RPG Time: The Legend of Wright – The Final Preview

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We were able to play about two hours of RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright. From its unique pencil drawing style to diverse gameplay and creative world building, it left us wanting more. Thankfully, RPG Time: The Legend of Wright will soon be released on March 10 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

Playing an extended demo of RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright reminded me of seeing the classic Cuphead animation for the first time. While pencil sketches in a notebook are something we’ve all seen before, it looks unique when put into video game format. Wandering through an elementary school student’s notebook is a new experience, and going from page to page really made me feel like I was in control of a character in a way I had never experienced before. .

Screens – RPG Time

Unlike Cuphead, RPG Time isn’t action-oriented, which makes its unique visual style the start of its appeal. Like most RPGs, RPG Time features a wide range of different activities, from battles to exploration and character dialogue. You control Wright, the hero of this adventure, traveling through the lands of Cardboardia in order to rescue Princess Lay. Along his journey, Wright is involved in (often hilarious) events and meets some interesting characters along the way.

While pencil sketches in a notebook are something we’ve all seen before, it looks unique when put into video game format.

That being said, RPG Time’s cast of interesting characters isn’t just limited to the hero. Appearing outside the notebook in animated form, 10-year-old elementary school student Kenta Nakamura will be your game master. Kenta aspires to one day become a game designer, and the notebook you play in is actually his handcrafted game on his school desk. He presents his laptop as if it were a portable system and selects the music from his MP3 player to suit each situation. Meanwhile, Wright’s HP is represented by Kenta’s tape measure. Kenta enthusiastically recounts the game’s story and events, and puts on masks for each character as he reads their dialogue. If he doesn’t like the way things are going, he could just pull out his eraser and get rid of a pass or draw a giant ball to smash Wright. After all, Cardboardia is Kenta’s creation and can be changed at any time. As I read, I really started to like Kenta’s character and quickly appreciated her endless passion. Kenta’s presence made me feel the nine years of love and care developer DeskWorks put into creating the world and characters of RPG Time.

The game’s tutorial has a section where Kenta introduces himself and he tells you about his personal favorite games of all time. While these aren’t games that actually exist in the real world, it makes RPG Time’s understanding and appreciation for gaming culture immediately apparent. The main game is also full of video game references, ranging from Hadoken-like controls and sprite-like segments to esports tournaments. These references are implemented as interesting mechanics or events that stem from Kenta’s sheer admiration for his favorite games, rather than coming across as cheap parodies.

I was constantly amazed by the immense creativity of the game.

During my 2 hour play session, I was constantly amazed by the immense creativity of the game. One moment I was digging things up with my newly obtained shovel, the next moment I was using it to fight a monster giant. Then a mole suddenly challenged me to a baseball game, after which came a section where I drove a tank to collect worms. Naturally, the next step was to take this tank and enter an esports tournament. RPG Time is constantly shaking things up in the most bizarre, hilarious, and cute ways. While the instant gameplay itself might not be extremely deep, the amount of variation it offers is amazing. Throughout my playtime, I was rarely tasked with the same objective twice, as each event had its own custom gameplay piece. It was often like playing a great Mario game that continually brings new ideas to the table, while also delivering an engaging world and story like Earthbound or Undertale.

The game I played had no random encounters and battles only happened when Wright had to face someone in the story. Attacking enemies is done by moving a pencil with the right analog stick similar to brush strokes in Okami. Rather than emphasizing stats, abilities, or strategy, RPG Time’s combat system seems to be all about finding the enemy’s weakness, which is hinted at through dialogue. This makes battles feel more like special events than hardcore gameplay, though you can definitely take damage, which can be recovered by drinking cola or sipping ramen from the food menu.

RPG Time is all about the experience of being guided by Kenta through the quirky world he has created. Defeating an enemy or finding the solution to a puzzle is never too difficult. That said, it’s not a passive experience either, and if you fail your current objective, Kenta will take you to the page in his notebook where he drew an adorable game screen.

Each page of Kenta’s notebook is filled with lovely details. You can trigger Help Mode at any time, in which Kenta will tell you about all the different objects and characters he has drawn for this page. There’s also an eccentric Ninja character called Mininin that you’ll find on most pages, making it worthwhile to take a closer look at these designs. The game is filled with cute little secrets and optional branches, and the player’s curiosity is always rewarded. For example, in my second playthrough of the demo, I tried to use a special move before I was supposed to know, which prompted a surprise reaction from Kenta. It’s as if everything that can come to the player’s mind has been thought of. These neat but playful details show just how much Kenta and DeskWorks want you to have a good time in the world of Cardboardia.

RPG Time’s handcrafted visuals go beyond Kenta’s simple notebook. Ranging from folded origami princesses to cardboard backdrops, the majority of RPG Time’s art has been physically created. Making an interactive experience of these comfortable creations is something only a video game can do. With so much care put into the game’s mechanics and storytelling, RPG Time has the potential to become one of my favorite Japanese indie games of all time.

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