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RPGs Coming This Week, 2/8/21

Dragonborne screenshot of a hero crossing a bridge over a river inhabited by a fish and duck.

When I awoke this morning, I drank my coffee from a Final Fantasy VII traveler’s mug and left an old episode of Farscape running in the background. On my way into my room, I remembered that I’d found my ancient copy of Mega Man and Bass, a 2003 Game Boy Advance platformer that debuted in 1998 on the Super Famicom. Mega Man and Bass never made it overseas on the SNES because, by 1998, there was a common perception at Nintendo that Western gamers were no longer interested in “yesterday’s hardware.” And they were probably right. Back then, the retro scene wasn’t half as hot as it is today. These days, so much of what we consume is rooted in the past; nostalgia is in our veins. Sitting there, drinking from the wellspring of FFVII, watching a 1999–2004 television show, giddy to boot up a GBA gig… it made me realize how nostalgic I’ve become.

Now more than ever, we’re seeing that kind of “Throwback Thursday” phenomenon in the gaming industry. This week’s RPG releases are a testament to that truth. Brace yourselves for a string of retro remixes coming to a 2021 near you.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption – February 9th (Switch)

The protagonist, Shawn O'Conner, happens upon a mysterious figure and is threatened with imprisonment in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has its roots in a celebrated high-fantasy quintuple. Husband-and-wife duo Corey and Lori Ann Cole, the legendary creators behind the beloved Quest for Glory series, took everything they knew from their streak of successful 1990s adventure games and applied it to their first published title in two decades. With shades of Harry Potter in its DNA courtesy of a plot setup featuring a lad who attends a prestigious fantasy university — this time it’s for rogues rather than wizards — and a humorous, warmhearted core, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption received a strong reception when it released on Steam a few years back. By day, protagonist Shawn O’Conner hones his skills and expands his social relationships at school, seeking to become “Rogue of the Year” by semester’s end. At night, it’s off to the creepy catacombs, underwater caves, and assorted other horrors all located nearby or even beneath the campus. Most intriguingly of all, most combat encounters are technically optional in Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, though the developers promise rich rewards for those who elect to partake. RPGFan will have a full-fledged review of the game’s fresh new Switch port in the near future, so do stay tuned.

Pamir Saga: Part 1 – Cursed Legacy – February 10th (Windows)

Party member portraits accentuate the battle UI during a turn-based encounter in Pamir Saga.

Developer Yu Ji Kwang opens Pamir Saga: Part 1 – Cursed Legacy‘s Steam page description by inviting players to “feel the nostalgia of the 1990s classic JRPG.” During the course of my research on the game, I could not uncover a single shred of evidence against that claim. Your hero, Pamir, is an amnesiac. He must unite with five other characters to tackle dank dungeons and challenge powerful enemies in turn-based encounters. His ultimate quest is to best four mythic monsters or die trying. Somewhere along the way, I presume that Pamir regains his memories… unless that bit’s being saved for the presumable Part 2. One thing I quite enjoy from what I’ve seen of Pamir Saga is the size of the character portraits. Not only in battle, but also during textbox-based story sequences, Pamir and his pals are depicted in deliciously high-resolution artwork from their heads all the way down to their waists. If the game’s user interface was shabby, this would make things appear cluttered; instead, it blends smoothly and offers a decent amount of space for players to keep an eye on the 2D sprites and reasonably lush environments. The setting here is intentionally trope-filled, so it’s all up to Pamir Saga‘s execution to determine how hyped we ought to be for future releases!

Healer’s Quest – February 11th (Switch)

Healers Quest Screenshot 1

Quite like Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, Healer’s Quest makes the leap from PC to Nintendo Switch this week. Unlike Hero-U, RPGFan already has a review for Healer’s Quest, so hey, I can better inform you what you’re getting into! Just remember, one RPG enthusiast’s junk may be another one’s treasure. Why the reminder? Well, our Neal Chandran didn’t abhor the game, per se, but it sounds like Healer’s Quest might not live up to its amusing premise. The nostalgic elements in Healer’s Quest revolve around the tabletop and classical RPG jokes about how crucial it is that every party has someone around to patch up the rest of them, but those fantasy medics are seldom treated with the proper appreciation for literally keeping the team breathing for long enough to inevitably save the world. It’s a great lead-in; it’s unfortunate, then, that at least from Neal’s perspective, the humor is stale and the presentation is subpar. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen a few other reviewers on various sites praise Healer’s Quest, predominantly for its surprisingly sturdy gameplay systems but sometimes for its wit and whimsy as well. The bottom line is that Switch owners craving a cheeky weekend-long jaunt with role-playing prowess and a popular punchline, mark your calendars but temper your expectations.

Dragonborne – February 12th (Game Boy, Windows)

The epic throwback title screen to Game Boy and Steam RPG Dragonborne.

Alright, look. Here is where I confess that my entire opening spiel about retro resurgences was inspired by this game. Pray, don’t confuse Dragonborne with that other thing. Do not attempt to adjust your monitor, your glasses, or your caffeine intake; you read that right, Dragonborne is a Game Boy release. In 2021. Of course, this blast from the past is also available on Steam, because if it wasn’t, I can’t see developer Spacebot Interactive turning a profit for this work of passion. But if you’ve got a working Game Boy and you’re willing to roll the dice (shipments are understandably limited for something launching on 32-year-old hardware), you can pop this cartridge into your childhood treasure. Just be sure to blow on the open slot first. Dust. You know how it is. Frankly, I’m sold on the lunacy of this launch alone, but for those of you who want specific details like, you know, at least a premise, Dragonborne tasks players with exploring the region of Argon as a lad named Kris who is in search of his legendary father. What makes Kris’ father so legendary? Why, he’s a famous dragon slayer, of course! And what are we trying to avert over the course of Dragonborne‘s 10 or so hours of old-fashioned, turn-based goodness? The awakening of dragons, who will be subsequently hellbent on committing evil upon the land should they open their eyes once more! I think it’s a safe bet that by journey’s end, at least one dragon has woken up from its slumber, if not more. Heck, I reckon we can guess just about everything that happens in Dragonborne. But every so often, that’s some real comfort food. Now if only I had a Game Boy…

Last week, I closed out the article by talking about my cactus. If you’re new to my tenure with this feature, feel free to scratch your head; none can blame you. In any case, I did. I want to give a big shout-out to the good gourley4p, who blessed me in the comments with a patient explanation of how best I can ensure that my cactus does not, well, die. You’re the best, gourley4p.

What else is there to say? What was old is new again; an everlasting spiral in the land of RPGs. As the gaming industry presses ever forward, some developers see the allure in taking a few steps back and filling our silly little souls with memories of simpler days. This week is about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes of the role-playing genre. The macaroni and cheese your mom used to make. Or your aunt. Or your dad. Or your uncle. I’ll admit, it was usually just… me who made the macaroni and cheese in my house. Be that as it may, it’s still soothing. Sooth yourselves, my friends, and I’ll see you in seven days.

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1 Response to RPGs Coming This Week, 2/8/21


Parmir looks like a very successful use of RPG Maker.

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