Review by IKelley

Reviewed: 02/13/01 | Updated: 02/13/01

Not quite what I hoped, but still very good

I've always been a huge fan of the roguelike Fushigi na Dungeon series, so when Toruneko's Great Adventure 2 was announced, I was really excited. The original Toruneko's Great Adventure claimed a sizable chunk of my free time when I first got it, so I had high hopes for its sequel. Now that I've played it, I'm glad to report that Toruneko's Great Adventure 2 is an excellent game that lives up to the Fushigi na Dungeon tradition, though it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

In terms of setting, Toruneko 2 takes place six months after the Toruneko retrieves the Box of Happiness in the first game. Though his shop has (inexplicably) decreased in size, Toruneko now lives peacefully with his wife and son, with the Box bringing happiness to all of the townspeople. However, all of a sudden, areas in or near the town start transforming into Fushigi Dungeons, morphing their shape and becoming overrun with monsters. As Toruneko, you once again have to set out on an adventure to discover the cause of the anomalies and put a stop to them.

In terms of gameplay, in many ways this game is less of a sequel, and is more like ''Toruneko's Great Adventure meets Furai no Shiren.'' Which is a good thing, since Shiren was the best of the Dungeon series so far. TGA2 basically takes all the items and monsters from the first Toruneko game, plus all of the items from Shiren, with some new ones to boot. Even some Shiren characters like Gaibara and Saruyama make cameo appearances. The only thing in Shiren that's not in Toruneko 2 is the monster meat. (According to an interview I read in a Japanese magazine, this was done because turning Toruneko into monsters was decided to be inappropriate to the setting) There are some differences; Toruneko 2 still has only one town, and unlike Shiren the only place to find item shops is in the dungeon. In addition, Toruneko 2 features a series of dungeons rather than one large dungeon like Shiren. A lot of the annoyances that plagued the first Toruneko are gone; food, weapons, and shields are much more common, so you will find yourself unarmed or starving much less often. The addition of shops and a revamped warehouse are a plus too. Overall the game plays very well and has the same addictiveness the first did.

In terms of presentation, the graphics of Toruneko 2 are rather primitive for the PSX; the backgrounds are drawn nicely, but the sprites look pretty much the same way they did in the SNES version. (not that this is important, as graphics are about the last thing a Roguelike player will care about) 90% of the music in the game is the same as the music from the first Toruneko, but the quality is MUCH higher. The tracks in-game are all CD-quality orchestral numbers, and sound absolutely fantastic. With a composer like Sugiyama Koichi doing the score, I suppose you can't go wrong. The sound was much better than I had expected, so it was a nice treat.

However, for all the good points of the game, it didn't turn out quite as I hoped, mostly in how the game plays in terms of its challenge level. The first Toruneko was very hard, with the bonus dungeon bordering on obscene in its challenge. With the easier Chocobo games and the middle-of-the-road Shiren, I was hoping that Toruneko 2 would be more oriented to veterans to the series, but I ended up rather disappointed in that aspect; while not as simple as the Chocobo games, Toruneko 2 is even easier than Shiren. Part of this is due to being on the PSX; console roguelikes are just not suited for the CD format. Because it's on a CD, TGA2 can't save the game every step you take like the first game or Shiren did. You can't even save inside the dungeons without a special item, which is very odd. You can make backup saves, or reset after dying in the dungeon and go back to the town without losing all the items you took inside. Even if you play the game the way it's supposed to be played, it kind of detracts from the sense of permanance of your actions that you got in the earlier Dungeon games. I kind of see now why Chun Soft decided to bring Shiren 2 out on the N64 instead.

But even ignoring the problems with being on a CD, the challenge in Toruneko 2 still suffers. Before you can enter the main dungeon, you have to go through 5-6 ''newbie dungeons'' which is very frustrating for vets who want to just jump into the game. Giving you access to a shop to fuse weapons and armor the minute the main dungeon opens up really unbalances the game as well. Even in Shiren, the fusion pots didn't create this kind of imbalance, and you could only unlock them after multiple unsuccessful tries to make it through the dungeon. Whereas in the first Toruneko, by the time you got to the lower levels of the dungeon, you had to spend as much time running from monsters as you did fighting them, I found that in Toruneko 2 by the time I reached their level, I could trade blows with dragons without batting an eyelid. (On the other hand, robbing a shop and making it out alive is much tougher in Toruneko 2 than it was in Shiren) Overall the game feels less oriented toward vets than it was advertised as.

These flaws aside, Toruneko 2 is still an excellent game. All in all I'd say that it's not as good as Shiren was, but is better than the first Toruneko, even if it is missing the challenge factor. There's a lot of depth and and a lot of new elements in the game to make it a worthwhile buy to fans of the series.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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