Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Five thoughts on Witch & Hero II (3DS)

Now that I've spent about two hours with the just-released (in Japan) Witch & Hero II, I thought I'd pass along a few impressions of this digital 3DS title.

Before I get to them, though, here's my review of the first Witch & Hero (short version: I loved it), and here's a trailer for the sequel.

With that out of the way, let's get to my (admittedly early) thoughts on Witch & Hero II:

For better or worse, this game appears to have a lot more content than the original--I'm basing this observation on the fact that Witch & Hero II's overworld map--see the screenshot at the bottom of this post--looks a lot bigger than the one I traversed while working my way through the first title a few years ago. I've only played (many times over, in most cases) 10 or so of the game's stages so far, though, so who knows just how much ground I'll be asked to cover when all is said and done.

Being able to move the witch in part two is ... interesting--As far as I can tell, the main gameplay addition Witch & Hero II offers to folks familiar with the original is that, this time around, they can move the witch as well as the hero. (One is controlled with the 3DS system's d-pad or circle pad, while the other is controlled with its A, B, X and Y buttons.) This is important, as it lets you nudge your purple-wearing, magic-wielding companion out of harm's way when the need arises. Sounds great, right? I thought so, too--at first. A couple of hours later, I'm less sure of that fact, as it currently feels more fumbly than fun. Still, I have hope it'll "click" eventually.

Warning: the developers toss you right into the deep end this time around--If you made it pretty far into the first Witch & Hero, you know it took its sweet time introducing players to the many components of its gameplay. I rather liked that approach, I have to admit, as it allowed me to come to terms with each individual element before I had to tackle another. Here, you're basically plopped into the game with a slap on the back and a terse, "figure it out!" Normally I wouldn't have a problem with that, but in the case of Witch & Hero II, the tactic makes the early rounds feel like more of a grind than developer FK Digital's maiden effort.

If you liked the first Witch & Hero's adorable enemies, you'll faint when you play the sequel--Like pretty much every other sound-minded person who's come across the original Witch & Hero, I fell head over heels in love with its Dragon Quest-esque slime enemies the second I encountered them. I found the rest of its adorably pixelated baddies similarly swoon-worthy. How about the ones found in this successor? They're cute as buttons, too. Even better: it looks like a bunch of new ones were created for part two--although I can't yet say that with a whole lot of confidence. (Like I said, I haven't spent a ton of time with the game yet. Plus, my memory of the first one's cast is kind of fuzzy.)

Despite all I've just said, Witch & Hero II doesn't (yet) seem to be a huge departure from its 2013 predecessor--Don't take that the wrong way. I love that the brass at Flyhigh Works green-lit this project and I love what I've experienced of it so far. I didn't expect, nor did I want, it to veer far from the company's first effort. Still, I'm sure some folks have a different opinion about the situation. If you're one of them, be warned that, at least at this (admittedly early) juncture, Witch & Hero II isn't a huge departure from its predecessor.

See also: previous write-ups about Witch & Hero and Witch & Hero II

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