Gamelist Review List Song List Watched Journals Forum IRC Gamelist Song List Review List Forum Articles IRC Log Out Add Game Edit Games Add Reviews Edit Reviews Add Songs Edit Songs Log Out Edit Games Edit Reviews Edit Songs Sign Up Log In My Journal My Game Journals Watched Journals All Journals Journal Settings All Journals About Us Staff FAQ
Castle Paradox
Title Bar
Log In Box
Ends of the Earth 2 vs. Pepsi Ranger
Ends of the Earth 2
Download: 2.43 MB
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 17 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    Sometimes when one crisis is adverted, another one eventually takes its place. Enter the legacy of Centaurus. After the initial defeat of the centaur Caramawn, the end of the earth had been adverted. The heroes lived on to fulfill their own destinies, but none expected the prophetic return of the wretched beast. A thousand years later, five wizards initiated the wake up call that history would have to repeat itself. Only this time, the world would not win. That is unless Atoch, the hero who once went by the name of Billy, can rise up and shake the finger of justice. Where Centaurus and his group of misfits merely stirred up trouble for evil, Atoch and his army of heroes set out to unhinge all hell against those forces, threatening that which threatens the end once again. Thus begins the story of the sequel to the predecessor that started it all.

Where is the best place to start the examination of the best sequel on the OHR? Perhaps the heroes would be a good choice, considering it is they who make the story what it is. Why is that? Well, without the variety of heroes to add new subplots to the overall story, the main story would be the only story the player gets to experience. This is pretty much stating the obvious, but a story with branches is better than that which is straightforward. Granted, this game maintains its sense of direction well, so eliminating all subplots would not kill the overall experience. However, the little things, like finding a lonely monster in the woods, make the game better. This is not to say that the sidequests are exciting, since most of them merely involve leading the player to a secret that may or may not come in handy. But, allowing the player some freedom to discover the secrets of the land make for a better experience. After all, part of the fun of this game is to see what the new hero can add to the party, if anything at all. Outside of the experience of the game, other neat aspects that can be found include picking up useless items that allow the player to view the characteristics of a hero, variable spell systems to make one hero remarkably unique from the next, and the most interesting method of creating battle backgrounds that I've seen in awhile. Let me explain these a little further--well, I'll explain the battle background thing a little further. Where most artists will load up their favorite painting programs to paint their grand-scale masterpiece, the designer for this game took snapshots of the tilemaps and imported them as backgrounds. So, the experience simply translates to an adventure that allows the heroes to walk and fight on the maps. Obviously the look is scaled differently, since the battles require the scene to be more up close and personal, but it's definitely efficient and effective to say the least. Some may not particularly care about this innovation, but I think it's a clever use of the engine, so it's a plus for my vote. Outside of the graphical high points, which there are as many as the first game, it also features a decent use of plotscripting, which the first game didn't have at all. This means that characters don't have to be killed off to make room for new ones, and that the player doesn't always have to guess where he or she is supposed to go next. Okay, that has nothing to do with plotscripting, but what is used is still visually interesting, especially toward the end. But, beyond all the little things that everyone expects in a good game, I think the best feature this has, besides not being boring, is the use of recurring heroes and towns. More specifically, Areolys (the griffin I accidentally killed off in the first game--figures) and Shadow (the ninja who shows up at the end to fight Caramawn, or the beginning if you discover his hiding place) return to set justice in its proper place. Not to mention, the floating town of Concorde shows up again to set the stage for a darker plot point--one that brings forth a shocking revelation th at one of the five evil wizards was once a hero...but whose identity I'll keep secret for now. This story hook single-handedly won my approval for a high score in the story category. There are plenty of other good things to mention about this game, but I still have to make room for the negatives, and that's always the fun part to read about, so I'll leave the other high quality things for the player to discover.

Fortunately, I don't have too many complaints about this game. Overall, I think it is much better than the first, so most of which I disliked about the first doesn't apply here. Even the game's ending, which turned out to be as abrupt as the first, still managed to convey enough important information to the player to leave him satisfied, yet ready for part three, since it is after all a cliffhanger. But, there are still a few things that make the experience a trial, so sit back, rub your eyes, grab some popcorn, and discover where a great game could be made better. The first and main issue I had was the extensive number of items that muddled the item menu. The items that are offered are good, but most of them are designed to accomodate for the insane number of heroes that join the quest, including weapons, armor, and skills. Even though it's no big deal for the first part of the adventure, keeping track of everything eventually gets out of control. Add to that the frequent additions to the battle party, and the system of gameplay is almost confusing. I found that most heroes are only used once or twice and then forgotten about once they're swapped. The prime examples for my experience would have to be Icer the somebody or other, and Meel the dragonfly without wings. Meel was mostly useless to me, except as a pin cushion who could shoot fire, and Icer just showed up one day, and I still don't remember what his reason for joining was supposed to be. I'm sure they're great characters for somebody, but then Tronas, Reyna, Areolys, and whoever else would be the forgotten ones. The point is, a game with so many characters would be better as a fifty hour storyline, rather than a six or seven hour experience (part of which includes leveling up). So, essentially where the story shines for its variety of characters, it also suffers. More depth and purpose (and event spacing) would be better. Also, the whole character of the Gohrans (which are the lizard men that I couldn't remember the names of in my review of the first game) practically vanish under the weight of the wizards. Once I learned that a good tribe of Gohrans exist, they pretty much stopped showing up. If anything, I think that would be the best place to expand on their story. Oh well, maybe the next game will pick up on that (if the authors decide to make it). Let's see, what else is wrong with this game? The hidden stuff is great, so I have nothing bad to say about that. The weapons are decent, if not too numerous. Perhaps the prices of things are ridiculously high at the end, but that just leaves an excuse to level up so that the last boss can actually be beaten (considering this one's harder than Caramawn was). The other downside I can think of right now, which is petty, but still bugged me, was the limited number of character books that are scattered throughout the game. Even though I had the hardest time figuring out which upgrades were best for my heroes, and sifting through all the skill items that determined whether or not Atoch would destroy by fire or lightning was no picnic, I still liked the viewable books that I found early on. But, I could only find books for the first four characters. I'm not sure if the other books are very well hidden, or if they just don't exist. I think it would be nice to design a character book for everybody if the first four have that priviledge. But, the truth to that matter I just don't know. Again, it's petty, but what else can I really say that's wrong with this game? I think it's very good. A dding the fish man Equuis from the first game to the new list of heroes would have been nice, but it can't have everything, so it's just as good without him. I guess the biggest improvement this game can endure is expansion on the existing subplots and deeper backgrounds for the heroes. Other than that, why change it?
Final Scores
Graphics: 8.5/10.0
Just like in the first game, the graphics are nicely created. Even though one or two battle backgrounds may be battle specific, the use of generating tilemaps as a background introduces a more involved state of the travelling grounds, and I think that's an effective strategy--not to mention it cuts down on the game design time, allowing room to focus on more important things. The heroes look good for the most part, but the enemies are amazing. Even the maps look nice, especially the balconies of the residential castles (which show a long drop to the fields below), and the 3-D look of the two dungeon castles. For everything graphical in this game, it comes off vivid and practical.
Storyline: 8/10.0
This game still falls short of having the best story on the OHR, but what it does have is executed very well. The only place the story suffers is in the small development in subplots. Maybe the game doesn't have room to develop them, but that's okay because the overall plot is still substantial. But, beyond the scope of the story as a whole, the area that it is not only the strongest, but very good indeed, is the plot twists that occur from beginning to end. For those alone, this game deserves a high story score. Further development to each plotline would make it next to unstoppable, but I have a feeling it'll have to wait until part three to achieve such a goal.
Gameplay: 8.5/10.0
The maps are designed well, and the enemies offer the right kind of balance to the heroes, but not so much that the game is a cakewalk. The only real flaw in gameplay and design would be the excessive amount of stuff to keep track of, and I think most players would get over that. It's put together with a talented effort.
Music: 8.5/10.0
Once again the music is a collection of original compositions by the same person who did the first game. But, does that mean it's still good? Yeah, actually. Even though I found the battle music to be less exciting than before, the world map music is probably several times better. Are the tunes appropriate for the mood? Mostly, but not quite as closely. The music is still worth listening to, and may even be potentially award-winning in some cases (especially the overworld music--ahh it's good). Any way it's looked at, the music is noteworthy (every pun intended), so good job once again.
Overall Grade: A-
Final Thoughts
    I really don't know what else to say about this game except that everyone who cares about RPGs should check it out. It's perfected the Final Fantasy feel, and doesn't waste it with junky characters and a lame storyline. It's good enough to ask or even demand the creation of an Ends of the Earth 3, and hope all threads are tied by the end. Excellent game.  

All games, songs, and images © their respective owners.
Terms of Service
©2008 Castle Paradox