By: Casey Curran
The reason retro games are so admired is because of how the most fondly remembered games contain the best traits of their era while avoiding the annoying elements from the time. Given this fact, it should be natural that retro-inspired titles use this as the basis of their design. Class of Heroes 2, unfortunately, is not one of these games. It has a few great ideas for an RPG, but a number of archaic design choices prevent it from truly shining.
Class of Heroes 2’s controls work well for the most part. The game uses a simple tile-based, first-person exploration in dungeons very similar to the first Phantasy Star game. This works perfectly fine. The only issue I really had with the controls were a few confusing menus in certain elements of the game, especially the central hub. This was still not a serious issue, however.
The character designs are the typical anime seen in many other JRPGs. Character models look very sharp and offer a good use of colors. In addition, enemy designs are well varied and look just as nice. Where the game falters, however, is in its environments. They look like something out of a DS game. Considering a great majority of the game is spent looking at these, this is a serious issue. They do not ruin it, but they keep the game from excelling visually.
The music and sound effects never improved nor hurt the game’s experience at any time during my playthrough. They were nothing special, but nothing terrible.
Class of Heroes 2 actually has some excellent ideas. For starters, the party is composed of six members, which allows for a diverse group with many different potential configurations. There is also a great variety between classes in both stat distribution and number of attacks. These two factors made me extremely excited to start adventuring through this world.
That excitement lasted until I found out how the game actually approached combat. The game does not let you pick who you want to attack. It bundles enemies in groups just like Dragon Quest, but unlike DQ, you must defeat these groups of enemies in the order the game specifies. That’s right; it not only prohibits the player from selecting which individual enemy to fight, but the groups of them as well.
To make matters worse, the enemies are much bulkier than ones grouped together in Dragon Quest, which makes the combat even more tedious. This led to more than a few instances where there would be one enemy with a sliver of health remaining, yet the game instead focused attacks on the two healthier ones! This caused me to flee battles that would have been manageable if I had just had the option to select my own targets.
Not only this, but the game decides to create its challenge in the worst ways possible. Leveling up requires much grinding, enemy balancing is a joke, and resources are extremely difficult to come by. This a process system where, for what seemed like an eternity, I would wander around until I ran into an fight where I could definitely win then repeat this until I had to come back to replenish my magic and heal all of my teammates. I repeated these steps a lot, and I can tell you it was not fun.
This was extremely mitigated as the game went on, once I had an easy way to get healing items and enough money to replenish my characters’ health as well as magic. What it does not change, however, is how terrible starting up the game is. Plus, even with the later options, such as group attacks, the lack of target selection was one of the worst decisions I have seen in an RPG.
There’s a lot of content in Class of Heroes 2 to keep players busy, especially with its steep challenge. Yet this challenge stems from all of the wrong areas, creating a game that will frustrate and annoy players rather than making them feel rewarded. Doubtless an audience exists for this game design, but I wouldn’t recommend it.