Lennus II - Reader Re-Retroview  

The Great Union
by Jeremy Michael Gallen

20-40 Hours
+ Solid battle system.
+ Save-anywhere feature.
+ Nice graphics.
- Light on story.
- Soundtrack is somewhat weak.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   For ten millennia, a Raigan named Farus has slept in suspended animation, until one day awakened to bring about the Great Union in the dark world of Andel by collecting four artifacts; little does Farus know what consequences this quest will have. Asmik's Lennus II is the first and only sequel to Paladin's Quest, released towards the end of the Super Famicom's lifespan and never seeing its release beyond Japanese shores, a shame, since the sequel truly improves upon many aspects of its predecessor in spite of a few blemishes.

   Unlike in the original Lennus, however, Farus doesn't gain a permanent female companion (like Chezni did), although he can hire up to three mercenaries and ultimately dismiss them in favor of newer, more powerful ones during his quest. As in the original game, moreover, using magic spells requires the use of HP, given the absence of MP, with Farus initially able to choose one of three different elements from which to form spells. However, he can acquire five additional elemental spirits throughout his quest, and ultimately choose up to three additional elements to formulate spells. However, spell sets of mercenaries are permanent.

   As with before, furthermore, battles are randomly-encountered and turn-based. Character commands include using an equipped item such as a weapon or HP/status-recovering bottle, defending, attempting to escape, or using magic. As in most turn-based Japanese RPGs, characters and enemies exchange commands likely depending upon agility, with little indication of who will take their turn when, and consequentially, some occasional moments of wasting healing on characters low on HP that get killed before the healing kicks in. Many enemies, however, do have some kind of elemental weakness, for instance, with fire spells being effective against plants, light spells being effective against reptiles, and so forth, adding some strategy.

Fire will take care of these birds A typical encounter

   Winning a battle nets the player's parties the typical rewards of most RPGs, including experience to level up occasionally and money, along with points for each character's elements, with spell elements eventually leveling up, as well, consequentially increasing magical power. Battles move at a brisker pace than in the first game, although there are certainly some late-game fights that can drag out nonetheless, with some specific spells being the difference between victory and defeat against the hardest bosses. All in all, most time in the game will be spent fighting, although the sequel fortunately does well in this area.

   The interface, moreover, features much-needed improvements over the first game, among them chiefly being an always-convenient save-anywhere (with rare exceptions) feature, with points of no return being mercifully absent, never making this feature a double-edged sword. Character management is also much easier than in the first game, with the player also getting the opportunity to strip mercenaries of all their gear when dismissing them, along with an "Equip Best" feature. Shopping is less burdensome, as well, with the player able to see how prospective equipment affects characters' stats before buying it, and the game does a decent job pointing players in the right direction. An option is also available to automatically heal characters with spare or equipped bottles, although it can be annoying at times to scroll through all the dialogue that occurs when using this option. Still, interaction helps the game far more than hurts.

   Lennus II does a few things to differentiate itself from its predecessor, such as allowing the player to customize the protagonist's spell set, along with the aforementioned improvements in the interface and visual overhaul. The sequel does retain many definitive features from the first installment, such as the use of HP to cast magic and mercenary system, but is still reasonably distinctive in its own right.

   As with most RPGs of the time, Lennus II is somewhat light on plot, but has some decent backstory revealed sporadically throughout the game. While a few of the mercenaries have some kind of story behind them, none has any real impact on the storyline, although there are some decent twists and links to the first installment. The plot really isn't a reason to play the game, although it certainly isn't a deterrent.

In this game at least Radio killed the video star

   The soundtrack of Lennus II enhances the game's alien feel, and is definitely of better quality than the music in its predecessor, although the tracks themselves aren't as strong, and even somewhat repetitive; for instance, the number of normal battle themes is down to one, while the first game had one for the overworld and another for dungeons. Sound effects are as one would expect from a 16-bit RPG, and in the end, while the aurals certainly don't hurt the game, they certainly aren't one of its strongest aspects.

   The visuals, though, are a marked improvement over those in the first game, giving the sequel an alien feel, what with unique environments and colors, without making it seem primitive. Battles are still in first-person, though the player does get a good view of the party before they disappear off the screen. Battle animations look decent, and enemies are somewhat animate, even if the animations of many consist mostly of jiggling around. Still, the graphics are definitely some of the most unique, and best, on the Super Famicom.

   Finally, the first Lennus sequel is about a thirty-hour game, with only a few sidequests to boost playing time. Overall, Lennus II is a much-improved sequel, with most aspects being better than those in its predecessor, such as the battle system, the controls, and visuals. Some aspects do leave something to desire, such as the story and soundtrack, but the second Lennus was nonetheless a decent step in the right direction, though the franchise afterward went into stasis, lying forgotten through the following console generations.

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