I love Wizardry. The series is one of my most favorite of all time and it’s a damn shame that the oldest and most beloved creation of Sir-Tech has been all but forgotten by Western gamers even though it is as American as apple pie and super heroes. Oddly enough, the east has embraced the series in the same way we did in the early 80s and Wizardry is still going on so strong in Japan that there are many Wizardry clones out there ranging from Etrian Odyssey to The Dark Spire.
One of those Wizardry clones is Class of Heroes. I’ll be honest. I outright HATED the first CoH. My review really savaged the game. Let’s be honest though – it was a TERRIBLE Wizardry clone and considering Acquire has done an amazing job with the ACTUAL Wizardry license, there was no excuse for how bad this game was.
So with that in mind, you’ll probably be surprised to hear I plunked down money to support Monkeypaw Games and Gaijinworks’ attempt to use Kickstarter to fund a physical copy of Class of Heroes II for the Sony Playstation Portable. Why? Well, a couple of reason. I loved Working Designs. They brought me Dragon Forcefor the Sega Saturn after all. I also love Wizardry. Hell I was listed in an old copy of Computer Gaming World as being one of the few to beat Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna, which is universally considered to be THE hardest video game ever made, and I was only like eleven years old at the time. Finally, it wasn’t so much supporting CoH2 as it was supporting a grass roots attempt at getting more Japanese titles brought stateside and localized. Sure, I can read and write Japanese but that doesn’t stop me from wanting titles like Valkyria Chronicles III or ANY Sakura Taisen game (besides V, which we have, thank Cthulhu)to make it over here so millions of other gamers have the chance to see why they are so wonderful.
Currently, Class of Heroes II is only at the 12% funding mark with 21 days to go, so they’re going to need some help from all of you reading this. I managed to throw out five questions to Victor Ireland about Class of Heroes II and the aforementioned Kickstarter attempt and here is what he had to say.
Diehard GameFAN: My first question is probably the hardest. Why Class of Heroes II for the PSP? The first CoH neither sold well nor was very well received by fans or reviewers. The PSP is all but a dead system that not even Sony supports anymore and your call for more JRPGs stateside is oddly being heralded by a game that is all but Wizardry, a Western PC RPG series at its core. On paper, this looks like all most impossible uphill battle for you. Obviously, you know something we don’t. What about this combination makes you confident that this was the right game to test the waters with?
Victor Ireland: The first Class of Heroes was not great. There were a lot of annoying things about it, but the core game had potential as a fun anime Wizardry. Class of Heroes II fixed a lot of the annoyances about the first game, and also expanded the game with more classes, more schools, more quests, and more options for the play. It’s a substantially better game.
We set very modest goals for the game, especially given that it will work on the PSP and the Vita, which is a bigger market than the first one had. If we sell between one-third and one-half the very modest amount the first game sold, it will be a good starting point for this first outing. These are not huge, impossible numbers we’re shooting for.
When choosing a game to “test the waters”Â on a whole new model, at some point you have to jump in. We’ve talked to many publishers in Japan about many titles, and continue to, but Acquire was willing to roll the dice with us on this project even though they would be the first. So rather than talk about doing it with other publishers for months and months more, we went with that. If the game was not good I would not have done it, but it is good.
DHGF: What made you decide to go the Kickstarter route for Class of Heroes II? As well, what made you set the goal at $500,000 dollars?
VI: It was a good way to gauge the support for the idea, simple as that. The Kickstarter was structured so that it would fund if less than 7,000 units of the Physical Deluxe Pack were pledged. That’s a tiny number of sales and a very achievable goal. If we can’t hit even that extremely modest number of units, then there’s no reason to do more than a digital download of the game with the basic localization that budget allows.
DHGF: Until now, Monkeypaw has primarily been releasing straight Japanese imports without any translation or old Working Design titles. What made you decide to get back into localization?
VI: John Griener and I have been working together for quite a while, first to get the old WD catalog on PSN, and then to ramp up localizations, basically working together to resurrect what I built at Working Designs, but under Gaijinworks working together with MonkeyPaw Games. Since key staff from Working Designs are working for or involved with Gaijinworks, it’s like the beginning of Working Designs 2.0.
DHGF: So how does Class of Heroes II differ from the first game? For people that didn’t enjoy the first, what about CoH2 is going to make them want to pick this up?
VI: It’s way less annoying. Class of Heroes 1 had tons of little annoyances that added up to make the game a chore to play. Stuff like making it expensive/annoying to restore magic/health when you got back to school. It was so expensive to heal that it was cheaper to restore your magic user’s MP, then you’d have to go through each character in your party and cast a spell to heal them. It was stupid and just plain annoying because cash was so hard to come by, especially in the beginning. Also, when you got loot in the dungeons, you had to PAY to see what it even was, which was an another annoying waste of money that was unwelcome when money was tough to come by in the beginning. That kind of stuff. It goes on and on. Class of Heroes II fully or partially addresses so many of the annoyances from the first one, it’s like a whole new game. They also expanded the classes to ten, which is certainly welcome.
DHGF: What other titles are you thinking of localizing? After all, there are a lot of titles that Western gamers would like to see brought stateside. Things like Valkyria Chronicles III, Fatal Frame 4, 7th Dragon, Nanashi no Game and others have their cult following that would love to see them get localized.
VI: Our list and the fan lists that are out there are almost the same. We’ve talked to or are in negotiations with many publishers about a number of titles, but success with this Kickstarter will be the best way to speed up the process with the larger, harder to get titles. This is not just a Kickstarter about Class of Heroes II, it’s a starting point and proof of model for console localizations. Fan support of it will help us move through negotiations more quickly and get other games here. I can’t emphasize that enough.
So there you go. If you’re even remotely interested in helping to fund this thing, click on through to view the Kickstarter page and put some money down. It’ll be interesting to see the end result of this. Kickstarter has been amazing for PC titles withDoubleFine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, Leisure Suit Larry and Shadowrun Returns all guaranteed funding. However, this is the first attempt to see how localization will fare, as well as a physical console/handheld release. Let’s cross your fingers that Class of Heroes II does well enough to convince other companies to give Kickstarter a try.