be choosers and right now GameCube owners are begging for more RPGs.
Lost Kingdoms II from developer From Software uses the same card combat
themed gameplay as the original Lost Kingdoms, but provides a much
better overall experience. It still isnt really up to the standard of
some of the RPGs on other platforms, but GC owners who are hardcore RPG
gamers or love trading card games like Magic will find a lot to like in
Lost Kingdoms II.
The story in
Lost Kingdoms II takes place two centuries after the original game.
Katia, from the first game, is long gone and is now remembered as a
great queen. The heroine in this game is known as Tara Grimface, a young
woman armed with a rune stone and a deck of magical cards that is trying
to learn about her past. After the opening cinema sequence, however, the
story takes a backseat to the card-battling gameplay. There are a few
surprises along the way, but overall the story is pretty forgettable.
stars of the show in Lost Kingdoms II are the magical cards that you can
use to call on monsters to fight for you. There are over two hundred
different cards separated into different elemental alignments and card
types. Because of the elemental differences, there is a
rock-paper-scissors way of balancing the gameplay. Earth beats water,
water beats fire, fire beats wood, and wood beats earth. There are also
neutral and mech cards that arent weak against anything.
On top of all
this, the cards are also categorized depending on their function. Weapon
cards call up a monster that makes a single attack directly in front of
Tara. Independent cards call up monsters that roam freely around the
battlefield and fight any enemies they can find. Summon cards call down
powerful and lengthy attacks. Helper cards produce monsters that focus
on defending Tara. A new card-type, transform, causes Tara to take the
form of a monster that you can control directly. All of these cards gain
experience and become more powerful over time.
enemies isnt as easy as just throwing down your most powerful cards,
however. Each card uses up magic points and the only way to replenish
them is to collect gems that defeated enemies leave behind. Some cards
use up ridiculous amounts of magic points, though, and a lot of the game
consists of you limping from one battle to the next on a very limited
amount of magic. Once you run out of magic points, Tara will take damage
whenever you use a card. This could have been a good way to add strategy
to the game, but comes across as simply annoying as your magic points
are instantly depleted no matter what card you use.
Each card in your 30-card deck can only be used once, and when you
use up all of your cards it is game over. This can happen quite often as
you learn the layout of each level and learn what type of enemies to
expect. The game is pretty forgiving, however, as you are able to keep
any cards you found or experience you gained before you died. Once you
learn what you are up against, you can build custom decks that will
greatly improve your chances for success on any given level.
II isnt just about the cards, however. Unlike the first game, which
utilized random battles, all of the fighting in LKII is done in real
time. You can see all of the enemies and you can choose when and how you
want to attack them. This keeps the gameplay flowing at a fast pace and
doesnt feel repetitive like RPGs with random battles can after a while.
The rest of the gameplay consists of exploring towns and all of that
traditional RPG stuff.
Controlling the game is very easy. Moving Tara around the battlefield
is smooth and easy with the left analog stick. The four face buttons are
assigned a card and using a card is as simple as pressing the
corresponding button. You can also send cards to the bottom of your deck
that you dont need at the moment by pressing the left shoulder button
and then the button of the card you want to replace.
in Lost Kingdoms II are good enough to get the job done, but are nothing
to brag about. Tara is well animated and the character model is suitably
detailed, but everything else is sort of bland and uninspired. The
enemies you face and the monsters you unleash look pretty good, but the
animation is stiff. The sound is nicely done, however. There is a lot of
voice work during the cinema sequences and the music, though subdued,
does a great job of setting the atmosphere and mood of the game. Even
though the graphics are a little behind the curve, the overall
presentation of the game is great.
Something that needs to be addressed is the absolutely horrible
camera. The battles always seemed to be taking place just off screen and
I found myself having to constantly adjust the camera in order to see
anything. Simply moving around and trying to keep Tara away from enemies
was made much more difficult because you have to waste time babysitting
the camera. I spent more time fighting the camera than I did watching my
orcs club enemies and that is definitely a bad thing.
Lost Kingdoms II is a vast improvement on the first game, but still has
a long way to go before it can stand among the RPG elite. It is
basically a collectible trading card game attached to a thin story. That
wouldnt be so bad, but the gameplay still needs a bit of tweaking. The
cards themselves are detailed and interesting, but the way you use them
needs to be fine-tuned. One thing that Im not particularly fond of is
the complete reliance on your cards in battle. I would have liked to at
least have had a short sword so I could take some swings and defend
myself, even if it didnt do much damage. Fans of card games such as
Magic: The Gathering will love building new decks and battling with
their friends in the versus mode. Hardcore RPG fans will be able to
blast through Lost Kingdoms II in a weekend, so it is hard to recommend
it as a purchase. The best thing you could do if you are interested in
LKII is to try it before you buy it so you dont get burned.