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Thread: Staff Retroview - The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion

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    News Director/Reviewer RPGamer Staff Severin Mira's Avatar
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    Staff Retroview - The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion

    RPGamers who are holding out hope for the sequels to Trails in the Sky to head west may be tempted to try out some earlier games in the series. Those who are may want to read on to get some advance warning of what awaits.

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    FYI:

    "The sprite-based visuals are really nothing special. They do the task required but there's nothing particularly enthralling about any sight in the game. Thankfully each town gets a distinct design and building style, ensuring that things stay fresh on that front, although some field locations and dungeons can become a bit monotonous to travel through. Musically, the game also does a passable job with enjoyable but highly forgettable tunes. It's another couple of areas where it becomes apparent that Falcom are just beginning to find their feet ahead of considerable improvement for later games."

    The graphics and music were actually changed *a lot* in the PSP version of the game (as was the gameplay), so Falcom's not really to blame for any of this. The original PC version featured all-2D graphics with arguably a lot more charm and detail than what's found here (though I do like the quasi-3D look of the PSP Gagharv games as well, I have to admit!), including some really cool sprite-animated close-up scenes during combat.

    The music, too, was a lot more rockin' and Falcom-esque in the PC version (TBH, I actually like the Windows version Tear of Vermilion soundtrack better than Trails in the Sky's!). Granted, the PSP version's music was all taken from various Falcom arrange albums, but Bandai seemed to go out of their way to eliminate anything rock- or pop-inspired and just pick slow orchestral versions of every song, which kind of gives the game's audio presentation a bit of a samey, forgettable vibe. They did a much better job picking arrange tracks for Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch, IMHO.

    And gameplay-wise, the original battle system was almost RTS-like, with battles occurring right on the map (making terrain and spell casting times extremely important) and characters moving and acting on their own, altering their actions only when you specifically intervene to change their orders.

    In general, the PSP version is based on a really fantastic game that easily holds up even to this day... on PC. It's really a shame that the PSP game was altered as much as it was, and I still maintain that it was probably poor third-party handling of Falcom games like this that caused Falcom to eventually say "screw it" and just start porting games to PSP themselves.

    -Tom

  3. #3
    Thx for this review. Seems to match what I’ve heard before. It really is amazing that there are so many good games out there when you consider how easy it is to screw one up with one weak link, whether it be poor localization, story, music, visuals, gameplay, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyrdwad View Post
    (TBH, I actually like the Windows version Tear of Vermilion soundtrack better than Trails in the Sky's!).
    This caught my eye b/c I thought it was unlikely, so I listened to a few clips on YT and was indeed impressed. The PSP opening sounds a bit like Trails FC, and some of the other tracks are good, too. Then I got depressed and had to stop…

  4. #4
    Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderator ChickenGod's Avatar
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    These 3 PSP titles are definitely something akin to a guilty pleasure or comfort food type of deal. As someone who is very good at mentally repairing or improving poorly translated sentences, the crappy localization, although egregiously bad in Vermilion, wasn't something that killed my enjoyment of the game. Truth be told, even though the Gagharv trilogy is objectively not that good, I enjoyed them more than some other RPGs, especially Moonlight Witch and Cagesong.

    Unfortunately I never did finish Vermilion, as my save file was corrupted twice. This game in particular holds a special memory in my heart for the time I tried to recover my lost progress by speed running through the game while my father and I watched a marathon of Batman movies together.
    Last edited by ChickenGod; 04-05-2013 at 01:30 PM.
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    Terrible review. For your information, I think that many acclaimed games such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the Souls games, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, are overrated piles of crap, and have enjoyed certain games that have gotten bad to average reviews like this a lot more, and if reviewers and sites like games I dislike and dislike games I like, then I'm sorry, I can't take any reviewer seriously.

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    BEARSONA Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simba B View Post
    Terrible review. For your information, I think that many acclaimed games such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the Souls games, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, are overrated piles of crap, and have enjoyed certain games that have gotten bad to average reviews like this a lot more, and if reviewers and sites like games I dislike and dislike games I like, then I'm sorry, I can't take any reviewer seriously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simba B View Post
    Terrible review. For your information, I think that many acclaimed games such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the Souls games, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, are overrated piles of crap, and have enjoyed certain games that have gotten bad to average reviews like this a lot more, and if reviewers and sites like games I dislike and dislike games I like, then I'm sorry, I can't take any reviewer seriously.
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    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simba B View Post
    Terrible review. For your information, I think that many acclaimed games such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the Souls games, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, are overrated piles of crap, and have enjoyed certain games that have gotten bad to average reviews like this a lot more, and if reviewers and sites like games I dislike and dislike games I like, then I'm sorry, I can't take any reviewer seriously.
    You have different tastes/judgments of quality than a lot of reviewers =/= they write terrible reviews. There are many things that denote a bad review. Perhaps the reviewer shows signs of fundamentally failing to understand a game's mechanics or of failing to play for more than an hour or two. Perhaps the reviewer resorts to name-calling or doesn't adequately explain why they liked or disliked a game. Perhaps a review is just plain poorly-written. Those are bad reviews.

    A reviewer's job is not to validate any given reader's personal opinion of whether a game is good or bad. A reviewer's job is to honestly analyze a game, write a clear and well-reasoned overview of the game's strong and weak points, then render a final judgment on the overall quality of the game in their opinion. Those of us who write reviews and are also sane people do not expect that every reader will agree with us, nor do we think we hold the be-all, end-all opinion of any given game. You can choose to take our recommendation or not, and if you find that your gaming preferences don't jive with a lot of critical opinion, it's ok. I promise, however, that there is no conspiracy between reviewers to all hate the games you like or vice versa, so it'd be nice if readers were respectful enough to say, "I disagree with this review because..." instead of, "You don't agree with me, and therefore you suck."

    Edit: Alternately, see picture above.
    Last edited by Ocelot; 04-05-2013 at 03:29 PM.

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  9. #9
    I wanted to say that I think this is a great review. Now that I have a PSP, I've had a morbid curiosity about this series despite a lot of people seemingly warning me off from it. The review seems to cover everything I've been told about it, more or less. I'm still not quite swayed either way, but I appreciate seeing more reviews on it from a site that generally is pretty fair about the reviews.

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    A Witness to Destruction Moderator DarkRPGMaster's Avatar
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    Hmm, on the one hand, I've grown to trust your reviews. On the other, I really want to try this for myself to see if it really is this bad or not since not every review I've found myself agreeing with. I think I'll try it myself...if I can find it.
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    BEARSONA Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkRPGMaster View Post
    Hmm, on the one hand, I've grown to trust your reviews. On the other, I really want to try this for myself to see if it really is this bad or not since not every review I've found myself agreeing with. I think I'll try it myself...if I can find it.
    One thing a review can't touch upon (and we generally avoid trying to) is personal fun factor. I love games where I can grind levels; I know some staffers that drives completely mental. What's fun to me isn't fun for them. Mind you, I've played some games reviews said were bad just so I could laugh and say "wow, that IS a seriously hot mess!"

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    I had thought about importing the Japanese PSP version of the game (due to translation issues) since it didn't seem too expensive, but I am sad that they also changed the battle system from the PC version. Still tempted since Falcom charm is Falcom charm after all.

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    これはメタです RPGamer Staff Quin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOLOttertard View Post
    Terrible review. For your information, I think that many acclaimed games such as Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the Souls games, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, are overrated piles of crap, and have enjoyed certain games that have gotten bad to average reviews like this a lot more, and if reviewers and sites like games I dislike and dislike games I like, then I'm sorry, I can't take any reviewer seriously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by riulyn View Post
    I had thought about importing the Japanese PSP version of the game (due to translation issues) since it didn't seem too expensive, but I am sad that they also changed the battle system from the PC version. Still tempted since Falcom charm is Falcom charm after all.
    The Japanese version of Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch on PSP actually has a battle system much closer to the original PC trilogy's -- but since it was released after Tear of Vermilion in North America (as opposed to before Tear of Vermilion in Japan), Bandai U.S. altered its battle system to more closely match its "predecessor's." Quite unfortunately.

    What this means, though, is that if you did want to import the Japanese PSP version of any of the Legend of Heroes Gagharv Trilogy games, Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch is a pretty viable choice. In addition to mostly preserving the basic gameplay of the original PC iteration, it also has the best soundtrack of the three, featuring much more well-chosen arrange tracks and even a few really top-notch original tracks and arrangements.

    The downside is, it also has pretty long load times compared to Tear of Vermilion or Song of the Ocean -- although the battle system was changed for those two games in Japan, they were at least optimized to run more smoothly.

    A PSP-2000 or higher model will help in that regard, though, mostly eliminating said load times if you have UMD caching enabled.

    Also, on a totally different note:

    One thing a review can't touch upon (and we generally avoid trying to) is personal fun factor. I love games where I can grind levels; I know some staffers that drives completely mental. What's fun to me isn't fun for them. Mind you, I've played some games reviews said were bad just so I could laugh and say "wow, that IS a seriously hot mess!"
    The other thing to consider is that on most sites (including RPGamer), reviews are simply indicative of one person's opinion. And since no two gamers have the exact same likes and dislikes, trusting any review blindly (even from a reviewer with whom you typically agree) can cause you to miss out on a game you might love, or plunk down lots of cash on a game you might hate.

    In the end, the best thing to keep in mind is that a flawed game =/= a BAD game. A game can be a broken, barely playable mess, but if it hits the right buttons for you, you might just find yourself loving it anyway. And if you love it, then for you, it's a good game... no matter what anyone else thinks.

    This is why I generally ignore reviews altogether... or just read them out of curiosity, or to get a general rundown of how a game plays if I can't find that information on an official website or in a YouTube video or something. I pretty much buy games based on how fun they look to me, be it through watching trailers or even just loving the box art. Yeah, I wind up with a lot of clunkers that way... but I also find a lot of hidden gems. Opoona on the Wii is my go-to game when trying to explain this, as that game got mediocre to low review scores almost universally after it was released... but I thought it looked like a blast, so I played it, and I now rank it among my top 10 favorite video games of all time. I *adored* Opoona, and found that its small handful of flaws were absolutely inconsequential to me, whereas the things it did right were charming beyond belief.

    -Tom
    Last edited by Wyrdwad; 04-06-2013 at 02:08 AM.

  16. #16
    This game isn't that bad, I don't disagree with the review, I think it should have scored a half of a point to a point higher though. The story was good, the characters were memorable. The translation was awful, and this is the game that suffered the most from it.

    Throughout the Gagharv trilogy there is a lot of tedious backtracking, a lot of frustrating town segments where you have to search for the right person to talk to before you can proceed, and a pretty uninteresting battle system. The enemies were really boring throughout.

    However, what it lacked in those areas it made up for in charm. Which is something a lot of games sorely lack. As the trilogy moved on the translations got better, and Song of the Ocean was a pretty cool finale.
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    a lot of frustrating town segments where you have to search for the right person to talk to before you can proceed
    This is the saddest thing about the PSP Gagharv games in English, I think. In Japanese, the town segments are honestly some of the best parts of the three games, as each and every townsperson is full of personality and figuring out the right person to talk to is like a puzzle that's genuinely fun to solve.

    That definitely didn't carry over to the English, though, sadly.

    -Tom

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    Ysy St. Administrator Macstorm's Avatar
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    Having finally played all three of these PSP versions, I would love more than anything to see a complete remake from Falcom directly using the PC versions as a base. I really enjoyed them, despite them being bad.
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Macstorm View Post
    Having finally played all three of these PSP versions, I would love more than anything to see a complete remake from Falcom directly using the PC versions as a base. I really enjoyed them, despite them being bad.
    That is basically my review in a nutshell: I liked them, even though they weren't too good. I think a huge part really relate to the charm of Vermillion and Song of the Ocean.

    You can also get the whole trilogy at $16 total ($3 for Tear of Vermillion) at Gamestop used. So it is not a huge investment for a lot of fun play time.
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    I think a huge part really relate to the charm of Vermillion and Song of the Ocean.
    No Moonlight Witch?

    I notice a lot of people claim Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch to be the worst of the three in English, which is really sad. That's easily my favorite of the three games, but it lost the most in translation -- possibly even more than Tear of Vermilion, since so much of what made it great was the personality of its cast and the ways they interacted with one another.

    Julio (I refuse to call him Jurio) and Chris will forever be one of my favorite hero/heroine duos in all of RPGdom, I think.

    -Tom

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