Lost Kingdoms
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Activision
Developer
From Software
Genre
RPG/CCG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Comic Mischief, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great card/battle system
• Lighting and monster summons look good

The Bad

• Way too short
• Graphics and audio aren't too impressive

 
Grade
C+

In the realm of Argwyll, there are five kingdoms, besieged by a dark force, which has taken over all but the Kingdom of Alanjeh. Princess Katia of Alanjeh has found a magical key hidden deep in the castle which allow her to see the monsters of this dark force. Alongside the key are magical cards which allow her to summon beats to aid her in combat. Now, Katia must go from location to location, defeating the dark forces while gaining new cards for her deck. That's basically the whole story.

Graphics: The game looks decent. You won't be amazed by any single aspect of how the game looks. It's not that's they're bad or lacking - it's just that they're really nothing to show off to your friends. The locales and character models are decently modeled and have a fair level of detail and animation. Spell effects are pretty good and the whole game seems to run at a steady framerate. Fortunately, there's enough variety in both selection of cards to use, enemies and locations to keep the game from feeling stale too soon. You'll most likely find the same swirling background that's behind each and every battle location to be annoying and uninspired. Luckily, your attention should be focused on combat, rather than looking at the graphics. Both light effects and texture maps are nicely done.

Gameplay: This is where the game shines. If you mistake Lost Kingdoms for an RPG, you might be disappointed, or surprised. Take healthy doses of card-based games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering and throw in a more real-time action battlefield and you'll have a good idea where you're heading. You start out each stage with a deck of cards, which are broken up into one-shot summons, creatures you can bring onto the field to help, or reoccurring attack cards. When a battle starts, you are dealt four cards, each of which can be activated by a button, or you can choose to discard in hopes of getting a better card. On the battlefield, you'll have enemies that Katia will need to dispatch while not trying not to get hurt by them. Since Katia herself is unable to attack, effective use of the cards will allow you to do this. But don't think you can load up on all the powerful cards. You'll need to pick up colored gems which can be spent, a lot like magic points, to use the cards. In the end, making a balanced deck that can last you the whole stage is always in your best interest. Along the way, you can capture monsters for new cards or just win them depending on your performance in the stage. The only real drawback in the battle system is the lack of a forfeit option when you run out of cards. Since Katia can't attack on her own, you're basically left at the mercy of the monsters.

Audio: Mostly forgettable. Sound effects are limited and will grow stale on you after too long and the music, while at times okay, is basically not worth the time to listen to. You'll be better served just turning down the volume and humming your own tunes.

Lost Kingdoms is an example of a good concept that really needed a lot more backing to it. The battle system is fun, inventive and shows some new ideas that I hope find their way into a sequel. The rest of the game around it, though, could use an overhaul. The way the game is presented never really draws you into what story there was and the graphics could have used another level of polish to make them stand out. And, the game isn't that long. Depending on your skill level, you can finish the game anywhere between 5 and 10 hours, which is short considering that the game acts like an RPG.

Unless you are really hard up for an RPG, only rent this one. It's good, but not good enough to warrant a $50 purchase. I really hope that From Software builds on the well done battle/card system to make another game that's larger and takes full advantage of the current crop of powerful consoles. Lost Kingdoms is a good start, but there's not enough here for a full priced purchase.

- - Kinderfeld

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