I always get excited when an unexpected sequel to an underrated game comes out. The Legend of Dark Witch 2 expands on the original formula but does it offer enough of a new experience to be a worthy follow-up?
If you've ever played the original Dark Witch game then you already know what to expect. The Legend of Dark Witch 2 features the same electrifying 2D action platform gameplay which combines elements from Mega Man and Gradius. That's right, you learn boss's abilities after you defeat them and have a meter that allows you to activate power-ups as if you're piloting the Vic Viper itself. The controls are as tight and easy to learn as Zizou's first adventure yet everything is more polished this time around. For example, the colour-coded meter makes deploying power-ups much more intuitive. Running around, activating power-ups, leaping from platform to platform, and firing unstoppable bursts of projectiles at the wacky assortment of enemies will feel right at home for any 2D action game fan.
The Legend of Dark Witch 2 includes many familiar characters as well as a bunch of new folks who are a joy to meet. Everything from reading their often humorous bios, listening to their adorable Japanese voices when you meet them face-to-face, and reading the text in the optional menu where you can eavesdrop on their conversations brings so much life and personality to the game world. It's so well done that it makes me wish there was this much depth of character in the original Mega Man games. The stages are bright and bursting with unique flair such as cute animated backgrounds and absurd enemy designs. When it comes to audio, the music is still catchy but the sound effects remain as repetitive as the original. Overall, its presentation doesn't deviate much but that's by no means a bad thing.
It's definitely a pleasant surprise that Zizou gets to explore almost twice as many stages in this sequel. There are eight main stages with corresponding bosses and weapons to acquire and another five to work through when you're done gaining a full arsenal. Between stages, you can purchase upgrades that include boosting your stats, customizing the power-up meter, levelling up earned weapons, and buying usable items. You use the game's currency (known as Tres) and hidden items (a limited resource called Pura Syega) to do so. Upon completing the adventure, you unlock a load of new content that includes mini-games (poker, a toy vending machine, and a fairly lame but interesting rhythm game), a list of achievements, and a museum with records, a music player, and enemy and boss information. However, the coolest extra is that you can play through the game again as Sola who has a different array of attacks and abilities than Zizou. There's so much to do that you'll likely spend hours trying to unlock everything.
The only negative aspect of The Legend of Dark Witch 2 is that it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from the original. Sure, there's a lot more content but it is essentially the same experience. Even issues that I had with the original persist. One of these is the fact that this is on 3DS yet there is no 3D at all. Why do an increasing number of developers seem to not care about such a fundamental feature? Heck, even Nintendo didn't implement 3D for their recent puzzler Pokemon Picross. Additionally, the poor translation is just as apparent here. Like in the first game, even character names are misspelled at times. Did anyone even bother to proofread anything?
Although The Legend of Dark Witch 2 doesn't take the series to new heights, it's still a worthy follow-up to a highly underrated 3DS eShop gem. I fell in love with Zizou and her charming world last year and I'm still enjoying every minute I spend adventuring with her. Do yourself a favour and download this great example of delightful 2D action whenever you get the chance.
- + Same incredible gameplay yet with more content and polish than before
- + Charming characters in a fun-filled setting
- + Loads of extras and unlockables to uncover
- - Doesn't provide any substantial new features that weren't in the original
- - No 3D implementation at all
- - Still suffers from poor translation