Review by Bizenya79
"An Action-RPG Worth Trying...."
The Dynastic Hero....
Hudson's The Dynastic Hero is fairly typical of the 2D Action-RPGs that were so common around the early 1990s. We play as Dyna, the Prince of Beetras, who's been charged with the task of stopping the evil Mandra from destroying the land of Tarron. In the process of doing so, we'll do some item collecting, some puzzle solving, some platforming, swordfighting, swimming, jumping, etc, etc. What makes the game's addition to the Nintendo Shop Channel worth noting is that, previously, many of us had never been given an opportunity to try it -- copies of the ultra-rare game had been going for upwards of 300 dollars on E-Bay, and since it was a Turbo CD title, The Dynastic Hero would have been out of reach for gamers like myself upon its initial release, anyway.
All in all, the title is an engaging enough experience, if somewhat undistinguished, that offers a solid ten or so hours of slightly above-average RPG gaming. Of course, considering the variety of high-quality titles of the same genre available for the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console, the question here (as usual) is whether it's worthwhile to spend eight dollars on a game that's merely "above average"...and all things considered, in the end, I would say it probably is.
Let's break it down....
Graphics: 6 out of 10.
If there's anything about The Dynastic Hero that falls short, it's the visuals. Considering that the game was released for the Turbo Grafx-16's CD system, one would have expected more impressive graphics (we know that even without the CD enhancement, the console was capable of more than this). Character designs are remarkably blocky, and the environments often look like something out of an eight-bit game, but with better colors. Although the visuals are certainly good enough to get the job done without interfering with one's ability to enjoy the game, I do think a little more effort in this department could have enhanced the experience. On the plus side, enemies -- in particular, the bosses -- are for the most part well-designed, and the few (anime-style) cut scenes are of high-quality for their time.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
The biggest advantage that The Dynastic Hero has over its Sega Genesis counterpart, Wonder Boy in Monster World (which is reportedly more-or-less the exact same game) is by all accounts its superior soundtrack. Since this was a Turbo CD title, The Dynastic Hero features the best sound quality possible in its time. The compositions themselves are on the whole well-done, ranging from soothing town themes, to more adventurous field anthems, and the sound effects are all clear and appropriate. I must admit, however, that although the sound in this game is, again, of undeniably high quality, I STILL had hoped for just a LITTLE more. The problem is that the music, while good, didn't seem to really GRAB me in the way that the soundtracks of some other RPGs have. The songs, well-executed as they may be, simply aren't as inspiring or memorable as some reviews would have you believe. In other words, it's all very good, but not mind-blowing.
Story: 7 out of 10.
For games of its time, The Dynastic Hero features a fairly well-developed story. As stated, the plot involves our hero's efforts to save a once-peaceful land from the hostile advances of an evil reptile king (did I mention he's a reptile?). Strictly standard, I know, but it's all well-presented. Occasionally compelling exchanges of dialogue between Dyna and various NPCs who pop up along the way make the journey more interesting (even if the translation and spelling are flawed at times), and a side story involving a fairly maiden named Brenna also helps. Hardly Final Fantasy; but really, what else could you expect?
Gameplay: 8 out of 10.
As previously indicated, The Dynastic Hero is a 2D, sidecrolling Action-RPG with platforming elements. You'll find a town, explore its dungeon, then make your way across a standard field, forest, desert, or mountain area in order to reach the next town. In order to progress from one area to the next, you'll usually need to acquire some kind of an item or spell, and there's an array of swords, shields, and armor from which to choose. One thing to note is that the gameplay here is very simple: Dyna's abilities are strictly basic -- no combo attacks, no complicated maneuvers, and no especially interesting spell casting (the little magic he's given is rarely of much use, except maybe the Return spell, which will take our hero back to the closest town when he's in trouble).
The dungeons often include some minor puzzle-solving that manages to be challenging, but not to the point of frustration (except maybe the one that requires use of the Whistle, which can indeed be quite confusing, mostly due to the slightly-awkward control scheme). Enemies, on the other hand, can present quite a bit of difficulty, dealing a fair amount of damage when attacking, and whose defeat often requires some basic combat strategy. You'll die a few times on each boss, as well; but, again, not enough to the point that the game becomes unpleasant to play.
As hinted above, controls in The Dynastic Hero are a bit clunky, though it's difficult to say if that's just because of the transition from the original TG-16 controller to the Wii, Gamecube, or Classic Controller (I used the Cube's). I also found Dyna's movements to be less responsive to my commands than I would have liked....
Nevertheless, the overall gameplay experience is JUST deep enough to keep you pushing forward (er, to the right), and there's enough content here to make it feel as though you've accomplished something worth the effort by the time all is said and done. The game could have used a little more polish, but it's still fun.
Overall: 8 out of 10.
On the surface, The Dynastic Hero may seem fairly undistinguished, and perhaps even a little clunky; but once you've become wrapped up in the game, it's hard not to like. Despite the title's flaws, the overall experience is satisfying and worthwhile, as it offers maybe 10 hours or so of solid gameplay in a formula that's familiar enough to be comforting, but varied enough to remain engaging. And then there's the rarity factor -- somehow, knowing that I could never have even SEEN this game if it weren't for the Virtual Console made it almost feel like a privilege to play it.
Bottom line: If you're looking to spend eight bucks on an RPG download, I humbly submit The Dynastic Hero for your consideration. Just don't expect TOO much, and you'll have a good time.
8 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/22/08
Game Release: The Dynastic Hero (US, 12/03/07)
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