The 8-bit era wasn’t really the most timeless era for RPGs. As good as those games were, they were limited by the hardware they ran on. It was more seen as the launching point for classic franchises and gameplay mechanics that we still see today. Indie games nowadays don’t have the same hindrances as the 8-bit consoles of the past, so games that pay tribute to that era are a welcome sight to see. 8-Bit Adventures 2 pays a wonderful homage to the 8-bit classics as well as countless other games.
The Role You Play
Early on in the game, you play as Charlie. He is an orphaned child, now living in the Pheopolis Castle. As he begins his adventure, he joins up with several other heroes, including the yet-to-be-named warrior, thief and mage heroes from the first 8-Bit Adventures game, as well as a couple of others along the way. Each character has their own unique skill set and special abilities, and can gradually learn new abilities as they get stronger.
The warrior hero from the first game has gone out to investigate a new threat later known as the glitch. When he goes missing for an extended period of time, the thief hero goes out to find him. Not wanting her to go out on a potentially dangerous mission alone or succumb to the same fate, Charlie secretly joins her on her quest to help locate the warrior hero and learn more about the new threat.
The plot of 8-Bit Adventures 2 is a continuation of the story from the first game. However, the story also manages to convey enough of an abridged version of what happened in the first game that you are never missing any essential plot details.
The gameplay feels second nature to the story, but it still makes a big impact. It’s a traditional turn-based system that takes inspiration from several other RPGs. Each character takes their turn in combat attacking, defending or using special abilities. You can also power up an omega meter which allows any character in your party to use a special ‘omega burst’ ability that can do massive damage, inflict status ailments and/or power up one of your allies. The only catch is that your entire party shares the same omega meter.
The combat encounters are infrequent and don’t make up a large part of the game. Because of this, you will not get stuck in a cycle of battling or feel the need to grind.
8-Bit Adventures 2 is very story-driven. It has a story to tell and it maintains a steady pace to tell that story throughout the course of the game. You can deviate a bit to do the typical RPG things: buy equipment, fight enemies, the occasional side quest, etc. However, it is very easy to progress through the game and choose not to do those things. The main priority is the story, and there is a lot of it for what is, at first glance, a very straightforward game. It can take roughly 30-40 hours to complete the entirety of the game.
One particularly memorable thing about the 8-bit era was the music. Since there was little to no capability for NES games to pull off percussion or bass lines, most of the soundtracks were very melody driven. 8-Bit Adventures 2 pulls off an excellent melody-driven soundtrack that not only sounds reminiscent of an 8-bit RPG, but has plenty of great tracks for its wide array of environments. It’s definitely made with modern technology and it shows with some added percussion and diverse chiptune instrumentation, but it blends well together to create an atmospheric experience.
One thing that absolutely stands out for 8-bit Adventures 2 is the insufferable amount of tutorials. The game has its standard tutorials to teach you to use new abilities or even offer tips on how to fight bosses. However, it goes too far every time you open a treasure chest. Whenever you get a new item, it gives you a detailed description of what it does. If you get a piece of equipment, it tells you who can equip it. It gives the player little freedom to figure things out for themselves. It’s particularly odd to see in a game that is both a sequel and a throwback to classic RPGs.
The Talking Parts
If any aspect of 8-Bit Adventures 2 takes the fullest advantage of being on modern hardware, it is the dialog scenes. Characters are very expressive and convey a wide variety of emotions with a rather restrictive art style. The level of expression is so good that it could be mistaken for one of the classic Squaresoft games. Throughout the game, several characters manage to show pain, sadness, joy, excitement, fear and concern. Such tone and body language are not easy to pull off with an 8-bit art style, but this game pulls it off incredibly well.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
8-Bit Adventures 2 makes references to and takes inspiration from tons of classic RPGs. The most obvious one is the original Final Fantasy. However, if you keep a keen eye out, you can notice several other references to classic RPGs, such as Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire and other games in the Final Fantasy series. They range from obvious to subtle, but if you’ve played a lot of RPGs, you’ll know them when you see them.
8-Bit Adventures 2 is a wonderful homage to the classics. It feels like it was made by and for people with a true passion for the humble beginnings of RPGs. For fans of the original Final Fantasy, it is an incredible game and should not be missed.
Final Score: 9/10
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