The Other Witcher –
Over a year ago, Circle Entertainment’s original Legend of Dark Witch was an eShop sleeper hit built around the classic Mega Man gameplay formula. This sequel, the Legend of Dark Witch 2: Price of Desire, is more of the same but actually contains a healthy amount of content for a $6.99 priced 3DS eShop download.
In fact, the developers claim Price of Desire has about three times the amount of content than the first game. Besides having many gameplay options to choose from, including four difficulty settings and a couple different playable characters, there are dozens of achievements and abilities to unlock. There are also three nonsensical mini games to play including poker, a toy vending machine and even a difficult-to-master rhythm game. And without giving away too many spoilers, a handful of new stages become available once certain conditions are met. In other words, the main quest should only take about an hour to play through but there are plenty of reasons to come back once each anime witch boss has been conquered.
Both Dark Witch 1 and Dark Witch 2 are essentially clones of Mega Man. However, what makes these side scrolling platformers unique is the Tres system. When each and every enemy is destroyed, these little butterfly things called Tres are collected. Used like currency, Tres buff your character, making attacks wider and more powerful as the player ventures further into each stage. By the time the player gets to the boss, one weapon is usually overpowered. Unfortunately, this is where Dark Witch 2 starts to slip – balancing. Whereas Dark Witch 1 had a bit of a learning curve with the Tres system and tougher level design, most stages in Dark Witch 2 are little more than run to the right while holding down the attack button, jumping over the occasional pit. On my first play through, each stage took about 3 minutes to complete as I plowed my way through with a Contra Spread-like gun, making quick work of stage ending bosses. In fact, I even took down a boss just holding the attack button while remaining stationary on the casual difficulty setting.
Since each stage design is very straightforward, I actually recommend playing the game on the highest difficulty setting to get a fuller level of enjoyment. While Mega Man’s stage design was built around platforming, subtle environmental puzzles, and quick reflexes, each of Dark Witch 2’s stages are blandly one dimensional. There are other gameplay features that stand out, however, like the ability to block attacks with a properly timed button press, something Mega Man was never able to do, and power up any acquired weapon. Even if you die during a boss encounter, the game immediately restarts the fight without an annoying loading screen and forcing the player to re-listen to all the needless dialog again.
Positively, the pixel art and soundtrack are well done and easily become the star of the show. The wordy dialog contains the occasional spelling error and awkward translation but doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Unfortunately, the story is difficult to follow and really doesn’t make any sense, probably due to the lacking translation. But even if the translation was better, the dialog between boss characters is nothing more than laughable gibberish. If that wasn’t enough, the game rewards players with the “After Talk” option that features additional dialog between the player’s character and each boss after they are defeated. Just like the in-game conversations, this optional section can be ignored. The English sub with Japanese voices fit the bill though.
Both Dark Witch 1 and Dark Witch 2 are caught in the middle; they have that sweet anime charm and unique gameplay twists to make it enjoyable but miss the mark on being that top tier experience you would hope for. I like how it puts an interesting spin on the tried-and-true Mega Man formula with the Tres leveling system and wealth of unlockables but the balancing issues and lukewarm level design bring down the overall experience. What Dark Witch 2 does right is it gives the player a surprising amount of content to shift through, most of it being optional. But what you put in is what you get out. Completionists should have a blast while Mega Man fans will appreciate the anime flare and new take on weaponry while they deeply hold their breath for Mega Man 11.
Not As Good As: Mega Man 2
Better Than: waiting for a new Mega Man title
Wait For It: a new 2D Contra
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com