- Turn type: Player/enemy turn
- Maps: Medium, height affects movement, and you can fall off “slopes”?
- Character Customization: Mostly none
- Character Development: Standard XP/level system, plus a skill leveling system.Using a type of skill gives you XP in that skill area, and when you level it up you can learn new skills of that type.
- Party Size: Max 8 on the map, 9(?) possible characters
- Equipment: Weapon and 4 armor slots.
- Game Flow: Mostly linear, but a few optional side events. There is an optional challenge dungeon.
- Saving: Outside of battle.
- Death: Defeated characters are removed from the battle but return afterwards.
One thing I have never done on either of my playthroughs is do numerical ratings. CRPG Addict and many others do have a system where they have a number of categories and give each one a numerical rating. I thought I would try that for this point just to see what happens; I don’t know if this will become a new standard. Each criterion will have a max of 10 points, and 5 represents average (so this is not school type grading where a 5 would be a failure).
For graphics I have to rate this quite low. I can appreciate graphics from most eras of games as long as they are done well — for instance, Just Breed would get a pretty high rating despite being on the Famicom. Unfortunately Riglord Saga 2 just doesn’t look very good.
To me these graphics and blocky and ugly. It’s an unfortunate problem with these early Saturn and Playstation games that they were trying to do some kind of 3D or polygon art but the technology just wasn’t there yet. But even beyond the aesthetics, the poor graphics are confusing when it comes to the terrain — there are many cases where it is impossible to tell whether an area will cause you to slip and fall just from the graphics. They provided a terrain sensor on the bottom right that will tell you, but that seems like a patch over the bad graphics. The worst example of this was the desert map, where I had no idea where I could walk and where I couldn’t; the areas that were too steep to walk over seemed random. So let’s give this a 3.
The Music/sound was pretty good. You can hear the OST on youtube although I was not able to find one particular song that I think was played on the field and had some saxophone. The opening and ending scenes are voiced, but the only other voice is in the battle animations (which are too long so I turned them off). 7
The Story is decent. It’s longer than the first game and does have some twists and turns, although it’s nothing special. 5
The System overall is good. It has two things I always like — each character is very different, and the characters change what they can do as the game progresses. Not every element of the system worked out (I think the “pick up” mechanic of the winged units is basically a failure, and not really needed), but for the most part it’s good. Everything plays smoothly and there’s not big slowdowns. 8
The Map Design is average, I would say. The designers do put some special things on each map which would raise the score but at the same time I have to lower it because of frustrating maps like the Desert and the one where you have to fall down the cliff taking damage. 5
The Balance is pretty good for the game as a whole; there were only one or two times when I was doing “grinding”, and even then the grinding consisted of trying to get as far as I could in the map and then retreating when I had lost several characters, which doesn’t feel as grindy. The characters are not as balanced as they could be, though. In particular, characters with single skills (i.e. Asuka and Anju) tend to advance much more quickly and reach their super-powerful techniques much earlier in the game than other characters who have multiple types of moves. The main character Myu is particularly hard to use because of this, and she was often one of my weakest characters. 6
The Interface overall is good, with one notable exception — you cannot see what the moves do in battle. This is unacceptable in a game with as many different kinds of moves as this game has, especially in 1996. 4
Extras — I didn’t do any of the extra stuff, but there are three optional areas and a bonus dungeon. The game isn’t as freestyle as the first game, with all the story battles being completely linear, but you do have a chance to do some of those extra things. 5
That gives a total score of 43 out of 80, which would put this game just above average — I feel like I had more fun with the game than that numeric score would suggest; I’m often surprised that CRPG Addict’s numbers work out so closely to how much he enjoyed the game. One reason for this is that I gave equal weight to every element, even though (for me) the system, balance, and map design are far more important than the story, graphics, or music. CRPG Addict does not include criteria for graphics or sound (for instance).
If I only consider those three most important criteria it’s 19/30 which is 63% instead of 53%; I would say that is closer to a reflection of how much I enjoyed the game, if we consider 50% to be a level of complete neutrality (That is, a 50% game would be one that I played through and it was fine, but it wasn’t especially good or especially bad. Playable but forgettable). If I went back to Arc the Lad II I think it would get a higher overall score (since the only areas that would really suffer for me would be Balance and maybe a bit of a ding on Map Design), even though in terms of pure personal enjoyment AtL2 would be quite low on the list of games I’ve played so far. But maybe that’s OK because it would show that AtL2 is still a good game despite my personal dislike for it? I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’ll keep doing these numerical scores but it was interesting to see how it worked out.
Next up (after 2 SNES action RPGs) will be Harukaze Sentai V-Force, a 3 CD game that put a lot of effort into the visuals.
I’m not a fan of numerical ranking systems within the context of game reviews. I see games as being incredibly complex, such that we can’t boil them down to a set of numbers. Games are not science, so I don’t see much sense to treating them as such.
Additionally, when you say “43/80 is above average,” someone else could very well interpret that “43/80” to be a F, since they’re thinking like in school. But that’s clearly not what you mean.
As far as your own blog and style go, I thought your old format was better and felt more natural, when you just went over your thoughts in brief. Plus, if you’re going to do numerical ratings now, then to be consistent, it means you’d have to go back and do a numerical rating for every game you’ve already played.