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Back in 2005, before Square Enix hopped on board and delivered such epics as Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and Star Ocean: First Departure, the PSP was in dire need of a quality, traditional-style roleplaying game. Bandai noticed the void and sought to fill it with The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion. Obviously, RPG nuts like me saw it as a welcome edition to the market, but in their haste to meet demand with supply, Bandai made two costly errors. For one thing, A Tear of Vermillion was actually the second game in a three-game series, and for another, in an apparent attempt to release the game as quickly as possible, they totally botched the localization.
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When I say "totally botched" I'm talking Zero Wing, "All your base are belong to us!" levels of ineptitude here, folks. So, yes, there is a story. It involves a hero named Avin, his search for his missing sister, a battle between the followers of darkness and the forces of light, and a ton of fetch quests that send you back and forth time and time again. Is it any good? Hard to say, considering more than half of it is completely unintelligible, thanks to the aforementioned translation. Honestly, about halfway through I stopped trying to follow along the plot and just started giggling incessantly at the grammatical errors. Really, it was much more fun that way.
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Expect standard RPG fare, meaning that you will be alternating between shopping and healing in towns and battling monsters and exploring dungeons most of the time. Enemies are visible on screen, meaning, thankfully, that there are no random encounters. In battle, you have regular attacks, special attacks, and magic spells to use, though the actual arsenal of weapons and spells to choose from is somewhat thin. Expect to participate in a lot of fights here, and expect to do a lot of backtracking and complete a ton of fetch quests as well. In a lot of ways, this is pretty reminiscent of an old-school, Super NES RPG--but not the really good ones, like Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger.
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Graphics and Sound
Visually speaking, the game features nice character portraits, but the in-game sprites and environments are like something from the late SNES or early PS1 days. There's no real personality to things, either. It all looks rather bland and generic. Muscially, the game is a mixed bag. Some of the tracks are pretty good, while others (you guessed it!) are standard RPG fare that sounds like something out of the SNES or early PS1 days. These were passable for the time, but now that other developers have come along and shown gamers what the PSP is really capable of, they simply don't hold up very well.
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So if the game is essentially a generic roleplaying game with no clear-cut redeeming value, why in the world am I recommending it? Well, for two reasons. The first reason is that, in spite of the fact that The Legend of Heroes is spectacularly unremarkable, I did enjoy the time I spent playing it. The second is the abysmal localization. It's so bad that all RPG fans need to play this game at least once to experience just how awesomely bad it is. Plus, if you're in the right mind set, you can actually have a lot of fun the botched lines and nonsensical script--much like an old, poorly dubbed monster movie or chop-sockey flick. Do make sure you rent it, though. I don't want anyone running out and buying this turkey because of this review; my concience couldn't handle it!