Video games and anime, do they mix? Well, in most cases it's not a pretty scene. No matter what the anime name is, it is more than likely to have a crappy RPG or any other genre to its credit. From Magic Knight Rayearth to Blue Seed, from Sailor Moon to Ranma 1/2, and yes even Slayers (Remember Slayers 1); you could go down a list that never ends. Is Slayers Royal 2 yet another example of this phenomenon? Read on to find out (and don't look at the grade at the top like a cheater =P).
Slayers Royal 2 is one of those games that really get it right and really get it wrong. There are a lot of things in Slayers 2 that I love, but there are other things that I loathe. I guess to get things off to a kind start I'll start with graphics.
Slayer Royal 2 is a 100% game if you only looked at screenshots; beautiful Slayers art, big bright colors and the cutest gosh-darn sprites you ever saw, not to mention the character portraits, all absolutely stunning! However, what you can't see very well in screenshots are the horrible, tacky, grainy, backgrounds. I don't care if you are in a battle or the overworld, the backgrounds stink. True, you can make out what the object you're looking at is (most of the time), but it's so blurry you will almost hurt your eyes doing so. Heck, even the grass and dirt on the ground looks crappy. The only good backgrounds that were in the game were the inside map backgrounds, like when you go into an inn and see a clerk and the background behind him, now that's the way the backgrounds should have looked. Like I mentioned before, the colors are perfect, the art is perfect, the characters are perfect, it's just the backgrounds are so blah. Still, even with the yucky bland backgrounds the graphics still kick a little bit of butt.
Now here's where I'm going to really knock Slayers around a bit and that's in gameplay. This is the strangest game layout I have ever played (it's like the first one). Let me see how well I can explain it to you. Skip the next paragraph if you hate long reviews ^_^.
You have an overworld, and on the overworld you have little dots that represent places (like inns, houses, stores, etc.), and you click on a dot to go there (never seeing your characters on this screen), and if you can't go there then one of your characters (probably Naga) will pop up and make some remark about that place, but if you can go there, you enter. After that, you go to a different screen. This screen shows you one view of the place that you are at (with lovely backgrounds ^-^). Here you can talk to people, camp (sleep), stay the night, save/load or buy/sell something (depends on where you are) via hitting buttons on your menu screen (btw the buttons are in English whahoo!). If you run into battles (which are few and far between) you go to a battle map (ala Final Fantasy Tactics) and duke it out strategy/RPG style. Here you move your characters just like any other strategy/RPG. And that, in a nutshell is it. Now back to the review!
This type of layout is just so foreign to me, I prefer standard walk-through towns (like Lunar), instead of button clicking (like Vandal Hearts). The layout has its pluses, like not running into an idiot townsperson who won't get their big fat fanny out of the way, but it also has disadvantages like not being able to walk about the town and enjoy all the scenery. The town layout really ticks me off when I think about it, because this game could have been so much better watching a chubby little Lina walking around town, rather than clicking buttons through a menu. I hate to say, but my complaints do not stop with the towns, the battle scenes are nothing to write home about either.
The battles are as simple as a strategy type layout can be, with most of the maps being small and undetailed and strategy at a bare minimum. Like the first Slayers, you start the game with tons of magic attacks (killer ones too), but you can only use some of them if you have been stuffing your characters with food. I really didn't like having such powerful attacks because it made a lot of the battles easy. You could argue that it makes perfect sense to start Lina out with powerful magic attacks and yes it does, but it doesn't allow for very fair battles. Overall I found the battles to be a little too easy and unfair (to the bad guys) and the overall look of the battle maps didn't helps things either.
It would be a gross mistake not to point out some of the good, unique ideas Slayers Royal 2 has, like feeding your characters. As I mentioned above, you have to feed your characters or they won't perform well in battle (I don't know what happens if they starve, sorry). You can buy food from a grocer or you can eat at restaurants (get the buffet it's worth it!). At the beginning of the game this feature is pretty cool, but as the game moves along you start to hate it. Overall Slayers Royal 2's gameplay was average at best, but ended up mixing better than I expected.
The music and sound in Slayers 2 is pretty good. The soundtrack is a lot of orchestra type stuff, very beautiful, and flowed excellently with the game. The voices were excellent as well, and I think (not one hundred percent sure) the voice actors are from the actual Japanese anime. Even if they are not the actual Slayers voices actors, they're still pretty good (except for Naga, that laugh is sickening).
As a whole, Slayers Royal 2 does a decent job of living up to the anime Slayers, and might help stop the stereotype that all anime games are crap. By no means is Slayers Royal 2 a great game, but by no means is it awful either. If you love Slayers then I see no reason why you wouldn't love the game, but most mainstream RPGer's and import newbie's might want to steer clear because Slayers 2 is not one of the best examples of a worthy import RPG.