Mystic Heroes (or "Battle Hōshin" in the Japanese version) is a hack 'n slash game developed by Koei, the same company that produces the Dynasty Warriors series. The game was first released for the Gamecube in March (Japan) and September (North America) in 2002, but was later released for the PlayStation 2 in November 2002 for all regions. The game takes place in a fantasy world that is heavily influenced by eastern culture, and its gameplay is reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors games, with elemental magic spells replacing the musō from the more popular series.
One of the playable characters of the game, Shiga specializes in the elemental attribute of Wind magic. The manual touts him a s having "balanced offensive and defensive skills" as well as being "excellent for beginners".
Shiga wields an intricate variation of a Chinese sword with a yin-yang on it.
One of the two female playable characters of the game, Lani specializes in the elemental attribute of Ice magic.
Appearing small and fragile, she travels with Shiga and shares the same story path with him. What she lacks in physical power she makes up for with her magic power and speed.
Lani wields a magic staff.
The other male playable character, Tai specializes in the elemental attribute of Lightning magic. Tai is the slowest character in the entire game, but compensates for that weakness with his power and magic attributes.
Tai wields a sort of bamboo sword as his weapon.
The other female playable character, Naja specializes in the elemental attribute of Fire magic. Defying the realm of stereotypes, Naja is the strongest physical attacker of the group while also being quite fast herself. Due to these reasons the manual reports that "close combat is her forte".
Naja wields a long spear as her weapon.
Story Mode NPCs
- Captain Dax
- Master Gen
Story Mode Enemy NPCs
- Emperor Kang
The gameplay is very similar to Koei's Dynasty Warriors series in which the player clears various stages of enemies. The player has a health meter, a magic meter, a morale bar, and a mini-map on the HUD that mimics the HUD of Dynasty Warriors. While the two games have many things in common, however, the main factor that separates the two is Mystic Heroes' focus on magic rather than musou to power up special attacks.
By equipping a pair of runes in between each stage, different sets of spells can be used, with the possibility of even mixing elements to use in battle.
These magic spells come in four attributes and four different types.
Magic Spell Attributes
Mystic Heroes revolves around magic spells instead of Musou like its more popular counterpart. There are four elements of magic in Mystic Heroes: Wind, Ice, Lightning, and Magic.
- Wind: Fastest moving, lowest damage output. Has the possibility of dizzying the enemy, making them spin around for several seconds. Attribute color is green.
- Ice: Medium-moving speed alongside Lightning, with a medium damage output as well. Has the possibility of freezing the enemy, making them unable to move, attack, or perform any action for several seconds. Attribute color is blue.
- Lightning: Medium-moving speed alongside Ice, however is the second strongest of the spell attributes. Has the possibility of stunning the enemy, slowing all their actions for several seconds. Attribute color is yellow (though most Lightning spells have purple visuals).
- Fire: Slowest moving spell attribute, but packs the strongest damage output. Has the possibility of burning the enemy, making the enemy take damage over time and flinch occasionally over several seconds. Attribute color is red.
Magic Spell Types
- Direct : The spell is released directly and quickly in front of the player. Performed by quickly tapping Y on the Gamecube controller.
- Targeting: The spell allows the player to enter first person mode with crosshairs in the center. Using the crosshairs the player is able to lock-on to multiple enemies, upon which the spell is unleashed when the player releases Y on the Gamecube controller. The player is vulnerable while attempting to target enemies.
- Sword: Allows the player to engulf their weapon with magic. Can be used in a combo for a couple strikes to dish out extra damage and possibility of the element's effects, the button can be held down for the player to swing their magic-engulfed weapon in front of them until the player releases the button or all their magic is run out, or the button can be pressed once with full magic for the character to do a scripted set of weapon swipes. The player is invincible during this scripted attack and when the button is held down.
- Jump: Performed by pressing the X button on the Gamecube controller in the air. This releases a spell beneath the player, resulting in many damaged enemies (for most spells) underneath the player. Very flashy and usually racks up the most combinations early on in the game.
While there are many spells in the game, each of the four attributes have two of each spell type (except Sword spells), allowing for a total of 20 total spells in the game.
- Whirlwind: Releases small whirlwinds that hug the ground when released. They fly in a random pattern as they move forward.
- Gale: Releases speedy balls of wind that zip forward in random lines.
- Windsnipe: Like Gale, but instead targets specific enemies and flies straight to them.
- Twister: Like Whirlwind, but instead targets specific enemies and flies straight to them.
- Tornado: Creates three twisters that rotate on the ground in a decent radius around the player.
- Life Pulse: Unleashes a strong gust of wind forward upon landing.
- Snowball: The player "throws" an ice ball in front of them that bounces forward when it hits the ground then bursts into tiny icicles on the ground.
- Icicle: Creates shards of ice that materialize quickly then shoots out in front of the player
- Story: The campaign of the game. Here the player can go through the story, playing the game through a series of stages and acts, and also find new runes to use hidden within each stage. Once the story mode is completed and a new story is played with the same character, the player has the option of transferring completed characters' stats over to a new game.
- Survival: The player must make it through a set of stages with a stock character (base stats). The reward for completing the survival stages are runes that grant extra attributes such as infinite health and infinite magic.
- Multiplayer: This mode of the game can be played with up to four players - NPCs can choose to fill any empty spots but will take up a section of the TV screen as if a human were playing. The multiplayer mode can be played cooperatively or competitively: cooperatively the game will send players through a slew of five short stages where the map has to be cleared of enemies to advance to the next level, but competitively players' goals are to eliminate each other.