RPG Review #86: Dual Orb II

NuMetalManiak
First off I'd like to apologize for taking a few days off from reviewing RPGs due to messing with an RPG Maker. Yeah, I might as well do one of those to figure out the bare basics of what constitutes a simple and crude RPG. And then when I decide to finally play one, what was I greeted with? A simple and crude RPG! And it's right here. Dual Orb II, developed by I'MAX, which is a Japan company NOT related to those high resolution theater things you may have seen in some museum show or something. And you also may be wondering why I'm playing the apparent sequel of a short-lived series first. Once again, I couldn't find a translation for the first game, and I'd rather not be trying to cipher some Japanese characters to do so.

Gameplay: What you will see in Dual Orb II's gameplay is nothing completely new at all. You've got your standard world map, dungeons, towns, chests to pick up, ships, flying vessels, characters that come and go, random encounters (very frequent I may add), and some fantasy mixed with technology stuff. It seems translation wasn't too bad apart from enemy names. There's very few weapons, as the game has a blacksmithing system, similar to the Suikoden games, in which leveling them up actually will mean they are much better than your own characters leveling up. This made way for tons of money grinding which I got bored with really quickly.

I'll give the battles some credit, since the animations for the characters and enemies are done fantastically well, especially upon defeating enemies in game. But man, does leveling up mean much here? Not even stat boosting spells seem to mean much, since damage incurred or received tends to be static, usually in the hundreds or thousands of HP. Even when overleveled later on some enemies are STILL faster, but most are weak and a good chunk of them only seem to utilize physical attacks. How boring. There really isn't anything new to the table at all. Grade: C-

Characters:
Aleth: He's the son of a high priest, the main character, and the silent protagonist. He's also the main healer of the party, which is nice to have. His main attacks are terrible though until you get the better swords, and he only gets one damaging spell, but he also will have the highest HP of anyone in the group.
Lagnus: The best buddy of Aleth, he's a spear-wielder with better attacking capabilities but much slower. He'll get a powerful piece of armor that will amplify his abilities and give him attack spells. He sticks around for most of the first part of the game but permanently leaves later on.
Cassius: Despite being a bard class character, he's probably the most interesting character in terms of backstory. Too bad it's not explored much. He's a good character when you first get him but he comes and goes, and doesn't really do much training to catch up.
Serra: The token mysterious girl who actually shoots with guns in a fantasy world. She gets a few support spells, one attack spell, and decent healing spells, and is also fast. She's an early character, leaves, and then permanently comes back later on.
Saladin: This is a thief that, to me isn't that good of a thief. Decent attack power, awful speed, always last in my party. He does get a boatload of spells later on, and he stays with the party permanently once he joins.
Najiri: This guy is of a species known as Gurika. He's actually terrible since he's pretty much NPC-controlled and only attacks. At least he doesn't join for long.
Karina: She's the princess of Hilandia and a powerful attacker with either a rapier or a bow. She's a late game character for the final party, and while she doesn't use magic, her Stab ability is capable of doing lots of damage at the cost of accuracy.
Bargan: A funny pirate guy who joins a couple of times, but not for long. He wields cutlasses, but his second ability isn't all that fun. He essentially lets someone else take his turn.

I like how there's multiple playables here, as well as a big collection of NPC characters as well. But this doesn't really help in making the game any more enjoyable, especially when you take archetypes into account. Not a whole lot of difference from other RPGs. Grade: C

Plot: Oh, were you expecting a good plot? Look away now.

Okay, the premise and the introductory cutscene are fantastic. A futuristic setting here, with two characters, Alex and Serra, in preparation of something apocalyptic. Serra is sent back. We also get to see a high priest finding a kid, who is called Aleth, and brought to Garade and raised as the high priest's son, where he would eventually befriend the young prince of Garade, Lagnus. The two have a neat little treehouse hideout, showing the mischievousness of the young prince as he hides from his family. Meanwhile, the enemy nation is Kardosa, run by emperor Odorath and professor Hardwick, with a number of other generals who will eventually be fought.

So yeah, being a young mischievous prince has its major disadvantages by making him a kidnapping target, for some reason. Cassius helps the boys out, and they later meet Serra, who is brought into the world as a goddess for some reason, while simultaneously being an amnesiac. Wonderful, one of those characters. She at least knows her name and something about an Orb. Also Aleth gets a green jewel that is obviously a part of the Orb. At this time, Garade is also attacked by Kardosa, which results in the deaths of the high priest and the king. On an escape from the town, Hardwick ambushes them along with a general named Torath. Lagnus gets a hold of a dark armor which amplifies his abilities, but passes out after the battle, and subsequently escapes with Aleth and Serra while Cassius holds the enemies off.

Lagnus asks Saladin for help to get into Colodus, the sister city of Garade, to see his uncle Seldam. They've had trouble with goblins it seems, or does it? Confronting the problem, it's revealed they are just Gurika tribespeople, and Serra faints in order to give a party slot for Najiri. Back at Colodus, it turns out that Seldam was evil (shocker) and orchestrated the attack on Garade. After killing him, the controlling staff is broken and a cloaked figure escapes. Now Aleth and his group go to the Fire Ruins to pick up the red jewel. The cloaked figure from before, Gilzath, ambushes them when they go back to Serra, kidnapping her, but not managing to defeat Aleth's group due to Saladin somehow gaining some spells of his own.

Cassius reveals his past, and apparently a deal that was against a certain general named Sindra went awry. He's also a spy for a moving nation called Claydon, who's leader unfortunately is in cahoots with Kardosa as well. Things go full bait-and-switch, Lagnus ends up being taken by Hardwick and Sindra while Serra wishes for escape, meaning she, Aleth, and Saladin get out of there and onto a mountain. At the bottom, another general, Organa, has a deal with some pirates. In the neighboring harbor, Karina is dealing with Elliot's kidnapping, and getting the help from Bargan's pirates, they rescue him. Bargan blows a horn to get the help of his ship, and they also make their floating island of Cadmus move as well, breaking through a Kardosan blockade to Hilandia.

So yeah, Karina and Elliot are princess and prince of Hilandia, and Elliot is a tech geek for some reason. We also get to go to a city of mages called Gassa, who's council leader Marilyn reveals she's not up for an alliance with Hilandia. And then we go to Time Ruins to get the last jewel for the Orb. Then they get attacked by Gilzath, who reveals quite a lot involving Marilyn, Saladin, and their mother. Wow, a lot of related people. And then Lagnus shows up being all "join the darkside" before Marilyn teleports the player back home, where a trek through another mountain reveals a super strange village where everyone knows Aleth. Apparently that Alex guy is an ancestor (shocker), and that the village was supposed to help him get another plot macguffin, the Spirit Nucleus. Also the villagers turn into poop. Okay, I'm joking, but it seriously made me think that.

The endgame is obviously in preparation to attack the enemy castle and, shock and horror, a floating fortress. Karina helps prepare a neighboring town, but gets kidnapped, while Bargan is also in prison, and then set free so he can get his men to the next dungeon, where we fight Organa one last time. Here, it's revealed that Organa is Lina, the long lost daughter of Bargan, and the two stay behind while the cave collapses. Claydon is in the area, and the leader there apologizes since he's been backstabbed, while Cassius rejoins to help get the place moving again. At Kardosa, Cassius makes a sacrifice against Sindra, while the party fights Odorath but is too late to stop the real evil guy, Chandler, from taking control of Lagnus and the armor. The floating fortress destroys some places, and tech geek Elliot helps their airship fly up into space for the finale, where they first fight Hardwick, then the possessed Lagnus. Unfortunately, Lagnus does die at the end, not after Serra and Aleth use the power of the orb, and Chandler's real form is fought one last time before everyone goes home.

Yeah, I'm not impressed with this overall. Lots of RPG plot cliches and everything. Grade: C

Music: Well, it isn't bad, thankfully, but having to hear the battle music after grinding so much is boring. Same with the world map theme. A number of other tracks are average at worst, and decent at best. Seriously though, there was no boss music at all? Grade: C+

Overall Grade: C

Dual Orb II is average mc-average as far as RPGs go. Grind a lot for cash and experience, fight through fantasy/technology based locations, see a story you could see somewhere else. For an experienced RPG gamer, it wasn't worth the playthrough.

Comments

Noice - iliekpiez

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