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A Hero is Me!



Hero’s Realm is a typical RM2k3 game that features a lot of the things you might expect from one. However, there are a few things that set this one higher than the rest.

The Graphics:

You know ‘em. 2k3 RTP, Final Fantasy rips, a homemade thing here and there, but mostly the former two. The short characters of the FF rips blend nicely with the 2k3 RTP chipsets, in spite of the difference between their levels of detail. The mild clash between the more detailed monsters, backgrounds, etc. and the simplicity of the heroes and character sprites is tolerable, and helps the game give off that old SNES RPG feeling. There are some graphical issues here and there. Some of the monsters’ transparencies are slightly off, and you might notice a stray pixel or line around, but these problems are small and there are not too many of them. For the most part, the graphics work well with the game.

The Audio:

Very enjoyable. Kentona has an impressive collection of songs in this game, and they come from all over the place. From obscure video games like 8-eyes to memorable FF6 tracks to stuff from Kirby, Star Fox, and even branching out into other mediums with songs from artists and movies…the list goes on and on! But the important thing about music isn’t where it came from, but whether it fits or not. And I can safely say that the songs chosen fit very well. I can only think of two or three tracks I didn’t like, and that’s because they struck me as obnoxious and bizarre (lookin’ at YOU, Marx and Lighthouse!). Best of all, the battle and boss themes are very enjoyable, which helps a great deal with the will to fight onward.

The sounds in the game are mostly RTP stuff, but that’s no surprise. There were many I didn’t recognize, so I assume they were ripped from someplace else. Also, some of them sounded almost too old-skool for the type of game it is, but it’s never really a problem.

The Story:

This is actually one of the game’s weak points. The story is about as cliché as possible. Four heroes unite to save the world from demons, and they travel across the land helping towns and finding relics. There’s even a Chosen One in there! The game also has no respect for the 4th wall, and regularly breaks the suspension of disbelief with jokes and allusions to things you’re sure to recognize (although I would not say this is a bad thing). But, despite the worn out premise, there is a unique approach to the linearity of the story. Yes, there are four heroes, but you start each of the game’s chapters as a different one of them. They each have their own side of the story to tell, and the final chapter brings them all together. The last chapter is longer than the previous four combined, so the biggest bulk of the game comes after the heroes have joined forces. I wouldn’t praise this game for the content of its story, but the approach taken to it is definitely a plus.

The Characters:

The good guys are good! The bad guys are bad! This is another area of weakness for the game. In keeping with the feel of older RPGs, the game’s four main heroes are essentially all the Silent Protagonist. The other characters in the game play their roles well, but never really shine or stand out from each other (or the roles they were made to play). You’ll rarely be surprised by anything anyone has to say. I can’t help but feel that if the characters had been fleshed out better, the story might not have been so drab, either. But on the flip side, doing so would give the game a new feel and possibly make it seem like it was trying to be something it’s not. I don’t think a game like this needs an in-depth story to succeed. It’s strengths lie elsewhere, and more than make up for it.

The Gameplay:

The game’s true shining point, a thing not many amateur RPGs can brag about. And yet the actual gameplay itself is not much different from the rest! What sets this game apart compared to the others of its kind? Customizability. Although the game has four main heroes, they each have their own band of three companions whom the player chooses at the beginning of each chapter. They can be named, male or female, and be one of 12 initial class options. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you can change the class of a companion if you decide it’s not working out. This lets you fine-tune your party to your liking, but there’s another layer to it. You can pick new heroes for every chapter! This essentially gives you a fresh start with each chunk of the game, letting you experiment and figure out what you like best. You could try one of each class, or find a few you prefer and stick to your guns, or whatever! Even in the final chapter, new class options open up as your parties reach higher levels and find special stones. If all this wasn’t enough, the final chapter also gives you free reign over which hero group you play as! You can continue the game with any of the four main heroes’ groups, and by no means are you committed to them. In fact, the game’s multi-party dungeons and battles force you to use all four groups in coordinated efforts. To top it all off, the game is balanced brilliantly. Every party has its advantages, and they can all forge their way forward somehow.

The actual gameplay is about what you’d expect. It’s fighting monsters and exploring towns. The monsters are mostly unique, although they do repeat sometimes between chapters and have alternate variants throughout the world. But you learn through their common graphics how certain kinds fight and which you may want to get rid of first. Forming different strategies against the same monsters is another plus of the multiple parties and classes. What worked for one group may be impossible for another. And some of you may be surprised to find that status problems are actually useful in this game, even against bosses on occasion! Since the bulk of the game is spent in battle, much of the entertainment value comes from figuring out what works best. Outside of the fights, Kentona will have you checking everything around you for hidden items and secrets. Even the bare earth itself can be searched for goodies by pressing Shift (such items are mercifully hinted at). There are treasures hidden all over the world for the observant adventurer to find, and you’ll be sure to be tearing your hair out wondering where you’ll find that last Tiny Medal.

The Design:

The game is designed around exploration, be it of towns, dungeons, or the world map. The mapping of all these places is nearly flawless. I can only think of one or two spots where you could find tile or map errors. The towns are interesting and varied in their setups, and they aren’t all just little hubs with shops and inns. Each one has its own place in the world and serves a purpose beyond being the next pit stop. The early dungeon designs are a bit rigid. They’re mostly straight two-square hallways with rubble to walk around. This trend doesn’t continue for the entire game, though. Things improve dramatically after Chapter 2. The game doesn’t focus much on puzzles, but what few it has are doozies. The multi-party dungeons in particular have some of the most interesting and difficult puzzles. All in all, the game is very well put together, but it has a few glaring problems: Bugs. Lots of ‘em. There are a lot of custom systems at work in Hero’s Realm, and for the most part, they do an excellent job. But when they go wrong, boy, do they go wrong! I personally encountered an unintended speed increase, the eternal presence of a weather effect, the loss of the ability to flee from battle, the accidental teleportation to a previous chapter’s conclusion, and even a fatal error right in the middle of the final battle! Many of these bugs have been reported and fixed, so new players won’t have nearly as much to worry about. But, were it not for my knowledge of how these games work, I could’ve been hopelessly stuck on some of these issues.

In conclusion, I could not have asked for a better game to start my Full Game Review thread with. My perspective of the game from its start to its finish varied drastically! At the beginning, I might’ve given it a 5, and I was almost ready to award it a 9 at the start of chapter 5. This game is a joy to play and offers a great deal of variety for the player. The graphics and sound work together to create the feel of an old-skool RPG. The story and characters are weak, but aren’t important to the game as a whole. The innovative approach to the presentation and control of multiple parties makes it much better than others of its kind. The custom systems are really cool…when they’re working properly. It has only a few cosmetic errors, and even fewer serious glitches (now that we’ve fixed so many of them). Based on my experience of it, my final ruling is:

8/10

Although I must admit, this would’ve been an 8 if I hadn’t run into so many difficulties. This game is RM2k3 done right!

This review is written in memory of little Laura-Lee. Game Start - Ch.4 Intro

Posts

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kentona
What Would Jedi Do?
18978
Poor little Laura-Lee...

Thanks for the review halibabica! I have to apologize for the number of bugs you've encountered. The game is massive, and one of the downsides of extreme customizability is that you cannot possibly test every permutation. Given the size of the game, I'm actually very happy that so few bugs were actually in it.

Also, I thought my dialog was pretty good, given my intent.

Now that this is done, I'm going to fix up the last of the (known) bugs and release v1.4
kentona
What Would Jedi Do?
18978
Also, I have to object to the supposition that blank-slate characters are an inherent weakness.
Blank-slate characters make for a different kind of story; one vastly different than you would expect from a game with lots of story focus and character depth.

As for it being a weakness...I must admit, thrown in the light of being a different kind of story, it's not bad at all. The story serves the game more as a course of events than an epic tale of suspense and drama. There are benefits to silent protagonists, too. For example, I couldn't use this in the review (as it's all fabricated), but the lack of personality in the characters forced me to invent personalities for them; ones I probably enjoyed more than I would've if they were more developed in-game.

It's hard to put these two story types under the same category, but I stand by my assessment. As a story, it's not that great. But as a story for the kind of game you were trying to make, it's fine.
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