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PAX Prime 2015 Hands-On: Cosmic Star Heroine


Jonathan Higgins

Conventions like PAX Prime are remarkable places, because you can do something like... go looking for food, then come across a game you“ve never heard before that happens to not have a line, and it draws you in with its sense of style alone. Cosmic Star Heroine was one of those games. I had no idea developer Zeboyd Games (Cthulhu Saves the World, Breath of Death VII) was even behind this one, much less what it was. But by the end of the demo I played... I want to know more, and I want to tell the world about it.

 

Few indie RPGs are ambitious enough to take up Chrono Trigger“s mantle, but this one has to be the closest I“ve seen. I“ll get into art style and ambiance momentarily, but I think the battle system is going to be what catches people“s eye at PAX Prime and beyond. Cosmic Star Heroine is a turn-based RPG that doesn“t have to fade in or out and take its battles to another screen. Taking a page from Square-Enix and action RPGs, the battle starts from right where you“re standing upon initiating contact with the enemy. Alyssa, Chahn and Dave don“t just power through foes to win, either.

 

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The demo introduces “Style” very early on. The more style you have (a percentage value that can go over 100), the higher damage you do. Oftentimes, when I fought a group of enemies, I would have one character attack while the other two defended and built up Style to increase their overall damage output in the battle.

 

Furthermore, most commands can only be used once before needing to defend and recharge. Manipulating the structure of turn-based battles in this way forces folks to be more strategic versus the “press Attack/Ultra Magic Spell to win” fare most RPG veterans are used to. I found myself actually using my team strategically, which is more than I can say for most of the games Cosmic Star Heroine“s visuals will remind you of.

 

An example: I would start off by having Alyssa give Chahn an extra burst of strength for three turns, and attack subsequently with both Chahn and Dave. Then Alyssa would attack while Chahn used an ability that allowed her gun-based attacks to hit all foes the next turn while Dave healed up. And all three allies would dispatch the entire group of foes handily by the end of the third turn. There“s actual strategy involved here!

 

I think all your allies will need to work together to topple further areas in the game. The battle system is a little more complex to keep the party on their toes, but it“s not so complex that anyone should be turned away. The developer has even said the game will have dual-techs, like Chrono Trigger!

 

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When I say the game is extremely reminiscent of Chrono Trigger, I“m not messing around. Just based on the personality and charm of the demo and press kit, I predict Cosmic Star Heroine will maintain a perfect blend of seriousness and whimsy. The demo drops you off at the start of a covert mission unknown to anyone (even Alyssa“s allies are in the dark, at first), but before long the game had me actually giggling to myself.

 

Environments are colorful and full of life (until you get to a dark, abandoned facility and are separated from your group at the end of the demo), music is memorable, and the various bells and whistles that tie everything together sound off perfectly like something that ought remind you of the SNES era, but not leave you bogged down by “retro” mechanics that age poorly.

 

I“m so happy I came across this experience on the show floor. Neither Cosmic Star Heroine nor developer Zeboyd Games were on my radar before this weekend, but now I“m hesitating to call this one my "Game of the Show." Its potential, and the fact that I actually wracked my brain a little to make an otherwise traditional combat style work, has me super excited to see what comes next. Its release date is still TBA, but be sure to check out the official website for more information!

 

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