More than almost any other genre, the role-playing game has changed beyond all recognition over the last decade. When everything went 3D, the popular isometric video game quest disappeared overnight, and exploration was replaced with side-missions; experience points with complex decision making.
The mobile is still the ideal platform to keep the original RPG alive, however, and that appears to have been very much what Digital Chocolate was trying to accomplish in this role-playing sequel. Unfortunately it hasn’t really succeeded, mostly due to a couple of bad design choices, but if nothing else Fantasy Warrior: Legends proves that the thrill of the NES-era RPG is still attainable.
The game adopts an off-the-shelf good-versus-evil plotline, with an equally cookie-cutter main character. But, given that the best thing about the game is its nostalgia trip, it’s hard to blame Fantasy Warrior: Legends for being as traditional as possible.
A magical amulet has been broken into four pieces, and naturally it’s the only thing that can save your village – and indeed the whole kingdom – from rack and ruin at the hands of rampant monsters. Simple and classic. So off you trot with sword in hand to save your home, accept a single-handed rescue mission from the royal palace, and wander the war-torn countryside killing rampaging beasts.
The game attempts to push the story to the very front of Fantasy Warrior: Legends, which would be a superb feature if it hadn’t been written by a bored 10-year old with a crayon. The dialogue is atrocious, and makes it impossible to immerse yourself in the plot no matter how determined you might be. It’s so repetitive you’re made to wonder whether there’s some kind of engine at work in the background, loaded with stock phrases, able to swap out names and nouns to cut down on the word count. If this is true, it’s a broken system and a failed experiment.
The actual wandering and exploring is pretty damn classic, though. Fans of the oldies, such as the early Pokemon and Zelda games (with a healthy touch of Gauntlet thrown in), will lap up the expansive environments and places to poke your nose into. If only it was worth talking to the NPCs, Fantasy Warrior: Legends’s strange combat system could probably have been forgiven.
Fighting appears to be another experiment – perhaps a slightly more worthy one – that switches on automatically when enemies approach. Your normal movement controls are swapped out for combat ones, and the direction buttons wave your sword in that particular direction instead of working your character’s feet. It’s an interesting idea that falls a little flat due to accuracy issues. Actually hitting an enemy should be pretty simple, but somehow fails more often than it succeeds, lumping frustration upon aggravation.
As bad as all this sounds, it’s a game that you can really feels the faults in because it so nearly succeeds. This is almost a return to the golden age of the RPG, but consistently refuses to deliver on the promised goods. We’ll definitely be interested in seeing if a second sequel in the Fantasy Warrior series can correct these mistakes.
Until then, Fantasy Warrior: Legends is a game that’s very difficult to recommend.