Name: Legend of Heroes III: Shirokimajo (83.33% in 3 votes)
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Kyubi Fox
The Legend of Heroes series was a famous RPG series on the PC-98 plateform. Falcom, after the success of Ys Eternal, decided to bring the most famous title of the series, Shirokimajo, to Windows. There are two CD's, and considering a game that has no speech nor tons of special CG's, this is quite amazing. The story starts when Julio and Cris, after reaching the adult age (14 and 15), begin to travel around the world to finish the ritual to become adults.
They have to visit five mirrors in different parts of the world. On the way they start to hear about the legend of the Shirokimajo (white witch). Eventually they find out how their fate and the images in the mirrors are connected to the white witch. They fought sea monsters, defeat evil magicians, and then eventually find out the ultimate evil who's behind all these.
Story: 7/10 - Falcom boosts this game to be a poetic adventure. The story does live up to the claim with the legend of the Shiroki Majo, but the storyline is still a little too simple and straight forward, with not much twists and turns. Falcom did managed to give you slightly more clue about Shirokimajo everywhere you go forward that keep you very interested to move on. The story is also very funny, you will definitely get a kick out of what they say and do, especially when Cris start to boss around poor Julio =)
One thing a little speical about the storytelling technique. The game is divided into chapters, and after each chapter there will be a little cartoon that reviews what happened in that chapter. I found this quite helpful when so much happened in each chapter, and it adds alot to the fun value of the game.
Gameplay: 7/10 - Shirokimajo is a little different from standard RPG's. The focus is on storytelling, so there is very little fighting involved. Can you imagine a maze without monsters? How about having your HP and MP return to full after every battle? Personally I like it because sometimes busy people will want to move on with the story instead of spending hours leveling up for a miniboss.
There are still battles though, usually when you walk from one town to the next (there is no big map here, you just walk like you walk in a town to go to other towns). The battle system is just like a realtime strategy game. Each battle happens right in the terrain where you are, so every battle poses a slightly different challenge and requires a different strategy. You can order the characters to attack someone or defend or auto. You can't tell them which magic to cast though, which can be annoying when you are really fighting a boss (yes, there are a couple of bosses). Thanks to the AI, most of the time they do things that make sense, and battles can become lots of fun (too bad there are not too much of them).
The town puzzles though, are just too simple. You just keep talking to people and eventually something will happen. People who likes challenges should definitely look somewhere else.
Graphics: 8/10 - Following the tradition of recent Falcom games, the opening is simply breathtaking, being extremely stylish in the way they present the backstory of the white witch. But right after that, BOOM! You are shot back to reality and start to remember the game is a PC-98 port afterall. It is not that the graphics sucks; it's just that it's very simplistic. Falcom redid most of the graphics in the game (they are not 16 color anymore!), and the terrains all look good, but the simplicity might not be the cup of tea for people spoiled by Final Fantasy VII or VIII.
There is also one movie clip for each of the mirrors they have to visit. They all look as good as the opening leaving you craving for more...
One little complain I have is that there is no "big face" pictures of the characters. I think a picture showing us how they look like will definitely give even more life to the characters in the game.
Music/Sound: 9/10 - There is a choice between wave and MIDI. The wave music is absolutely beautiful, with varying themes for different moods. It might be the best I've ever heard in a normal computer game. The MIDI is good, but not exceptional. Then of course if you use the wave you don't need the MIDI.
The sound effects when compared with the music seems almost weak. The only sound effects are in selecting menu and battles. Because there is not much cool spells or special moves during battles, there is not much cool sound effects. The effects do make the battles much more convincing and intense.
Overall: 8/10 - Falcom did a great job in translating the PC-98 game into Windows 95, with improved sound, music, grapics, basically everything. This is not the best RPG in the world, but definitely a good one that will give you hours of good, fun entertainment.
- written by Kyubi Fox July 22, 1999
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