Thank you Circle Entertainment for sending us this game to review!
The Legend of Dark Witch was a real surprise for me when I was asked to review it in 2014. Here was what apparently was a lower budget game that far exceeded my expectations, in not only being legitimately fun, but an interesting genre hybrid that made it both familiar and unique. It deftly combined Mega Man style level design and bosses and weapon pickups, along with Gradius style powerups gained throughout each level, in a 2D side scrolling format. The Legend of Dark Witch 2 carries on with all of that, as well as introduces a lot more character customization that makes it a more balanced and well rounded experience.
Like the first game, there are crystals called Syega that allow humans to use magic. People (well, mostly women, also like the last game) in a distant land are researching the powers of this substance to see what more can be gained from it. Zizou, a goddess, decides that what they are doing is dangerous, and sets out to stop them. Honestly, the plot is pretty simple, and hardly earth shattering; indeed, there are only minor differences from this plot and the last game. It's the rest of the changes that are more noteworthy.
One major addition is a weapon meter, which allows you to use the weapons you collect at will, as long as there is enough meter available. In the first game, it was either use weapons or activate powerups, which can be a hard choice. Now, you can only use them as often as the constantly recharging meter allows you to. This is a good change. Others include a greatly expanded customization shop.
At the start of the game, there are eight levels you can choose from, after which you gain the weapon from that boss. After all eight are defeated there are four more levels, which are much more challenging, and bosses there as well; these do not grant new weapons. What you do get from all twelve levels are pure Syega crystals. This, along with the Tres that you collect throughout each level by hitting or defeating enemies, are forms of currency that you can use in between levels to make your character more powerful. Each level has four pure Syega crystals, each in hidden locations. You use these crystals to unlock abilities, and to make your existing ones stronger. Examples include increasing your maximum speed or attack strength.
You can also use Tres to make attacks you have already unlocked more powerful, or give you items you can use, like helpful blocks or healing. Perhaps the most useful upgrade is simply the one that gives you more Tres - as you collect more, the other unlockables become easier to afford. Then you can get more life hearts, more reserve lives, or increase the damage output of the other new feature - revenge attacks. After you have taken enough hits, you can press the R button inside the weapon select menu (or press ZR on a New 3DS) and unleash a very powerful attack.
Like every good game of this type, memorizing enemy battle patterns is key to victory. I found this game much more well balanced with overall a bit less difficulty than the first game. It's not particularly long either, but the price is very good for the play time. If you are a completionist, there is plenty to unlock outside of the game, which includes things like music, artwork, and more. There is a poker mini game, as well as a simple rhythm mini game. These all can help earn Syega (which is separate from the in game Syega that unlocks abilities) which can be used to purchase the aforementioned artwork and music, and well as changes for future new games. So each new run can be different in some way as a result. These changes can be both cosmetic and functional in nature.
The graphics are well done pixel graphics with nice animations. Nothing earth shattering, but it's not really meant to be. The music is good, and you can listen to it outside of the game if you wish once unlocking that feature. The whole game is voice acted in Japanese, with somewhat comically translated English text. It's mostly understandable, and somewhat cheesy, but it didn't bother me too much. I did see the occasional typo though. I only encountered one in game bug: if you find all of the Syega before beating the game, a text conversation remains locked afterwards. If you leave one Syega uncollected, apparently you can beat the game and then collect it afterwards to unlock the conversation later. Silly me, I am a completionist... before I beat the last boss.
As the E10 rating suggests, it's meant to be safe for most audiences. There is magic used by both you and the enemies. I noticed the word 'h*ll' used rarely. There is a female who lives with nature, and wears little more than a bandage. It covers the required parts, and leave little else to the imagination. Other than her, the rest of the characters are all modest except for the occasional midriff. The ESRB notice mentions suggestive themes, but I did not notice it. It's possible that it may have been misunderstood because of the poor translation.
Zizou is a goddess, so that is a factor here as well. The existence of other gods is implied. One level has blocks with pentagrams on them. There is also the gambling that I mentioned before, though it is buried in a menu and not accessible before beating the game. It is far from the main attraction. There is violence in the form of beams hitting your opponents, and they pop. There is no blood or gore.
Like The Legend of Dark Witch before it, I really enjoyed my time with The Legend of Dark Witch Episode 2: The Price of Desire. (Longest title award by chance?) It's a solid 2D action platformer, and perhaps even better than the previous one, with solid improvements all around. And at that price, it's really easy to recommend, as long as those appropriateness issues are acceptable to you.