Legend of Dark Witch (PS Vita) Review

witch 1 - title

Game Title: The Legend of Dark Witch
Developer: Inside System, Qubic Games S. A.
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Download: 96 MB
Availability: Digital Download (Europe, North America, Japan)
PSTV Support: Yes

There’ve been many games out there that try to create nostalgic experiences for fans of certain older games. Some call them Clones, others call them Retro Games, but there are always more games that do it, whether the creator loved that series or just want to reach out to that fanbase. Just look at Mighty No. 9. It was trying to be the new Mega Man.

Other games have mimicked Mega Man, though. Shovel Knight is a successful game that played like Mega Man (and a few other retro platformers, like Castlevania). But the Nintendo 3DS had a game that was very much like the Mega Man formula, from the stage intros, bosses, special skills, and more. It was called The Legend of Dark Witch. People called it “Mega Man with Anime Girls”.

It spawned a sequel and a release on Steam, but it was never available to play on a TV like a true console game. Until last week, anyways. It came to the PS Vita with PlayStation TV Compatibility and is now a console, PC, and handheld game. Here’s my review of the PS Vita version of Legend of Dark Witch!

Story

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In the not-so-distant past, the human race of a certain country discovers an object they dub “Syega”, which is crystallized and allows anyone to use the power of Magic. It is used to improve the quality of life. As the game begins, all of the Syega suddenly goes missing. In response to this crisis, a Goddess is dispatched down to the Human World to find out who stole it and return it to restore balance.

The story of the game is interesting, but not too in-depth. You get story scenes at the beginning and end, and you mostly just get a couple dialogue lines between your character and the boss of each level, right before you end up fighting them. It’s a cute story, though. Just don’t expect it to be any more story than in normal Mega Man games.

Gameplay

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Legend of Dark Witch is a 2D Platformer that is made in the same way Mega Man is. You have stages to choose, fight enemies, fight bosses, get powers, repeat. Just as I said in the intro, imagine Mega Man with Anime-style Girls and that is exactly what this game is.

Progression is simple. You have a list of bosses you choose from. You can choose any boss/stage you want and go in any order you want. If you want to start with the School stage and the Fairy stage last, you can. Or, if you want to start with the Fairy stage, you can. It’s got just as much choice until you complete each of the initial stages and unlock the final 2 to end the story.

Aside from just stages, your progression goes with your currency and upgrades. In every stage, you fight enemies with projectiles and enemies drop currency that you can later use at the Stage Select to upgrade your stats and weapons. Each element has a certain number of upgrades you can do, for Max Health, Extra Lives, Attack Power, Currency Gain, and each of the sub-weapons you win from the different bosses.

witch 4 - upgrades

Actually going through the stages has you navigating platforms and fighting off enemies with projectile weapons. Your goal is to navigate the stage and reach a portal to fight that stage’s boss. But you also want to build up your in-stage upgrades for when you do fight that boss. Depending on your difficulty level, you will not only gain currency but also energy that can be used to enhance your abilities.

The energy gauge fills up with options for Speed, Gliding (hovering while in the air to cover more distance), Line and Comet (the two types of projectiles), and Power. Each of these can be upgraded a certain number of times. 3x Speed will make you move very quickly while Line or Comet x3 will let you send 3 projectiles at once.

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This helps you with the difficulty as every boss is difficult and has certain patterns you need to learn However, the triple-upgraded Line/Comet is like hitting them 3 times and with Power x3, it’s even stronger. Although some of the Boss weapons are extra-strong against each boss, you can just utilize that Line/Comet 3 + Power 3 to easily take down each of the bosses with only minimal skill.

As far as length goes, it’s about 8 stages to play through and each stage takes roughly 7 minutes to complete. You might be able to cover that in an hour, but it took me 3-4 hours for my first run through the game. For $10, that’s not terribly bad, especially if you want to play the game again after beating the game and unlocking the secondary (and considerably harder to use) character.

Controls

It’s pretty simple to play through the game. First off, there aren’t any touch controls or motion controls so it is plenty playable on the PlayStation TV. In fact, my entire first run was done on the PSTV, enjoying the game on the big screen. I noted this earlier, but it should be mentioned that this is the first time Legend of Dark Witch can be played both on the go and on a TV as a home console game.

Move your character around stages with the D-Pad and/or the Left Analog Stick. The Up and Down D-Pad buttons are also used to change the camera so you can pan it up and down to see where you are going to jump up or drop down to other areas. The L and R triggers are used to change the equipped weapon (when you have unlocked sub-weapons)

Face buttons! X is used for jumping and Square is used for firing off your weapons. Circle is used to buy upgrades in-stage for Speed, Power, etc, and Triangle is used to open the Skill Menu to manually pick a sub-weapon to switch to. It’s a pretty easy scheme to figure out.

Presentation

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If you recall, the 3DS version of the game wasn’t the most polished 3D game in the world and the graphics don’t seem to have changed much in the transition to the Vita. However, the game also comes with a cropped HUD that is on the outside of the game rather than on-screen. This is good and bad. The graphics do look a little crisper with the smaller screen, but it also cannot be put in full-screen, so if you aren’t a fan of borders, you’re out of luck.

Performance is perfect, though. Load Times are short, Frame-Rate is perfect, and the music fits the theme well. No complaints there.

Summary

In conclusion, Legend of Dark Witch has made a near-seamless transition from PC and the 3DS to the PS Vita and PSTV. The cropped border design of the HUD is a bit of a disappointment, but its ever much of a difficult and fun Mega Man-type game that it always was. Here's hoping Legend of Dark Witch 2 can also make it to the Vita

9/10

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