We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.
DS

North America

Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns

by Zachary Miller - August 20, 2008, 11:26 am PDT
Total comments: 20

6

This game is brought to you by the letters T, A, and DD, and the words Cheese and Cake!

I’ve never played, or even heard of the first Izuna game, but from what I’ve read, knowledge of the previous story is not necessary to enjoy the sequel. On the other hand, I’m thinking that Izuna 2 is an improvement on a system I would have benefitted from getting used to. This is a dungeon-crawler, a dungeon-crawler that, while actually pretty fun, is also painfully unforgiving and brutally difficult. You’ve really got to want to play it, and if this niche genre is not your style, Izuna 2 is not the game to ease you into it.

Izuna is a wisecracking, food-loving, skintight-garb-wearing ninja with cat ear goggles and enormous breasts. I’m usually not adverse to female characters with ridiculous racks (Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Soulcalibur IV, and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball are all on my shelf), but when the main character is a very stylized anime teenager, it looks weird. It looks weirder when almost every female NPC in the game is similarly endowed, and the eyebrows really start to raise when the number of in-jokes involving those most mammarian of traits reaches nauseating numbers.

If you can get past the bra-busting character portraits, you’ll find that Izuna 2 is a respectable and fun dungeon-crawler - if you’re into that sort of thing. Every area Izuna and company enter that is NOT in the overworld is considered a dungeon, and these dungeons are randomly-generated. Every time you die, you must restart the dungeon, but all of your inventory items and collected coinage are lost. Happily, all of your experience is kept. Thus, subsequent tries will undoubtedly be easier given your higher level. Procuring weapons and items on-site becomes the main focus of the game. In a way, this is great. You get to make on-the-fly decisions regarding strategy and item retention for every given situation. On the other hand, item appearances are more or less randomized along with the dungeons, so your potential item crop might suck. There is an item (which appears almost all the time) that lets you warp out of the dungeon with all of your items and money intact. Doing so allows you to go into town and store the items you really want, and buy items that you think will get you through the inevitable boss fight in one piece.

The game is played on a giant, invisible grid. For every action Izuna takes, every enemy on the floor makes its own action, too. Thus, you must strategize where to move in relation to individual enemies, particularly if you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a group of critters.

Izuna and her pals have access to different weapons as well as offensive and defensive items like mines, throwing stars, etc. However, this is where Izuna’s single greatest stepping stone lies: the HP (hit points) and SP system (spell/item points). Izuna has an enormous amount of HP. By the time you hit level 12, she’ll be well past 1,000 HP. However, she only has 50-something SP by that time. Using items costs SP, sometimes a lot of SP, and you have to be careful to keep your SP intact for boss fights. Unfortunately, merely moving around a dungeon drains SP, little by little. Initially, then, your first instinct is to rush from floor to floor, spending very little time on each one (thus minimizing SP loss), but doing so will limit the number of pickups you find. Balance can be attained, but it will require items bought at shops to do so.

You’ll soon be able to take another party member along with you in dungeons, which essentially gives you two lives. However, after repeatedly slogging through the first dungeon (I must have died twelve times), Izuna’s experience level (16) far outweighed that of my companion (1), which meant that a whole lotta grinding was necessary for any real progress. It was silly of me to think that Izuna herself would be able to make it through the next few dungeons without a hitch—you need another character! The player can switch between Izuna and her compatriot a set number of times during each dungeon, but the two together can unleash a potentially devastating special attack on surrounding enemies. Different character combinations result in different attacks, which is cool. You can also opt to leave the titular (HA!) heroine out for a round and only use other characters in dungeons, although Izuna tends to have better overall stats than her friends.

Izuna’s character portraits look good, but the overall graphical presentation is lacking. The Game Boy Advance is capable of more. Dungeons and the overworld are merely 2D, overhead backdrops with pre-set paths and simplistic character sprites. There are a wealth of different enemy sprites, but honestly, we’ve moved beyond such a primitive sprite system in this day and age. The human character sprites look a little silly and not at all like their character portraits. The portraits themselves pop up when dialogue is presented, which is not as often as you might think. The storyline has some twists and turns and the writing is witty and full of rack references. It’s entertaining, but the limiting gameplay slows things down.

Izuna 2 appeals to a very specific gamer crowd. I’ve never met anybody who liked hardcore, high-risk dungeon-crawlers like this, but they must exist, because the first Izuna sold well enough to warrant a sequel. What’s bizarre is that I don’t really mind playing the same dungeon over and over again, partially because it’s randomly-generated, but also because I like the idea of thinking on my feet in the dungeon. However, I’m not a fan of the presentation or the ridiculous grinding required for success. Most dungeon-crawler fans will get their fill with the Final Fantasy remakes that are popping up on the DS, but for those who wish that death resulted in the loss of all items and money, Izuna 2 may be the answer.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
4 5 7 6 6 6
Graphics
4

The character portraits are nice, and I like the sheer number of different enemy sprites, but 2D, sprite-based, overhead graphics are getting old on the DS. I mean, 2D, sprite-based, overhead graphics can be done WELL (Link to the Past, Secret of Evermore, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga), but Izuna 2 does not rise to this occasion.

Sound
5

Barely there, honestly, but the dungeon themes, while understated, are somehow entertaining. There are instances of spoken Japanese dialogue during cut-scenes, although it’s rare. Item use is often accompanied by a yelp or item-specific sound-effect.

Control
7

Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. I like the idea of holding down Y to face a different direction without wasting a movement (turn), but overall it’s all about opening menus and attacking.

Gameplay
6

I wish your character’s SP didn’t drop while you wander around a dungeon, because by the time you get to a boss, you’re essentially forced to either waste an SP-replenishing item or die. I like the character switching, and the special attacks. However, dying in a dungeon is punished too harshly. At least let me keep my equipment!

Lastability
6

There are a ton of dungeons, all of them punishingly difficult, for you to get beaten up in. There are very few subquests, although one involves taking pictures of all the pretty girls in the game (somehow creepy) and monsters. Completing the game gives you access to some new dungeons, so if you like dungeons…you know…that’s good.

Final
6

Although I got some enjoyment out of Izuna 2, there are other games I can play which are not as frustrating or time-consuming. Seriously, when it takes a few hours just to get through the first proper dungeon, there’s something amiss! Still, there must be a few RPG fans out there that enjoy these high-risk dungeon crawlers, and Izuna 2 is just what they’re looking for. The rest of us can probably stick with more accessible fare.

Summary

Pros
  • Bewbies!
  • Good storyline, witty dialogue
  • Interesting dungeon-crawler gameplay
Cons
  • Frustratingly high cost of death in dungeons
  • Persistence to bewbie references
  • Poor graphical presentation
  • SP drains way too quickly during dungeon crawls
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 20, 2008

As a mystery dungeon aficionado (probably the NWR resident MD aficionado lol) I give  this review 2 thumbs up, I'd personally would rank this game a 7, but I more or less agree with your points zach good job :). You described the game well and presented it's flaws well. I personally think the game is addicting and think that fans of the mystery dungeon genre would enjoy or for people who want to try the series out.

However I don't think that the death penalty is that bad considering how easy it is to get items in the dungeon so in a way the balance is done well. I'm surprised you didn't mention about the weapon break mechanic because that was one of the most frustrating things about this game especially if your facing a boss battle. I personally loved the dialog because Atlus did an awesome job localizing it and the jokes and innuendo are pretty funny.

My items didn't break so often as I died and had to equip NEW weapons. I actually liked the weapon break thing, because it forced you to switch up your gear instead of spamming one powerful weapon for the entire game. But again, if you die (and you will), you just start fresh with new gear.

I'm glad you liked the review!

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 20, 2008

Well the problem with the weapon break mechanic is that it sometimes happens at the worst places like boss fights, where you have to take care of boss fights fast or else your done for.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusAugust 20, 2008

How long until someone gets REALLY pissed about Zach's review and criticizes his inability to review a mystery dungeon game?

I thought the review was excellent as well.

DAaaMan64August 20, 2008

Quote from: Mr.

How long until someone gets REALLY pissed about Zach's review and criticizes his inability to review a mystery dungeon game?

I thought the review was excellent as well.

Date.now()

nilcamAugust 20, 2008

I like Izuna because death is punished but not as much as in other games in the genre. You keep your stats and progress, both of which are usually stripped away. Izuna is generally powerful enough to fight without weapons and that's a great asset to have.

KDR_11kAugust 20, 2008

If I understood the post in the other thread right the point of the death penalty is to get pretty much an arcade-like game (you have died. Game Over. Insert Credit to play again) that's short but difficult.

Can SP be regained from items or are you running around on more or less a timer?

It's a little of both. SP drops constantly while in a dungeon, but there are a few items you can find (or buy for a very high price) SP-restoring items. These items can restore some or all of your SP, but they are rare. Much moreso than HP-restoring items.

Given the importance of SP in Izuna 2, I would've thought the two kinds of restorative items would be more balanced in terms of appearance. This is not the case.

KDR_11kAugust 20, 2008

Can't buy them either?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 20, 2008

SP is regained by using a portrait, if you look at a portrait of hell you get more max SP at the cost of your SP constantly draining faster.

Also I think Zach forgot about the talisman system where you can add special effect to your weapons, its the same items that you use that costs SP, you can either use them, stick them on top a weapon for an added effect or stick them on a staff which does some kind of projectile action.

The balance of the talisman system are two things 1. How many talismans a weapon/arm brace can hold and 2. How much SP it can support, if you go over the SP limit your weapon is prone to break
much faster.

Also KDR you can buy almost anything in the store the only problem is the item thats available in the store are randomly generated.

And everything is the store is expensive.

But what about the actual story?  Since I did actually play through the first one, I was disappointed to see nothing specific about it here.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 20, 2008

Quote from: MegaByte

But what about the actual story?  Since I did actually play through the first one, I was disappointed to see nothing specific about it here.

Well in this one you actually ally with the Japanese gods that you fought with in the first game and this time your fighting off foreign western gods(you actually get the Japanese gods in your party), the western gods are inspired mostly by Norse gods or other European gods, I don't know if it's exclusively Norse gods because I was never that big with Norse mythology.

KDR_11kAugust 21, 2008

So portrait of hell = super-stimpak :P

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 21, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

So portrait of hell = super-stimpak :P

Ehh no, since it will deplete your SP very fast and the max SP boost is very marginal. In rogue likes items with a negative consequence is meant to be thrown at your enemy. From my experience when enemies get hit by a portait of hell their AI gets screwed up.

KDR_11kAugust 21, 2008

Well, yeah, many people also said super-stimpaks aren't something you'd want to take yourself because you could easily end up killing yourself but ODing NPCs you want gone was a great way to assassinate them since super stimpaks didn't count as attacks :P

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 21, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

Well, yeah, many people also said super-stimpaks aren't something you'd want to take yourself because you could easily end up killing yourself but ODing NPCs you want gone was a great way to assassinate them since super stimpaks didn't count as attacks :P

Well KDR if your SP is half (or the color of the meter turns yellow) your attack damage drops by 50%, if your SP is nothing or near nothing your attack damage drops even more.

KDR_11kAugust 21, 2008

Is playing large parts of a dungeon exhausted like that common or rare?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 21, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

Is playing large parts of a dungeon exhausted like that common or rare?

There are some dungeons that are 20 floors or more, but usually SP healing items are in the common/uncommon tier, the uncommon ones heal your SP completely.

KDR_11kAugust 21, 2008

I wonder why I even ask so many questions about the game seeing how I have zero intent to buy it...

Share + Bookmark





Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Atlus

Worldwide Releases

na: Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns
Release Jul 22, 2008
PublisherAtlus
RatingTeen
Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement