Legend of Heroes First Look

We get an early look at Bandai's upcoming PSP RPG.

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If there's one genre that's woefully underrepresented on the PSP it's the role-playing game. To date, Sony's portable console hasn't seen a proper RPG hit since it launched in March of this year. Fans of the genre have had to content themselves with action RPG fare such as SOE's Untold Legends, which, while fine for what it is, doesn't quite offer up the meaty experience a proper RPG would. Thankfully, Bandai is doing RPG fans a solid favor with the release of its upcoming The Legend of Heroes, a US conversion of the latest entry in its Gagharv Trilogy, which is set to hit the States later this year.

Those who've been following the PSP software library in Japan will know that The Legend of Heroes is actually the second entry in the trilogy. The first game, Eiyuu Densetsu, was released last December shortly after the PSP's Japanese launch. While purists may be mortified at getting the second installment of the series without playing the first one, the fact of the matter is that, as cool as Eiyuu Densetsu was, the first game was very much just a launch title. Long load times adversely affected the game's pacing, which called for a whole lot of patience for players who were looking to finish the adventure. After talking with Bandai reps, we were told that the first game may be brought out at a later date, but that the second game has the better chance of finding an audience in the States, which might get the series enough of a fan base to justify bringing out the whole series at some point.

The PSP's long RPG drought is set to come to an end with the release of The Legend of Heroes.
The PSP's long RPG drought is set to come to an end with the release of The Legend of Heroes.

The good news is that, while The Legend of Heroes is the second part of the Gagharv Trilogy, its story, like its predecessor's, is self-contained. You'll see a few nods to the first game via references and whatnot, but you won't have to finish the original game to get into LOH's story. The game's story casts you in the role of Avin, a young boy who sets out to search for his sister, Eimelle, after they're separated during a raid by a loony group from a rival religion. It turns out that Eimelle is a special individual who plays a key role in the group's plans for the world. Being a good brother, you set out to save her, and, as a result, come to meet new people and make some interesting discoveries about your world.

The game plays out in the same basic top-down, three-quarter view and requires you to interact with assorted townsfolk and battle all manner of enemies. While this is pretty much the same look and feel of the first game, the combat in The Legend of Heroes is considerably different. The system is closer to one that is turn-based, and you now have the opportunity to treat yourself to a pet, which will help you out in combat if you're a good owner. The game also features a new 3D look for its world map, which adds that extra bit of classiness to the proceedings.

This time around you'll have a pet on your side; fleas sold separately.
This time around you'll have a pet on your side; fleas sold separately.

The visuals in the game stay true to the look of those in the original. Sprites are mixed with polygons for a satisfying, anime-inspired look that works. The level of detail has been improved, resulting in a cleaner overall look and enhanced effects. The audio is still low-key, offering a modest selection of orchestrated tracks, effects, and sound samples. While we'd like to see the PSP's multimedia functions taken advantage of more, we're still pleased to see that the game has a nice anime intro.

Based on our early look, The Legend of Heroes looks like it will be just what the doctor ordered for RPG fans. A rich story, improved graphics, and refined gameplay hit all the notes anyone would want out of the PSP's first traditional RPG. The Legend of Heroes is slated to ship this fall for the PSP. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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