The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered review: Looking back at the ol' glory days

Legend of Legacy is a longing look back at challenging RPGs, spiced with a dash of spite.


Back in the 3DS era, FuRyu published two of the most fascinating RPGs of their time, almost instantly capturing my attention. Legend of Legacy and The Alliance Alive easily stood out at a time when Japanese games struggled to capture audiences. It wasn’t just their striking art styles, it was their combination of legendary talent, and clear inspiration from more niche series like SaGa. Alliance Alive was better-received for various reasons, which is probably why it got the HD re-release treatment so much earlier. Now we have the first game from this team, which is much rougher around the edges but in some ways more genuine in its feelings about games at the time.

Play this if you despise mobile games; the devs did too!

A mini-boss fight from the early game in legend of legacy hd
Source: FuRyu

Legend of Legacy is a very simple game upfront. It’s much like Wizardry, in which you have your home base, a dungeon, and a simple goal: go out and discover. Your storytelling is limited to fighting game-style bookends depending on your chosen protagonist, and cryptic background lore delivered to you in pieces. The core of the game is the thrill of the adventure, the loop of eking forward in knowledge as you slowly grow stronger and cover new ground. You even get to sell your maps in this game, which is a fun twist that encourages thoroughness.

Combat is where the magic happens, literally. Basic combat is definitely inspired by SaGa, and it’s no coincidence the team here recruited Kyoji Koizumi, combat designer for most of that series. What I mean here is you don’t earn EXP or level-ups for winning fights. Instead, after a fight you can randomly gain stats. During a fight, you can earn new abilities or make the ones you have stronger. It’s all random, so there’s a tug of war happening between lack of control and seizing opportunity. You don’t know what you’ll get, but you won’t get anything if you don’t try.

I love that loop; it gives you unique ways to think about character building you can’t find elsewhere. From Final Fantasy II until now, the ways in which that slightly-random progression actually fires up my brain for how I want to steer my team’s ship in the ways I can, that’s the good stuff. There are added layers in Legend of Legacy too, like formations that can fundamentally alter the ways skills work based on which role the user is in. Getting to tinker under the hood instead of just watching the numbers go up hits me right in the dopamine receptors.

Legend of Legacy, old school RPG nostalgia, get it? Eh???

How setting up formations looks in legend of legacy hd
Source: FuRyu

Sometimes this game falters when it tries to be the most creative. Magic, for example. There’s a cool in-universe explanation on how magic works, something I’ve thought of recently after playing Thaumaturge. In this world, magic is governed by Elementals, which are a force of nature most of your characters can barely perceive. But to use magic they have to form “contracts” with sentient beings, and the instability of that transaction is weird, but fascinating. You have to work to get your spells in a way that’s hard to wrap your head around and impractical at times, but it’s so cool in a diegetic way I still enjoy engaging with it.

Legend of Legacy probably struggles most in ways that don’t feel deliberate. Sure, the team aimed from the start to make an unapologetically old school, challenging RPG invoking the likes of Wizardry, SaGa, and Dragon Quest. I love those games! But especially with those first two, Legend of Legacy gets a couple things wrong in my eyes. This game offers seven characters, but only lets you use three at a time. It feels incredibly restrictive, especially when you don’t have much breathing room for making mistakes. The next point is the kicker, though.

It feels like something weird is going on with the math in this game sometimes. I don’t think there’s level scaling like in SaGa games, but it seems like there’s a Wizardry-like (or Dungeons & Dragons, natch) range for calculations. I’ll fight one group of enemies and their actions (and mine) will show one result, then another fight in the same map with similar enemies will have numbers that are strikingly different. When the ranges are so wide, it’s really hard to get a real sense of where you’re at in terms of progress. Especially since gear is so uncommon early on, it’s confusing to have your skills and stats go up only for a bird to whack you for half your HP sometimes anyway. It just feels off.

Legend of Legacy gets a sicko salute from me

A view of normal combat in legend of legacy hd
Source: FuRyu

Other systems add layers of exploration and discovery that are really exciting. Special exits in one map can take you to an entirely new map. There’s a ship you can pay to go on missions that come back with brand new items. Sometimes you can find mysterious architecture on a map that gives you additional control over the elements. These and more are all little things that exist outside the core premise and combat mechanics that add more weight to the idea you’re treading ground no other adventurer has before. Knowing one small discovery can have a huge impact on your party is exciting!

Legend of Legacy was fun and intriguing on the 3DS, but on the Switch it feels like a no-brainer. The frame rate issues and visual imperfections are gone, making the art and character designs stand out even more. The music, composed by Masashi Hamauzu for all you Final Fantasy XIII degenerates out there, is a home run. If this is the kind of game you can gel with, a hardcore dungeon-crawler with strange rules and light storytelling, don’t miss it. If some of these ideas sound neat, but other parts are scary, try out Alliance Alive instead. This team had something special going for sure, and it brings me hope for these kinds of passion projects to see them reappear on different platforms.

Legend of Legacy HD Remastered is available on March 22, 2024 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and PC. A code for Nintendo Switch was provided by the publisher for review.

Contributing Editor

Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favorites include Dragon Quest, SaGa, and Mystery Dungeon. He's far too rattled with ADHD to care about world-building lore but will get lost for days in essays about themes and characters. Holds a journalism degree, which makes conversations about Oxford Commas awkward to say the least. Not a trophy hunter but platinumed Sifu out of sheer spite and got 100 percent in Rondo of Blood because it rules. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas being curmudgeonly about Square Enix discourse and occasionally saying positive things about Konami.

  • Vibrant art style is even better in HD
  • SaGa-like mechanics that encourage thoughtful party-building
  • Defiantly old school
  • Obtuse magic system is awkward to navigate
  • Hard to feel progress due to inconsistency and wide range in numbers
  • Very light, backgrounded storytelling
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