Single Player Co-Op –
Witch And Hero II is more of the same from the bump-and-kill gameplay foundation established in the original but is still a low-cost, addicting experience but with a few new twists worthy of the sequel treatment.
Players of the original Witch And Hero will feel right at home with its sequel as the goal is to defeat waves of incoming baddies while protecting Witch from a static screen. However, gameplay is expanded upon because Witch is no longer limited to a stationary role. Using the face buttons like a d-pad, the player has the ability to move Witch around the battlefield freely just like Hero’s analog nub movements. The important factor to note is Witch cannot walk as fast as Hero and enemies will home in on her. The Hero will fall many times throughout the adventure but always gets back up but once the Witch goes down, it is game over. It is beneficial to keep Witch on the move as she has the ability to unlock chests with a single tap and can revive fallen Hero when in close proximity. In summary, Witch and Hero 2 is basically a co-op experience for a single player. It is a unique challenge to move both characters at the same time, takes some time to get used to, but definitely adds an important element to the overall fun factor.
In the original game, Hero was trying to cure Witch by defeating Medusa and her stone curse, which is why she was confined to a stationary position. Here in the sequel, little Hero and little Witch are trying rescue Hero and Witch from Dark Lord, a new end boss with a few tricks of his own. Narration was intentionally kept to a minimum but there are a few tweaks that tie directly into the gameplay. Without giving away spoilers, the player will eventually find new items that enhances the overall experience on top of leveling up and purchasing new upgrades. Because the player can usually increase stat or two after every battle, the gameplay remains addicting as there is a constant sense of accomplishment throughout the 3-5 hour quest.
While the new co-op-like experience, addicting leveling-up structure, and charming 8-bit visuals and soundtrack make this game so great, perhaps the coolest feature in Witch And Hero II is the direct tie-in with the original game. After a couple dozen attempts, I was never able to actually defeat the final boss in Witch and Hero 1 and basically just rage quit forever. Uniquely, Witch and Hero II read my save file from the original game and actually gave me a chance to defeat Medusa from the original game, knowing that I never bested her. What made this experience so unique was that I was able to finish the original game without exiting and loading the original game and it actually told me the secret to beating this boss, the reason why I was unable to defeat her the first time around (you actually need to use the shoulder buttons and the game never tells the player this which is why that final boss was so difficult). I cannot recall any other game having a feature like this. For example, what if Nintendo gave players the ability to fight Ganon from Ocarina of Time before starting Majora’s Mask? Your mind would be blown, right?
Witch And Hero II also reduces the amount the grinding in comparison to the first game. For the most part, the player can continue to the next stage without having replay too many stages just to gain a level or two. The pacing is near perfect but the player is free to take advantage of the leveling system to make future stages more accessible. Also, after Dark Lord has been defeated, the game unlocks a couple of Horde Mode-like stages and there are plenty of things to unlock in the Collections option from the main menu. It is doubtful that players will max out the stats for Witch and Hero during normal gameplay but these additional features provide reason to keep playing after the short credit screen rolls. There are also several save slots available so anyone can play their own quest without interrupting another.
Don’t be deceived by the adorable 8-bit graphics and simple gameplay, Witch and Hero II is just as addicting as the first. Developer Flyhigh Works and publisher Circle Entertainment have released some of the best games on the 3DS eShop and this sequel is no exception. For just a few bucks, I have had more fun playing this eShop exclusive that playing some triple-A releases. 3DS eShop players should not ignore these Flyhigh Works/Circle games.
Better Than: most eShop games
Wait For It: Witch And Hero 3 with online 2-4 player co-op support
Also Try: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com