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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

From Software

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Strategic card based battle system

 

 

- Muddy, unattractive graphics

- Overly complicated menus

- Lifeless story line

- Mediocre soundtrack

 

 

Review: Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)

Review: Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast)

 

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Lost Kingdoms

Score: 4.0 / 10

Smart developers usually have an RPG lined up as close to the launch of a system as possible to get the attention of fans early on. Unfortunately, these often fall into two categories: rush jobs or projects from older consoles reworked for a new generation.  Dreamcast had Time Stalkers, PS2 had Eternal Ring and now, Gamecube has Lost Kingdoms, which falls haplessly into both categories. Barely saved only by its sense of strategy, Lost Kingdoms is a lost cause if you’re not into card games.

 

lost-kingdoms-1.jpg (78022 bytes)          lost-kingdoms-2.jpg (86468 bytes)

 

Utilizing the oldest cliché in the history of gaming you play as Princess Katia, the only one who can discover the mystery of the black fog shrouding the land and restore order.  Of all the knights, magicians, elders and warriors, it only makes sense that a delicate Princess should perform such a feat.  From the opening sequence and throughout the characters are boring with minimal development and uninteresting dialog.  It’s hard to care about what happens next with such a detached sense of the atmosphere. An elder named Gurd guides the player through the game as Katia explores area after area.

 

Lost Kingdoms was obviously in development for N64 before it was switched to Gamecube. The characters are too small and viewed from an awkward quarter angle that’s annoying but can be moved around with minimal effect. The environments are completely unsound with a great lack of detail and muddy, irregular textures. Character models are jagged and poorly designed plus the animation is slow and stiff for allies and enemies alike. Graphically, it feels like you’re playing a first generation N64 title.

 

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The game play is extremely linear instantly killing the natural inclination to explore in an RPG. Yet beneath its surface, Lost Kingdoms has a considerable amount of strategy and technique in its combat system. Players explore collecting cards from crates, chests and other characters for use in battle. After each mission is cleared a new one is open. Each mission consists of finding cards, collecting rune stones for power ups and defeating any randomly encountered monstrosity along the way. Ho hum. Outside of card combat there is positively nothing special about the game play at all.

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Cards can be used in a variety of ways and they are mapped to correspond with the four face buttons of the Gamecube’s controller. Each time you press a button, the corresponding card’s effect is unleashed. Some are monsters, warriors and animals that can be summoned, others can be used as weapons, to heal or use a spell. The cards attributes (water, fire, Earth and wood) are, as always, better when used against their opposing element. The magical displays are extravagant later on in the game yet lack originality and fail to impress.

 

With a large variety of cards there is a lot of strategy to be had, especially in the latter levels or the 2 player vs. mode. Unfortunately, the menu system to manage, reassign, read about and deploy your cards is clunky, overly complicated and frustrating making it hard to appreciate the strategy.  If you’re not into card games this all just seems like unnecessary complication.

 

lost-kingdoms-3.jpg (84734 bytes)          lost-kingdoms-4.jpg (87924 bytes)

 

The soundtrack at least does a good job of matching the mediocrity of the rest of the game. Repetitiously layered stringy music with low sound effects. You’d think that after such a masterful RPG as Skies of Arcadia was released on a now defunct system like the Dreamcast, games like Lost Kingdoms could never be approved for this generation of hardware.  It seems the game was meant to be a card game simulator more than an actual RPG and directed toward a very small niche market. If you’re into card games it might be worth the time but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

 

- Doug Flowe

(August 4, 2002)

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