Lost Kingdoms II is a huge improvement over the original.
This is a huge improvement over the first game. I totally recommend this for anyone looking for a decent RPG to play for their Gamecube. I would also recommend them to skip the first Lost Kingdoms game because there's only a few reference to the first one and it might also be more enjoyable if you haven't fought all the monsters or used all the cards from the first.
Lost Kingdoms II improves and adds on the foundation that the original Lost Kingdoms started. For one they got rid of warping into a battle zone. All the fights are in real time. They added the new element Mech. Mechs are of course machines with strong defense and aren't weak against anything. Neutral is similar to Mechs, its not weak against anything but it has a strong offence. The rest of the elements are pretty much the same as before, Water is strong against Fire, but weak against Earth. Fire is strong against Wood but weak against Water. Earth is strong against Water but weak against Wood and Wood is strong against Earth but weak against Fire.
The card types are Weapon, a card that will instantly slash or throw something at an enemy, always trying to attack. Summon types that transform Tara into a summon that gives a devastating attack, you can usually just use these once. In some cases they give you an option of 2 attacks to use in some Summons, that's something different over the original. They spliced the Independent types with Helper cards. The Independent cards will always be in attack mode and will try to attack a close enemy. The Helper cards will heal you, cure you or try to add status effects to the enemies, they often try to run away from enemies. Another new part with this game is the Transformation card. This card is similar to the Summon card, but it lets you control the summon and gives you 2 option attacks to use. On the levels they placed a magic circle, within these magic circles your Transform card will use a special attack to get past an obstacle like a wall or hole.
In Lost Kingdoms II you level up like any other RPG game by killing a monster and gaining experience. After you gain a level, you'll get 1 more magic stone (magic points, basically), 10 HP and 1 Defense boost. Which ever card deals the finishing blow will gain experience aswell. If you gain enough experience you can transform that card into a more powerful one or copy the existing card.
After you attack or kill a monster, they'll drop Magic Stones. The Magic Stones are used as Magic Points in this game. Some cards take up 1 magic stone, some others take up 10. If you run out of magic stones, then they'll start taking away your HP and you'll eventually die. If you gain more Magic Stones than you can hold, then it turns into money! I had alot of trouble with money in the last game, but this one I was overflowing in it.
The Blue Fairy in this game is alot slower and easier to get, plus they only give off positive attribute this time around. They'll refill your Magic Stones, give a little HP or replace a used card. The Blue Fairies are always helpful and its wise to grab them. The Red Fairies also return, they're pretty much the same but easier to find and they give off alot more info. Another new thing about this game is Combos, the Red Fairies give you hints how to use these combos. One more new thing is items. You can gather items in this game, they'll all key items, so you can't use them at your will, but they're mostly used for sidequests or to unlock a door.
After you finish a level, you'll get a rating between 1 and 3 (3 is the highest). If you get a 1, then you get to pick 1 card out of 5 as a bonus, and if you pick 3 you get to pick 3 cards out of 5 as a bonus.
Just like the last game you can play a VS. Mode with another person if they have another memory card and a save file of Lost Kingdoms II. I haven't had a chance to play this yet.
----------Characters / Story----------
Lost Kingdoms II takes place 200 years after the first game. You play as Tara, a decedent of Queen Katia of the first game. Tara is an orphan raised up by a gang of thieves with her childhood friend, and sometimes companion Sol. Tara has one of the 4 Runestones, but a guy named Lead XIII has found a way to make his own runestones in bulk. They're not as powerful as the originals, but they'll work. Lead XIII wants to take over the land, but the Queen of Argwyll needs the runestone of Tara's to stop him.
I miss the black fog premise from the first game, but I'll conmend them for changing up the story and givig us something fresh. The story holds up, and gives off a ton of twists to keep you interested. The dialog isn't as sharp, as Tara is a complete mute.
The graphics are a huge improvement over the original Lost Kingoms game. The character models look alot better. The townsfolk in _____ have alot more personality and all look distinct. There's alot more important characters in the game, and they even introduce one of the main bad guys pretty early as well.
The levels are bigger and the camera rotates in a full 360 direction correcting the terrible camera from the first one. They got rid of the whole random battle thing, so all the monsters are visible before fighting and you won't be warped to a special fight area either. The backgrounds have huge detail and aren't taped off in a Final Fantasy Tactics fashion now. There's over 300 cards in this game, and they kept the beautiful drawn loading screens too. There's an excellent CGI cutscene at the beginning of the game.
The biggest problem is they re-use alot of cards from the first game, and most of the stages are re-done levels. They do look better than the first game, and you might not even recognize them at first, but you'll soon get a dose of deja vu sooner or later.
Most of the storyline driven dialog is voiced out, but Tara doesn't speak, she kinda grunts and almost said a person’s name once but that’s about it. She has that mute Link thing going for her. When she talks to people, they'll have full contestations with her without Tara speaking a single word. Its cute when Mario and Link does it, but unacceptable in an RPG like this. It hurts the story.
The music has a similar tone as the first one, there's a few really excellent tracks but they didn't play them enough to totally grab me. My favorite is the track they play in the card shop.
In the first Lost Kingdoms there was only one old looking map. In Lost Kingdoms II there are 4 separate and really beautiful maps. There's alot more places to visit over the first one too. There's 2 card shops and still 1 Red Fairy shop. There's 2 safe towns in the game to visit and chat with people, so that’s a slight improvement.
Within each map, there's about 3-5 areas to visit. Inside these areas can have sub-levels, so there's about double the amount of places to visit in Lost Kingdoms II over the first one.
----------Time to Complete Game (first run through)----------
This is a much longer game over the first one, but still a very short game for RPG standards. After you beat the main quest, you can go back and find red fairies, treasures and cards.