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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Activision
Developed by: From Software
Genre: Card RPG
Players: 1-2
Genre: T (Teen)
Release Date: May 28, 2002
Written by: Matthew Prunty

A title that has been in development for more than a year, Lost Kingdoms (Known as Rune in Japan) transformed from a traditional RPG title, into a card collectable game with RPG elements. So for an honest comparison, this title would fall along the lines of titles like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, rather than true RPG titles like Morrowind or Final Fantasy. But the lack of true RPG style gameplay doesn’t stop this title from satisfying diehard RPG gamers around the world. So without further adue, we explore the realm known as Lost Kingdoms.

  • Non-traditional action/RPG based on card battling
  • Dramatic storyline drives single-player experience
  • Use only your wits and a deck of cards to battle evil
  • Collect, arrange, and manage your deck
  • Using the powers of the elements
  • Summoning beasts to fight on your behalf
  • Expansive 3D worlds with diverse locations
  • Upgradeable cards at your disposal
  • Trade, buy, and sell cards at the shop
  • Dark, realistic style and theme
  • One and two player modes
  • Dolby Surround Sound support

The premise of Lost Kingdoms is that a mysterious black mist is sweeping the land; killing men and women alike, and reeking havoc on the lands just like it did several years before. The mist was stopped via the power of the magical cards, and Princess Katia discovers that she has the ability to wield such cards, thus to keep the people in her lands from suffering anymore, sets out on a personal quest to rid the kingdoms of the terrible black mist. And so, Lost Kingdoms begins. There really isn’t anything else to the storyline of this title. Seeing how she is also following her father, who is also looking for answers to this mysterious mist, this situation serves as an excuse to put Katia in various battles throughout the lands; in order to acquire various cards. Though the story is compelling, the only thing that will keep you going is the various battles you partake within and the new cards you come across, giving new abilities and features to Katia.

Where's the answers to our problem?

You will notice within your first actual battle, that everything happens through your deck of cards. You can build your deck from more than 100 cards that are featured throughout the game. Being limited to only 30 cards within your deck can at times cause a few problems when you gain more powerful cards, but all in all, allows for just enough diversity. As you travel, you will come across rare cards, which have various powerful attacks, and are worth quite a bit in the shop if you ever decide to sell them off.

If you are a gamer who is into playing games like Magic the Gathering, will have no problem picking up this game and running with it. Each level possess different monsters, thus making you look at your deck to ensure you have the right cards to use, otherwise, you could end up in some heated battles, which can result in your expiring your decks, or even loosing your life. Not all cards operate the same, but if you use one of the rare cards known as Black Dragon, it can prove disastrous for you. Everytime that card is hit, your character takes on the damage, and thus making you have healing cards equipped within your deck to keep your character alive. And knowing that it would take gamers forever to create the right deck for each and every battle sequence, From Software decided to allow for several decks to be created at once, thus you can switch decks, depending on what the situation calls for (on a level to level basis).

It's the dreaded Black Dragon!!

Each and every card has two attributes; one being elemental, and the other defines the card type. The elemental traits within this title are Water, Fire, Wood, Earth, and Neutral. Neutral works on all cards equally, so there are no problems there. But where it gets interesting is when you put element against element:

Elemental Combat
  • Water has advantage over Fire
  • Fire has advantage over Wood
  • Wood has an advantage over Earth
  • Earth has an advantage over Water

But under some circumstances, the elements don’t even matter. IF your Fire card is more powerful than the Earth based monster roaming the lands, you cans till defeat the enemy with no problems. So if you got the balls to use a card like the Black Dragon against a Fire based monster, go right ahead, just remember you take damage too.

The other attribute, known as Card types, consists of Weapon, Summons, and Independent. Among these types, and independent attribute is the best to use on the field because they have their own life bar, so when they take damage, you don’t take damage. But the Weapon attribute cards are based off the direction you are facing. If you are looking north, it will attack north; look right, it attacks right. As far as the Summons attribute cards, they would summon a monster to the field (in your defense) and contribute one uber-attack to any enemy before it vanishes from the field. While using these cards, you have full control of your character, so if you see an attack coming your way, you can move out the way, before summoning a monster to the field in your defense (but remember to face your enemy when firing off an weapon attribute card, otherwise you will have one major airball).

What cars to choose?

But what keeps your battles interesting is that when you enter a new level, your deck is shuffled. SO you may know what cards your deck consist of, you don’t know the order they will be presented in come battle time. At any given time, your hand can only hold up to four cards, and once a card is used, it’s discard within its own pile, un useable until the level is over. But there is a way around this rule, especially for those who have particular cards they like to use the most. There are special cards that allow you to take cards from the discard pile and put them back within your deck you are currently using.

Player with patience and skills will be able to acquire new cards via capturing monster during battle, instead of killing them. This is a good thing, but also can turn ugly. If you try to capture all the time, you run the risk of getting the same cards over and over. But duplicates never hurt anyone I guess. You can also find various cards among the levels, which can be used to replenish your deck when you reach a special “deck point.” So if luck is on your side, or you really pay attention, you could keep your deck at the maximum amount of 30 cards practically all the time.

One last trick that From Software uses to ensure gamers don’t just build their deck of ultimate monster to fly through the game quicker, they implement a “mana-type system.” For every card you play, it requires a certain amount of gems. Now if you have tons and tons of gems, which I highly doubt, you can build a super deck; but for the most part, you will be wise about your choices. You can acquire gems from defeating and damaging various enemies you come across. But for those who get discouraged about not being able to play a certain card, you can always use a health card in your defense (a last ditch effort).

The visuals that comprise Lost Kingdoms are quite clean and on par with some of the great titles to grace the Gamecube lineup. The landscaping boast some expansive worlds that are nicely textured and detailed, though they could off added a few tress here, or some bushes and building there; but overall a decent presentation. You are allowed to control the camera angles, thus varying the quality of the graphics (zooming in on an enemy or character versus just using the standard angle). As far as the presentation of the characters, they are rather blocky. The framerate also takes a hit if there are one too many monsters on the field at once (happens once in awhile though). Overall, From Software did a decent job, though they could of spend a little more time polishing up the characters and adding some more detail to the landscaping.

Collect the gems...

When it comes to the sound, pretty much all you will here in the game are sound effects and music. There isn’t that much to the musical score, which will get tiresome rather quickly. There are no voiceovers within the title, so gamers must suffer reading text (whenever there is a conversation). A hit to the overall presentation to the title, the score doesn’t leave anything to the memory, unless you really were into this title. This title supports Dolby Surround, but due to the subpar and often lack luster sound effects, you hardly notice the difference between the regular sound effects and the enhance versions.

Though for some, the single-player mode is enough satisfaction, From Software decided to add some two-player madness. The decks you built to take with you on your single player adventures can be used against your fellow man in some head-to-head action. You can even put a card up for grabs to the winner, thus making the battles more fierce and competitive. If you’re not into the whole multiplayer experience, you can always play through the single-player mode again in the efforts to collect every single card in the game, including the rare ones. If you are up for this challenge, good luck because you will definitely need it.

Overall, From Software’s Lost Kingdoms is a great experience. Though, not up there with the likes of Tales of Symphonia or Baten Kaitos, it is definitely worth you time and the experience. If you ever needed a title to get you interesting in card-based titles, this is definitely the choice for you.


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