Dragon Slayer: Legend of Heroes II (ドラゴンスレイヤー英雄伝説II)
Released 12/23/1992, published by Hudson
What a disappointment. Legend of Heroes is one of my favorite series; I played Sora no Kiseki in 2007 or so and have played all the games since then except Sen no Kiseki III (I don’t have a PS4). I certainly didn’t expect the earliest entries to be masterpieces, but I hoped they’d at least be playable.
Legend of Heroes was originally part of the larger Dragon Slayer saga, a series of PC games by Falcom. Like most of Falcom’s games, it was originally developed by them for PCs and then ported to all kinds of different consoles by other companies. The PC Engine version was developed by Hudson. Zenic covered the first game, which did come out in English. It doesn’t sound like he had any particular problems with it.
The game begins with an animated introduction showing the main characters, the staff, their VAs, etc. The music is awesome as usual for Falcom — they’ve been consistently producing high quality music in their games for over 30 years, especially when they get access to the CD technology.
Then we begin the game.
The way the screen is laid out is typical of PC games; to reduce the processing and graphical power required, they often had parts of the screen devoted to static elements (like the name of the chapter at the top or the status information on the right. There is a lot of voicing in the game, even outside of cutscenes. This is something normal in the PSX era and beyond, but it’s not so common in the PCE games I’ve played so far. Rather than half-assing the port like the Xak crew (see the next post) they put a lot of effort into using the CD technology to enhance the game.
The main character is Atlas, the son of Serios, who was the hero of the first game. At the beginning, Serios tells him to go out into the world with letters to four kings, to prove his worth and also to register towns with his warp wing so that he can go back to them later (yes, Serios actually says this). Currently the world is at peace so there are only easily defeated slimes around. As in LoH 1, you can see the enemies on the world map. I always like this over random encounters. If you run from battle, though, you appear right next to the monster and if you don’t immediately run away, it’s back to the fight again.
Along the way Atlas is joined by Rando, a magician who can also fight. After visiting only two castles, though, Atlas attends a festival. Monsters come out all over the world, and this is where the game begins for real.
So I was really prepared to like this game and play it to the end — a simple, classic RPG with a fast battle system and movement, lots of voicing and cutscenes, and great music. So what’s wrong? It is by far the grindiest game I have played on this blog yet. Maybe it gets better later in the game, but at the beginning you have to grind 4-5 levels earning only a few XP per fight. And each fight takes most of your resources. I tried to move ahead to the next dungeon several times and couldn’t even get past the top floor. Richie, who has written a ton of walkthroughs for SNES games, is very reasonable in his level suggestions and does not recommend ridiculous grinding. His recommendation for this dungeon is level 9, and I was at level 5. There’s no way I’m spending hours grinding up four levels at 1-3 XP a pop. If this were a Super Famicom game I’d have to power through it but for a PCE game I’m going to move on. Sorry!
EDIT: Here’s a comparison screenshot between the Super Famicom (left) and the PC Engine (right).
I guess there's a reason this game is considered the "lost" entry in the LoH series. None of the ports was localized/fan-translated, and it sure seemed like a total grindfest to me when I first tried it out – not to mention that the dungeons are long and confusing. I am still curious what the differences between the ports are, apart from the graphics/sound (if any).
I'm glad to hear you say that; I was afraid I was just giving up too quickly.
The music on the PCE version is off the CD like Ys and other Falcom games, so it's very good. There's also a lot of speech. I think the graphics are pretty similar to the other versions, though.
I added a comparison screenshot.
So you'll eventually have to get through it? Might as well only do it once. I remember the first game being a bit grind heavy in the opening chapter, but once the party had three members it got a lot easier. It also helped that I used manual stat increases, which let me focus on attack power early on.
I already skipped the SFC version because it was a port; kind of a cheap dodge but I don't need to play everything.
This game has quite a few ports – for some reason it was also ported to Mega Drive (in 1995!), which makes little sense considering how big of a flop that was in Japan. Either way, there will be a couple more games like that (Princess Minerva – the SFC port is almost identical to the PCE-CD game; Laplace's Demon – the SFC remake is very different from the other ports; Emerald Dragon – the PCE-CD game is much, much better than the SFC port; and some others I'm forgetting right now).
Yeah I've been paying attention to those — the PCE version of Laplace's Demon (which is coming up soon) is a first person dungeon crawler like the original PC version, but the SFC is top-down dragon quest style. Ys IV is much better on the PCE but that's a completely separate game.
Actually it’s a kind of Dragon Quest YS game, I breezed the game with the automatic setting of the battle system, the game design is a little bit annoying but very interesting I think.