Review by Kamatari47
An interactive action adventure that fans of the series will love.
Lupin III ~Lupin ni wa Shi wo, Zenigata ni wa Koi wo~ (Lupin III: Death for Lupin, Love for Zenigata) is an interactive adventure game from Banpresto. It's the third Lupin III game made for the PS2 (after Lupin III: Majutsuou no Isan/Treasure of the Sorceror King and Lupin III: Columbus no Isan wa Ake ni Somaru/Columbus's Bloodstained Legacy). This game is a fast-paced, wacky hybrid adventure that delivers almost everything a Lupin fan could ask for but falls short of offering the kind of strong gameplay and powerful drama that would make it universally fun even for gamers who are not fans of the series.
"Lupin III has three days left to live."
Lupin's longtime comrade, Mine Fujiko, has been kidnapped in Soukai (a fictional city that strongly resembles Hong Kong) by an underworld organization known as the Tenryuukai ("Realm of the Heaven Dragon"). Kourin, the leader of the Tenryuukai, shows up at the airport to welcome Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon... by telling them to "bring [him] the ancient manuscript if you want Mine Fujiko to live." This leads to a crazy chase through the city of Soukai which ends abruptly when Lupin is hit by an ancient martial arts move that will kill him in three days' time. The gang is forced to do Kourin's bidding and investigate the ancient ruins that holds untold treasures -- including an antidote that could save Lupin's life...
Meanwhile, Detective Zenigata arrives in Soukai, on a mission to protect Ginrei -- a favorite in the World Miko (priestess/shrine maiden) Beauty Contest which begins in three days' time. Naturally, he crosses paths with Lupin, who is aiming to steal the Peach Crystal traditionally awarded to the winner of the competition -- the crystal is the key to the ancient treasure vaults of the Sou Dynasty. While engaged in his traditional cat-and-mouse games with Lupin, Detective Zenigata slowly falls in love with the beautiful Ginrei -- but is she exactly what she seems?
The entire game plays like one long, continuous cutscene. One dialogue/action sequence leads to the next as the story progresses, but these will be interrupted by interactive segments where the gamer gets to take control of the action. Level one, for example, describes the fateful meeting between Lupin's gang and Kourin at the airport. The dialogue will play automatically until Kourin starts running out of the airport and the gang gives chase. The chase scene will feature two L.A.E.s (Lupin-tic Action Events): interactive points in the story where the gamer must enter a button sequence (e.g. tap Circle, Circle-Triangle-X, or tap Square rapidly) within the time allotted or take damage. The rest of the level features three car chase segments, where you must guide Lupin's vehicle through heavy traffic, bump enemy vehicles off the road, and have Jigen shoot out the tires on enemy cars respectively. The entire game is like that -- story sequences interspersed with L.A.E.s and full-interaction segments that include fights against gangster grunts, infiltration missions which depend on your mastery of disguises, Indiana Jones-style romps through dangerous ruins, and even instances where you must do what Goemon hates most -- cut worthless things to stop an oncoming horde. The game is divided into Lupin Missions (where Lupin is the protagonist) and Zenigata Missions (where Zenigata is the central character), and you can unlock more BGM's and movie clips by performing well in each mission (there is a ranking system that judges your performance for each mission, based on factors like time used, damage taken, accuracy percentage, etc.).
All in all, the gameplay setup in Lupin III ~Lupin ni wa Shi wo, Zenigata ni wa Koi wo~ is unique and interesting. Some gamers, however, will wish there were more fully-interactive segments that allow free exploration of the game's more exotic locales. There will also be times when seemingly simple instructions could prove extremely difficult to execute (for example, the left analog stick -- used to maneuver, aim, change angles, etc. -- often proves to be far, far too sensitive). Of course, gamers without sufficient Japanese skills will also struggle a bit at understanding the instructions before each interactive sequence, though it isn't hard to learn what you're supposed to do in this game through trial and error.
III. Graphics and Sound:
Lupin III ~Lupin ni wa Shi wo, Zenigata ni wa Koi wo~ is rendered in full 3-D. While the textures are not comparable in quality to recent PS2 blockbusters, they still look good enough to at least satisfy all but the most critical gamers. The settings are realistic and attractive, and the lighting fits the mood of each stage perfectly. On the whole, the characters look like who they're supposed to be, though some details could have been done better (for example, some of Fujiko's facial expressions are just "off").
The sound is perfect. BGM's are the kind of jazzy, upbeat tunes you'd expect from a Lupin game, and they always fit the mood of the action. The seiyuu cast features the usual voices for "the gang" (Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko, Goemon, Zenigata) and a couple of seasoned pros for the game-exclusive characters (Okiayu Ryutarou as Kourin, Noto Mamiko as Ginrei). There's absolutely nothing to complain about the voice work -- everyone does his/her role very well.
Lupin III ~Lupin ni wa Shi wo, Zenigata ni wa Koi wo~ is a fun romp that features an innovative gameplay structure, decent graphics, and quality sound effects. Lupin fans will be able to jump right in and enjoy themselves from beginning to end. I would not recommend it to gamers who aren't at least aware of the Lupin III franchise, however -- the game presumes prior knowledge of the main characters and their personalities, and uninitiated gamers can also be "turned off" by the "silly moments" and melodrama which are staples of the series. On the whole, Lupin III ~Lupin ni wa Shi wo, Zenigata ni wa Koi wo~ will offer a quality gaming experience to most who play it (the majority of whom will likely be fans of the franchise), but it's not a game that will satisfy all comers purely on its merits as video game.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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