(Game Boy)

Game Review

The Sword of Hope II Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

The great black and white hope

Poor Prince Theo. Not only is his first game still unavailable in the eShop, but his second adventure begins with all of his previous hard work being undone, an evil spirit being set free by would-be grave robbers, the Sword of Hope being stolen, and a young orphan accusing him of murdering his father. He really can't catch a break, can he?

Fortunately for us, Theo's misadventures make for a very good game. While we have to make do with the fact that The Sword of Hope II is available before its predecessor, there's not much room to complain when this game is so much fun. It's got a fantastic soundtrack, lovely visual design, and the opportunity for some serious strategising in the battles. What's not to like?

When the game begins Theo is a lone wanderer, hoping against hope to find some way to undo the evil that's been released into the world around him before it can interfere with the peace in the land. Before long, however, he partners up with others, and it's your job to manage the team's items, armours, and spells. Managed properly you'll have a walking armada of brute force. Misjudge an enemy or an attack, though, and you'll find yourself overwhelmed quite easily.

Luckily, death is not the end in The Sword of Hope II. Should your entire party fall unconscious, you're instantly transported to the first room of the game, where good King Hennessy heals your wounds and sends you back on your way. You have to fight your way back to where you were, of course, but along the way you can rack up more experience and gold, and thus you'll always end up better equipped to handle yourself the next time through.

It's a nice touch that makes the game enjoyable to those who aren't seasoned veterans of RPGs. For those who are, there's still plenty on offer here, including an interesting story that evolves as you progress, and numerous vendors and games of chance that you can use to customise your forces.

Everything in The Sword of Hope II is handled indirectly through menus, including movement, which may seem clunky at first but very quickly becomes easy to navigate. Battles are random — apart from a few preordained ones — and turn-based. You always have as much time as you need to consider your next move. That's important because enemies begin ganging up on Theo almost immediately, and they continue to do so throughout the entire game.

The lack of an in-game map is worrying initially but, with the exception of a few optional rooms, the game world is organized in a pretty linear fashion. You may get lost, but it's unlikely you'll be lost for very long. There aren't any cruel dead ends or mazes here, and there is some admirable effort put into making even similar screens visually distinct from others. Before long Theo can learn a Teleport spell as well, which allows you to warp instantly to any major area you've visited before, thus negating even the smallest amount of confusion you're liable to experience.

There's very little room to complain with this title. Like Avenging Spirit and Catrap before it, The Sword of Hope II is a fine unearthed gem that now has the chance to find a wider audience, and it's particularly welcome in the absence of much else to satisfy RPG fans on the 3DS Virtual Console. It's a great little adventure to have on the go, and we hope we'll soon be able to enjoy its predecessor as well.

Conclusion

The Sword of Hope II is simple but rewarding fun. It doesn't offer much in the way of replay value, but it's absolutely worth experiencing once. The challenge is fair and there are a massive amount of weapons and spells to master, as well as a great soundtrack and some crisp pixel art. RPG fans haven't been particularly well-served by the 3DS Virtual Console, but The Sword of Hope II takes a huge step in making up for that.

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User Comments (53)

GuardianKing

#2

GuardianKing said:

I loooove this game. It's more book than game, but even with the pacing, this game manages to grab you with its story. I love the looming evil above, and no one seems to know what's going on exactly.

RevolverLink

#3

RevolverLink said:

Huh. I wasn't expecting much out of this one, but consider me interested now. I'm always down for a good portable RPG.

DestinyMan

#6

DestinyMan said:

I didn't think that I would go with this over Kirby, but that's looking likely now. I'll get it when I get a points card soon. A good, easy-to-understand RPG is a plus for me.

Willerz

#7

Willerz said:

I'm really happy to see some true RPGs on the eShop at last! I'll definitely pick this up if it hits Europe. Now give us some Dragon Quest ;)

Tsuchinoko

#9

Tsuchinoko said:

Its so weird that they released the sequel first. Its not like both games weren't released outside of Japan.

grumblebuzzz

#11

grumblebuzzz said:

Not an RPG fan so I'll pass. Still kinda miffed about Nintendolife's glowing review of Gargoyle's Quest which caused me to buy that turd of a game.

MotorTCD

#15

MotorTCD said:

I really love this game my only minor gripe is it's too easy to get lost.
@Xerxes would you say gargoyles quest is hard? Becuase i never could stand hard games(my one exception is monster world iv)

Flowerlark

#16

Flowerlark said:

Must agree with the above- after the two Zelda VCs, Gargoyle's Quest was my favourite. I'm about 6+ hours into Sword of Hope II and I like it pretty well. A bit too slow and easy, but still fun. I think I'd rate it a 7, personally, but I think the review isn't wrong, either.

RR529

#17

RR529 said:

I'm loving this game! For a GB game, the story is fantastic, and it's been awhile since I played a turn based RPG.

Also, Gargoyle's Quest is amazing, and hard (ingenious 8-bit era Capcom level design).

the_shpydar

#18

the_shpydar said:

Good review, Phil I was waiting to hear your thoughts on this before picking it up, since we tend to share very similar gaming tastes.
/me heads to eShop now

Also, Gargoyle's Quest is absolutely awesome. It's a bit hard in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a fair challenge once you start to gain power-ups and such. One of my favorite "overlooked" GB gems.

Aqueous

#19

Aqueous said:

Sounds good, I've started my information hunt on this one. The Let's Play I found mentioned the difficulty jumping up and down, by merely levelling up or grabbing new equipment and changing areas. How true is this @Chicken_Brutus?
Great review by the way. I'm interested in this one.

MeloMan

#20

MeloMan said:

I like the sound of this because it's point-and-click ish, but it's actually an RPG still. It sounds like it's on the caliber of being a pre-Erian Odyssey minus heavy map-making. I WILL be picking this up. How's SoH1 compared to this, Chicken? Is it worth getting once we've all been through SoH2?

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#21

Philip_J_Reed said:

The Let's Play I found mentioned the difficulty jumping up and down, by merely levelling up or grabbing new equipment and changing areas. How true is this @Chicken_Brutus?

I can't speak for whomever did the LP, but I had no issues with it. The enemies get tougher as you move into new areas, which is to be expected, but if you do more fighting than fleeing, and don't mind fighting your way back after a respawn, you should be fine. I definitely respawned several times, but with the teleport spell that's not much of an inconvenience.

How's SoH1 compared to this, Chicken?

I wish i knew! I'll probably find out when you guys do. ;)

MeWario

#22

MeWario said:

@grumblebuzzz I couldn't agree more. Gargoyles Quest had some great ideas but it was so average. I can't believe how everyone raved about it. And it was super cheap in the way it killed you.

Bass_X0

#23

Bass_X0 said:

I couldn't play Gargoyle's Quest normally. I had to rely on save states to make any progress.

DoodleJohn

#24

DoodleJohn said:

I am quite interested in this, even though I'm not into RPG's that much. But one question; Is there a lot of grinding? The review didn't imply it, but I wanted to be sure. :)

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#25

Philip_J_Reed said:

Is there a lot of grinding?

If you fight monsters as you find them, you shouldn't have to grind much in addition to that...if at all. You obviously can grind if you choose to do so, which would make a lot of the game easier, but since you just get teleported to the first room in the game when you die — with no penalty — I wouldn't worry about that. :)

Aqueous

#27

Aqueous said:

@Chicken_Brutus - Thank you. One question though, do you prefer Chicken_Brutus or Philip_J_Reed? I may get this on a "rainy" day.

Edit: The example was hitting a wall with a shadow in the first dungeon and getting overwhelmed by a ghost that appeared from that.

Xerxes

#29

Xerxes said:

@LazyGamer It is 'difficult' but with save states it's great and still a bundle of fun! It really is a classic action RPG, if ARPG's are your thing youll love it. I think that some people expected Gargoyles quest to be an action platformer and thats why some people here are complaining about it, but it truly is great.

Hokori

#31

Hokori said:

Man the eShop is getting too many games that I want, Petit Computer, KI oMAM, SoHII, Wario Land, and some other DSiWare games I want like roller angels and pro jumper that I recently wanted

H_Hunter

#32

H_Hunter said:

Wow! You're giving a black & white game an 8 score?

So by your standards, this is better than games such as Rayman Origins, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Mario Tennis Open and Harvest Moon 3D, which all have been scored less than 8.

We need to get over our sweet memories and be more logical.

Knux

#33

Knux said:

@H_Hunter: That's the worst kind of mentality I've ever heard when it comes to viewing a game.

There are plenty of retro games that are a million times better than some modern games. Even if a game has black and white graphics, it can still be better than a game released in 2012. Phillip reviewed to see if this game is fun, and it is. In the end, that's all it boils down to.

By your wonderful logic, Sonic 06 is better than the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and all of us know that the complete opposite is true.

With that said, great review Phillip! I've already downloaded the game, since I love RPGs. Hopefully, I'll find some time to sink my teeth into this once I've beaten some of the other RPGs (mainly Xenoblade Chronicles) I'm currently playing.

RR529

#34

RR529 said:

@H Hunter, games are rated based upon which platform they're released on (retail, 3DSware, VC, ect).

You don't rate a $3-$4 Game Boy download on the same scale as a $30-$40 retail game.

For example, Mario Tennis Open was given a lower score, because based on what retail 3DS games can and should be able to do, it didn't quite live up to whatever reviewer thought it should.

In contrast, this game is rated against other GB games, with the GB's limitations taken into account, and for an inexpensive GB download, this game happens to be great for what it is.

H_Hunter

#35

H_Hunter said:

@Knux Looks like I pressed your buttons on this one didn't I?
calm down and drink some milk will ya?

I just don't like all that attention and focus on old stuff so I spoke my mind..

And thanks @RR529 for what you said. It was my mistake to compare a gameboy game with a 3DS game, even if that game is playable on 3DS.

Kid_A

#37

Kid_A said:

I'm really enjoying this one. I've always wanted to really sink my teeth into an old, text-based RPG and this seems to be a perfectly fine fix.

Kitsune_Rei

#38

Kitsune_Rei said:

I eyed it a bit but was concerned with getting lost or having it be too old-school hard, though I was feeling pangs of nostalgia for a simple RPG though I have not played this series before. This review is pushing me towards picking it up :)

XCWarrior

#39

XCWarrior said:

Always great to have a quality RPG ready to download at any time. Will pick this up eventually for sure, have others to beat first.

grumblegrumble

#41

grumblegrumble said:

I'm surprised you give this game an 8/10 when NL gave Kirby's Pinball Land such a lower score. Just goes to show the reviewers can have different takes on games. I've also seen this game and Kirby's scored totally opposite on others sites. As virtual console games go, this one seems visually limited, but I also love games of this genre (old RPG's) since I love vintage games. One of my favorites was the old Star Wars game on my old Apple IIC back in elementary school! This one seems cool, too, I'm sure I'll get it in the next few weeks. Thanks for your review and I love what you do, just confused by the scoring as of late.

RetrogamerFan

#43

RetrogamerFan said:

Never heard of this game before but interested in it getting it based on the review - again i'm hoping this gets a European release.

Off topic - i really enjoyed Gargoyle's Quest too, it was very tough at first but once you get further into the game, the power-ups make the journey much more manageable.

Samholy

#44

Samholy said:

might be the other gameboy game i will get eventually. i bought gargoyle quest since it marked my childhood and its still a great game to play. even as short as it is. (mostly depending how much virtual console abuse you do)

SkywardLink98

#45

SkywardLink98 said:

I'll have to pick this one up, but probably after I get Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and clear a game or two of my backlog.

Bass_X0

#46

Bass_X0 said:

Would anyone still be interested in the first game if and when its released?

RetroGBHippie92

#47

RetroGBHippie92 said:

It doesn't sound like SoH1 will be released since SoH2 was given to you guys, it still hasn't come out here, but that all changes next week. By the way, does this game save or not? Password or battery save?

RabidPikachu

#50

RabidPikachu said:

I love old school rpgs but even though I like this game, I much prefer pokemon yellow when it comes to gb rpgs. I'm hoping the Final Fantasy Legend for gb comes to the eshop.

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