Role-playing games are a favorite type of game for me, and they come in so many different types. Western RPGs, Japanese RPGs, strategy RPGs, tactical RPGs, action RPGs… honestly, I could go on all day. But sometimes, a very simple turn-based RPG is exactly what I want a game to be, and RPG Time: The Legend of Wright feels like a blast to that past (in more ways than one).
(Note: Game was played exclusively on Nintendo Switch)
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright Review
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright’s premise is built around a boy named Kenta, who has created his own personal role-playing game, and he wants you to play it! But rather than being a video game, a tabletop game, or even a board game, what he gives you is a series of drawings he designed, some makeshift user interfaces, and most importantly, a ton of imagination.
The premise is a solid and interesting one
Honestly, for me – and I’m guessing most people who bought the game – the big draw of The Legend of Wright is the premise rather than the actual gameplay. The Legend of Wright starts out with Kenta giving you the offer of playing sports or playing his new RPG he’s made, although it’s one of those classic “false dilemmas,” as no matter what you pick, he will pull out his copy of The Legend of Wright, as well as arrange an in-universe user interface (UI).
The UI includes a variety of tools and interactive objects, such as a magnifying glass, an MP3 player (which plays the background music), fake buttons you’re meant to press, and a perler bead charm of your character next to their stats. Perhaps my favorite of these things is the health meter, which is represented by a tape measurer. The more the tape measurer is extended, the more health you have.
As far as the premise of his story goes, it’s a pretty basic premise. You play as Wright, whose goal is to rescue the princess from the evil Dethgawd. As basic a premise as this may be, it thankfully becomes a lot more interesting as the story goes on. Not specifically with the fight against Dethgawd, but in terms of unconventional story beats and gameplay moments. There are definitely going to be a few moments in the game where you’re taken by surprise.
Honestly, the fact that the story sometimes goes off the rails fits in perfectly with the premise. Of course, considering that Kenta is a small child with a big imagination. It doesn’t have to be the most coherent or sensible plot. This just makes me nostalgic for when I made my own stories, and the tangents I would also go on.
The Legend of Wright’s gameplay is cute, though not exactly engaging
A lot of the game has you playing a point-and-click adventure, helping Wright navigate across the notebook. I’m a big fan of point-and-click games, so hearing that The Legend of Wright had point-and-click mechanics had me feeling pleasantly excited. Once I actually got a hold of the game, I did have fun with it, but I felt that there was so much more they could have done with it. It’s a pretty basic experience, and it serves more as a means to an end than anything else.
Another issue with these point-and-click segments is that it’s just kind of slow. You see, the best point-and-click games have a nice balance between exploring the environment, solving puzzles, and enjoying good dialogue and story progress. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a solid job of keeping you engaged during these segments. Granted, it’s not as though it’s ever bad. I always have fun playing these segments, but there is so much room for improvement.
At least you can use the touchscreen in handheld mode to point and click, which makes it a much smoother experience. By using the touchscreen, you also avoid one somewhat frustrating aspect of the game’s traditional controls. Namely, the game is inconsistent with respect to how it handles different modes.
You use the control stick to control your cursor, and the d-pad to control Wright. More annoyingly, however, the game switches the select button depending on the context of the situation. For example, you usually interact with objects using the A button on the Switch controller, but when you are in inspection mode, you use R instead. Worse, the A button becomes the cancel function!
While the point-and-click gameplay could use some improvement, it is a vehicle to some of the game’s best content. You can find plenty of side quests, mini-games, and other secrets by thoroughly exploring the environment, and you are only doing yourself a major disservice if you are just trying to get through the game as quickly as possible.
Considering this is an RPG, one thing you’d probably expect is to see character growth. However, I never really felt like my character’s growth, stats, or equipment really reflected a show of skill or perseverance. Instead, it felt like they were meant to signify story progress more than anything else. It would have been nice to have more in the way of customization options. There are various points at which you can get experience, including battles, certain investigations, and even deaths at times. Unfortunately, the experience is largely superficial. You level up at the end of every chapter, so your progress is pretty much fixed.
The game also tends to be a bit on the easier side, especially considering that Kenta tends to guide the player a little too much. Which, again, does feel like something a child dungeon master would do with his players, especially when it’s an original story they made up by themselves. Still, it would have been nice to have a sliding scale of guidance, allowing you to go all the way to ‘off’.
One thing I should point out is that The Legend of Wright was originally intended as a mobile game, and honestly, it shows. I don’t mean that in a negative way, to be clear, but there are certain design elements that made me realize that right away. The most obvious of these elements is the fact that it has an on-screen d-pad and action button, which is a common sight in mobile games.
The combat is less combat than I’d like
Since it’s an RPG, you would think it has a combat system, right? Well, it does, but it’s not exactly the most conventional. You do fight various enemies at various points in Wright’s quest, but the battles don’t feel like a traditional RPG concept. Honestly, the fights feel more like a puzzle game, almost like how the Punch-Out!! series of games is more puzzle and less sports. To fight enemies, you have to use your ‘sword’ – represented by a pencil – to slash at enemies.
Ultimately, there really isn’t much wrong with a nontraditional combat style in an RPG, but I feel like it would have been better had the combat had more depth. It doesn’t matter if that depth is in service of a more traditional style or if they just expanded further on the interesting ideas they already have.
The visuals are super cute and clever
The Legend of Wright is designed in such a way that it really looks like something your friend set up to play over the weekend. The play area is depicted through a notebook, in which certain elements and characters are animated in a simplistic manner (presumably through the power of imagination). Everything in the game, short of the animations, is understood to be purely diegetic (meaning that everything you see is “in the world”).
Basically, you’re not playing as Wright, you are playing as a kid who is playing as Wright. When you interact with certain objects, or an event happens, Kenta draws and erases things as appropriate. Perhaps my favorite example of diegetic storytelling was early on, when Wright is first defeated by Dethgawd, Kenta is doing a puppet show with paper dolls. As Wright is knocked away, the Dethgawd paper doll flips 180 degrees, revealing a comic panel of the princess crying out for Wright at that moment. It’s a really clever way to be able to quickly tell a pre-planned story.
Mind you, the visual artistry behind The Legend of Wright goes well beyond just drawings. In addition to the paper dolls that Kenta crafted, you also see some fun pop-up book effects. Honestly, one of the most impressive things about The Legend of Wright is the fact that they were so able to thoroughly nail the art style. There’s a fine line between authentically producing art that feels like a kid made it and producing art that feels all too wrong, and thankfully, the art in this game never crosses that line even once. There’s nothing to doubt about this game’s artistic authenticity.
The music feels ripped straight out of a classic 8-bit game
Whenever you are playing an RPG, you hope that the music you’ll be hearing for the next 60 hours is going to be great to listen to. Even the best of tracks can become incredibly repetitive after you’ve heard them for the 800th time. Granted, this game is no 60-hour epic (more like a 6-hour marathon), but the music manages to stay enjoyable throughout.
The music is super chiptuny, feeling like it’s ripped straight out of a game from the NES. Well, sorta. A common thing people do when they try to reproduce NES music is they may go a little too far in terms of what the NES is actually capable of, and The Legend of Wright definitely fits the bill there. It doesn’t sound bad, of course – in fact, it sounds quite good, and the most important thing is that they captured the essence of an NES RPG in its soundtrack.
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is quite an interesting game, and I had fun exploring Kenta’s hand-drawn world. Nevertheless, it did feel like a bit of a chore at times, and I wish they hadn’t tried to hold my hand so much. I imagine that it was designed to be enjoyable for all ages, but to be honest, I wonder if it would be able to hold the interest of younger kids. After all, they’re not exactly unfamiliar with complex and difficult games like Minecraft. I think this game would be better for kids at heart (like me!).
Honestly, I do feel like I was a little harsh on this game, and I don’t mean to be! The artistry behind this game is incredible, and the game has a lot of fun humor and creativity behind its design. I would love to see another game like this from the developers, as there is definitely a strong core to this game. It just needs to look into having deeper combat and exploration, which I think would make this game legitimately great if done well. So I hope the developer feels heartened enough to keep trying, just as I would want to see Kenta never give up on making more RPGs.
If you intend to play The Legend of Wright, I suggest you play it on the Switch, and only in handheld mode. It’s playable on other platforms and on a docked Switch, but the lack of touchscreen controls really does not do it any favors.
- Exploring the notebook world is fun and engaging
- The hand-crafted art style is incredible
- A great fit for a handheld like the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck
- The developers do a lot of creative stuff with the gimmick
- The soundtrack is a bop
- The sidequests and mini-games are the meat of the game
- The game could be a little more engaging during the point-and-click segments
- I wish the RPG mechanics were more in depth
- The game often won’t let go of your hand