• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Oddly compelling.

Hero's Realm is advertised as an old-school RPG, a throwback to the days of yore that most people nowadays need NESes passed down by cousins or illegal emulators (!) to experience. What is lost in the advertising, and the two Misao awards, however, is that Hero's Realm is not just an old-school RPG. It is an old-school RPG with style.

There is no custom battle system in Hero's Realm. All of the music seems to be taken directly from other RPGS, and several songs are from Final Fantasy games. Item and spell names are taken almost directly from the Dragon Quest series. Worst of all, one might think, the graphics are all RTP world-map chip sets mixed with tiny sprites from the earlier Final Fantasy games, particularly FFV. What is remarkable, however, is that it all fits. The music is nice to listen to, the Final Fantasy tracks are never abused, and since the graphics are all tiny FFV sprites, none of them really clash, unlike the mishmash of RPG character sprites that decorate other RPGs.

As expected from an Old-School RPG, Hero's Realm has a variety of items hidden within the game's pots, wells, crates, etc. There are even Dragon Quest's tiny medals, small collectibles hidden all over the place you can trade for super-powerful items (including, for 100 medals or so, a lightsaber). As stated previously, of course, Hero's Realm is not just an old-school game. One of the most obvious instances is the class system. Remember Final Fantasy I, where you could choose to be a Black Mage, Fighter, or some other cookie-cutter character class? Screw that. Hero's Realm has a wizard, yes, which is close to the Black Mage archetype, but it also includes the Druid (a fairly strong healer with earth magics and weak effect spells), the Lycanthrope (an extremely fast warrior who can change into an uncontrollable, superstrong werewolf), the Bandit (a thief with the ability to steal, set traps and literally pick up random items and even gold after fighting battles) and the all-powerful Warlock (a skeleton-summoning, dark-magic-wielding sorcerer, who is also an alchemist). All of these classes are remarkably balanced, and all of them take your regular archetypical character classes and combine them together to create something distinctly new. Gone are the days when White Mage, Black Mage, Fighter, Thief was the way to go; now the best combinations aren't as clear-cut.

Oh, and you'll probably be able to sample all of the classes by the end, as Hero's Realm is so far split into four chapters (with one more forthcoming), and each chapter focuses on an entirely different party. The game literally forces you to experience everything.

Then, of course, there are nifty little features like undead salesmen, mazes in the middle of nowhere, a small debacle involving a place called the Kobra Klub (or Cobra Club, can't remember which), a wandering monster that runs away and must be destroyed, assorted quests that earn your party loads of EXP and Gold, a stealing system that actually allows you to steal from each enemy rather than from an enemy party, entertaining (if not entirely original) dialog that doesn't take itself too seriously, etcetera, etcetera. This doesn't mean that the game is flawless; the dungeons have wide, blank spaces instead of walls that are a bit too old-school for comfort, and after the nth treasure chest opened, one begins to realize that all the items in the game you find all over the place (accessory, armor or otherwise) are pretty much the same items repeated over and over again.

Those who scoff at default battle systems, weak graphics and unoriginal stories probably will stay away from this, which is too bad, as this is one of the better RPG Maker games. For everyone else, you can't really go wrong with this.
Pages: 1