I recently reviewed Operation Darkness, and as I enjoyed that game's engaging story and challenging campaign, I couldn't help but wonder why more Strategy RPGs weren't being made. Then I played Zoids Assault, and I remembered. Combining dull gameplay, uninspired design, and flat-out boring storytelling, Zoids Assault is the worst game I've played in quite a while.
Game Description: When war broke out between the world's two main superpowers, the Guylos Empire and the Republic of Helic, the effects rippled across the globe, dragging other nations into the fight. Two such nations were Maroll and Jamil. After a mysterious explosion at one of Maroll's military bases, two covert ops teams are sent into Jamil territory, their exact mission details never disclosed. Somehow, the events of the present are inextricably linked to the past—to the final days of the war, ten years ago.
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 In fact, I would generally say that these are all characteristics of outdated game design best left in the 16-bit era and forgotten.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.
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