I remember I actually got a copy of this game from a discount bin when I was young, and I developed an immediate and visceral hatred of it, and sold it. Later on I became obsessed with Landstalker and its pseudo-sequels like Alundra (Landstalker is still in strong contention for my favorite game of all time) so I thought 'd give this game a second chance if I ever came across it. I saw it on the Wii's VC, and bought it.
If you're familiar with Landstalker/Alundra/Dark Savior, you more or less know what to expect, this game is a pretty shameless copy of Landstalker's formula. That should result in me automatically loving this game, but it has a lot of issues. First it uses a dungeon crawler format, one never changing town, one dungeon. Works in some cases,here it smacks of laziness or perhaps rushed deadlines. (There's a kidnapped villager storyline which looks like they were working towards a Soulblazer style refill the town thing, but that never pans out, and certain villagers seem like they should have subquests attached, but end up being pointless)
Secondly, and much worse, the controls are sloppy. A lot of people hate Landstalker's controls anyway, but in that game they were very, very tight and the game had a consistent sense of physics. Here, again things seem rushed. Combat is awkward, jumping seems inconsistent, and pushing items around for puzzles is an absolute chore.
Finally, the items seem poorly thought out. You can get the best armor in the game very early on by farming some easy enemies for awhile. You get the best sword in the game as part of the storyline before you get access to a number of other swords. One of those swords serves a dispensable purpose, just once from then on. At least according to the FAQ, there are multiple items that are only attainable via save state hacking, again raising the "rushed game" alarm.
It took me about 6 hours total to beat the game, with some help from Virtuekids' FAQ in one or two spots. If you're not a Landstalker "vet" it will probably take you much longer, I understood most of the puzzles immediately, and most of the ones I didn't I was either able to cheese by exploiting the sloppy physics, or got in a few seconds by sheer dumb luck. I beat the Penumbra puzzle people point to as being one of the most difficult by just fooling around for 5 seconds.
Overall, it's hard, if not impossible to avoid the feeling this game got rushed out well before it was done fermenting. There are some nice puzzles, and a lot of the bosses are satisfying, although I have to say the end boss was exceedingly lame. If you're a big fan of Landstalker,have never played this game and are looking for a LS style fix, it's probably worth a few bucks as long as you know you're getting Landstalker: The Rough Draft. If you aren't, I'd suggest picking up LS before this. This is a love-it-or-hate it style of action RPG. If you find you love LS, you might be able to like this game as well. If you hate LS, you'll want to do awful, unmentionable things to the devs of this game.
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