Sword of Hope II is a primitive RPG for the Game Boy. I assume this is the sequel to Sword of Hope, but I honestly know nothing of the series. I simply picked up this game on the Nintendo eshop on my 3DS because it looked charmingly primitive. And it is. The main story, as I understand it, is that an evil monster which was supposed to be sealed away in the previous game has been let loose and threatens the land once more. It’s up to you, Prince Theo, and your party of heroes to gather the magical orbs and take down the evil beast. That’s mostly it. You do this by walking around, killing enemies, leveling up, equipping items, buying items, using items, examining your surroundings, beating bosses, solving puzzles, talking to people, and doing various small quests. It’s very linear. The combat is turn-based. You have a three stats of strength, defense, and agility. You have HP and MP. Spells use up MP but attacks can be used anytime. In a nutshell, it all sounds pretty standard.
The things that are charming about the game are the obvious limitations and outdated gameplay. You are constantly presented with a bunch of panels. The middle screen represents the environment you’re currently in. Above that is the name of the area. The bottom left is a move box with arrow pointing up, down, left, or right depending on what is available. Sometimes up is forward and down is backward, but other times up is up and down is down. It all depends on your current surroundings and position. The right box gives you a variety of options such as item, hit, look, open, magic, and power. Using the correct action on the correct thing at the correct time is important. This is where most of the puzzle solving comes into play. Sometimes you need to examine the environment to find things. Sometimes you need to open things or hit them to progress. Sometimes there’s a pattern or a puzzle or someone to talk to. There are bosses and merchants and some side characters that will give you important items. Nothing is very guided or specific in this game. You have to just figure things out for yourself.
Many of the spells are shortened down to a single word to fit. My assumption is that they made the text big and bold to be easily readable on the original Game Boy. This means that you just have to experiment to figure out what they do and when to use them. There’s not description of their effect or how much MP they use. The items you have are the same way. They are often shortened to the point of not even being clear. So you’re often at the mercy taking guesses and hoping the more expensive the item is, the better its quality will be. This creates a lot of trial and error. Even some of the areas you go to are only really fleshed out by descriptive text upon examination rather than being visibly unique. Solving puzzles with items and interacting with things in a temple can be cryptic, but figuring it out will make you feel very rewarded. I think most of these things could be seen as bad things, but they help make the game an interesting experience. It’s charmingly primitive. I can’t stress that enough.
However, even if you’re able to enjoy all of that like me, as well as the grindfests you’ll have to endure, nothing seems to be a saving grace for the end of the game. The final palace is huge, with enemies that can destroy your party very easily. This means you need to grind A LOT or get lucky inside. Keep in mind that these are the enemies that continually spawn throughout the level. There are also a lot of chests in here… most of them are fake chests that turn into monsters to fight. The mini bosses, the ones that specifically spawn in places and that MUST be defeated to progress, are actually EASIER to beat than the endless enemies. The entire place is a big mazey puzzle as well, which makes the endurance test all the most annoying. I had the best gear I could find and had been grinding for a long time… and I still got destroyed many times. Then I got to the final boss that proceeded to destroy my whole party in a single hit with a single spell. All of them died in one turn. This is just ridiculous. Maybe I needed to use spells more or plan better, but it just felt so hopeless. That stupid jump in difficulty that forces me to grind again to a crazy amount broke me and I just quit. It wasn’t worth it.
Sword of Hope II is charmingly primitive. It has some fun problem solving, both intentional and unintentional. There are some cool enemies and some simple gameplay. It’s not horrible. However, it’s so outdated, clunky, and grind heavy that it’s not really worth your time. Sure, it’s cheap. Sure, it’s interesting. It’s totally passable as a game, but you’re much better off getting better games and spending your time with them instead. Even the Game Boy has more to offer than this. I really can’t recommend it unless the gameplay and the painstaking process of the grind sounds fun to you. If you do try it out, just be aware of what you’re getting into. And tell me how it ends because I’m not going back.