gain the last member of the starting quartet they are also informed by the spirits of long dead animal heroes that this scenario has happened before and that it is up to them to find and recruit a band of 10 brave and resourceful animal companions. Each of which will be infused with one of the distinct elements of the world and the commensurate magical abilities associated with it, and with whom they will rid the planet of the imbalance, prevent the rise of the great beast and returned their beloved owners to their former selves.

Seems simple enough, so off they trot, well no none of them are horses and I must admit that is a pet peeve, pardon the pun. All of the animals thus far, and indeed all of the animals who end up being the heroes of this little tale are either cats or dogs, no horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, birds, goats or pigs in the bunch. Even though just like the more common 'pet' grouping they too have gained the ability to talk and reason at human levels, it strikes me as a speciesism in action, which is hardly necessary in a fantasy setting. In fact it would have made more sense for the tank type characters in the party to be made up of larger stronger animals that can take the punishment and protect their lesser companions, and anyone who has ever seen a Field Hunter or a Percheron in action knows a horse can be a formidable weapon of combat. Still chalk it down to a missed opportunity on the part of the developers and move on.

The world may change, but pigeons are still little shits.

So out into the big scary world our fledgling, nope sorry no birds, beginner heroes traipse, visiting towns and villages and finding the same scenario in each one; the humans have been reduced to an almost childlike level of intelligence, still capable of eating, speaking and interaction, but no longer able to care for themselves beyond the most rudimentary level and certainly not capable of anything complicated or keeping the trains running, luckily as it's a medieval setting there are no trains and the animals left behind appear quite capable of running things for a short while whilst our heroes find a way to reverse the condition that has affected their masters. George Orwell would be so disappointed.

Along the way they find the remaining members of this group of ten, it's so tempting to call them the G-10, and visit other remote temples and sacred places to speak with the animal guardians of a bygone era to obtain their gifts and words of wisdom. Though some are not as willing to part with them as others and feel the need to be a living, or well, dead example of Strength Equals Worthiness

There's always one

The developers state that this game is an homage to all the great 16-bit jRPG's and as such sticks to some simplistic style choices. This is true of the combat system which is the default front-view turned based arrangement with no additional bells and whistles except the addition of a TP counter, though the skills on offer via that additional choice are rather limited and in the early stages are exactly the same for each character. Furthermore some of the spells need to be rebalanced as lesser, or at least lower MP cost spells actually do more damage than more 'expensive' spells that are learnt as the characters grow in levels. That is until you run across Tootsie's 'Claw Dance' which for a measly 60 MP, or about 1/6th of her total MP when she learns it can pretty much wipe the floor with any lesser monster in a round and your average boss in about four.

However the battlers are custom, most sourced from thazalon's interesting and distinctive collection, and used with some careful choices here. With the exception of one small town facing the Zombie Apocalypse everything you fight is animal based, whether that is a straight out wolf or snake, or an anthropomorphic version, or even a mutated or cursed variety, you don't fight anything human or close to human. This makes sense both from the perspective of the animals with their devotion to humankind first and foremost in their motivations and the fact that the humans that are left are childlike in their intelligence and would see little or no threat in a group of pets running around. Even when those pets are equipped with sharpened claws and armoured doggy coats.

You can be a big pig too!

The character sprites and face sets are a mix with some customisation done to ensure that the heroes look like the pets on which they have been modelled, I'm sure. Most however are standard. The tile-sets likewise have been sourced primarily from the default available with the game with a few additional extras thrown in for a bit of variety, the towns and cities aren't anything to write home about but they aren't horrendous either. Most are laid out with a sense of consistency though they do fall prey to the overuse of symmetry but do allow for ease of movement through the majority of maps without any obvious passage errors that I noticed. The only area that falls short is the music which may be a strange thing to say since unlike other areas most of it is not the default available, and indeed this gripe only applies in a particular instance. There is an option in each of the Inns to change the background music to something that isn't one of the RPGVXA default themes, but it only plays within the confines of the Inn. Once you go back into the town itself the more interesting, and in some cases more appropriate themes stop. This makes it more irritating when the appealing theme is supplanted by the more bland default one. Luckily this particular phenomenon appears to be restricted to the town only and out in the wilds and the dungeons we get a much more varied and attractive musical choice, quite a few of which are familiar to any long term video gamer as they have been lifted wholesale from some better known ones.

In the same vein the game is peppered with pop-culture references in the form of video game, movie and television quotes and allusions, the aforementioned signs in the Inns being a prime example of this. It became a bit of a game within a game to interact with everyone, and in some cases almost everything to elicit them. I must admit that a few of them weren't readily apparent but the comments were enough out of the ordinary that I took the time to source the original quote and associated meme online.

Don't tell me, you could die?

So after trudging linearly through a changed and confusing world, facing hardship and character development along the way our group does eventually go to repair the crystal of destiny, which does finally go some way towards explaining the title page image, and seeks to redress the balance and quieten the beast and send him back into eternal slumber (or you know, until the next time this happens). Of course that's not what happens, and as always the power of greed overcomes good sense and the crystal is stolen, the great beast awakened and the land plunged into turmoil and destruction. But these furry friends aren't the heroes of this tale for nothing, so up they get, shake the debris from their fur, give themselves a good tongue washing and out into the changed, yet again, world to hunt down the crystal and get the beast back to bed, tucked in with his demonic teddy bear and a quick reading of Where the Wild Things are.

The landscape of this new world is painted in shades of ochre, ash and violet with very few spots of verdant life left clinging like lichen to a rock but it does have an astounding advantage. Hidden amongst all the desolation is the ultimate weapon for each of your ten heroes, secreted in steel chests and stored in the most unlikely of places. So as well as the primary quest of saving and restoring the world you also have what amounts to the game's only side quest of hunting down each of these ultimate weapons.

Trust me, you're going to need them.

Yes, it's a Frog Prince. Classics are called that for a reason.

Eventually, after around 8 hours of game-play you've finally gone everywhere, seen everyone and found everything you need to complete your quest and restore balance to a world most decidedly out of sorts. Given the premise and story thus far it's fair to say that the world does regain its equilibrium and at the very least our heroes find a sense of peace after the turmoil they have encountered, and of course the poor benighted humans have absolutely no idea what just transpired and just how much they owe their furred, feathered, fluffy, not to mention froggy friends.

However if you can avoid the headlong rush into the dénouement there is an additional 'secret' dungeon where you can face the worst the game has to offer in regard to bosses, you really are going to need those ultimate weapons and a fairly high level if you are going to take them on, but they are most definitely an additional challenge and not required to see the final happy ending as all becomes right with the world once more. However if you want the best ending, the one that ends the cycle completely and sees everyone getting a second and better chance, you'd better be prepared for some tough final battles.

Of course, the old doorway to the secret dungeon under the waterfall trick

For a first game, especially one so steeped in personal connections, Spirit Legends is a fine foray into the world of game making. The characters were interesting enough and though the plot was hardly original playing from the perspective of a household pet rather than the stereotypical teenager/long lost scion/amnesiac/tortured past main character was an interesting idea for a first time effort, and it was appreciated.


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Wow, this is a really well written review! Thank you so much for taking the time to play it and all the time to write this. I appreciate you not beating me up too much for it being my first game and using the plot of a 10 year old. Sorry for the lack of horses but glad you enjoyed it!
Hey nhubi, I thought I told you – and Kylaila as well – to take a long well-earned vacation after the whole Summer Review Jam thingy, but nooooooo – you’re still doing even more reviews! What are you guys, crazy!? I would have probably collapsed on the floor at this point after playing and reviewing all those games by now.

But then again, I guess with you guys doing most of the bulk of the work around here nowadays that it helps people like me focus on something more productive for a change – like game making! :D

I guess you really do wanna knock off Solitayre to become the king of all kings.

Anyways, good review. :)
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Hey Robb, it was a bit of fun and pretty much what I was looking for after the effort of the Summer Review Jam, something I could just relax into knowing it wasn't going to require much. Please don't take that as a disparagement, it isn't. I was looking for a simple easy story and you delivered. Writing a review was my way of saying thanks.

Addit, yes, yes I know, but I'm not big on the cold-turkey school of thought, and also as you point out, given that Solitayre has just dissed the fine art of reviewing I have lost all compunction about toppling the Captain.

Then again, Liberty is about to go all crazy on us with her IGMC judging notes so I doubt I'll actually make it to the top before she does.

I'm glad you liked it though, it's a joyful thing to be able to give a little back, since I enjoy your reviews so much.
ill plan to play again this game
best game ever!!!!!!
ill plan to play again this game
best game ever!!!!!!

Hell yeah, I'm glad you enjoyed it!!
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