The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review - Screenshot 1 of 7
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

A few years ago, FuRyu released The Alliance Alive HD Remastered for Switch—an uprezzed port of a great RPG that was sadly missed by most due to releasing on the 3DS after most players had already moved on to Switch. Yet The Alliance Alive was not the company’s first release on Nintendo’s old handheld; that honor belonged to The Legend of Legacy. This initial release debuted to a divisive reception in 2015 (we awarded it an 8/10 in our review), but evidently the Alliance Alive remaster did well enough to warrant giving its predecessor a second chance with The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered. Though we would still say this is the weaker of the two, FuRyu did a great job of polishing up this overlooked 3DS dungeon crawler; it’s not a stellar example of this genre, but fans will be sure to find plenty to love here.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Legend of Legacy doesn’t feature very much of a story, which may come as a disappointment to many players. After picking one of seven potential characters, you travel to the mysterious island of Avalon—a recently discovered landmass that rumors say is the home to a grand, ancient treasure. Each of the seven has their own reasons for coming to Avalon, and as you explore its various dungeons, you’ll slowly uncover artifacts revealing bits of lore detailing the civilization that once thrived there, the events that ultimately led to its downfall, and the unique ways in which the seven protagonists are tied to it.

We would’ve liked to have seen more of a plot than the relatively sparse framework offered here—even titles in the Etrian Odyssey series have found ways to introduce fun and interesting narrative elements with its player-made teams—but the lore bits are still a cool way of telling a story, reminding us somewhat of the way the Chozo lore is handled in the Metroid Prime series.

The characters, however, are one-dimensional cutouts of various archetypes you’ve seen in plenty of other RPGs, and their relationship to each other and the overall story of Avalon feels surface-level and incidental. The narrative here could use some work, then, but one silver lining here is that it mostly stays out of the way of the gameplay.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Legend of Legacy follows a dungeon-crawling format that’s reminiscent of something like the Etrian Odyssey franchise—there’s only one town, and you regularly return to it for supplies and upgrades in between dives into a nearby dungeon of your choice, with each attempt usually resulting in your party pushing a little deeper. Each dungeon features unique theming and has set layouts, and a big part of the progression is centered around you mapping out every floor of every dungeon so you can sell the maps back in town for some big payouts. It's a simple, but rewarding gameplay loop, as it feels like there’s always something new for you to do, whether you’re returning to town to scoop up fresh gear with your winnings or running back into a dungeon with a tuned-up team that’s prepared to take on its challenges.

Combat unfolds in a typical turn-based format, but it integrates an interesting and dynamic approach to party formation that gives it a more tactical edge. Party members stand in one of three rows, with each giving different temporary stat buffs, such as bolstering a character’s action speed or defense. You can program a few formations in the menu ahead of battle, and then swap between them as needed during a fight, a bit like the Paradigm switching from Final Fantasy XIII. You may have everyone in attack mode for a while, before switching your tankiest character to the front to block a big strike, then swap your healer to the back on the next turn so they can patch everyone up quickly. Most fights don’t depend on actively engaging in this system too deeply, but there are enough tough encounters to keep you on your toes.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Adding more options to consider, there’s also a persistent elemental system that affects the kinds of actions you’ll choose in battle. Essentially, the air around you is always charged with a mixture of four elements, and the one that’s most strongly represented will give combat benefits to actions and characters that match it. You ideally want to compose a team in advance to take advantage of the most frequent elements in a dungeon you’re targeting, while still leaving yourself some options for when the elemental balance shifts. It’s a cool idea in concept, but we felt it led too often to being forced into singular team setups and strategies, as choosing anything besides the optimal compositions can make fights unnecessarily tough.

Legend of Legacy is remarkably forgiving in how it handles health restoration, though, which feels like it makes combat both easier and harder in different ways. Your entire party is fully healed after every fight, and even if someone goes down in battle, you only need to cast a healing spell to bring them back—no need for a special revive skill or Phoenix Down. The only drawback is that they lose more max health every time they get knocked out, and this can only be reset to full if you head back into town to sleep at the inn.

In many ways, this makes Legend of Legacy very easy, but it also gives the designers license to throw some tough enemy encounters your way, which leads to a very inconsistent-feeling difficulty curve. You’ll be marching through a dungeon, leveling any foes that dare cross your path, only to walk into another area and find that now the boot is on the other foot and you’re having to revive multiple members of the party a few times in every fight. It can be frustrating, then, when you’re making decent progress only to hit a wall that comes out of nowhere.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Character progression is handled in a very similar way to the SaGa series, which is to say that it’s entirely random and largely beyond the player’s control. There’s no such thing as experience or character levels here, instead completing battles will see your characters periodically gaining permanent boosts in specific stats, such as HP or Attack. The same goes for expanding a character’s skillset—sometimes you’ll level up an individual skill, increasing its effectiveness in battle, while sometimes you’ll unlock an entirely new skill for whatever weapon that character is wielding.

This random upgrade system isn’t necessarily better or worse than the standard progression that most RPGs utilize, but it’s interesting how it gives the ongoing progression of a given dungeon a much different feel. Grinding to battle a boss is effectively a pointless strategy here, as it’s entirely possible you can go through a few consecutive battles and have nothing to show for it. On the other hand, you’ll sometimes finish a fight against a standard trash mob and have each character gain several stat and skill bumps all at once. In general, progression still moves forward at a pace that’s more or less equal to what you’d expect out of a standard progression system. This variable ratio reinforcement schedule ensures that every encounter, from boss to grub, feels equally rewarding — or unrewarding, perhaps — given that you’re hypothetically always only one more fight away from another major breakthrough.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

So, combat is satisfying and character progression is fine, if random. Our biggest complaint with all this is that Legend of Legacy quickly shows you that it’s a one-trick pony—it repeats its gameplay loop without any major additions or alterations for several dozen hours until it just ends.

Dungeons are only superficially distinct from each other, typically sharing many of the same enemy types and doing little to introduce unique gimmicks or level features to differentiate them, while the low enemy variety means that your strategies and team compositions rarely need to be adjusted between fights once you figure out the ‘right’ setups. In this sense, Legend of Legacy is great as a ‘second monitor’ sort of game that you play while only partially paying attention, but extended sessions with it eventually become tedious and monotonous as you go through the motions without novel content to spice things up.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Visually, Legend of Legacy has received a nice resolution bump from its humble origins on the 3DS, and while it’s still clear that this is a title that originated on much weaker hardware, the art style is strong enough that the outdated, chunky models don’t feel too out of place on Switch. There’s a painterly, watercolor style to the visuals that looks especially great on a Switch OLED, while we appreciated the Paper Mario-esque way in which trees, boulders, and other dungeon elements will spring up all around you as you roam a dungeon.

Besides the visuals, there aren’t really any other changes or updates to Legend of Legacy, and this lack of iteration feels a bit disappointing. Legend of Legacy has aged relatively well in the seven years since its first release, but FuRyu missed a great opportunity to address some of the criticisms of that original release, such as adding some new enemies to bring more variety. For better or worse, this is effectively the same game that released on the 3DS, just cleaned up to give it that HD sheen.

Conclusion

The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered is a decent, though unspectacular, dungeon crawler that does a good job of defying some traditional RPG tropes. Mechanics like the elemental system and the randomized character progression help this stand out from the pack, while its simple dungeon-crawling format carries the basic, but satisfying gameplay for dozens of hours. Still, it doesn’t take very long for this one to feel like it’s overstaying its welcome, and more could’ve been done to sand its rougher edges. Legend of Legacy may not be the best example of this genre, but it’s still an enjoyable release for the dungeon-crawling cognoscenti.