Heroes Lore: Wind of Soltia
Platform: Mobile
Publisher: Hands-On Mobile
Developer: Hands-On Mobile
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Download
Released: US 02/19/08
EU 02/12/08

Graphics: 75%
Sound: 50%
Gameplay: 75%
Control: 70%
Story: 60%
Overall: 70%
Reviews Grading Scale
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Not the tentacles again...
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Swing and a miss!
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Why are you using fire-enhanced equipment and magic here...?
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I'd rather be Adol.
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Patrick Gann
Heroes Lore: Wind of Soltia
Patrick Gann

If you scour the Internet for information on Heroes Lore, you'll generally discover two things: it's a Korean Action RPG, and the Koreans are in love with it. The series currently has 3 installments in Korea, the second of which is planned for English localization soon. For a mobile title, the series has sold incredibly well, to the point that the download servers overloaded and shut down servers on the week of its release.

But that's all in Korea. In 2008, Hands-On Mobile released the first game, "Wind of Soltia," in North America and Europe, and it's had a fairly poor reception. It doesn't help that the publisher has done absolutely no PR for the game: no official web site, no mention of the game anywhere on their site, it's just available for download for certain mobile phones. In addition, the hastily-done translation (which is riddled with inconsistencies) suggests they didn't care too much about delivering a quality product, and I dare say it's a shame.

You see, even though this game is an out-and-out clone of the early Ys games from Nihon Falcom, it's still a fun and surprisingly deep Action RPG. But when you're working with a very small screen, it's important to make every word count, and to give clear directions for any gameplay tutorial or mechanism. This did not happen with the English language release, and the game suffers as a result. So too will any gamer who attempts to spend copious amounts of time playing the game.

Here's the basic summary of the plot. You are, by default, starting as the blue-haired character "Ronin" in his hometown of Basto. Ronin's long-time lady-friend (and possible love interest?) "Reah" has been abroad for the last few years training to become a "Refiner" (a class of warrior with some magic skills). Reah joins "the rebellion" against a presumably evil and controlling empire, and Ronin goes off to search for her. On the way, he discovers that things just aren't right in the nearby Fire Temple (leading to the game's first boss fight), and so Ronin goes off to see how the other elemental temples are doing. In the meantime, he's also on the search for Reah. Intertwined in this is the third playable character, Aramor. He's part of the Knights Templar, whose mission is to protect the Refiners.

There's political intrigue, and some basic character interaction, but for the most part, that exposition is about as good as the plot gets. Sometimes, the events that take place between visits to dungeons and towns are so sparse that you find yourself aching just for the clichés instead of the nothing that awaits.

Basic combat involves swinging your weapon with one of two number keys. One is a short, "weak" hit (usually a jab or short slash), and the other is a heavier, area-based attack. Using a top-down camera, you are essentially playing an early Ys title, but with some frills to boot. You can summon various elemental spirits to heal, buff, or attack. This part is self-explanatory, but knowing "where to go next" is only available in a "current quest" backlog, and sometimes this information isn't very specific. Generally, anything new, complex, or big lacks a detailed explanation, so you're left with trial and error to learn about some of the game's more useful mechanisms.

So, like I said, Ys clone. But there are some useful additions: there's a complex, in-depth weapon/item synthesis/upgrade system in place, as well as three different characters to play as (though you have to unlock them by playing through each character in a prescribed order). As I said earlier, the game is extremely light on plot, and moderate on character development, but there's a lot of NPC dialogue to help flesh out the world of Heroes Lore.

Depending on the type of phone you have, the graphic and sound performance varies quite a bit. On low-end phones, you get absolutely no sound, and the scrolling of the field on your screen is liable to induce some serious headaches. Higher-end phones produce crisp images, but the music you get is still... RPG generic. I really didn't like the sound effects or music for this game. Considering the high quality VGM I'm used to from Korean game developers, this came as a shock.

There is plenty to see and do in this game. While the plot is linear, there are plenty of side quests, areas to explore, and other distractions to keep you playing for well over 30 hours. That's a huge amount of time for a cell phone RPG. It really is too bad that a game with plenty of decent content got the C-level treatment in localization. Otherwise, it could have sold better and been a more enjoyable experience for all English-speaking gamers.


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