Grandia II Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that’s a part of a series I know the name of but that’s about it. I certainly had no idea on the plot or anything like that. It’s certainly a great RPG and one that has lasted throughout time. You’ll have a good time with this one as there are a bunch of likable characters and solid gameplay throughout.

The game starts out by introducing us to Ryudo. He’s effectively a solo hunter/bounty hunter that nobody likes. His career choice isn’t exactly a popular one and Ryudo isn’t known for his winning personality either. Well, one day he finds himself in a village where his next assignment will be difficult. He has to guard a girl named Elena as she heads off to a mysterious castle to perform a ceremony. It doesn’t go well though and she ends up absorbing the Wings of Valmar.

Elena is now considered corrupted and must find a her way to the master church in order to cure her affliction. It won’t be easy though so Ryudo will have to stay on the job a while longer. He doesn’t believe in either Granas or Valmar as the two gods and just wants to live his life as best he can. The two heroes will ultimately run into several allies, enemies, and even a whole conspiracy. All they will have is each other as the group of heroes prepare for their ultimate confrontation.

The story goes through a whole lot of twists and turns so this is really more of a basic summary. The main thing to remember here is to always watch your back. Ryudo has a pretty good sense of danger about him and usually suspects everyone at first. It’s a wise policy since most of these characters always have some kind of agenda at the ready. It’s impressive just how antagonistic Ryudo is at first. He insults everyone and is clearly not having any fun.

As the game goes on we learn more about his past and why Ryudo is the way that he is. He gets a lot of memorable dialogue throughout the game including a variation of Bully Maguire’s famous line “You missed the part where that’s my problem.” Ryudo is a very different kind of protagonist and is written very well. He’s memorable and not a lead that you are likely to forget anytime soon.

As for Elena, she’s a bit of a weaker heroine. I wasn’t on board for her during most of the game as she always follows the bosses even when they’re acting rather suspect. She’s slow on the uptake in that front and just takes a lot of time to get used to the real world. She finally does, but not until the very end of the game so it took some time.

Her counterpart Millenia was a lot more fun. Effectively this fighter is the embodiment of the Wings of Valmar and one of the most powerful demons around. Naturally that means that someone like Elena who is incredibly focused on the church of Granas does not take too kindly to her. They are polar opposites in personality as Millenia is very forceful and takes what she wants while Elena is a lot more passive.

Roan is a kid who joins the group as well and he’s got quite a few secrets to hide. He’s a nice enough kid even if you feel like he’s too young for this adventure for a while. Ultimately he does end up helping out the group when it counts though. He was also one of the first characters to really trust Millenia which was great for her character arc.

Then you have Mareg who is the power member of the group. He wants to destroy Melfice no matter what due to a tragedy that happened in his origin story. Mareg is always speaking in riddles and trying to be fancy. It may make his dialogue a little stiff but I wouldn’t say they overplay this angle too much. He may not rank quite up there with some of the other characters but he gets the job done.

The final main hero is Tio and she’s an android who has to try and develop a heart. That’s not an easy tasks for anyone but she gives it her all. She comes a bit late in the game but makes the most of her screen time and quickly became one of the more enjoyable members. It always makes for a powerful character arc to have a robot truly become alive like this.

There’s also Ryudo’s pet bird Skye but he doesn’t do as much as you would expect despite technically being around for the whole game. He likes to tease Ryudo once in a while. Selene is one of the big members of the Church of Granas so she gets a sizable role here. From the start she comes off as very forceful in trying to keep people safe so you don’t want to be near her when the knights come strolling in. I’ll give her this, she was very dedicated to the cause.

Then you have Melfice, Ryudo’s long laost brother. This guy was a difficult fighter and certainly not someone to take lightly. He’s one of the more interesting villains even if he isn’t around for a big part of the game. Ultimately he chosse power over everything which is rarely ever a good decision. It was interesting to see how in his village this was a popular idea though in the sense that you can’t create justice without power. To an extent that is true but it’s definitely easy to lose focus and start obsessing over power too much.

Zera is a big player in the story for sure. I’d say he’s your classic old guys in one of these RPGs. He has big plans and will do anything in order to make it to the end. Not the kind of guy you want to trust and he loves showing off with his big speeches and everything. It’s just what he does.

Towards the end of the game things get rather cosmic. One of the best cutscenes is when we actually got to see the origin of the big battle between Valmar and Granas. Typically this is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear about but never actually see so I was impressed when the game threw me a curve ball and actually showed this on screen. That was very impressive and a prequel could easily work with this concept. There’s a lot you could do for that war.

Throughout the game the graphics are definitely impressive. We even get some good soundtrack themes during the game. I like the battle themes and boss music. It’s not surprising that a big RPG like this could have a solid soundtrack but it’s always worth noting. It makes the battles all go smoothly as you would expect.

In the end the game took me over 30 hours to complete which is a very solid length. I had to train for several hours before the final bosses because of how difficult they were though. Once I got a certain character back into my party then things eased up though. I’m not sure if there is any replay value here though as it seems it’s the kind of game that takes you back to right before the final boss when you load it up. So this will be a game you just aim to beat all the way through.

The only two areas in the game that could be improved are that the cutscenes can’t be skipped as well as the attack options. The latter may not sound like a big deal but quite a few of the attacks here are very fancy so during the final battles you’ll be having to wait for many attacks to go trough. I would usually have reddit open or a manga while I was waiting between attacks. So if the game is ever remade they should definitely add a skip feature in and that would be perfect.

It may go without saying but the combat system is that of a turn based combat mode. It’s a lot like Mega Man X Command Mission where your turns are based on speed as opposed to things always going in the same order. So that makes investing in quick equipment well worth your while. Each character can also equip 6 skills from the books you collect as well as an egg which grants you the ability to use magic. Leveling all of your techniques up takes time so I recommend saving your points for the abilities that you will really want to use.

Overall, Grandia II is a great game. It’s got a very satisfying story to it and a good cast or characters. It’s also fairly long at over 30 hours so this is certainly not the kind of game that you can just complete in an instant. You’ll really have to apply yourself here and I recommend fighting enemies as often as you can because it will certainly catch up to you by the end. I cleared the game at around level 57 and it was still fairly difficult. So I definitely recommend this to any RPG fan.

Overall 8/10

Grandia II Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 30h 39m

Ryudo Level 57
Elena Level 56
Millenia Level 57
Adventure Book Level Max
Book of Warriors Level Max
Book of Gales Level Max
Book of Swords Level Max
Book of Priests Level Max
Book of Wizards Level Max
Holy Egg Level Max
Chaos Egg Level Max
Mist Egg Level Max
Gravity Egg Level Max
Soul Egg Level 66
Star Egg Level 82
Ryudo 3/4 Moves Maxed Out
Elena 4/4 Moves Maxed Out
Millenia 5/6 Moves Maxed Out

Crash of the Titans Review


It’s been a little while since my last Crash game but it’s time to get back into the action. This Crash game is also a little different from the others in that it has more of an emphasis on the combat. It’s part beat em up this time as opposed to being a pure platformer and that certainly works out well enough for me. I love some good battling after all.

The story starts with Cortex attacking Crash and the gang once again. This time he’s serious so the heroes have to really watch out or they may be taken down for the count. Coco is kidnapped though and Crunch is encased in ice so it’s all up to Crash as per usual. What will make this a little more difficult this time is that Nina is taking over the role as main villain instead of Cortex. In fact, Cortex has now been imprisoned so deep down he may be rooting for Crash as well. Crash will have to get through many different dungeons and castles in order to get to Nina but he won’t stop until he has saved the world.

It’s easy to describe the gameplay since it’s what you would expect in a beat em up. You try to take out your opponents with standard moves and power blows. In a lot of circumstances you have to defeat all of the enemies in order to proceed and other times you can skip through. While the gameplay is simple, that also makes it difficult to go forward in other cases. For example, there are a bunch of slime minions that show up in a few levels and the only way to even damage them is to use your power moves.

The issue is that the power moves take a lot of time to load up. Additionally, these minions can use parry skills to dodge your attack and land a pretty solid blow. I would really just beat these guys with luck half the time and the other half I would just end up getting wrecked. There is an item that allows you to use a one hit KO attack so I recommend saving it for whenever you see one of these guys. Keep in mind that the item does not reappear if you lose a life so be careful when you use it.

A prominent mechanic in this game is that you can also take control of an enemy you defeat. This is crucial to completing the level. When you take control of a monster, do not allow yourself to be defeated and always hop into a new monster if you’re losing health. Most of the monsters are incredibly powerful so while you have control of one of those you should be really safe.

It’s not full proof but it’ll help you out in most circumstances. Otherwise I just couldn’t find a good full proof strategy against these guys. You won’t have a problem against most of the other enemies though, just button mash as best you can and you should be all good here. It’s a fun combat system and the ability to jump into monsters reminds me of Mario Odyssey. The boss fights make good use of this as well with the final boss being rather difficult to deal with. Most of the other bosses you should breeze through.

One pro tip here is as I mentioned, sometimes you don’t have to beat every enemy. Remember those moments well because it can be the difference between winning a round and losing. There was one really intense moment when I was nearly out of health and had to deal with a lot of the fire monsters. So what I did is I just ran right past them. Just barely mind you, but I was able to jump into the tunnel leading into the next level right before they slammed me. Losing can be intense here because a game over means you go back to the very beginning of the level no matter how many sections you completed. So if this tip helps you even avoid one game over then it’s definitely worth it.

In a way because this is not a platformer it does feel a lot easier than the usual Crash games. In terms of length I’d say it’s similar. You should beat this one in under 10 hours. In terms of replay value I don’t recall running into any collectables but there are probably some things you can do with to increase the play time here. Either way the game goes for a fairly low price nowadays so you should be able to get good value here.

The graphics have aged pretty well too. The character designs are on point and the art style is really colorful. It’s all expressive and taps into that Crash energy well. I may not be a fan of the character himself but the universe always had a lot of interesting level designs. That remains true for this game as well. The soundtrack is less memorable but the tunes work well enough within their contexts.

As for Nina, she works well as the new main villain. You do feel bad for Cortex though since she is absolutely roasting him throughout the entire game. You’d think he would get a little more respect since they’re related and he was a main villain for so long but that’s not the case here. Nina is played straight but the rest of the villains tend to have their comedic moments as well.

Meanwhile Coco spends most of the game being mind controlled and kidnapped so this isn’t exactly her biggest role. It does allow Crash to step in and do the job on his own…or with a little help from the mask I should say. Crunch stays frozen so don’t expect any help from him. The game has a lot of cutscenes/cinematics so it’s a good chance to see more of the characters. All in all, it makes for a satisfying story mode.

Overall, Crash of the Titans is definitely another solid Crash installment. It’s a nice change of pace having Cortex on the sidelines even if I still prefer him to Nina. Nina gets her hype though and puts up a good fight here. If the games were to ever revamp Crash’s personality just a bit I dare say that the series could end up being even bigger than it is currently. There are just a few more Crash games I haven’t played yet so now I’m really close to the end. It’ll definitely be a milestone getting that far.

Overall 7/10

Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits Review


RPGs tend to always be a lot of fun because you get to have a blast hanging out with a group of characters for a while. In this case the game took me close to 40 hours so you’re not likely going to forget about these guys anytime soon. The plot is solid and the cast of characters is good. The game also has you switching between two sides which is handled very effectively. This is definitely a game you won’t soon forget.

There are two main characters as I mentioned. First you have the humans led by Kharg. He is a prince who fights for the humans against the Deimos, a race of creatures that seemingly want nothing more than chaos and to destroy all humans. Kharg has no reason to doubt this and continues slaying them all but one day he meets a girl named Lilia who is on the run from a corrupt government. She explains that there are 5 magical stones and if they are all collected then the person who has all 5 will gain unlimited power. Since the Deimos are after this, Kharg realizes that he will have to assemble them himself.

The other story follows Darc, who is a slave who lives a rather brutal life. One day his owner is destroyed by a pack of deimos and when Darc is unable to protect his furby he comes to believe that power is everything. He ends up going on a rampage and becoming King of the Deimos. He now wants to slaughter all humans and aims to collect the stones in order to do so. He also meets up with Lilia who is determined to help him see the light but it’s rather difficult since both species are so opposed to each other.

I can’t think of another game like this where you keep switching between both sides and ultimately have to pick one at the end. Certainly not any RPG that I know of so this was pretty fun. Every chapter the game forces you to change sides so you get to really see their point of view. Everything about the sides is isolated which includes your items, level ups, and money. It makes you feel like you’re playing 2 20 hour games at the same time. The stories are connected of course by the plot and such but the characters don’t actually get to meet until you are almost at the very end of the game. This allows for a whole lot of build up which is always a good idea.

Adding to the tension is that Kharg and Darc are brothers who are half human and half deimos. This is something both of them try to hide since being a hybrid in this world would certainly be frowned upon. Naturally there is also a lot more to the story than I’ve mentioned as they both accumulate a lot of allies and the story has a lot of twists. That is often the case with RPGs after all and part of why the genre is so great. It’s definitely got to be one of the best game styles out there.

The gameplay is similar to Disgaea as you move each character around the board and unleash their attacks. After everyone has made their attack then the enemy team is allowed to do so. Additionally, your EXP is based on how much damage you deal and on who gets the finishing blow. As a result you will likely end up with a very unbalanced team depending on how you fight so keep an eye out for that. You can learn skills to help you out through the game and of course you will want to make sure you grab some great equipment as well. It can be the difference between victory and defeat here.

There are a few aspects of the gameplay that could be improved though. One if that this is a game where the cutscenes are all unskippable. Trust me, it’s never fun to have to watch cutscenes again after you have been defeated. The final boss is especially guilty of this since you will likely expect to lose there a few times and getting back through all of the cutscenes takes around 30-40 minutes each time. I got beat down 2 times before winning eventually so it was a long path. It does make sure that you will do a lot of training before you try a second time though.

The gameplay can also be a bit slow and would have benefited a whole lot from having some king of speed up feature. Something to make the turns go by faster would have just been genius since the turns can take a while and absolutely add up. I’d also like to say that the final boss is incredibly cheesy. Defeating him requires a rather unusual battle style that feels like it is exploiting the battle and yet, it’s the only viable way to win. It also takes a while as a result since my team was not built for long range encounters. I had to level up my fighters like crazy.

Graphically the game certainly holds its own though. It’s a PS2 game that has a good amount of polish and definitely wasn’t just thrown together at the last second. The character designs are on point and the battles we get inside of the cinematics are good. The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side though. There aren’t a whole lot of tracks but they get the job done.

Really the game’s biggest strength here is how good the plot was and how the game utilized having two main characters the way that it did. I thought that was a really good way to do things. The game is also long at around 40 hours. There isn’t a ton of replay value after beating the game but with that kind of length you don’t really need a lot like that. If you can get the game for a decent price then you’ll definitely want to do so. It’s a unique game with a lot of features that are different from usual and I thought it pulled this off.

Overall, Arc The Lad is a great game. I’ll admit that it could use a little more polish in some areas of the gameplay. There are things that can be improved like the speed and the design of the final boss. That being said, the story is just really solid. The game absolutely can hold its own with the bigger RPGs out there and I look forward to playing through the sequel someday. Hopefully more games use this style of two main characters some day because the build up and the inevitable confrontation is always a blast.

Overall 8/10

Battlestar Galactica Review


Battlestar Galactica is one of those games that should have been good by all accounts. It’s a Sci-Fi game like Star Fox with a direct plot involving aliens and a main character who’s already showing some sass in the first level. How could it fumble the ball this hard? Well, unfortunately the controls are pretty bad and the game design is even worse. You have to be prepared for an incredibly long level and if you die at any point during it there are no checkpoints. That’s exactly the kind of thing that you don’t want to do.

The game starts off with a bunch of alien robots showing up. They want to destroy the Galactica. Your mission is to stop them and prevent the Galactica from being destroyed. Simple enough right? Unfortunately not really and this was the last level I would see. I gave it a whirl for around 3-4 hours but it was just not enough to get through. You have to see the same cutscenes and dialogue each time too which can get old. The main character constantly saying that he’s not a cadet but the other characters mock him anyway gets old pretty quick. It’s a shame because the main guy had some potential here.

The core gameplay is that you’re in a 3D environment where you have to fly in and start taking names. You have your main weapon, your sub weapon, boosters, and a few other tricks up your sleeve. You can reallocate your stats to increase attack or speed. Additionally you have charge missiles and other weapons by holding down each button. I think this may have been part of the problem though. The game just got a little too ambitious with all of this. At the end of the day the main issue here is there are too many controls. You have so many different attacks and movement options that none of them are actually reliable.

Then you have the fact that the levels are massive so it feels like you are never making any progress. I’m telling you, I’ve gone through that exact same intro so many times in this game that it’s incredibly old at this point. It’s just the same dialogue options over and over and over again. You really need a checkpoint system in this game or in any game with long levels for that matter. The worst feeling is dumping a few hours into something without anything to show for it. While minor, I’d say at least adding a play time ticker somewhere in the game would do it wonders. Then I could at least put that down somewhere as a quick achievement. Without it, the game feels like an empty experience.

The graphics are really good at least. The game looks surprisingly solid for the PS2 era and you could make a case for this looking like a PS3 game. It’s got full voice acting and the soundtrack is on point as well. On a technical level this game can hold its own and that’s more than I can say for other games at this level. That’s part of why the whole situation is tragic since at least some of the departments working on this game seemed to try hard. Just not hard enough to really make this a good game.

So, how would I fix this? Well, aside from adding checkpoints I would remove some of the control options. We shouldn’t have 3 different ways to boost. Make R1 the boost option and otherwise you are accelerating by default. L1 will be to slow down. Square button will fire the homing rockets. No need to have it twice. I would make the lock-on system a whole lot more pronounced so you don’t have to be wondering where the enemies are. Remove the team strategy options or just make it something you control from the pause menu. Same for redistributing your skills in the level, that should be through the pause menu. Now with this we’re cooking with gas.

Next up, instead of making each level 20-30 minutes and only having 7 levels in the game, make it 21 shorter levels. Each level is the objective so the length is more akin to what an average Star Wars or Star Fox level is like. Bite sized levels like that are perfect for objective based games like this one. For that matter they make a lot more sense as well. With these changes I think you can instantly bump this game all the way up to a 7. It would feel like a completely different game in a good way.

Of course at the end of the day that’s all just wish fulfillment. The game exists and nothing’s really going to change that. Perhaps if the developers see this they can use it for context on their next game though. For some reason sci-fi games just tend to have a lot of issues I’ve noticed. Star Trek hasn’t exactly hit it out of the park and then you had that game about visiting planets a while back. Star Wars has had its hits but it’s also definitely had some titles that didn’t hit people the way you would have hoped they did. I don’t get what’s so hard to make about a space shooter. Just look at Star Fox Assault for a good idea of how to handle it. That game is quite old by now and yet to this day it is easily the best sci-fi shooter I’ve ever seen. It could handle both aerial combat as well as on the ground. It’s a true legend.

Overall, Battlestar Galactica is not a franchise that I’ve ever started and this game definitely wouldn’t help me to turn around on that. It’s just not a very well developed game with the level designs being too long and the controls are overly complex. The series in general always seemed like an alternate version of Star Trek so there’s a lot of potential there. We just need a modern game version to really adapt the series and give it more respect with the fundamentals. I think if you handle this right then you may definitely have something here. Until then though, stay far away from this game and buy Star Fox Assault instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Overall 3/10

Dynasty Warriors 4 Review


Time to take a look at the next Dynasty Warriors entry. I wouldn’t really say that it’s very different from 3 in this case. The graphics are about the same and the story is pretty similar too. In terms of changes from entry to entry I feel like the gap between 3 and 4 is probably one of the smallest that I’ve seen. It’s just as fun as the last game of course, but if you swapped them out it would be pretty hard to tell so I feel like this one came out really quickly after the last one in terms of development time.

So once again I went with the Wu faction to save China and unite everyone. The gameplay is completely unchanged from the last one with the core mechanics. It does seem like you know more of your super moves without leveling up this time which is handy. I also do like that you just have one weapon this time so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to equip it or something like that. That was one thing that could be tricky in 2 because it was hard to always be remembering something like that. This way you can focus on just getting into the action. You still have items to equip though and I recommend doing that since their extra stat boosts do help.

The levels try to have a little more variety in this game with new objectives. One of these is the “Find the Seal” level but the idea was better than the execution. This one took me almost the entire stage time not because of enemies but because the seal wouldn’t show up in any of the boxes. I broke over 80 and scoured the stage over and over but it just wouldn’t show up. It wasn’t really fun, but just tedious. Fortunately that level only showed up once and the rest were more standard. I much prefer just having to take down a bunch of enemies.

I gotta say that the final level really went all in though. It seemed like no matter which faction I tried to help I was left alone pretty early on. It was pretty thrilling in its own way though because the meter was all the way in the red meaning I had no support. I had to slowly encroach on their territory from all sides. There were many times where I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I ultimately was able to survive. I got to test my skills under duress and they weren’t lacking. The computer A.I. in this game is pretty impressive. They don’t let you split them up very easily and even utilize traps of their own. You don’t want to underestimate these guys.

Even on the Easy difficulty this game could be pretty crazy. The final level is my proof of this but even the other levels would be difficult at times too. This is definitely not quite like any other Easy mode that I have experienced. This one is determined to give you a challenge under any level and I can definitely respect that. There is no easy walk in the park to be found here. My main gameplay advice here is to pick your battles carefully. Just because you can go into enemy territory and take all of the fighters down doesn’t mean that you should. If you leave your allies alone then they may end up getting crushed by the forces that remain. It may feel heroic to invade the enemy base but that’s why it’s so risky. Additionally in this game the enemy generals are a lot more likely to just gang up on you which makes them a lot more difficult to handle. At least one of them will probably block or parry your blow and then you’re in a bad spot.

There are also 1 on 1 duels in this game and I recommend turning them down. The enemies often have cheesy combos that take a lot of damage out of you and they also have access to potions. There’s no real reason to fight them except that your army will lose morale if you turn them down. On the flip side if you accept and lose then you get a game over so I really don’t think that the risk is worth the reward. It seems a little lopsided but maybe that’s just me.

On the graphical front the game looks good. As I mentioned it is basically the same as the last one. I liked 3’s graphics so I enjoyed 4’s as well. The soundtrack continues to bring us a lot of different rock themes so that was a lot of fun. These games are really super impressive with the tracks and I hope to see that continue in the newer games. Music is a big part of the gameplay experience after all and if I could ask for any enhancement it would just be to make the music a little louder during the actual gameplay. Amidst the sword swinging and yelling I really can’t hear the music and it may even stop during the levels. You really hear it a lot during the menus.

It goes without saying that the game has a lot of replay value. The main campaign will probably last you a few hours and then after that you can try beating the game with the other teams. Additionally you can max out all of the characters and get the items. It will take an extremely long amount of time to do all of that so you can really just keep playing the game until you get to the point where you are tired of the gameplay. When you couple that with the fact that the game goes for a very low price at this point then you’ve definitely got yourself quite the deal here.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 4 is a fun beat em up game as with the last one. If you have enjoyed any of the previous DW games then you will definitely like this one. There’s really nothing to dislike here and everything to enjoy. It’s got a ton of content and solid gameplay so you can’t ask for much more. Right now I’m working on Dynasty Warriors 5 and that will end my little marathon. It’s pretty impressive how many installments this series has gone which really shows what a solid fanbase it has. The games have earned it with the solid gameplay over the years.

Overall 7/10

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review


It’s time to take a look at the second Disgaea game. After the first adventure I knew that it was time to jump into the second one. It’s a tad shorter than the first but by the end my playtime for both of them was basically on the same level. One big difference though is that the second game requires less grinding. At the same time, it’s also in part because I understood the mechanics better and had a more balanced team. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a mage on the team. I got one named Marcia in this title and she saved me more times than I can count.

The story starts by introducing us to a human town that has slowly been corrupted. Now all of the citizens are turning into monsters and it is the work of Overlord Zenon. Adell is the only human on the planet who has been unaffected and he takes this as a sign that he has to be the one to find Zenon. His Mom tries to summon Zenon but they accidentally summon his daughter Rozalin instead. As Rozalin is bound by the contract to stick with Adell for a while he promises to get her back to her father. This way they will both get what they want. Can he really trust this Princess though?

Along the way the duo meet quite a few allies to help in their quest. First up is Tink who is a demon frog with a split personality. He’s definitely a little on the crazy side and is easily the weakest character of the group. He never pitches in when it counts. Then you have Adell’s little siblings Hanako and Taro. Hanako is always calling Taro named and looks up to the demon lord Etna. She is a reasonable enough character I suppose and could be worse. Taro is too lacking in confidence and the fact that his goal in life is to be Razalin’s servant doesn’t really bode well for his character.

One character that shows up later in the game is Yukimaru. She is an assassin who wants to end Lord Zenon once and for all. Her ice abilities are pretty fun and her gimmick isn’t bad. Basically she says zam at the end of every sentence. Her brother also shows up on a similar quest although he isn’t nearly as heroic as she is. By the end of the game Yukimaru is one of the only characters who can keep up with the main two so I recommend keeping her in your party. As a character she is fun to have around as well.

One of the most enjoyable characters is Etna though. Since she was from the first game that made her appearances extra special. Initially she shows up as a guest star character who is at a crazy level 1000. She even takes down Zenon which is immensely impressive. I was glad to see the old characters get their hype since they didn’t get to be main characters this time. Etna is still as ruthless as ever though as she constantly destroys her minions. While she may be hanging out with the main characters for most of the game don’t mistake her for being some kind of hero. She’s definitely just in it to get more power and destroy Laharl once and for all.

Laharl gets a much smaller role as he only shows up for a quick boss fight. It’s still an amazing scene though and reminds you why he is the Overlord. Ultimately Laharl actually meets his match though. I would have liked to have seen him fight longer, but it was a decisive loss for him. Power isn’t everything and he probably could have used some of his old pals to help even the playing field a bit. Part of what makes Disgaea 2 so much fun is how epic these scenes are. It has the advantage of being a sequel to it can utilize the nostalgia of bringing the old characters back like this.

The amazing soundtrack is also handy for this. Etna gets a cool insert song whenever she appears as well and it fits with her amazing boss fight where you are completely helpless. It also builds the atmosphere as well. Axel gets a similar theme that’s really hype and of course Laharl brings in some of the themes from the first game. Despite just playing that one I can see how nostalgic that would be. The game also has a fully animated opening which is pretty awesome. You don’t really see those as often as you’d like. It’s got a little more shipping in it than you’d expect but the action is really hype and the lyrics are catchy. I’ve listened to that theme quite a few times.

Axel The Dark Hero is basically the replacement for the Dark Adonis. He’s another guy who thinks he is the rival to the main character. His story is a little tragic as he just wants to be rich and famous but things never tend to work out for him. When he finally does get his success everyone says he made the wrong choice. I think they were all just jealous to be honest. While I wasn’t a big fan of Axel at the start the game does a good job of developing him into a quality character. By the end he was quite enjoyable. I still prefer the Adonis but they were close.

As for Overlord Zenon, he’s a very unique villain. He takes a lot of losses throughout the game and gets beaten up so badly you keep wondering if the guy is really such a feared Overlord. It’s an interesting take because he clearly isn’t the strongest villain out there, but he’s just strong enough where people fear him. It’s a nice theme that Disgaea has done with the villains. Zenon makes up for this weaknesses with his near immortality and to be clear, he is still immensely powerful. He’d probably be top 10 for the fighters we’ve seen so far. His master plan is definitely twisted but really interesting. I don’t think I’ve quite seen such a plan before and his target’s reaction to it is also amazing. This fighter wasn’t phased in the slightest.

Adell is a great lead and one of the better main characters that I’ve seen in recent years. He’s just a guy who wants to protect his family and doesn’t need to have more of a backstory than that. He’s a very honorable main character who refuses to ever break a promise. While everyone doubts whether he is a human or not for the whole game he never has any doubts about it. His confidence is part of what makes him so solid and the game likely did subvert a lot of expectations with that. I was expecting some kind of twist by the end but Azell just didn’t need one.

Meanwhile Rozalin is a great heroine as well. At first she is constantly scheming to destroy Adell to protect her father but gradually realizes that he is not a bad guy. It’s a nice character arc for her and in particular she gets a pretty solid scene with Laharl. As royalty Rozalin refuses to back down to anyone. The only part that gets repetitive is the line “I’m a being of solitude” which gets old after the first 3 times. It gets spammed relentlessly in some games. That’s really the only thing I can say against the game though. This is pretty much a perfect adventure and the banter between Adell and Rozalin is a lot of fun. Disgaea 2 really does a superb job of balancing the hype scenes with more light hearted comedy/parody elements.

Wait a minute, did I skip the gameplay section? Well, the gameplay is basically the same as in the first one. You are in an overworld map view and your goal is to destroy all of the enemies on the square. You control up to 10 characters in a turn based combat system and use attacks and magic to defeat the enemies. You can gang up on an enemy or divide and conquer them. The tricky thing to keep in mind here is that only the opponent who actually destroys the enemy gets any XP. Everyone else does not so it can be very hard to keep a balanced party. I ended up having Laharl and Rozalin way higher leveled than the others. It takes too long to level everyone up so I just focused on having two. It’s rare where you’ll need more than 2 characters in a level if they’re strong enough.

A huge part of the game is the equipment you get though so make sure to buy the best of the best. It increases your stats way more than leveling up would. I also recommend focusing on attack power because it makes the grinding a lot faster. Also you should turn off the combat animations once you’ve seen them enough because it speeds the game up greatly as well. You’ll need to use the Dark Assembly to unlock higher enemies for the shop. If you want to pass any real bills though you’ll need to bribe them which can get expensive. It’s great for the post game though.

The main story is around 20 hours and then the post game is effectively endless. You can go up to level 1000 and there are so many things to do that it can get a bit intimidating. It’s nice to have though because if you really love the game then you can be here for quite a while. Disgaea never backs down from giving you quite a lot of content to deal with which is pretty awesome. The graphics are also quite sound and you can see how they’ve improved since the first game. It all looks quite clear and I look forward to seeing another upgrade in the third game.

Overall, Disgaea 2 is an excellent game and I would actually say that it surpassed the original. It’s very close in terms of characters but the story of the second game is just a lot more interesting and high stakes. I like the idea of every Overlord deciding to duke it out to see who the strongest one is. It’s a very complete story and one that doesn’t need a sequel but I’d like for these characters to show up again at some point. Perhaps the group would be seen as too powerful at this point but it would be perfect for a 2 on 2 fight, Adell & Rozalin vs Laharl and Etna. I’d definitely buy that. If you like a good RPG with tactical gameplay then I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 9/10

Yugioh Duelist of the Roses Review


It’s time to look at what I’d say is easily the strangest Yugioh game. For starters the game has nothing to do with the actual characters from the series and the plot seems to be based on a war from a very long time ago. The story definitely isn’t very interesting and there isn’t much of one in the first place so the gameplay will have to hold the game up on its own. Will it be able to make this title a success?

When you start the game you are summoned as the legendary Rose duelist by the Red Rose army who are currently losing the battle against the White Rose. You are their last hope to try and turn the tide of the war. Seto, who is the leader of the White side shows up and asks you to join him instead to rule the world. This is where you make your choice of which faction to play as. The game is around 10-11 duels long and the path you take determines which array of fighters you will be contending with. The goal is to get all 8 of the cards by beating 8 guardians and there are some extra fighters along the way.

When you first start the game you get to choose your starter deck. All of them are pretty awful if you ask me and you can expect to lose quite a lot of duels at first. Your opponents have everything whole you’ve got basic cards that aren’t strong enough to win. What I was surprised about is that the computer already has significantly more powerful monsters at 2700 from the start while your guys are limited to 1500. Anyone who was able to beat these guys with a starter deck right off the bat has my respect on this one.

Another complication is that the game doesn’t even follow Yugioh rules. I was surprised about this because of you don’t have the rules or the characters then why is this a Yugioh game anyway? I should mention that the main connection in the story is that the characters happen to look like Yugioh characters…that’s it. It’s like when a show does a Christmas Carol and they are all not themselves for that one AU episode. This is the same concept and I guess you’ve got the monsters even if the gameplay is different.

The gameplays a bit complex, but here’s my best attempt at a solid write up. You start out with your captain or vanguard if you will. You can move him one space a time along a board that is fairly large. Around 10 by 6 or something like that. The goal is to destroy the opponent’s guardian. Both guardians always start with 4000 HP but that can go up or down based on spell and trap cards. If you attack the opponent directly then your attack power will determine how much health is lost. You can summon 1 monster per turn and that monster can move 1 space per turn unless it has a type advantage and then it can move two times. All of the opponents you fight will have the type advantage so expect them to always be moving two spaces at a time. A spell card to change the terrain comes in handy for this although they have a very limited range so they aren’t always too great. It’s still a good balancer in the right circumstance, but keep in mind that playing this spell will prevent you from summoning a monster that turn.

You gain 3 stars each turn and monsters require stars to summon. The strongest monsters need 8 stars so you can choose to either wait a few turns and summon them or keep on summoning weaker ones. Usually you want at least one card to defend yourself with and then you start saving up. Then you’ve got all of the spell and trap cards to deal with and you can fuse some into monsters to make them stronger. You can also fuse monsters from your hand but the game doesn’t let you know if they’re compatible so it’s a lot of trial and error here. If you make the wrong call then you’ll lose the first card in each fusion which can be a bit tiresome. This is the best way to clear your hand out to get more cards though. Just smash all of the cards together and next turn you’ll get 5 fresh ones. There’s a lot more to this gameplay, but it’s so complex that the only way to really get it is to play the game first hand. That’s when it’ll all really start to make sense.

As for the graphics, the game has some pretty good illustrations. For the most part there aren’t too many cutscenes but we get a few paintings at the end and one at the start. I prefer animated cutscenes but there was a good amount of effort put into these pieces of art. In game the stages and effects are decent but not all that fun to look at. All of the stages are pretty similar and the whole thing looks pretty dreamy all the time. Better level designs would have been ideal.

I already spoke to the game’s difficulty level and I can assure you that it’s one of the toughest games I’ve played. Beating the whole thing with a starter deck is impossible so the idea is you beat the first few guys, take their cards and keep on beating them til you get a lot of good ones. Then you move on. It requires a lot of wins as well as rng to get the right cards. Then in the duel you need a fair amount luck to draw the right card at the right time. Ultimately I had to just grab some cards through the password mode to get through these duels. I recommend doing this if you need to save some time because otherwise you will be here for a very long time. It does help with the replay value I suppose. The game should last you for quite a while and once you beat it you get to play all over again as the other team.

Overall, Yugioh Duelist of the Roses is an odd game with a confusing gameplay system. It takes quite a while to learn how to really play the game and even then it’s hard to get invested into it. The duels feel like they take quite a long time although that’s normal for a Yugioh game. Once you turn the animations off it speeds up quite a bit. If you like a good strategy type game then this is the one for you. There are a few similarities to Fire Emblem after all. Otherwise I would definitely recommend playing a different Yugioh game instead. My top recommendations would be World Championship or any of the PSP titles. Those actually follow the Yugioh rules and have a better plot. (Note that some of the World Championships don’t have a plot so carefully choose which one you want to play)

Overall 5/10