I am a big fan of RPG games and, as such, my view might be skewed somewhat but I have to be honest with you – in all my years of evaluating software and writing reviews for PDA 24/7, I have never come across a game for the PDA that impressed me as much as Legacy from Redshift.
I began writing reviews for Shaun about a year ago and one of the very first reviews I wrote was for Dragonfire, another RPG game from the same developers. In that review I stated how impressed I was with the graphics but mentioned what I thought were a few shortcomings: a limited number of weapons, spells, and armor as well as larger playing area and more quests to complete. Legacy has come through with all of that.
NOTE: Before going into a lot of detail, however, let me point out that my experience with this game, while approaching 25 hours or so of game play (and only just beginning the last half of the game…) is limited to the beta testing I have done on multiple beta versions and some details may differ slightly in the final release.
When you initially begin the game you are shown a menu screen that will allow you to do several things. If you look at the extreme lower right corner you will see two small icons. These will allow you to turn on and off game sounds as well as rotate the screen into one of three positions – Portrait, 90 degrees for Landscape, and 270 degrees for the other Landscape mode (depending on which side of your PDA you want at the top while playing in Landscape mode – great if you are left handed….). While I tend to play in Portrait mode (with the NX70V held upright) there are some distinct advantages to playing in landscape mode. For example, in portrait mode you can view 12 of your inventory items at a time whereas in landscape mode you can view 21 in each screen.
You are also given the primary menu options to start a new game, load a saved game, enter your registration information, and exit the game. One feature that was added late in the beta process was an auto-save feature that automatically saves the game when you exit and gives you the option of loading it when you start the program up again. Otherwise you can pick one of four saved game slots to load and continue at that point.
In Legacy you have the opportunity to explore four huge primary map areas – each of which contain “doorways” (comprised of teleporters, cave entrances, etc.) to additional maps that are made up of multi-level towers or dungeons as well as swamps, forests, and the like. Three of these primary areas contain cities in which you can find places to rest and recruit party members as well as places to buy and sell items. (More on this later…) As you progress through the game, the quality of the items available at the shops as well as the attribute levels of the potential recruits increase.
As the game begins you start as a randomly generated character type
on a path outside the city of
Party members are comprised of one of seven different character classes:
· Adventurer – The Adventurer is a very well-balanced character that can use both magical items (although not cast spells) as well as weapons fairly well. They also have the advantage of being able to advance in levels the easiest.
· Knight – Knights are great fighters – especially with bladed weapons. They are also strong enough to wear heavy armor. They can cast some spells but with limited success.
· Highlander – A Highlander is very strong and fights best with heavy weapons such as a war hammer or battle ax. Like Adventurers, they are limited in their magical ability.
· Sword Master – Sword Masters are quicker then Knights and therefore cannot be slowed down by heavy armor. They are excellent with any kind of sword, saber, or dagger.
· Mage – Mages are poor fighters when it comes to weapons but are excellent magicians. They can cast any kind of spell.
· Cleric – Clerics are stronger than Mages which is good because they are limited to casting party and curing spells. It is therefore advisable to have one in your party to keep everyone healthy – but keep him out of the fighting if possible. He’s like an Army medic – take him with you into battle and protect him so that he can cure you when needed – of teleport you back to town in a strategic retreat. They prefer using a mace if given a role in combat.
· Battle Mage – Battle Mages are the opposite of the Cleric in that they cast offensive spells – something important in the absence of ranged weapons.
So, how should you compose your party? I for one like to fight my way through a battle so I enlisted an Adventurer as my primary character and a Highlander in my #2 slot. (It is important to note that only the first two characters in a skirmish can hit with weapons…) I then filled the rest of my party with a Battle Mage and a Cleric. While the cleric seems like dead weight in the beginning of the game, his healing powers are vitally needed by the time you get to the end.
The game screen is divided into three primary areas. The first section is the view screen that shows you the first-person perspective of what is directly in front of your party. The section directly under the viewing window is for controlling your characters, and the last section (located on the bottom if in portrait mode or on the right if in landscape mode) provides a mini map and a list of known spells (or magical items) for the selected party member.
Controlling the party is very easy. The arrows located in the middle of the screen allow you to move forward, backward, right, and left as well as turn to the right or left. Directly under the arrows are three icons. The center one is a compass that, when tapped, provides you a larger view of the map. The icon to the left and right of the compass are used in combat situations. During combat the one on the left is used to hit an opponent and the one on the right is used to case whatever spell you have selected. (More on combat and enemies later….) Tapping on a party member’s portrait will bring up their inventory and other information (discussed more fully later in the review) and each party’s health and mana levels are indicated as well.
One very nice feature is the ability to tap on the compass icon and pull up a large map to refer to. This map is constantly updated to reveal only the areas you have actually been to so use it often to make sure you have explored all areas of town or the other areas you are in.
When you arrive in town one of the first places you need to visit will be the inn. There you can pick up the recruits needed to fill your party as well as get some rest (thus restoring your health) or, if you are in a gambling mood, play a hand or cards.
But this is not cards like you are accustomed to. You begin a game by agreeing to wager a sum of money (the amount varies based on the level of the inn – easily identified by the level of the potential recruits there.). The cards actually represent offensive curses (or the hit points associated with them) and / or healing spells and you basically wage a “war” with your opponent by playing until the looser reaches zero hit points. While I haven’t played it a lot (preferring to spend my time slaying monsters…) the game is sufficiently enjoyable that there have been requests to release it as a stand alone product – something I am not sure if Redshift is considering or not.
After visiting the inn, be sure to visit the shops that you will find. (Each town has at least one inn and each of the 3 different shops you will need. These establishments can and do keep daytime and nighttime hours depending on that particular location – but you will always have at least one of each available in each town.) The first type of shop you can find a magic shop which buys and sells potions, spells, and scrolls (scrolls are one-time use whereas spells can be potentially added to your spell book. If you select your mage or cleric before purchasing one of these items, the display will let you know if that particular party member can or cannot learn that spell or if they already know it.) The next type shop is a weapons shop that buys and sells weapons and the final shop features armor and clothing (including rings, necklaces, and amulets which frequently increase the attributes of the wearer). You can purchase items by selecting them and tapping the “B” icon and sell items from your own inventory by tapping the “S” icon. Exiting the shop is done by tapping the “X”. Items in the shop are refreshed every 12 hours so if they are sold out of a potion you need, simply visit them again later – or one in another city that you haven’t visited in a while.
When you tap on the portrait of one of your party members you are shown the contents of the party member’s backpack. While this is virtually limitless in the beta versions, the final release may include a limit on inventory spaces. Tapping on an item reveals details about it such as the how much damage or protection the item can provide the wearer or the benefit of drinking a particular potion or using a scroll. If you select an item of armor or a weapon (by tapping the box beside the item’s image) the item is then worn by the character as indicated by his or her image on the screen.
Finally the amount of gold in the party’s inventory is indicated in the box in the center. (Note – the amount of gold shown in my screen shot is unrealistic due to the fact that I haven’t needed to constantly stock up on potions. In the beta versions the party members don’t die….) Under the party’s gold inventory is four icons which allow you to give the item to another party member, pick up an item (if it is found on the floor or in a container of some sort), exit the inventory screen, or access the main menu.
By tapping on the icon that resembles a question mark you can pull up information on the attributes of each party member. Each attribute has a secondary attribute that is affected by the first. For example, increasing your strength will increase the damage you can do during combat. Increasing your intelligence will increase your ability to cast spells, etc. This is also where you advance your characters with bonus points when you reach the next level. Each class has its own limitations, however such as the mage only being able to advance 3 intelligence points per level upgrade – thus forcing you to make your party member more well-rounded. It wouldn’t do to have an extremely powerful mage that died each time he got hit.
The third area of your inventory screen is your spells and magical abilities. These are divided into four spell groups (cure, party, curse, and attack spells) as well as a fifth class available to non-magic users in the party. This is comprised of magical staffs and scrolls that you have in that party member’s inventory. When you tap on their name you are given detailed information such as the effect of the spell.
The final area of the inventory screen is the quest log. This shows an abbreviated description of the quest and a check mark to indicate that it is completed. As you see in this photo, I have five pages of quests so far (I’m only about 70% through the game I think). If you tap the box beside where it says “unsolved ones”, however, the program will remove the solved quests from the list and only display the unsolved ones.
As you explore the world you will find many things that you can interact with. These include force walls, switches of walls, pressure switches on floors, secret “hidden” buttons, and walls you can break through to find hidden rooms or new areas on the map. My favorite one, however, is the teleporters. You can find one in every city and, once you have, can “beam” yourself to them at any time using another teleporter, spell, or scroll. You can also choose to “go back” to the place you just came from which is great for a strategic retreat during battle to restock on mana and health potions… These teleporters will also be the means by which you can transport your party to the upcoming expansion packs and add on levels that will be available in 2004.
There are literally dozens of different kinds of enemies to battle during the game – and each one comes in a variety of strengths. For example you may encounter Zombies, Swamp Zombies, and Ancient Zombies. While they may all be Zombies, their appearances and their strengths will differ – some will be harder to kill than others. Each type of enemy has their own strengths and weaknesses and it is up to you (with an occasional tip from people (Non Player Characters) that you meet to determines which weapons and spells will work best against the enemy.
When you encounter an enemy the compass icon will change to a green circular arrow. Each player (including the enemies standing directly in front of you – and there may be more than one…) will get a turn to attack using a weapon or spell or you can end the round of combat by tapping on the arrow icon located between the attack icons. You can also use your turn to consume a potions or move one step in any direction. When you receive damage the amount of damage points your party member suffers is briefly indicated on your portrait. The health status of the enemy is indicated by the color of their name turning from green to yellow and finally to red before they die. If you need more detail than that you can use a “detect mind” spell to find out exactly how many hit points the enemy has remaining. (Note: Be sure to search the ground around where the enemy died for gold and other things he might have left behind.)
One further note – the maps are designed in such a way that they refresh (therefore generating a fresh batch of enemies and items to be found) every week. If you visit an area that you haven’t been to in 6-7 days you will find that all the enemies you killed earlier are back again – as well at the items they guarded. This also means that you cannot leave an item somewhere for safe keeping and come back 10 days later and expect to find it waiting for you.
At the time I am writing this, the final beta is due to be released at any time and the final release is still a week off. That being said, here is what I have been able to determine so far: Legacy will be comprised of a single PRC file that will be playable from RAM or launched from VFS compatible devices such as memory sticks or CF cards – providing you have the required 3.5 Mb of free room available in RAM to play the game from. The program also generates up to 5 saved game files which are less than 100K each. There will also be downloadable maps and saved games from their web site so plan on keeping 4 Mb free. The Tungsten T,C, and E models may require some additional memory as well due to a low amount of dynamic memory.
The game engine is designed for and requires a fast processor (anything running OS 5.0 or above should work…) and, although it will run on a 320x320 screen, needs a 320x480 color screen to be really effective. The game’s web site contains detailed hardware requirements as well as forums in which you can get tech support as well as help on quests.
Plans for the game, along with the afore mentioned Mission Creator and Expansion Packs, include adding compatibility for OS 4.0 devices as well as tweaking the game engine to run fully on ARM processors. Currently the game contains many ARM routines but is primarily designed for Motorola processors – something that won’t affect a lot of users but will frustrate owners of the UX40 and UX50. (The UX models have a power-saving feature that throttles back the processor speed on anything not designed to run on the ARM processor – something not noticeable in most games. The slowing down of the processor in this case, however, makes the game almost impossible to play on a UX model PDA – something the developers hope to have solved real soon.
As I mentioned at the top of this review, I love “dungeon crawling” in RPG games. When I go to play one of these games I look for several things. These include:
· many large areas to explore
· secret areas
· lots of “stuff” such as armor, weapons, spells, potions, and the like
· Multiple challenging quests
· Challenging game play
· HiRes graphics
· Easy to use interface
· Multiple party members
Legacy has accomplished all this in a game that takes less than four megabytes of space. It astonishes me at how complete a RPG game this is (even when compared to PC based RPG games) in a package small enough to take with me everywhere. It is by far my favorite game I have played on my PDA.
That doesn’t mean that it is perfect, however. As great as it is still lacking a few features that I would really like to see implemented in future releases. Topmost among these would be the ability to label things on the map, and an editable journal. Less important things to me (but things to add to a wish list) would be a larger “full screen” view of the map and maybe an automated fight sequence including automated use of potions as needed by party members. These are small concerns, however, when compared to the quality of features already available in the game.
Tip: due to a lack of an editable journal I have a personal tip that will help you a lot. Use a screen capturing program such as the free HRCapt (read more about it here…) to capture an image of your screen every time you receive a quest. That way you will have a “hard copy” of what is exactly required of you as well as a reference point on the mini-map of where to return to complete the quest. Using this method saved me hours of wandering around town wondering, “Where was that guy that wanted this thing? I know he’s around here somewhere….”
There may be other RPG games available for the Palm OS in the future but, until then, this is the must have game for the RPG Gamer. It has superb graphics, sound, and extremely smooth and quick game play and I would have to give it the highest recommendation possible. The mission editor and expansion packs planned for 2004 only increase the playability and I cannot foresee ever removing Legacy from my PDA.