Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2

A day later than promised, but here is my review for Dark Cloud 2. Dark Cloud 2 improves upon Dark Cloud 1 in almost every way.

(By the way, I reviewed Dark Cloud 1 yesterday, which you can read here.)

You may want to read the review for Dark Cloud 1 first to get the fullest understanding of the Gameplay mechanics, as a lot of those same mechanics are carried over to Dark Cloud 2.

Dark Cloud 2, like its predecessor is an Action-RPG with real-time combat and unique weapon leveling system, procedurally generated dungeons and world and city building gameplay elements.

Title: Dark Cloud 2 (also sometimes referred to by the Japanese title, Dark Chronicle).

Platform: PS2

Genre: Action-RPG

Publisher: Level 5

Where to Buy: Playstation Store has Dark Cloud 2 (digital version) for $14.99. Amazon has the physical disc with prices ranging from $32 to $92 at time of this review, depending on the game’s condition. http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cloud-2… Amazon also has the digital version, the same as the Playstation Store, for $14.99 – accessible from the same amazon link above.

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of Dark Cloud 2 is very similar to that in Dark Cloud 1. It’s a Dungeon Crawler with randomly generated dungeons and real-time combat. There’s also multiple quick time events. The city and world building elements return in Dark Cloud 2. The weapon system, and the non-leveling characters also return. The game is enhanced with new features such as fishing and character customization through a unique costume system. Combat is improved, and the game is given a much needed makeover with adorable anime style cel-shaded artwork that looks like it came out of a painting or storybook. The Soundtrack is almost double the size of the original, and has some truly amazing tracks. It also adds voice acting to the game which helps highlight key events and scenes. Yep, in every single way, this game is much better than the original – which was already pretty darn great!

Gameplay: 10/10 Dark Cloud 2 takes everything that made Dark Cloud 1 so great, and then adds in some new features as I mentioned above, an improved combat system, a new fishing “minigame”, ability to customize your characters with different costumes, etc. But at the core, it’s still the Dark Cloud that we all know and love from the first game. You crawl through multiple procedurally generated dungeons, in which you will find artifacts called Geostones which when taken back to town, allow you to place objects, people, houses, even landscaping elements into your city. As you add more to your city, you will begin to recruit new npcs which will open new shops, give you new quests, and make your city come to life. The weapon system also makes a return in Dark Cloud 2. In the Dark Cloud series your characters do not level up or have any stats or abilities. Instead, it is their equipment which levels up during combat and can be refined back in town to add attributes and abilities directly into the Equipment. Also as in Dark Cloud 1, If you over-use the equipment and forget to repair it though you will permanently lose the items, which sucks for rare or high powered gear. However, this element of “risk” definitely makes Gameplay more fun and challenging.

Story: 6/10 Dark Cloud 2’s story is a significant improvement over the bare bones story of Dark Cloud 1. But to me it’s still just not “great”. I still think story is a weak point for this series overall. Dark Cloud 2’s story focuses on Time Travel. A Princess from the future is sent 100 years back in time to try to save her kingdom. To do so, she joins forces with our hero, who is able to also Time Travel (to the future). Using their powers combined they can freely go to the past, present, or future. As you make changes in your town, things begin to change in the future also. It’s a unique and fun concept. As the story progresses you travel between the past, present, and future re-writing certain events to prevent a terrible war from taking place while seeking help from the moon people. I just felt overall, the story lacked a lot of heart or emotion which prevents me from being able to score it higher. I enjoy the time travel concept, but just never felt as immersed or connected to the story as I have in many other JRPG.

Characters: 5/10 Here we have fewer playable characters, down to 2 from 6 in the original game. Also both characters are human looking in appearance and no where near as creative looking as in Dark Cloud 1 (a cat girl, moon person, etc). I just felt the characters themselves also, just like in Dark Cloud 1 were rather flat and didn’t engage me right away. I think maybe it’s the way they interact with other characters and overall a lack of character development that really hurt both games in this series.

Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are a tremendous step up from those in the first game. Gone are the grainy textures and poor lighting. Also gone is the more realistic art style. Instead we have adorable anime inspired cel-shaded artwork. I did deduct 2 points because the characters facial expressions and animations felt stiff as is often a problem with 3d games especially from this time period. Overall I feel Dark Cloud 2 is adorable, and beautiful to look at. Dark Cloud 1 looked more like a PS1 game, while Dark Cloud 2, clearly took full advantage of the PS2 Hardware. It’s not as beautiful and fluid as say, Dawn of Mana, which is another PS2 game that utilizes similar cel-shaded art styles, but it’s very attractive in it’s own right, and the added touch of being able to customize the characters with various costumes really made the game’s art stand out even more.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Dark Cloud 2 has nearly 80 unique tracks (up from the 40-ish tracks in the original game.). Some of these tracks are amazing. It is really a hidden gem among retro JRPG soundtracks. The game is relatively obscure, but I’d rank Dark Cloud 2’s music right up there with other great JRPG such as Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger.

Voice Acting: 10/10 No expense was spared in localizing this game. Although I’m not really a fan of dubbed voice overs, most of the ones in Dark Cloud 2 are fairly decent. And it’s nice to have Voice Acting added to help highlight key scenes in the story. The game featured almost every high profile voice actor of the 90s.

Replay Value: 8/10 Still a linear (and not great) story, but with a plethora of new gameplay additions, enhanced combat, and already addictive and unique world/city building elements, the randomness of the dungeons, and great music score – this is a game that you will definitely want to replay.

Overall: 77/90 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Dark Cloud 2 – Dark Chronicle – Retro JRPG Videogame Review for PS2 was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Dark Cloud PS2 Retro JRPG Game Review

Reviewing one of my all time favorite games today, Dark Cloud. I will also be reviewing the very similar, but slightly better, Dark Cloud 2 later today as well.

This game is extremely similar to Legend of Zelda. Our main hero even has a green floppy hat just like Link lol. But it brings with it some unique new features such as rouge-like random proceduraly generated level design, multiple playable characters, and most notably, a world-creation and city building system.

Also, if you missed out on this awesome game back in 2001, you can play it again now if you have a PS4 via the playstation store.

You can grab Dark Cloud 1 for $14.99 at  https://store.playstation.com… and also pick up Dark Cloud 2 for $14.99 at https://store.playstation.com…

This was Level 5’s first game – and definitely a classic must-own for any JRPG collector. Interestingly enough, when the game came to North America, it was enhanced with new content and features that don’t exist in the Japanese version such as better AI control, an entire new dungeon, and dozens of new weapons.

Title: Dark Cloud

Platform: PS2

Release Date: 2001

Publisher: Level 5

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: In addition to the digital versions on the Playstation Store, you can still find hard copies of the game on sites like Amazon. At time of this writing there’s about 10 copies on Amazon with prices ranging from $12 to $99 depending on the condition and quality of the disc, book, case, etc. Check out this page for more info: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Cloud…

Geeky: 4/5 geekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 4/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 59/80 74% C “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 As mentioned, this action RPG feels very Zelda-ish in design but brings with it a few surprises, namely the city and world building aspects along with procedurely generated dungeons. The dungeon crawling and city building style of gameplay reminds me a lot of Azure Dream which I reviewed here.

Gameplay: 10/10 This game combines real time combat such as that found in Zelda or Secret of Mana with Occasional Quick Time Events and of course, lots of world building and city building gameplay. The dungeons are proceduraly generated and it also features multiple playable characters each with their own abilities and fighting style. However, Atla (the items needed for city building) can only be found when playing as the main character.

In city building mode, you place the Atla retrieved from the dungeons onto your town. The atla may be something like a shop, house, or even something as simple as a tree or pond, or even a new NPC. As you continue to add Atla, and continue to talk to the NPC’s you will learn more about what they want you to build in their cities. Once you reach a certain level within that city, you can move on to create additional cities as well.

The game is also unique in how characters level up. In fact, your characters never level up at all. Only their equipment levels up as you battle your way through the dungeons. However, the weapons also break if not repaired between uses. Once a weapon breaks it is lost forever. Weapons can also be upgraded by attaching different effects to the weapon which can give it bonuses such as agility, strength, or elemental properties. Although it can be aggravating at times (to lose a really powerful weapon), I really enjoyed this weapon system and felt that it really added something to the gameplay to differentiate it from all the other Action RPGs of the 90s/early 2k.

The dungeon crawling aspects can get dull at times – but I feel it’s spiced up enough with plenty of other gameplay elements to keep it from getting overly repetitive. There’s just so many other fun things to do in this game.

Story: 5/10 Unfortunately, story is what misses the mark for me in this game. I just felt it was a little too slowly paced and that both the story and the characters felt bland and not very engaging. The story tells of a time when 2 continents existed peacefully governed by two moons. One day a Dark Cloud appeared over one of the lands (hence the title of the game). Anything touched by this cloud was destroyed (Sounds very Never Ending Story-ish with the Nothing destroying entire cities, erasing people, creatures, forests, etc – Unfortunately, Never Ending Story was actually exciting and interesting, while the same can’t really be said of Dark Cloud). To protect the people and places of the land, a benevolent fairy king sealed each of them away in a magic orb known as Atla. The Main character appears when his village is destroyed by the Dark Cloud. He encounters the fairy king who tells him how he can rebuild the world but that he must first find the orbs which have been scattered throughout the continent. While the bare bones for an interesting story are in place, it just doesn’t really captivate or connect with the audience.

Characters: 7/10  The physical design and appearance of the characters is quite cute and unique (aside from the main character who looks way too much like Link lol). But their personalities and interactions often feel like an empty shell. The characters include a cat who is stuck inside one of the dungeons that the Main Character encounters. She is rescued by the main character and taken by to the city where she is transformed into a human-like girl with cat ears and tail. Another interesting character is a robotics engineer who wears almost like a hazmat suit that’s very form fitting. He’s unique because he has large rabbit like ears and appears to have a custom suit built to take into account his large pointy ears. – So the concepts and creativity for the character design definitely gets high marks, but the dialog and interaction between them, not so much.

Graphics: 6/10 I take issue with how grainy the textures are in this game. However, I like the overall character design and game world. Dark Cloud 2 features a much cleaner (and cuter) art style.

Music: 7/10 I feel that the music just isn’t anything special overall. It’s not very memorable. Dark Cloud 2 has great music, Dark Cloud 1, on the other hand, is average to good, but falls just short of greatness. It’s also only half the size of the soundtrack in terms of number of tracks as compared to Dark Cloud 2.

Replay Value: 6/10 Although it’s a linear story, the world and city building aspects make it interesting enough to come back to.

Overall: 59/80 74% C “Good Game for Girls”

Dark Cloud PS2 Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero

7th Dragon until now, has remained a title only available in Japan, but that is about to change with 7th Dragon III Code VFD on the Nintendo 3DS.

This quirky little Time Travel RPG sees us in a not too distant future which is at war with powerful dragons. In order to save the world from destruction, you must travel to the ancient city of Atlantis, future capital of Eden, and present day Tokyo.

The artwork features chibi super-deformed, bobble head, big head, tiny body style character designs, giving everything a very cute anime feeling. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean. Very Kawaii!:

With the cute art work, and almost endless ways to customize your hero, this game immediately sparks my radar. I admit, I’ve not heard of 7th Dragon until now. I’m somewhat surprised to see Sega’s name attached to this project, but then again, not really no, because they do own Atlus who is well known for “risky” games like this which “cater to Otaku” – I wonder why they wouldn’t brand this title under their Atlus flagship since it has a lot of loyal fans already which they could then leverage to get more attention for this cute little game.

From the very brief teaser, it looks like it will be an emotionally engaging story as well – We see a character sick in a hospital bed for example.

Most intriguingly of all Destructoid reports that “And as if that weren’t bizarre enough, the role-playing game involves rescuing stray cats from dungeons and sheltering them in a cat café.” And if you don’t know what a Cat Cafe is, you can check out my post for 10 Cat Cafe you can visit in North America.

The whole “Cat Cafe” concept makes the game even more Kawaii and immediately appealing to me (and likely also to my readers). I’m becoming more and more intrigued by this little game and can’t wait to check it out.

The game will release on July 2016 and is available for preorder on Amazon here: Preorder 7th Dragon III Code VFD

 

Those who click the amazon link above can read even more of the game’s features – Incredibly enough, it even features a dating sim element. Given that the series originally was created and handled by Imageepoch who made Fate/Extra which plays INSANELY SIMILAR to Persona 3 and 4… I can imagine that THIS dungeon crawling RPG will also be very similar to Fate/Extra and Persona 3 and 4.

The Japanese voice cast has been left in tact, and not only do you customize your heroes’ appearances, but also their voices, with more than 40 voices to choose from!

This game is Kawaii to the Max! Very Otaku Pandering, and very very very cute and quirky. Personally, I can’t wait! BRING ON THE CAT CAFE DUNGEON CRAWLING DRESSUP JRPG! This game is right up my alley!

Kawaii Cat Cafe JRPG, 7th Dragon, Heads West with Over 96 Ways to Customize the Appearance of Your Hero was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Monster Rancher EVO | Monster Rancher 5 | PS 2 | Monster Taming | Retro RPG | Review

Monster Rancher is a series of games (there’s also an anime) in which you (at certain prompts) insert another cd, dvd, or game disc into your machine to generate a monster which you then take back to your ranch to train for battle.

I’m reviewing Monster Rancher EVO today because it stands out the most for its story and characters, although its gameplay deviates significantly from any of the other games in the Monster Rancher world. I recommend this game, but I also would recommend any of the other Monster Rancher games as well. I’ve played them all (with the exception of the hand held ones). It is truly a great monster taming series.

Also, although no new games have been released in over half a decade, there are 2 different mobile games which come close to capturing the spirit and fun of Monster Rancher for fans who miss this series. These two mobile games, include one actual real Monster Rancher game by Mobage. And another app called Monster Nursery.

Of those two apps I prefer Monster Nursery because it has the monster generation mechanics (It uses your facebook friends to generate a monster – they don’t get spammed or notified either, it just reads their “name”).

You can check the apps out at the end of this article I will put some links there for you. But first, here is my review of Monster Rancher EVO.

Title: Monster Rancher EVO (Monster Rancher 5) (Also known as Monster Farm 5 Circus Caravan in Japan)

Platform: PS2

Release Date: April 2006

Where to Buy: Amazon – prices range from $10 to $40 depending on the condition of the game. Buy Monster Rancher EVO on Amazon.

Genre: Monster Taming RPG

Geeky: 5/5 stars

Sweetie: 5/5 hearts

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 9/10 The concept of these games is truly unique. I don’t know of any other games that allow you to insert CDs (or DVDs) as part of the actual gameplay. That was the most fun and addicting element of these games. And I had a massive huge collection of games to try too. Still have most of them too, though I have sold parts of my collection over the years. Would love to see a new Monster Rancher Game (maybe on PS4 :)).

Beyond just generating random monsters from your CDs and DVDs, you then take that monster to your ranch to train him for battle. In Monster Rancher EVO you can have up to 3 monsters in your battles while adventuring at once, which is different from most of the other games in the series which allowed only 1 on 1 battles. Though in this entry tournament battles have been replaced with a circus minigame. I kinda do miss the tournament style from the other games. I would’ve liked to see the tournaments also used, but I understand they didn’t fit the story or theme of this installment so I won’t deduct a point for that.

As mentioned above, Monster Rancher EVO also introduces a Circus minigame element to the mix. You must perform different tricks with your monsters through a series of minigames to progress through the game. The tricks start out simple, but increase in difficulty as you progress through the game.

It also had a decent story – more so than most of its predecessors. You play as Julio, a circus performer who trains monsters for his traveling circus troupe. You begin to doubt your training methods when one of your monsters runs away from the circus and dies as a result. A mysterious girl also shows up and joins your group.

Each week you must meet with your Ring Leader in order to review the schedule for the upcoming week. You can choose from tasks such as Training, Performing, Adventuring in dungeons, or just going to town to shop for items to talk to NPCs

Also in this series, the number of main species is only about half as large as Monster Rancher 4 which is rather disappointing (deducted 1 point here).

Gameplay: 6/10 – While the concept/theory of this game sounds good on paper, many of the minigames in the circus performances – which are required to progress through the game – become very challenging, to the point that they can become more frustrating than fun later on. Also, although generating the monsters and caring for them is a novel idea, the gameplay in all of these games, not just EVO, does have a tendency to become very repetitive if you play for long periods of time.

Still, it is kept fresh with a huge variety of things to do, from the circus performances, to adventuring and battling with a party of monsters, to just going through your CD and DVD collection looking for rare monsters to add to your book. Also more than any other Monster Rancher game this one feels the most like an RPG because it focuses more on story, character development, and NPC interaction.

It was also nice how the circus theme was tied to every single thing in the game – even at the cost of losing the beloved feature of the tournaments. It kept me feeling like I was playing in part of a world, with a goal, a story, and characters that I cared about, which ultimately caused me to enjoy the Gameplay more. It was more structured in this game, and less sandbox style as its predecessors.

Losing the feature of the tournament style gameplay was super disappointing though. It is a hallmark of the series and well, in a way, what makes Monster Rancher, Monster Rancher. I’m not sure how they could have tied it into the circus theme, but I really did miss the tournament style gameplay throughout.

Story: 8/10 Out of all of the Monster Rancher games, this one easily has the most immersive story. It’s not the best RPG for story in the world, but it was highly engaging with characters and a unique theme that pull you in right from the start. Then it develops more mystery and intrigue which keeps you wanting to continue to play to see how things evolve throughout the game. Story in most Monster Rancher games takes a back seat to gameplay. I would say in Monster Rancher EVO, the gameplay and story are of equal importance. Sadly, the story is executed better than certain aspects of the gameplay. But both story and gameplay are joined together with the overarching theme of the traveling circus troupe. I enjoyed the unique setting and unique characters and feel that it’s worth playing for story alone, even without the other gameplay elements which make the series so unique and engaging (such as generating monsters from discs, etc).

Characters: 10/10 As mentioned a few times above, this is a very story and character driven RPG which focuses a lot on NPC interaction and really makes you care about the cast of unique and unusual characters. The characters are also all drawn in a very cute, colorful, and bold style. The monsters themselves have also always been “characters” within these games with many species making a return, and a few new arrivals as well. Having more of a focus on story in Monster Rancher EVO really lets the trainers and NPC cast members shine just as much, if not even more than, all of the cute monsters in the game.

Graphics: 10/10 I fricken love the graphics in this game. They mix in Cell-Shaded 3D graphics with 2D anime cutscenes to give it a very colorful anime feeling. There’s also character portraits that are nearly full body when talking to NPCs which have a bright vibrant style. The monsters are always cute in these games. While EVO and MR4 both feature slightly more “realistic” designs, and less “cartoony” artwork for the characters – all of the human trainers in EVO are very “cartoony” or “anime” feeling. EVO upgrades all of the textures, environments, and character designs SIGNIFICANTLY even from Monster Rancher 4. It’s hard to believe both of these games are on Playstation 2, because EVO looks so much better than Monster Rancher 4 that it looks almost like it should be a PS3 game. Everything about this game is super colorful, stylized, and unique helping it to create a lasting impression.

Music: 8/10 The music, while bright and innocent sounding, and rather simplistic or even childish in a way, fits perfectly with the circus theme. The music is just another testament to how the theme of the circus was carried out into every single aspect of this game. It fits with the cute vibrant nature of the Monster Rancher series, and helps to further immerse into the game world.

Replay Value 7/10: While this is a linear game, and while there are other Monster Rancher, or even other Monster Taming games in general, this one definitely keeps you coming back – In fact, you may find yourself putting in 100+ hours or more just trying different CDs and combining your monsters before you even complete the story mode. It offers a ton of things to do and is very fun – but ultimately since it is a linear game with very repetitive gameplay and sometimes unforgiving difficulty and minigame mechanics, I’d say there are some people who would probably prefer to play other installments in the series or move on to other similar games.

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You Might Like: As mentioned in my introduction, there are 2 mobile games which you may enjoy if you like Monster Rancher. These are Monster Rancher by Mobage, and Monster Nursery. Check out the links below to get these free games.

Monster Nursery for IOS

Monster Nursery for Android

Monster Rancher by Mobage for IOS

Monster Rancher by Mobage for Android

Edit: apparently Mobage has closed the US version of Monster Rancher. However, if Monster Nursery above is still not enough to satisfy your Monster Taming goals, I did find Neo Monsters – but it is a paid app. (99 cents) and looks closer to Pokemon than Monster Rancher – You can grab it here: Neo Monsters on IOS.

 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Monster Rancher Universe. These are great games, and if you like one, chances are you’ll like the others.

Also I recommend Dragon Seeds on PS1, Digimon, and Pokemon. I also presume that you’d like Yokai Watch although I’ve not played it myself yet :). Lastly, check out the Petz games, especially dogz and catz 3, 4, and 5 for the PC.

Monster Rancher EVO | Monster Rancher 5 | PS 2 | Monster Taming | Retro RPG | Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review

Title: Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Natsume

Platform: SNES

Release Date: 1996

Geekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

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Concept: 9/10 This review is for the 2nd game in the Lufia series. Although, chronologically, the events in this game take place before the events in Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. Which we reviewed by the way over here in our Lufia and the Fortress of Doom Review. The 2nd game improved upon many aspects of the original including some pacing issues with the story and enhanced graphics, more challenging puzzles to solve, and no more random encounters. The story in Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals takes you back to playing as Maxim and the original heroes who helped defeat the sinistrals as shown briefly in the prologue of the first game. Like it’s predecessor, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals also includes some dungeon crawling and adds a new monster taming mechanic, but the game is largely a traditional turn based JRPG with colorful graphics, endearing characters, and a heart warming story.

Story: 8/10 You play as Maxim, a bounty hunter, living in the town of Eclid. His childhood friend, Tia, who runs a shop where Maxim receives new orders and turns in his bounty to be paid worries about the recent increased occurrence of monster attacks near the village. Maxim soon learns from a strange woman named Iris that these attacks are no mere coincidence and that he is “fated” to save the world from evil and thus sets out on a journey to a floating citadel to defeat the sinistrals. As for “plot” this is all that is really “presented” to the player; it is bare bones at best…. but is plot really the only driving force in creating a good “story”? No, it’s not; because the characters themselves are equally as important as their settings and surroundings. There are numerous plot twists which emerge later in the game and many different playable characters who all feel very real because of the way character interaction is handled within this game. The story is less about saving the world, and more about the bonds that are formed along the way between Maxim and his comrades. It seems as if “real” relationships are formed (and sometimes cruelly ripped apart, just as love can be fleeting also in real life). There is death, there is pain, and most of all, there is love, because love is the most important thing in the world. You will experience all of the emotions that the characters are feeling and you will be surprised and shocked a few times along the way as well. Because of it’s excellent character interaction and the way in which the story builds upon the relationships of the different characters, this saves what would otherwise be a fairly run-of-the mill plot, and instead turns it into one of the most touching and memorable experiences on the SNES.

Characters: 10/10 As I mention above, the characters themselves are what keep you engaged in the game’s plot. They seem like they are as real and troubled as many people that we personally know in real life. The drama can be over-the-top at times, but I like a good drama, so for me, that’s not an issue. The characters fight amongst themselves, deal with secret feelings and desires, have conflicting emotions, objectives, and they grow and evolve throughout the game, coming to reconcile their differences and sort through their emotional struggles.

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Gameplay: 8/10 If you enjoy the puzzles in games such as Zelda or Alundra which force you to think outside the box, you will also enjoy the puzzles in Lufia 2. Lufia is well known for having some of the most challenging puzzles for it’s time (I found them much more abstract and challenging than Zelda a Link to the Past which released around the same time). The ability to see monsters on the screen also gives you an element of strategy in your gameplay as you can surprise them to take the advantage or avoid combat to travel more swiftly. Though this mechanic is commonplace in RPGs today, I do believe Lufia 2 was one of the first games to shift away from the random encounters that were prevalent in most RPG back in the late 90s. Other noteable features include the capsule monster system which allows you to gain a 5th (all be it, computer-controlled) party member which you can “raise” in a virtual pet sort of way by “feeding” him items and equipment that you no longer need. The monsters would evolve in various ways and multiple times, getting increasingly stronger and aiding you further in battle. Also, as in all Lufia games, the ancient cave returns providing an (almost) endless and optional dungeon crawling experience to obtain the best loot in the game. Lufia 2 introduces an “IP” system, where as you battle, your IP gauge begins to fill, and upon filling, you can unleash powerful skills. These skills are often obtained by equipping special items (like those found in the ancient cave). The one caveat that people like to pick on is the amount of “fetch” styled quests (many of which are optional) (but some that are required to advance the story). That is, quests which are not “story” driven and merely “go here, kill x monsters, or find x items”. While these quests aren’t very innovative, they are a commonplace mechanic in most JRPGs.

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Graphics: 8/10 The colors are much richer, and there is a wider range of textures and tile sets used in Lufia 2. It addresses the main critique of Lufia 1’s graphics as being reused and dungeons and towns all looking and feeling similar to one another. I enjoyed the super flashy “anime” style colors and enjoyed the large areas that were used for various towns, making them feel more alive than it’s predecessor. The character sprites although not overly detailed are cute and keep with the same anime vibe. The combat screen in Lufia 2 is much better; where as in Lufia 1, you see your characters primarily represented as stat bars, in Lufia 2, the characters are present on the battle field, as in most other RPGs of that era. Lufia 2 is definitely on equal footing with most late 90s RPGs in terms of graphics and presentation.

Music: 7/10 Lufia 2 is often complimented for it’s very large soundtrack. Aside from the first few dungeons, other tunes are seldom reused. When you enter a new area you hear new tracks; and the tracks used vary widely from upbeat peppy tunes to sweeping ballads. However, I find very few of these tracks to be very memorable when compared to other RPGs of the 90s. The music is “good” but not “great”. There are also a number of different sound effects which add an additional depth of immersion to the game world.

Replay Value: 4/10 Lufia 2 has a replay mode that allows you to earn increased XP and Gold on multiple playthroughs; however, it’s a completely linear game, so the story never changes. There are still some interesting side quests and gameplay elements that could keep people coming back to find everything this game has to offer. Replay value is minimal; although I have personally replayed this one many times, because it’s just so fun and the storyline is so touching.

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review

Title: Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Natsume

Platform: SNES

Release Date: 1996

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Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 9/10 This review is for the 2nd game in the Lufia series. Although, chronologically, the events in this game take place before the events in Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. Which we reviewed by the way over here in our Lufia and the Fortress of Doom Review. The 2nd game improved upon many aspects of the original including some pacing issues with the story and enhanced graphics, more challenging puzzles to solve, and no more random encounters. The story in Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals takes you back to playing as Maxim and the original heroes who helped defeat the sinistrals as shown briefly in the prologue of the first game. Like it’s predecessor, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals also includes some dungeon crawling and adds a new monster taming mechanic, but the game is largely a traditional turn based JRPG with colorful graphics, endearing characters, and a heart warming story.

Story: 8/10 You play as Maxim, a bounty hunter, living in the town of Eclid. His childhood friend, Tia, who runs a shop where Maxim receives new orders and turns in his bounty to be paid worries about the recent increased occurrence of monster attacks near the village. Maxim soon learns from a strange woman named Iris that these attacks are no mere coincidence and that he is “fated” to save the world from evil and thus sets out on a journey to a floating citadel to defeat the sinistrals. As for “plot” this is all that is really “presented” to the player; it is bare bones at best…. but is plot really the only driving force in creating a good “story”? No, it’s not; because the characters themselves are equally as important as their settings and surroundings. There are numerous plot twists which emerge later in the game and many different playable characters who all feel very real because of the way character interaction is handled within this game. The story is less about saving the world, and more about the bonds that are formed along the way between Maxim and his comrades. It seems as if “real” relationships are formed (and sometimes cruelly ripped apart, just as love can be fleeting also in real life). There is death, there is pain, and most of all, there is love, because love is the most important thing in the world. You will experience all of the emotions that the characters are feeling and you will be surprised and shocked a few times along the way as well. Because of it’s excellent character interaction and the way in which the story builds upon the relationships of the different characters, this saves what would otherwise be a fairly run-of-the mill plot, and instead turns it into one of the most touching and memorable experiences on the SNES.

Characters: 10/10 As I mention above, the characters themselves are what keep you engaged in the game’s plot. They seem like they are as real and troubled as many people that we personally know in real life. The drama can be over-the-top at times, but I like a good drama, so for me, that’s not an issue. The characters fight amongst themselves, deal with secret feelings and desires, have conflicting emotions, objectives, and they grow and evolve throughout the game, coming to reconcile their differences and sort through their emotional struggles.

Gameplay: 8/10 If you enjoy the puzzles in games such as Zelda or Alundra which force you to think outside the box, you will also enjoy the puzzles in Lufia 2. Lufia is well known for having some of the most challenging puzzles for it’s time (I found them much more abstract and challenging than Zelda a Link to the Past which released around the same time). The ability to see monsters on the screen also gives you an element of strategy in your gameplay as you can surprise them to take the advantage or avoid combat to travel more swiftly. Though this mechanic is commonplace in RPGs today, I do believe Lufia 2 was one of the first games to shift away from the random encounters that were prevalent in most RPG back in the late 90s. Other noteable features include the capsule monster system which allows you to gain a 5th (all be it, computer-controlled) party member which you can “raise” in a virtual pet sort of way by “feeding” him items and equipment that you no longer need. The monsters would evolve in various ways and multiple times, getting increasingly stronger and aiding you further in battle. Also, as in all Lufia games, the ancient cave returns providing an (almost) endless and optional dungeon crawling experience to obtain the best loot in the game. Lufia 2 introduces an “IP” system, where as you battle, your IP gauge begins to fill, and upon filling, you can unleash powerful skills. These skills are often obtained by equipping special items (like those found in the ancient cave). The one caveat that people like to pick on is the amount of “fetch” styled quests (many of which are optional) (but some that are required to advance the story). That is, quests which are not “story” driven and merely “go here, kill x monsters, or find x items”. While these quests aren’t very innovative, they are a commonplace mechanic in most JRPGs.

Graphics: 8/10 The colors are much richer, and there is a wider range of textures and tile sets used in Lufia 2. It addresses the main critique of Lufia 1’s graphics as being reused and dungeons and towns all looking and feeling similar to one another. I enjoyed the super flashy “anime” style colors and enjoyed the large areas that were used for various towns, making them feel more alive than it’s predecessor. The character sprites although not overly detailed are cute and keep with the same anime vibe. The combat screen in Lufia 2 is much better; where as in Lufia 1, you see your characters primarily represented as stat bars, in Lufia 2, the characters are present on the battle field, as in most other RPGs of that era. Lufia 2 is definitely on equal footing with most late 90s RPGs in terms of graphics and presentation.

Music: 7/10 Lufia 2 is often complimented for it’s very large soundtrack. Aside from the first few dungeons, other tunes are seldom reused. When you enter a new area you hear new tracks; and the tracks used vary widely from upbeat peppy tunes to sweeping ballads. However, I find very few of these tracks to be very memorable when compared to other RPGs of the 90s. The music is “good” but not “great”. There are also a number of different sound effects which add an additional depth of immersion to the game world.

Replay Value: 4/10 Lufia 2 has a replay mode that allows you to earn increased XP and Gold on multiple playthroughs; however, it’s a completely linear game, so the story never changes. There are still some interesting side quests and gameplay elements that could keep people coming back to find everything this game has to offer. Replay value is minimal; although I have personally replayed this one many times, because it’s just so fun and the storyline is so touching.

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

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Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie