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Destructoid review: Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns

12:09 PM on 08.14.2008 // Dale North

You're going to die. You're going to die a lot in Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns. Of course, anyone that's ever played a roguelike will be prepared for many deaths, and these gluttons for punishment know the the whole point of this type of game is to have their asses handed to them over and over.

But the question is: Izuna 2 a good roguelike? It's predecessor, Izuna: The Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, wasn't exactly groundbreaking for the genre, but it did provide plenty of ball-busting fun. Oh, and it was really funny.

Does Izuna 2 improve on the formula? Is it worth your time to crawl countless level floors? Is there a light at the end of the dungeon?

Hit the jump to read our review of Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns.

Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns  (Nintendo DS)
Developed by Ninja Studio/Success
Published by Atlus

Released on July 22nd, 2008

There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Once you set foot into any dungeon in Izuna 2, you're going to get mauled by unforgiving enemies. It's you, solo, against a multi-floor dungeon full of baddies that have it out for you.

In the very beginning of the game, you're given only the busty ninja Izuna to plow through a monster-infested cave. She's cute, but she's also level 1, and basically worthless. Apparently she's let herself go since the last Izuna game. Luckily there are various weapons and power-up items strewn about this cave's level to help you along. The game play mechanic is very simple: for every step or action you take, the dungeon's enemies can also take a step or action. This means that you'll never get away unless you find an exit door; they're all always coming for you. For each randomly generated level, your goal is to somehow remain alive until you find this exit, working your way up to the dungeon's main boss.

If this style of gameplay is your cup of tea, you're probably going to love Izuna 2. Other than visiting neighboring towns to advance the story, there is absoutely nothing else to this game.  It's just fight, die, fight, die... levelling up to the point where you'll die less frequently and have enough strength to be able to take down the boss.

Things get a bit easier later in the game with the new Tag System, which lets you hit the select button to tag in another party member. Of course, this assumes that you've spent the time to level up that other character. For the cost of one "move," you can drop in your other character mid-battle and hope to the village gods that he or she survives. Sadly, they usually don't. And when they don't, you'll be whisked away to the last village you saved at, and you'll find that all of your money and items have disappeared. Thankfully, you keep all of your experience points. The game saves automatically (and frequently) at the worst times, like right after you die, so forget about loading up that last save file to pick up at a better point.

Eventually you'll end up with huge party to pick fighters from, but this does not make the game any easier. Unfortunately, each of these new members joins your party at level 1, and requires the same amount of leveling you put into Izuna. They do not gain experience in waiting, so you might find yourself investing time only into your favorite characters. Even gluttons for punishment can only take so much.

There's a storyline that works its way in between these dungeon crawl sessions. It's not particularly engaging, but it is quite funny at times. Izuna seems like a conceited bitch, especially to her flat-chested friend Shino, who always seems to be the focus of lack-of-breasts jokes. Team mate Mitsumoto is my favorite character. This open pervert loves to comment on role-playing game cliches. He always pokes fun at each town's innkeeper, Ume, who just happens to look exactly like the last town's innkeeper.

You'd really have to like roguelike-style games to want to play Izuna 2. Again, aside from the dungeon crawling, there is really nothing else to this title outside of some humorous dialogue. It's a bit lacking in creativity and imagination, and there isn't even touch screen control. But I'm okay with all of that.  I found myself addicted, never wanting to put it down, always striving for more levels under my belt. Even when I wasn't playing it, I found myself thinking about it. Admittedly, I'm a fan of the genre.

If roguelikes are your brand of fun, you'll probably like Izuna 2. For the rest, I'd still recommend trying it out, but be warned that this level of challenge isn't for everyone.

Score: 7.0 (Good. Replayable, fun, but nothing innovative or amazing. The game potentially has large flaws that, while they don't make the game bad, prevent it from being as good as it could be.)


Dale North, Former Dtoid EIC
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