The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review

The 3DS was home to a number of solid Japanese RPGs, many of which are still confined to the system. A few years back, FuRyu’s The Alliance Alive got a second chance via a remaster that came to multiple platforms. And now, it’s time for another of their titles to make its way to modern consoles and PC, this time with The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered.

Story, or lack thereof

The Legend of Legacy takes a lot of inspiration from Square Enix’s SaGa franchise. This means there are multiple protagonists, limited story, and some non-standard battle systems. The game never really tries to hide this, but it also doesn’t quite match up to its inspirations in a number of ways.

Starting with the story, there’s basically nothing for the entire game. You choose from one of seven characters, view their brief opening, and head off to the land of Avalon. A couple of the characters you don’t choose will join your part at the start, and that’s about it. From there, you explore new areas, find secrets, and uncover the (brief) mystery of Avalon.

That’s pretty much all you have to go on. After the initial cutscene for the character you pick, you’ll be given little more until the very end. It’s even worse for the characters you don’t choose at the start. You can recruit them in The Legend of Legacy’s main town, but all they get is a few lines of dialogue.

Minimalistic storytelling can work. In the SaGa games, there’s often a lot of little substories or choices that you can make to change how things play out. Here, there’s just nothing. It’s just not compelling at all, and puts all of the attention on gameplay instead.

A watered down SaGa experience

Exploration and combat are at least a little more involved. The goal for each location is to fully explore each area, filling out maps before selling them to a merchant for money. Selling maps will also cause new NPCs to pop up, making exploration easier in the long run (though only after you’ve already seen everything).

It’s an interesting concept, and rewards fully exploring every section of the map. Unfortunately, the areas are also very simple. Sometimes there are extra secrets and hidden chests, but you’ll mostly just wander around and fight some enemies before moving onto the next place. Some areas also require you to essentially run up against cliffs and other edges of the map to eke out the final percent of map completion.

Still, it’s not an awful idea for progression, though a few more issues (sometimes literally) pop up because of it. The first is that The Legend of Legacy uses a pop up book style for its visuals. When you’re outside of the main town, the world literally pops up in a small area around you. While a cool effect, it’s always present, even for places you’ve already explored. Because of this, I often found myself looking at the map window rather than my character.

The other issue is that since most of the money you get comes from selling maps, the developers tried to balance this out by making enemies give next to nothing. For most fights, you’re lucky to get any money (or even items) at all. Paired with how “leveling” works, regular fights often feel very unrewarding.

But what is this leveling system I speak of? As with SaGa, The Legend of Legacy does away with typical xp and levels. Instead, your party of three has a chance of gaining random HP and SP increases at the end of battle. Moves also improve randomly as they are used, with new moves occasionally unlocking during battle. While there might be some nuance to this — I’m pretty sure the likelihood of stat increases is tied to your current stats and the difficulty of the enemies you face — it can make grinding feel very random. This also ties into my comment on money, where some battles end with you gaining literally nothing at all.

Outside of the weird way of improving your party, the other main oddity for combat is the spirit system. Areas are made up of different elemental spirits, which are tied to The Legend of Legacy’s magic. Characters can contract the dominant element to gain certain benefits (like helpful HP and SP regen), and spells of that element also gain improved effects.

It’s an interesting system in theory, even tying itself into exploration on occasion (such as freezing a pool of water to gain access to new areas). However, it’s both explained poorly and not actually that interesting to use once you figure it out.

A key problem with elements is the fact that enemies can also contract them, gaining the benefits of each while also taking it away from your party. In addition, they can do this all in one go, while your party must first remove the enemy’s contract before additionally contracting the elements after.

This, combined with the small party size, means that you’ll end up sticking with one setup and just spam that for most of the game. In my case, one of my party members was stuck guarding attacks for literally the entire game, while another contracted spirits to keep the passive effects rolling.

You’re only rewarded for keeping things static too, due to the upgrade system. Choosing to do something different only leads to you not getting upgrades on your best moves. This is also why switching party members is a waste of time. There are basically no differences between what characters can do, so why switch and lose out on all your upgrades.

What’s new in the HD Remastered version

While all of this applies to the regular version of the game, there are a few things I’d like to comment on when it comes to The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered specifically. For starters, the general art style holds up in the switch to higher resolutions. There are definitely some low res textures (only text and the menus saw any changes in that regard), but the pop up book style is pretty charming.

Annoyingly, the game is still locked at 30fps too. While I don’t think that would be too bad on its own, there also seems to be a lot of input delay. It makes walking around and navigating menus feel unresponsive — I have no idea if this was present in the 3DS version, but it shouldn’t exist either way.

Aside from the resolution increase, basically nothing else has been done to this version of The Legend of Legacy. Menus and the map had to be reworked due to the lack of a second screen, but that’s about it. Some new tutorials or extra info on gameplay systems would have been a good idea, especially for magic.

The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review | Final Thoughts

The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered is a barebones port of a flawed JRPG, now with a hefty £44.99 price tag. When you can get the various SaGa ports and remakes for far less, I can’t even recommend this game for fans of more unique RPGs.

We reviewed The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PS4, PS5, and PC via Steam.

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Isaac Todd
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