By Steve Baltimore / June 26th, 2013
|Title: Class of Heroes 2
Publisher: Gaijinworks / MonkeyPaw Games
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Genre: JRPG, Dungeon Crawler
Platforms: PSP, Vita
Age Rating: T
Class of Heroes 2 is a dungeon crawler developed by Aquire. This one is a blast from the past, from its old school first person dungeon crawling to the way your create characters. Its old school charms and quirky translation make this a pleasure from start to finish, but being old school means completing this one is not an easy task.
The story centers around a school that trains heroes to explore the Labyrinth of this world. The Labyrinth is as old as the world itself, and is filled with many mysteries. Much wealth and fame can be obtained from exploring the depths of the Labyrinth, but mostly it is only death that awaits. Death lurks around every corner, from poisonous water to electrified floors. This class of heroes will set out on their own journey to see what dangers and rewards are found within the Labyrinth’s deadly depths.
The graphics are really good for a PSP title. The anime style characters and monsters are wonderfully drawn and very detailed. You can tell much care was given to their designs. Do not let the cutesy look of the art style fool you for a second, though. This game is brutally difficult. The environments look nice as well, with each terrain well represented from the forest trees and foliage to the rocky depths of the caves. If you have a Vita console I do recommend using it. The OLED screen makes this title look much better than the PSP screen.
In the sound department, this one is a mixed bag. The sounds of the slashes and magic attacks during battle are solid and well-fitting. The grunts and groans of the characters as they are attacking or receiving punishment from a monster are pretty good as well. My only real complaint is the music. While the music in the game is nice, it has an old school fantasy game feel to it, there is no music while wandering around the Labyrinth, though. The only sound is the footsteps of the characters. There is, however, music during battles or whenever you pull up a camp menu. Having no BGM while walking around, then having some when you pull up a camp menu, is a bit odd really.
The game begins at the academy. As you move around via the in-game menus, you will be able to access all of the services offered there such as alchemy creation, the clinic, the office, the campus store, and the library. In the clinic, you can raise an ally that has fallen in battle, for a price. Sometimes this process will fail and your party member will turn to ash, making them harder to revive. If a party member fails to revive from an ash state they will become lost. Yes folks, perma-death rears its ugly head in this one. The best advice I could ever give you is to SAVE OFTEN. You can save this one at anytime from the camp menu, so I suggest doing so and making multiple files just in case. The library is where the quest board is located and from here you will accept quests from the game’s various NPCs. They will reward you upon completing your quest. After doing certain quests, others will become unavailable. So, once again I recommend you save often if you want to complete all of the quests the game has to offer. The school store will sell various items and equipment. Alchemy will let you create items from the drops you receive from your foes. You can purchase recipes at the various shops throughout the game to make stronger equipment and items. You can also enhance items you already have if you have the materials to do so. The last place of interest is the office where you create your characters for your party.
The characters you create for you party are very customizable. You can choose a character’s race, sex, class, and alignment for each character you create. Like with many old school RPG’s, certain races will be better at certain classes than others. Characters will start with stat points distributed very differently depending on which race you choose. For example, if you were going to make a Warrior, you would likely want to choose a Dwarf since their strength and vitality stats are higher starting out, but if you wanted to make a Sorcerer, you would maybe want to to chose an Elf class since their intelligence is higher. There are also certain races that cannot be certain classes. I recommend checking out the game’s manual as it has lots of information that will be very helpful in character creation. You will also be given bonus points that you can distribute to your character’s stats. The amount of points you receive is completely random, so if you get a low number you should reset and try again. You can create up to 100 characters, but you can only have six in your party at one time.
Alignment will affect your party’s affinity level, and certain races and alignments will work better together than others. Having a higher alignment will grant your party better stat increases at level ups and better drops from the monsters. Having a low affinity will result in lesser stat bonuses and drops. Once again I suggest you check out the game’s manual for more details on which races and alignments work best together.
You will notice that not all of the classes listed in the manual will be available from the start. As you venture deeper into the Labyrinth, you will find other schools along the way. Just like towns, these will be at certain exits you find throughout the map. Other classes will be available at these locations. You can change the class of any character at any time, so long as you meet the prerequisites for that class, but note that a character will start back over at level 1 if you choose to do so. However, you will keep all the stats and spells you have gained up to this point, but you will lose half of your skills and HP/MP.
You explore the Labyrinth in a first person perspective, but there is an in-game map to help you find your way around. The map will be accessible once you have obtained the map for the area you are exploring, which can usually be purchased from the shops. The in-game map will fill out as you walk around the area. If you were to step on a trap tile such as an electrified floor panel, it will be marked on the map as well. The map will also mark the exits from the area you are in once you have gone through them once. The only problem I have with the in-game map is it doesn’t tell you where these exits lead. Some of these areas will contain several different maps within them, and not knowing where the exits lead will cause you to spend lots of time guessing if you are going the correct way or not.
The floor traps in the dungeon can be quite testing as well. From the electrified floors to the teleporters that will drop you out on the map in various places, these will become quite a nuisance very quickly. You really need to save pretty often just walking around. One good electrified panel and your party members with lower HP will die very quickly. You can avoid some of these traps with the various spells you have at your disposal. Just be sure to keep an eye on the top of the screen to make sure the spell is in effect.
Battles are turn based and as old school as they come. You will not see the enemies on the screen as these battles are random. You have your basic commands such as fight, magic, item, etc. The characters on the left side of the screen are the party members in your front row. These members will be able to attack without the use of ranged weapons, whereas the members on the right side of the screen are in the back row and will need ranged weapons or spells to attack. Enemies will appear in rows as well. The melee attackers will only be able to attack monsters in the first row, but your ranged fighter can attack the creatures in any row. You will also notice a little meter at the top right of the screen called your tension meter. As this meter fills you will be able to perform more powerful group attacks with varying effects. Doing these attacks will also improve you party’s affinity as well. This meter will fill up as you defeat enemies and as you complete quests. If your entire party is wiped out in battle it is not the end. You can send another group of your heroes out to try and recover the fallen heroes. Gaijinworks re-balanced the EXP and gold drops from your foes for the US release. They give a bit more gold and EXP than in the Japanese version. This makes the game a bit less of a grind fest for gold and EXP.
In short, this title may not be for everyone because of its extreme difficulty and old school design I feel that if you enjoy a old school dungeon crawl, you cannot go wrong with this title. I found myself really enjoying this title from start to finish. The localization work on this title is fantastic; Gaijinworks has done a great job. The style and humor of the NPCs banter back and forth as you accept and complete quests and the flavor text on the items reminded me so much of the old Working Designs translations of yesteryear that I couldn’t help but smile. They don’t make them like this too often anymore, but maybe they should.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
class of heroes 2GaijinworksJRPGMonkeyPaw GamesPSPVita