Cosmic Star Heroine Brings the Spirit of SNES-Era JRPGs to Nintendo Switch
Cosmic Star Heroine is a solid retro-style RPG on the Nintendo Switch, but it doesn't do that much to set itself apart from games of the past.
Cosmic Star Heroine has all the makings of a ’90s SNES RPG. It’s a solid game at an affordable price, but Cosmic Star Heroine rarely sets itself apart from the wide variety of games that came before it, and because of that it suffers. In my mind, the game is not much more than RPG comfort food that you can complete in a handful of hours compared to other RPGs already available on Switch.
The game runs and looks great on Nintendo Switch; I think I might have played Cosmic Star Heroine once on my TV. This was a game that I was actually originally interested in playing on the Vita, so I was pretty excited to have the pleasure of playing it on the Switch. I think this is an exceptionally cool game to play in handheld mode on the system; growing up with a Game Boy Advance SP in my hands just about every day, I couldn’t help but reminisce over my times spent playing games just like Cosmic Star Heroine under my covers on a weeknight.
I think it’s worth mentioning that I did experience some issues with the Switch version of the game, though I’m unsure if these problems are found in any other versions of the game. During two different battles, my game froze and I was forced to reset my game, losing quite a bit of progress. It was a bit annoying but didn’t happen very frequently, and eventually I just started to quickly save my game after every fight.
There’s a certain charm that the game has for a while until it starts to lose that charm some hours in. While I was playing, there was a point in which I just got really, really bored with what I was doing. Cosmic Star Heroine is barely an RPG, as you really just follow a story that rarely lets you go off the beaten path. By the time the credits rolled, I was left wondering if I was truly satisfied with the game. I’ve pondered on it a bit over the past couple of days: I don’t think Cosmic Star Heroine is a bad game, but I don’t think it’s one worth much praise outside of the occasional homage to another iconic game or movie. You’ll play scenes that are reminiscent of Chrono Trigger or fight a giant boss that reminded me of Power Rangers or Godzilla; these moments are when Cosmic Star Heroine shines, but it never truly finds an identity of its own.
The story revolves around Alyssa L’Salle, a secret agent at the Agency of Peace & Intelligence. Alyssa is a cool protagonist, and the characters she meets along the way are equally interesting, and there are a lot of them. By the time credits roll, you’ll have formed a large party of aesthetically different heroes with their own unique traits and abilities. After an hour or two into the game, Alyssa and her friends realize that the place they work might not be as good as it seems. From there, everything is pretty one-note and relatively predictable: it’s not the most engaging story ever, but it does a good job of keeping a solid pace.
Because the game has a linear format up until the last couple of hours, there really isn’t a satisfying sense of progression in Cosmic Star Heroine. The game has levels, XP, items, and more but it’s presented in such a way that I never really felt like I had control over what I was achieving: enemies don’t respawn, they’re deliberately placed, and you can find all the latest weapons and gear at each shop you encounter along the way. Money was literally never an issue for me at all; some players might appreciate this. As I mentioned, Cosmic Star Heroine keeps up a good pace throughout, so I could understand some players might be happy they don’t have to do a lot of conventional things you’d find in a typical RPG; I just feel as though the game lacks the “role” in roleplaying.
Combat-wise, Cosmic Star Heroine takes a relatively unique approach compared to traditional turn-based RPGs. Each character has a different set of abilities, items, and programs; they all essentially boil down to different attacks, buffs, debuffs, and heals you can use in battle. The twist is that with typical abilities, you can only use them once before they’re depleted: once they’re used, you’ll have to use a recharge ability to utilize all of your used-up abilities again. With items and programs, in particular, you’re only able to use them once per battle. There’s a pretty fun layer of strategy by using your abilities in whatever order they’ll be most effective, while also taking into consideration the turn that you’ll need to recharge them.
Furthermore, there’s also “Style” and a “Hyper” meter. Style increases each time you use a skill and will ultimately allow you to dish out more damage the later into a fight you get. Your Hyper Meter also increases each turn: once it’s filled, that character will be able to dish out an exceptionally stronger ability. These are small additional elements to combat, but they do make it more engaging.
For the sake of time, I played through the first half of Cosmic Star Heroine on one of the harder difficulties and the second half on a lower one. If you’re into a more challenging experience, I easily recommend Cosmic Star Heroine on a higher difficulty. The game is also quite forgiving in that it allows you to restart a battle as soon as you lose it. Playing on one of the easier difficulties really offered me little to no challenge: it’s perfect if you’re literally just looking to experience the story.
Cosmic Star Heroine also has some pretty solid music tracks that really encapsulates the era it’s paying homage to. There are a couple of tracks that definitely stand out on their own: some are less memorable, but overall I really did enjoy the soundtrack.
If you’re looking for an RPG that won’t break the bank, Cosmic Star Heroine is a solid title to look into. The game was the most fun for me in handheld mode, albeit I’m not sure that the experience will be for everyone. You can also check out our initial review of the game for more information on it.