My quest to uncover all the hidden RPG gems continues marching onward… and this time, it’s something really cool that while incomplete, was actually the springboard for an even better remake (which is still in progress as we speak). While Wilfred the Hero, Part 1 is almost eight years old, don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. It’s yet another excellent RPG made with RPG Maker 2003 that doesn’t use the familiar art assets found in the RTP. Creators Teo Mathlein (art) and Brandon Abley (music) managed to make a game that’s wholly unique in its art style while adding elements to the gameplay from a few sources. While it’s labeled as a “Japanese-style” console RPG experience, i think that’s selling the game short, as it’s set in a world that won’t be familiar to those expecting that typical Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest clone game.
Sure, there are bits of the game that come from Eastern RPGs, but the game has an interesting tone and flow to it that make it feel nicely Western and European in some areas. I liked that the game opens as the ending to a longer quest, playing out as the final trek to defeat the big evil dragon that’s been plaguing the land. There’s a sense of weariness from Wilfred that’s compelling in a “hero” character, while his squire Alanadale, comes off as almost too overconfident of his master’s skills. Like any person with such a title thrust upon them (even if deserved), Wilfred isn’t quite the invincible monster slayer he’s seen as in his squire’s eyes.
The combat system is active time menu-based, meaning there’s timing involved in terms of you needing to select actions quickly during battles. Enemies on the main areas of the map don’t regenerate and there are no random battles from what I’ve played so far. There are, however, hidden caves where you can level grind against a series of increasingly harder enemies, leave and come back once you’ve cleared them for more experience. Monsters don’t cough up huge amounts of gold like in other RPGs and in fact, it takes a bit of effort to scrape up enough to afford better gear. There’s also an interesting skills system where you get to spend earned points on each character’s skill tree. This allows you to play as a more physical character, a magic user or a bit of both.
While development was ceased a few years back, the two guys behind it are working on a spectacular-looking remake that will hopefully get a lot more attention. Check it out here and prepare to be floored by the visual upgrade and sense of scale to the game world. As great as this game is looking, it would be absolutely peachy to see it go big and yes, end up on consoles at some point. But I know that particular pathway is indeed a rocky one filled with nuts and screws of all shapes and sizes… and they don’t yet make the shoe nor sole that can step lightly on that road and survive the journey…