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Platform: GameCube Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action RPG Developer: From Software
Format: Mini DVD-ROM Expected Release: 05/13/03

Preview First-Look
2/10/03
John McCarroll
John McCarroll

From Software’s Rune was a unique game; as the first RPG to arrive on the GameCube, the game was not turn based, nor was it a remade classic. The title combined the collecting elements of Pokémon with the card game-style battles of Yugi-Oh using a solid Action-RPG engine. Rune was localized for a domestic release as Lost Kingdoms courtesy of Activision shortly after the U.S. release of the GameCube. With the Japanese release of Rune II this Spring, Activision has recently announced their plans to release the game as the aptly named Lost Kingdoms II in the US in May. Players can look forward to romping around Argwyll again, though not as the heir-apparent Katia. Instead, Lost Kingdoms II will introduce a new heroine: Katia's daughter, Tara.

Lost Kingdoms II takes the player back to the world of Argwyll and the kingdom where Katia now reigns supreme. Tara, one of Katia's twin daughters, is outcast to prevent bloodshed, and is raised by thieves. Not surprisingly, there is evil still brewing in Argwyll and the wayward daughter is that world's only hope at salvation. Unskilled, Tara has only her runestone and must summon Guardian Creatures to challenge the invading force of evil. The story may be cliché, but that's usually not the focus for an action RPG. Gamers should hope that Activision does a better job with localization than they did with the first game - the lackluster plot was not helped in the least by the first's half-hearted translation.

Lost Kingdoms II uses a 3D polygonal engine similar to the original game; using a ¾ isometric view similar to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. The graphics have been improved significantly since the first game as both the character models and background have received noticeable increases in polygons. The monsters summoned from cards are equally as impressive as the rest of the game with fluid animation and respectable effects. The explosions and other lighting effects are attractive, but are by no means the epitome of special effects. The visual enhancements of Lost Kingdoms II are appreciated as Lost Kingdoms resembled more of a last generation Dreamcast title than a true GameCube release.

Neither the graphics nor the plot is the real focus of Lost Kingdoms II, it’s the gameplay. The game doesn’t solely revolve around Tara doing battle, but of the creatures she summons with cards from a 30-card deck. Cards are split into three categories: Summoned Monster- a creature called to deliver a massive attack, Weapon - a monster summoned to do several attacks in place of Tara, and Independent - a creature created to fight alongside Tara. In a Pokémon-style upgrade, From Software has added a new class of creature as well as 100 new monsters to the already existing cards from Lost Kingdoms. This means that Lost Kingdoms II will feature more than 200 Guardian Creatures spanning the elements of fire, water, earth, water, mechanical, and neutral.

Another change to Lost Kingdoms II’s gameplay is the inclusion of Transformation Cards. These cards not only allow Tara to summon a creature, but give her the ability to transform into that type of monster. This will allow the player to overcome certain obstacles that a human could not. Lost Kingdoms II will also allow players to replenish their supply of cards within dungeons. This is a welcome addition as the original game forced many players to leave dungeons to restock their supply of Guardian Creatures. The player will be able to reshuffle unused cards back into their deck and may use certain cards multiple times. The single player quest will also include allied NPCs which can be interacted with as part of plot sequences. The last major addition to the game is a revamped duel mode. Players can use either their own deck from the memory card, or that of a rival wizard supplied by the game.

Lost Kingdoms II is game that shouldn’t go under any GameCube RPG fan’s radar, even with the recent release of Skies of Arcadia Legends and the upcoming Zelda. From Software has legitimately added to their first GameCube release with improved visuals and gameplay. Lost Kingdoms II is scheduled for release on May 13, 2003 courtesy of Activision.



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©2002-2003 From Software, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
©2002-2003 Activision, Inc. All rights Reserved.
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A glimpse of Tara on the move.

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A battle on Bhashea High Road.

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