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Cosmic Star Heroine (Switch) artwork

Cosmic Star Heroine (Switch) review

"If I were to make an Indie game, I'm naming it Adjective Noun Person"

There are a surprisingly large amount of Kemco RPG reviews on this site. My understanding is that these are made to cash in on your nostalgia for the classic SNES era of RPGs, with Chrono Trigger and FF6 and the like. But instead, they just feel soulless and devoid of meaning. In contrast, Cosmic Star Heroine is... tying into SNES RPG nostalgia (there's even a section that's a blatant copy of the start of Chrono Trigger), but made with love and heart and soul. And yet, maybe it too is also slightly devoid of meaning.

For starters, if you play RPGs for the deep and engaging stories or characters, you're bound to be out of luck. You start out as an agent for the official government peacekeeping agency investigating the mysterious terrorist organization, and (let's be honest) it's not a spoiler to tell you that you'll be switching sides soon enough. Of course the government agents are evil, will you even be remotely surprised at that? The game jumps from one sci-fi cliche to the next, filled with over the top dialogue and scenes that lacks any sort of subtlety whatsoever. You'll find your characters are no better. The hero, Alyssa, is a blank slate. Chahn is her chirpy friend, Lauren is optimistic, Dave is a nerd, and Orson is the film noir private eye who's in the wrong genre. They are all one note beings, barely evolving from the first time you meet them. Frankly, if plot and characterization are the reasons you have for playing an RPG, you're bound to wind up disappointed here.

On the flip side, it also means it doesn't overstay it's welcome. With barely any transition from one chapter to the next, you don't have to wade through mountains of dialogue just to get back to dungeon crawling. With all characters being one-dimensional, they aren't endlessly blabbing at you. Just some quick dialogue to set the scene, and you're good to go. After all, short and dull is infinitely better than long and dull, so I actually have no problems with the plot. You got the sci-fi, alien-filled atmosphere, you got the SNES-style "cut scenes" consisting of a single animated picture, and you got colorful settings.

Cosmic Star Heroine (Switch) image
Imagine the hair waving and the gun blast pulsating, and that's the extent of your cut scene

Frankly, there's not much there. But there wasn't much there in Chrono Trigger either. So if you're simply looking for a sci-fi adventure, perhaps it's enough for you. But seriously, don't expect much.

Speaking of Chrono Trigger, that's clearly where the inspiration comes from. Your characters wander around in a top-down setting, enemies are visible and wandering around too, and when you get close the battle starts right on the same screen. Exactly like CT. Also, much like CT, there's a very simplistic equipment system and no real sense of character customization. There's a few out of the way hidden items, and a few optional sidequests, but for the most part you are mindlessly slogging your way through the dungeons, with the most exploration you see being getting to choose one out of two paths to see if it's the right one or a dead end. Much like the plot, many of the traditional RPG elements are extremely simplistic.

On the other hand, the combat itself is far more impressive than Chrono Trigger. See, instead of mindlessly attacking while managing your magic/AP/whatever like most RPGs, you can only use each type of attack or buff once per battle (with a few limited exceptions), unless you "rest" for a turn to regenerate them. Couple this with a boost system (every X number of turns, you do extra damage), and you soon find that the goal is to find the right sequence of actions to maximize your damage all while staying alive.

No seriously, just stay alive. The game further decides to simplify your dungeon crawling by healing you after every battle. Likewise, you don't need to worry about storing or managing items; each item can be used once per battle, but is otherwise infinite. Enemies do not respawn and are never meant to be bypassed, meaning you will always be at precisely the right level for the occasion with no need to grind (although you can optionally create random battles to level youself up if you want).

What all this means is that the combat is brought to the forefront here. Eventually you can choose your companions, and each plays differently based on their skill sets. You can have 8 skills per character at once, so choose them wisely knowing you can only use each one once before recharging them. Keep the order of your allies movements in mind as you plan when to strike and when to use your buffs. Oh, and play on the hard difficulty. Because there is no concern with tedious grinding, giving yourself a bit more of a challenge in how you tackle these fights is the best way to get value out of it.

Unfortunately, unless you are really in love with simplistic Chrono Trigger-esque RPGs, that's probably the only value you'll find. The story and characters are trite, the art is pleasant albeit standard sci-fi. There is little exploration or customization outside of the combat itself. And for that matter, I noticed multiple glitches, including an unfortunate crash. Is there passion behind the project? Yes. But is that enough to elevate it beyond the soulless cash-ins? Well, yeah, I mean, there's nothing particularly bad about any of this (glitches aside). Just don't expect that alone to turn it into a classic.

mariner's avatar
Featured community review by mariner (September 28, 2020)

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overdrive posted September 28, 2020:

I like this review a lot for two reasons. As someone who has played a few of Zeboyd's games but not this one yet, it does a great job of both telling what it does, while also giving good comparisons of it to those games from yesteryear that it is essentially trying to serve as a modern day version of.

And also, I cannot help but LOVE any review that references the KEMCO Khallenge in any way, shape or form. I mean, sure, a couple other people have reviewed a couple other Kemco games, so I can't take full credit for the number of them on this site, but if there's one category on HG that I am definitely #1 in, that is it! Well...according to EmP in Site King, I think I'm #1 in worst ratio of RotW placements to wins this year, but I'm trying to keep that one a bit quiet for obvious reasons.

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