In a world of paint-by-numbers Android JRPGs, plot really matters. Appealing characters and sufficient twistiness raises Unlucky Hero above the mass of similar Japanese-style RPGs on the Android Market, although I have some minor quibbles with the controls. The game is, as usual, linear and involves a bit of grinding, and of course you have to level up your items in every town along the way, but a decent number of side quests send you to and fro across the countryside.
Unlucky Hero’s biggest advantage, by far, is its appealing cast of characters. In this world, mages are like Marvel mutants, hated and discriminated against. The protagonist, Jasper, is a cranky misanthrope who falls in with a kind royal family who have—shocker of shockers!—actually differentiated personalities. Led by an idealistic queen, they initially battle a Magneto-like villain who’s looking to get revenge for anti-mage discrimination.
The dialogue here is much, much better localized than in the typical Kemco game; there’s some actual wit and even some sexual tension, which is unusual in these kinds of translations. The plot bounces you along with twisty politics, alliances and betrayals, and there’s more than one reversal involved. Cutscenes can be lengthy, though. These characters have a lot to say to each other.
The characters you’re playing with don’t have highly configurable stats, so Unlucky Hero’s twist on the typical turn-based battle system comes through a focus on formations and “tactics.” Rearranging the characters in different formations changes their offensive and defensive abilities, and tactics are combo moves that can involve two of your four characters. Mixing up the formations and tactics, especially in the many boss battles, keep fights interesting.
There are no IAPs except for the game itself. My only real complaint: Unlucky Hero’s controls come via a virtual D-pad only; I would have liked to see some touch pathfinding here.
Including a few hours of wandering in the wilderness upping your stats, Unlucky Hero is good for a solid 20 hours of play. That makes it my new Editors’ Choice for an Android RPG, replacing Kemco’s Symphony of Eternity. We’ll see if Final Fantasy VI upsets it, when I get done with that one.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc