Are you the hero this town deserves?
The folks at Game Freak decided to take a brief respite from a little game called Pocket Monsters to try something different for the Nintendo Switch. It was shown off during E3 on the Nintendo Direct before the show opened and people were intrigued because of the Game Freak name attached to the project. Game Freak has had success in the past on non-Poke games such as Yoshi for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Fast forward to the present and the game, now known as Little Town Hero, has released for the Switch. You play as the “hero” in a little town (sounds like a formula for a Springsteen song) but wants to leave his “perfect” little town. You feel that there’s more to the world since you’ve heard rumors about your father leaving, to see the world but you only know them as rumors. Another Game Freak game where the hero doesn’t have a dad, stop me if you’ve heard this one before!
Anyway, You try to break into the castle that’s in the town because that’s the only way in or out but like any castle, there are guards and they prevent you from getting anywhere. The guard that kept you from getting into the castle becomes your “master” in a way as he begins your training in the art of fighting/tutorial. You realize that the only legit way out of town is to become a soldier for the castle but you’ll need your master to train you in the semi-complicated way of fighting Little Town Hero performs combat.
You have a brief tutorial session when you officially meet your friends and master and you learn the basics of offense/defensive attacks. In my opinion the tutorial is way too long, it could have been done like Professor Oak walking you around showing you the basics of Pallet Town like Pokémon does. However, you get one of the slowest tutorials I’ve ever seen in games and to a point the combat system needs it so you’ll understand everything this turn-based attack game has to offer. During battle you have “ideas,” thus your attacks but for the sake of the review, I’m calling them Battle Cards. You have two types of attacks during battle as well as special attacks. The objective is to absorb/block all your opponent’s attack cards and have enough power to attack the opponent directly. You don’t have unlimited attacks as different cards have different values and keeping an eye on your “combat power” will be key to victory.
However, there are special attack cards that you can use before you attack, such as the firecracker card that deals damage directly to an opponent’s card. Using these cards to get the upper hand will be key as well. The battles felt very long and drawn out by how you have to actually attack your opponent and it felt even worse when you fight monsters later in the game. It also felt like there was too much going on during battles and what I mean by this is that during battle, you can have your inventory restored if you take damage but at the same time you can use points earned in the battle to swap out an idea for another or gain access to all of your ideas that were discarded during the fight.
You can also move around the town and get help during battle from the various townspeople but you have to roll a dice to figure out how many spaces you can move. Some of the different battle cards have map abilities like being able to pick which space you can land on for example. Some of your friends will be usable here and some of the attacks/abilities will come in handy like being able to attack directly as battles take a long time. I said that the battles get even longer with monsters as you gain the “guts” ability during the fight and this allows you to take a hit before it will affect your health gauge. However, once you take damage, guts reset and you have to hit the monster directly again before you can attack the enemy directly. Battles take a long time in general and having another reason for battles to take longer just feels off.
During gameplay, you’ll be able to perform quests in the town and they’ll range from story quests that you need to perform to complete the game to side quests that will get you some sweet stuff if you complete them. Quests are an adventure game staple but implementing them could have been done a little better. Some of the side quests have you interacting with the townspeople as well as collecting phrases or words from these people. The issue isn’t with doing it, the issue comes when you need to use the words and you don’t need all of them but the game won’t progress without speaking to all the people to get all the words. It also felt like there were some minor graphical hang-ups when it came to scene transitions as well as load-times where I wasn’t sure if the game froze. Things like this in 2019 should be a thing of the past and it’s all these reasons that I’m giving Little Town Hero for the Nintendo Switch a 7/10.