Legasista Playtest: Character Customization To The Extreme

By Aung (DrakosAmatras) . August 21, 2012 . 3:01pm

System Prisma is a developer closely associated with Nippon Ichi Software, and had handled various ports of games published by N1, such as Disgaea DS and Phantom Brave on Wii. Of course, they also have some internally developed games, most of which are adventure/novel games; but they’re perhaps more known in the West for their two “Classic Dungeon” games—released under the shortened name “ClaDun”.


Their latest game, Legasista, is an RPG that takes place in a world where science and technology have been lost in time, eventually coming to be feared as “magic” and “curses”. A young adventurer named Alto arrives at a large tower which was part of an ancient civilization that fell into ruin a thousand years ago, and is now feared by people as a cursed land. His goal is to find a relic that could return his sister Mari, who was turned into a small crystal, to her original form.


On the tower’s premises, he encounters an automaton in the form of a small girl. She introduces herself as “Ms. Dungeon” (Dungeon-san), the “manager” who maintains the premises, which she explains was an ancient research facility called “Railyard”. With help from her, as well as a local race of sentient bean sprouts, Alto braves through the tower to find what he’s looking for: A feared ancient weapon called “Melize” (which, he believes, can restore Mari).


The Railyard serves as a base camp for Alto’s dungeon adventures. By talking to Ms. Dungeon, you can select an area, then a sub-area to go to. Once you clear it, the next stage is unlocked, you return to the Railyard, as well as unlocking more story events at specific points, presented in visual novel fashion. If you think this sounds like the presentation style of Disgaea games, that’s because it pretty much is the same.


Dungeon crawling can be done by a party of 1-3 characters. Alto starts out alone, but gains more story-related members as he goes on. But pretty early in the game, you get the option to create custom characters. Here’s how the system works: You first pick a job class out of six total for a character to start out as. These include:


  • Warrior (direct physical combat)
  • Adventurer (all-rounder)
  • Pyro (offense magic)
  • Cryo (magic + support)
  • Thief (fragile hit-and-run)
  • War Mage (moderate balance of Pyro and Cryo)


Don’t worry; characters aren’t fixed into one class permanently. You can change to any class anytime out of the dungeons, but to change from a class, you need to be at least Lv. 20 in that class. While the stat growth from each class is independent (i.e: you can’t start a new job all built-up with stats carried over from a previous job), there is something that can be carried over between each job: Job abilities.


Every time a character levels up, they get Job Point (JP) according to their levels, which they can spend for Job abilities. Some of them only apply to their current class (and in some cases, only under specific conditions), but about half of each class’ Ability list apply to that character in general, regardless of which Job they are at the moment. So there are benefits in changing Jobs, because even if you’re not interested in what a different Job has to offer, you can still carry over JP you gain from that job to build up the ones you want.


But Job levels and Abilities can only go so far to prepare your character for the tower’s dungeon floors. You also need reliable equipment. Since there are no shops to buy things from, your only source for items is dungeon loot, from either monsters or chests.


The equipment system itself is… I’ll be honest; it’s confusing at first. In addition to deciding which weapons a character can wield, they have another equipment-related feature: Energy Frames. To put it in simplest terms, imagine a long HP bar divided into several segments, have each of their lengths be decided by the equipment assigned to that part, then assign a point limit on each equipment segment to limit instantly equipping strong equipment, and you have the idea. The loot itself, being randomly-generated, doesn’t help with the confusion either, especially in the late game when you have a pile of items sitting in your cache. When micro-management becomes cumbersome, I just used the function to automatically equip a character with the best items available.


Aside from that, though, the rest of the game is very straightforward to play.


While an obvious comparison to top-down 2D Zelda games could be made, the dungeon system also largely incorporates elements from the “Rogue-like” genre. Aside from story stages which have fixed layouts, the game also has a random dungeon system—not unlike the Item World in Disgaea games—aptly named “Ran-geon”. Ran-geons are accessed by holes dug in the Railyard, and come in four types: Baby-geon, Ran-geon, Hard-geon and Demon-geon, each with their own difficulty level and drop rates. The latter three are long dungeons with 100 consecutive floors each, which takes preparation to clear; Baby-geons serve that purpose by being (relatively) easier and shorter to clear.


But make no mistake: The game can be rather challenging once it lets you out of the handholding stage. The dungeons are not just about killing monsters and looking for the exit; there are several types of trap tiles waiting for unaware adventurers. Most of them are made to hinder you, of course, but with experience and quick wit, it’s quite possible to lure enemies into a trap’s affecting area and use it against them. But that doesn’t mean enemies are gullible dummies either; in fact, their AI can be quite efficient on higher levels, even to the point of being insufferably sly sometimes. Weak enemies may run away from you so that you chase them into a trap, or a group of stronger enemies; if you’re shooting arrows, some enemies will zig-zag or circle around to get close to you; projectile enemies will, in return, use hit-and-run tactics to no end; or just the timeless classic: happily ganging up on you.


To add to the overall challenge, the game also employs a “sight range” system. It’s similar to the fog-of-war system used in strategy games, with several twists: You see further in front of you than your sides or back; you can’t see through walls, which also means around corners; and you can’t see enemies and traps beyond your sight range, but they become increasingly clearer as you approach them.


Overall, there are three things I really loved about Legasista.


The first is the game’s sprite system; specifically, the in-game sprite editor that lets you tweak a custom character’s appearance to your liking—body, hair, limbs, extra hair or coats, and even right down to weapons. You can also animate the weapons if you want. Since the game runs on a very simple 3-frame animation system, it’s not really a big hassle to draw a loop of, say, a flaming sword or a glittering bow. But the most impressive part is the fact that you can export the sprite sheet as a PNG file, transfer that to a PC, edit it there, transfer back and apply. It’s very handy for those who want to work on their personal sprites more seriously, or even those who find the PS3 controller a cumbersome tool to draw with.


What if you’re not good with drawing or with sprites? No worries! There are official sprite sheets for characters from various companies/games that can be downloaded for free. Some of them are even included in the game already. Disgaea fans in particular would enjoy playing as the major characters all the way to Valvatorez and Fuuka. (If there exist any fans of Criminal Girls, the entire roster is there too…) Special mention goes to Gig for having a completely customized sheet (as opposed to Laharl who only have a modified sword sprite).


Secondly, the soundtrack is fantastic. Literally from the moment I started the game, I was drawn in by the opening song, “Grief of the Ancient Machine”. By the time I finished the game, I can’t find a single track that didn’t really care about— although the ones based on the opening song’s tune are my top favorites. I suppose it helps that each of them has a distinct and easily recognizable rhythm and tune. To draw yet another comparison, many tracks remind me of tracks from Atelier and Ar Tonelico series, and occasionally Ys Origin. The way some tracks are used to convey the mood of the story is also very appropriate and gets the intended feeling across very nicely. Speaking of which…


My third favorite is the story. Given the gameplay-heavy nature of Legasista, I admittedly went in without much expectations of a memorable story. And the game changed my mind. It’s a very minimalistic story, but for all its limits, it presented a tidy plot with some mystery to maintain my interest throughout, surprisingly thoughtful dialogue, and some genuinely dramatic moments. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but I’ll at least say that by the time I got to the penultimate climax, I’ve already chalked the story up among my personal favorites. I guess the “26 adventure/visual novel titles” entry in System Prisma’s resumé isn’t just for show.


Food for thought:

1. The game isn’t dubbed in English, and only comes with the original Japanese dub.


2. Legasista is very much a “ClaDun HD” with more features added in. At the same time, it seems to combine several elements of Nippon Ichi’s piror games, which Disgaea fans may find interesting.


3. You can download various collaborative character sprite sheets from NIS’ Japanese website here.

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  • Loran Cehack

    I’m kinda curious how that Dragon-Human hybrid worked out. LOL.

    • Christopher Nunes

      Oh, you…

      I see what you did there. ^_^

  • ronin4life

    When does this come out? And is it a digital release?

    • Yannick Ho

      Today… I think it’s already available on the PSN Store for PS3.

    • Today and Legasita is a digital only release in the West.

  • the9reen9uy

    This would make an awesome vita game =(

  • I love the character design. I hope it gets dubbed or subbed in English soon.

    • Altritter

      Uh, it came out today in North America.

      • Wait wut!? Ah I see. Time to get it then, thanks lol

    • raymk

      lol it is out,not to mention that it even has english screens in the topic.

      • Wow, I totally wasn’t paying attention lol

  • Yannick Ho

    I wonder if it’s any good… XD

  • Yannick Ho

    Looked great when I read about it.

  • When i get the cash, i’ll buy the game since i was a fan of the Cladun games

  • DesmaX

    Damn, I’ve spend the money I was going to use to buy this to buy ClaDun x2 on Steam…

    I’ll pick this up next month then

  • WyattEpp

    Yeah, I was noticing that with ClaDun X2 this last week: ZIZZ Studio puts together some sweet tunes!  I was fully expecting to switch to retro music mode, but then I got drawn in to the fully arranged versions and am not inclined to stop.  They’re pretty much all catchy, classy, and well-suited.

  • Rentekabond

    I was somewhat interested in this up until I read that there’s no english dub. Which sucks because based on the trailer, the music sounds amazing and the gameplay looks, at the very least, decent.  Maybe if it gets a price drop somewhere down the line, but until then, I’ll pass.

    • It’s apparently a 30$ PSN download, and not a full-price release. While some are free to lament the lack of an English dub, I think at least its lack thereof made the price relatively affordable. Especially for a tidy game with virtually unlimited mileage.

  • Carlos Escalante

    Want this game, but my backlog is too big right now. Anyone know is there will be a 25% off sale on the PSN September 5th.?

  • Captain_Jiruo

    I really can’t decide if I should buy this game right now or not. I was getting set to wait for a sale but after reading this I really want it now,especially if the story isn’t just a throw away. Someone please convince me to buy this. ¡_¡

    • Do keep in mind one thing about the story: I can’t guarantee if others would be satisfied by it or not. I only said it’s a tidy story because it flowed well within its own established facts and internal logic.

  • If Laharl will have a cameo role in the game, likely he’ll jump in, gloat and will declare that this game would be renamed “Laharlista” with him as the new main character.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Having Asagi show up and b*tch about how they STILL don’t have their own game would be a better one.

      •  “Asagista.”

  • Clinton Nix

    Looks very interesting.

  • looking forwward to the game, loved the cladun series :D, the costume design looks neat, especially the girl in purple, but the boy’s clothes look weird……anyway its fantasy pretty much anything goes :P 

  • Daniel Morandi

    >Edit the sprites
    >create my weapons
    >Export/Import sprite sheet

    Good I love that, I’ll give a try.

  • $24431191

    This looks good, I think I’ll buy it. Wish there was a physical copy though. Network downloads are fine and all but I like physically owning my games. Not a huge deal overall, just my personal preference.

  • Learii

    this game look great but i guess i  wait until the price drop because is didn’t look like a $60 game to me or is this game is $50?

    • It’s a $30 download game.

      • Christopher Nunes

        It’s a download-only game and it’s already out? Time to buy more PSN cards!

      • Learii

        oh is a $30 download game thx for pointing that out for me i buy a psn card then

  • I sure wish I could be playing this right now. But Gamestop seems to be refusing to send my $20 PSN code. =/

  • It looks pretty nice, but I don’t know if I’m ready to spend 30 dollars on it just yet. Also, a game like this seems like it’s just begging for multiplayer/cooperative play.  I wonder why this wasn’t an option?

    • My guess is, either:
      – System Prisma poured the budget into making the game as tidy as possible, possibly eschewing multiplayer if they ever planned it.
      – Characteristic of the Roguelike formula, they want you to tackle the dungeons alone.

  • Hmm, how to go about saying this without breaking the rules. I don’t really see the point of making 2D sprite games like this for a powerful home console. I mean I get digital downloads are avenues for games like this but I just don’t see myself sitting down in front of my PS3 playing Legasista. Seems interesting, but I’d love to play this on a handheld. Mind you, I don’t care which handheld, I would just like play it to while laying down comfortably wherever and turning it off without worrying about saving. Like SRPGs there are just genres and certain kinds of games I prefer on portables and this seems like a game I’d prefer on one.

    • I can understand; the gameplay itself came from a PSP game, after all. My guess is that System Prisma just wanted to make a more “modern” rendition of their RPG, kinda the opposite of intentionally-retro ClaDun.

      That said, the game did take good advantage of the higher hardware. Loading times are very short, music is clearer and have a variety of instruments and rhythms, and 2D art in general is the tidiest I’ve seen on PS3 – after all, this is the studio that cooperated in sprite-works for Disgaea 4. Not to mention the sprite customization system itself, which wouldn’t have been nearly as easy to implement (if it’s possible at all) on PSP hardware.

      • Oh, I’m sure technically it’s improved a ton over what it would have been on PSP, but what about 3DS/Vita? It could have received all those improvements on an 8th generation portable. Naturally the sprites wouldn’t look as nice but they’d still be pretty damn good.

        • Considering they didn’t make an English dub and released on PSN… I’m thinking NIS felt it too niche to invest in physical copies in general – at least in the West. The game got a physical release in Japan, but then again, every PS3 game in Japan seems to get one, so that’s not saying much.

          As for why the game was made only for PS3… you’ll have to ask NIS or System Prisma.

          • Well, with PSN and even the eShop now you could’ve have released it digitally on both portables…

            Welp, whatever. One of these days I might pick it up on impulse.

  • FitzpatrickPhillips

    Been playing all day and I just got character creation. I can’t, for the life of me, find the customization option for their looks. Does that come later? Sorry if it was mentioned the article. I merely skimmed since I want some elements to be a surprise.

    Edit: Annnnnd I found it.

  • Crevox

    No actual gameplay screenshots besides that same one you used twice? :


    Should I play the Cladun games first to get a feel for this, first? I can borrow those from a friend, and I don’t wanna blow $15 on something I might dislike.

    • Since there are no demos (that I know of), yes, I would recommend trying a ClaDun game first. Also because the game system is… a bit peculiar compared to more mainstream formulas.

  • Christopher Nunes

    I’m excited to get this game! I was really interest in it when siliconera was first showing it other here and its features caught my eyes! Especially the Character Creation system, now I can import my ideal team into the game!

    Though one thing that’s left me dumbfounded is the art style of the sprites, like you see with iOS games or something similar to that Mega Man X iPhone port… did they use Photoshop or something to get that type of art style? I can’t say I can make anything like that at.

    Either way it looks like it’s going to be a load of fun! This and Way of the Samurai 4… damn I really need a BIGGER paycheck at the end of each week to get these awesome games. And then there’s Transformers 2: Fall of Cyberton… couldn’t pre-order it. That’s life.

    • The sprite editor has a simple built-in smoother, from what I see. Maybe you can use that if you find your sprites a bit jaggy.

      • Christopher Nunes

        Built-in Smoother? That’s interesting, so if I import my sprites into the game I can smooth them out to look like that screenshot in this article?

        Hmm… I’ll have to look around to see what other systems or programs have sprite smoothing tool. I always wondered about it, especially given the iPhone/iOS and certain flash games with those sprite styles.

        • If I ever get around to making a sprite set of my own, I’m just gonna use Paint.NET like I always do. I’m not really an advanced user.

  • Go2hell66

    enjoyed the hell out of cladun and cladun x2 so i’m gonna grab this one on the weekend, can’t wait

  • XiaomuArisu

    nice…..if you are good enough to make your own sprite,sadly I suck at thisXD
    shaking hands….well there is nothing else to shake it seems.

  • CirnoLakes

    Nippon Ichi, can we have this on Steam too, please?

  • Ladius

    I can’t wait to get this game, I loved the two Claduns and Legasista seems to be even richer in terms of customization, narrative and depth. I have no doubt I will also like the OST as much as Drakos did, considering Ohyama is one of the most awesome (and underrated) composers in the Japanese videogame industry imho.

  • Christopher Nunes

    Finally unlocked the Character Creation mode in the game, after clearing the third dungeon!

    Time to start making my own original character! Also I like how you can create your own weapons for the characters as well so they’re unique to themselves only. It’s going to be a load of fun!

    By the way can character have dual-wielding weapons? I doubt it, judging by what I’ve seen so far.

    • No dual-wielding. The other hand is for shields if there’s a slot in the Energy Frame.

      • Christopher Nunes

        Oh well, there goes my character wielding a black sword in one hand and a white sword in the other. Guess I’ll just mix the colors together or go with the original steel-colored sword.

        Going to time some time to get everything together for my single sprite character.

        By the way, the Japanese DLC sprites for the game will have the text in Japanese right? Makes me wonder if it’s possible to switch the characters to Japanese characters with the PS3 to an English setting.

        • It’s not DLC in the regular sense you’d expect of a PS3 game. Those are just sprite sheets in PNG format, similar to what you get when you export your character’s sheet – simple picture files. Just download them, transfer them to your PS3’s Photo section, load the game and character editor, press Triangle and find the option to apply.

          • Christopher Nunes

            I see.

            Though it’s going to be tough to make my own sprite using the template. There’s no pre-made sprite type that’s mainly “old-school” sprites. Basically with black outlines and something from the early days.

            The smooth sprites make it hard to draw over it… lucky I have Photoshop so I can make layers and draw the different body parts (hair, clothes, etc…) so in case I make a mistake I can easily correct it without messing up the sprite too much.

    • Kevin Lor

       Dual-wielding? My character is Quad-wielding lol! *CUSTOMIZE FTW

      • Christopher Nunes

        Indeed… the customization in this game is impressive, though I haven’t found a way to zoom in on the sprite to get a better idea to detail them. It’s kinda clunky in the PS3 so I’m porting my sprite to the computer to work on.

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