Luminous Arc 2 - NDS - Review
Much like the Final Fantasy Tactics and the Disgaea games, the original Luminous Arc for the Nintendo DS blended the role-playing game genre with strategy game elements in a familiar way that worked well for the series. While the game didn’t really bring anything new to the table, it wasn’t such a bad game with a few memorable characters and moments that stood out nicely. Once again, we find ourselves in a world of witches, brave knights and an epic quest for peace in Luminous Arc 2 for the Nintendo DS.
The second game in the series takes us to the kingdom of Carnava where the young and beloved Queen of the land is hoping to secure peace between her land and the Beast Fiends that have been influenced by Fatima who is also known as the Shadow Frost Witch. Meanwhile, a young Carnava scientist has developed a device known as the Runic Engine that - during a melee with a golem-like beast - becomes infused with a young Rune Knight named Roland. On top of that, a young witch-in-training named Althea has come to deliver a message to the Queen and ends up joining Roland and his friends on a quest to save the land.
Like the first Luminous Arc game, this sequel doesn’t change very much. We still follow the story as told through some voice acting and some text as Roland and his friends travel through dangerous territory in search of Fatima who has taken over the land of Granend. You’ll travel through the land via a map with the areas and towns you are allowed to travel to during chapter breaks. The time you really take control of your character is during battles that remain the same from the last game. Now, this isn’t a bad thing but if you fancied changes in the combat portion of the game or gameplay in general then you are out of luck.
Thankfully, the battles still remain quite challenging but not enough that it will turn off casual strategy gamers. When a battle scenario pops up you are asked to pick the members of your unit from the collection of characters that follow you during the course of the game. Once you pick the characters you want participating in the battle you are then thrust into the battlefield where the turn-based battle takes place. Each character moves and attacks differently so knowing where to place them during their turn is essential. Striking from different directions as well as gaining the upper ground gives you advantages during battle by making more damage. Also, each character has his or her own unique attack whether it’s magical or weapon-based.
Knowing when to use each character in battle is also a plus. There are times when you’ll need a long-distance fighter such as Rina or a close-quarters advantage that comes in the form of Steiner. Each battle also comes with different battle conditions you must meet to successfully get through the fight. The conditions can be anything from winning the battle without a character’s HP depleted or a limit in how much magic can be used. This adds a challenging element to each battle and it doesn’t hurt that the opponent AI isn’t dumb at all.
The story isn’t compelling but it is entertaining and it’s great to catch up with the different characters via after-battle intermissions as well as the various side quests that become available. Engaging characters in conversation will allow you to befriend them and have them join your party as well. Speaking of engaging, the Engagement feature in the game allows Rolland to team up with any of the good witches he encounters to gain the same elemental affinity of the witch he picks to engage. In this way the game is an improvement over the last game and its various side quests are actually fun. You can also battle other gamers online with a Wi-Fi connection.
Luminous Arc 2 also sports some gorgeous anime-styled character designs and equally lovely backgrounds that look goon on the Nintendo DS dual-screens. The battles contain smaller versions of the characters but there’ more than enough details to make each battlefield really stand out wonderfully enough. Even the visual effects are impressive. Still, it’s the game’s soundtrack that really drives home that anime feel. If that weren’t enough, there’s some voice acting to be found in the game and it’s actually good. My biggest complaint, however, is that the game awkwardly cuts between text dialogue and the voice acting. You’ll be listening to good voice acting one minute, read the next lines another minute and then go back to listening to the voices all in the same conversation.
Luminous Arc 2 for the Nintendo DS is a major improvement over the decent original and, while the core gameplay hasn’t changed completely, there’s more than enough to consider a purchase. Its story will feel too familiar for fans of the genre but it’s entertaining nonetheless and the battles are actually challenging enough to keep your thumbs and Stylus busy.
Review Scoring Details for Luminous Arc 2
Like the first game, the basic gameplay elements haven’t changed and the strategic battles haven’t been changed either. The touch-screen controls aren’t special but they work well and there are a number of side quests to help mix things up.
The visual presentation is like watching a manga come to life. Its characters are nicely detailed and often occasionally too cute at times but they work well in a game with colorful backgrounds. The visual effects are rather striking and I wish they added more as far as the spells are concerned.
There’s voice acting in this one and it’s handled very well but there’s not enough of it in this sequel. The score is so lovely that you’ll be glad it comes packaged on CD along with the game. The sound effects aren’t bad either.
The strategy doesn’t try anything new but at least it’s quite challenging and - at times - fun. Knowing what characters to use in different battles is a contributing factor in earning victories and there are some battles that will have you thinking your every move.
Luminous Arc 2 isn’t very different from the first offering but its story is somewhat more lively and the characters far more likeable. Aside from that, though, the strategy portion offers some challenges and there are plenty of side quests. There’s a CD packaged with the game and it’s worth listening to if you like good soundtracks.
Online you can take other strategy gamers on in the battlefield using favorite characters. While the game runs well online, there aren’t enough players to challenge as of the date of this writing. Oh, but the battles are more fun when you’re going up against actual players that can do a better job of thinking tactically.
Luminous Arc 2 doesn’t attempt to reinvent the RPG nor does it push the strategy game genre forward but it’s certainly a very enjoyable game that RPG fans will certainly appreciate. Still, the strategic combat action isn’t the strongest element in the game and the story is a bit by-the-numbers but there is still some fun to be had in this decent strategy/RPG.