REVIEW: Sword of Hope

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Sword of Hope is a single character RPG by Kemco (of Deja Vu, Uninvited, and Shadowgate fame). As an RPG shoehorned into Shadowgate’s interface, Sword of Hope is adventure-lite and RPG-lite, but fun. I’m somewhat of a Kemco fan: Desert Commander (NES), Ghost Lion (NES), and Lagoon (SNES) being favorites.

Sword of Hope uses a streamlined copy of the Shadowgate interface with fewer commands. Unfamiliar with Shadowgate? You navigate interconnected static screens, manipulating your inventory and environment with basic actions (i.e. “hit”).  Sword of Hope is an RPG primarily so puzzles are infrequent and simple. The focus is on combat and maze wandering.

Combat is basic. Your character faces small groups of monsters in a turn-based attack/magic/escape way. Dungeon design is where Sword of Hope shines. Dungeons are maze-like with occasional puzzles, plus the regular trickery (traps, mimic chests, one-way doors), all cleverly implemented. The dungeons’ sizes increase successively and the final dungeon (an epic maze with a castle, garden, and cave) encompasses the game’s second half.

Sword of Hope is another Gameboy RPG like Knight Quest or Great Greed that is fun in its simplicity. The challenge is good: the bosses are tough and the mazes are intricate. But it doesn’t get bogged down with exposition or complex mechanics. The puzzles are cryptic (more so with the poor translation), but that’s the nature of (Kemco) games from this era. Sword of Hope has a sequel for Gameboy, which isn’t so bad either.

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