Although Atlus has been on an incredible hot streak lately with games like Persona 3, Etrian Odyssey II, and R-Type Command, no publisher on earth has an output that's pure gold. A little chaff is bound to sneak in with that sweet, sweet wheat, and in this review I'm culling it out. The chaff in question? Izuna 2: the Unemployed Ninja Returns.
Game Description: The Unemployed Ninja Returns Izuna and her gang are back - and just in time for a wedding! Lured by the promise of free food (Why else would Izuna attend?), the festive event becomes a puzzling mystery when Izuna's sidekick Shino suddenly disappears, off in search of her long-lost sister. And making matters worse, the foreign gods have also arrived on Japanese soil, and they aren't very happy with the meddlesome, unemployed ninja. With disgruntled deities on the warpath, a sidekick to track down, and a missing sister out in the wild, it could all shape up to be one of Izuna's more exciting adventures. Sounds like a lot of work for a girl out of a job!
I'll be perfectly frank with you—I did not expect to like this game.
Grinding for experience, going broke buying equipment that only increases a character's strength by two points, drawing a map by hand through floor after floor of twisting labyrinth, and being crushed by random encounters in the first round of battle are not things that I generally look for in my RPGs. In fact, I would generally say that these are all characteristics of outdated game design best left in the 16-bit era and forgotten.
Game Description: Journey to a floating castle in this dungeon RPG Sequel. In the Grand Duchy of High Lagaard, it is said that the Duke is descended from inhabitants of a castle in the sky. When an unforeseen crisis befalls the nation, it is decreed that the first explorer to retrieve the Grail of Kings from that mythical floating palace will be rewarded with wealth and fame beyond imagining. Enter the central city of Lagaard and begin your journey to the clouds! Etrian Odyssey II boasts an all-star development team, led by director Shigeo Komori. Composer Yuzo Koshiro returns as well, in addition to character designer Yuji Himukai and monster designer Shin Nagasawa, who both worked on the original Etrian Odyssey.
A completely new interpretation of classic material, R-Type Command takes the revered side-scrolling space shooter away from its action roots and plants it deeply within the strategy genre. As bizarre as it may seem to rework something based on timing and reflexes into one of the slowest, most methodical styles in videogaming, my hat is off to Irem—it absolutely works.
Game Description: In R-Type Command players are cast head-first into a desperate war against the mysterious alien race known as the Bydo, humanity sends wave after wave of fighters into Bydo space-none of which are ever heard from again. Mankind’s main hope now resides with a lone commander, sent to lead a small armada on a perilous mission into the heart of the Bydo Empire. Low on fuel and forced to scavenge resources and equipment from his surroundings, the commander must use all his cunning and wits if he hopes to succeed, let alone make it home alive.
Had I been asked, one year ago, what the absolute best premise I could imagine for a game would be, there's an 80% chance my answer would have been "A gothic-horror themed League of Extaordinary Gentlemen battle Hitler's undead army." So how can I possibly look at a game fairly when it seems to have been created for a market of me?
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