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Platform

Gamecube

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

From Software

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Nice variety of creatures and spells

- Easy to use, intuitive spell system

- Light, breezy RPG story

 

 

- Nothing here feels new

- Challenge level is quite low

 

 

Review: Lost Kingdom (Gamecube)
Review: Grandia Xtreme (Playstation 2)

Review: Jade Cocoon II (Playstation 2)

 

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Lost Kingdoms II

Score 7.0 / 10

One of the biggest reasons the Nintendo 64 got so thoroughly stomped on by the Playstation in last generation’s sales war, despite being the more powerful system, was the near complete lack of quality RPGs.  With the Gamecube, Nintendo’s “next generation” system, things were supposed to get better.  Now that Nintendo had abandoned the outdated cartridge format, the RPGs were supposed to flood in.  Well, that flood is barely a trickle and compared even to the woefully RPG-free Xbox, Gamecube users are again left with very few choices as far as RPGs go.  Lost Kingdoms, last year, at least gave Cubers something to play, even if it was just a run-of-the-mill card-based RPG.  Now, From Software returns with a longer, better sequel, Lost Kingdoms 2, to provide those Gamecube owners with a solid, if a little predictable, RPG experience.  It isn’t Morrowind, or even Final Fantasy, but, given the options available, Lost Kingdoms 2 is not a bad purchase.  

 

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Lost Kingdoms 2 (LK2) follows the trail of Tara, a magic-using enforcer for a group of vagabonds and thieves.  Tara, like Katia in the first game, possesses a runestone, which allows her to make use of magic cards with various powers.  Tara, through no fault of her own, becomes involved in the intrigue surrounding Queen Katia and the possibility that she has lost her ability to use the Royal Runestone.

As in most card-based RPGs, Tara assembles these cards into decks, which she can then use to battle wandering creatures and other magicians.  The game is broken up into small missions.  Some of these missions are difficult until the player gets a handle on which cards to use against which creatures, but missions can be attempted as many times as the player needs without penalty.  After each mission, the player’s performance is rated from 1 to 3 stars and bonus cards are made available.

 

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There are five types of cards in LK2: weapon, summons, helper, independent, and transform.  The weapon cards basically give Tara a physical attack.  The summons cards provide a combo attack where a creature joins Tara in an action.  The helper cards summon a creature to do a job for Tara—like healing her or fetching an object.  Independent cards summon creatures to fight alongside Tara, and Transform cards actually turn Tara in to a creature momentarily.  Combining the various card uses allows Tara to deal with any situation that might come up.

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LK2 doesn’t feature jaw-dropping graphics, but it is an exceedingly pretty game.  Like many RPGs from Japan, the world of LK2 is colorful and vaguely Arabian.  Tara herself is well modeled and fluidly animated.  All of the creatures, attacks, and transformations are well designed and attractively rendered.   The sound effects are accurate, and the musical score is appealing.  All in all, the graphics and sound are about what I’ve come to expect from From Software, solid, if not inspiring. 

There are elements of Lost Kingdoms 2 that I really liked.  The variety of cards is nearly astounding and each time I encountered a cool new creature I was impatient to find a card that allowed me to summon it.  I enjoyed the deck design process, even though because of the variety of creatures found in each level it was hard to shape a deck for a certain expected encounter.  It is imperative to have a mixture of card types in each of the decks.  I also liked the ability to upgrade cards which reminded me a little of one of my all-time favorite games Ogre Battle (for the SNES).

Owning all three current systems and a good PC means I have lots of choices when it comes to RPGs.  As such, if it weren’t for being assigned to review it, I probably would never have picked up Lost Kingdoms 2.  Still, I enjoyed the experience.  Lost Kingdoms 2 is a good RPG for adult gamers and possibly even a great RPG for young gamers — especially those obsessed with deck-building card games like Yu-Gi-OH! and Dragonball Z.

- Tolen Dante

(August 24, 2003)

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