This entry in the Games I Beat In 2014 series is the first one that I can say I did truly “blind”, IE with zero knowledge of what I was getting into–I had played a bit of Zero Mission, and of course I had made it to Mike Tyson in the game named for him. But with Neutopia II, I had little idea what to expect.
Okay, that isn’t entirely true. I had heard that Neutopia II (Originally released for the Turbo-Grafx-16, now also available on the Wii Virtual Console) was both better and more original than the first. But is it either?
First off, the plot: Years after the first game, it’s rumored that the evil Dirth has been revived. Worse, Jazeta, the hero of the first game, has gone missing. Playing as Jazeta’s son, whom you name, you have to see if Dirth is really back, and find your missing father in the process. Along the way, you have to collect 8 treasures, and some other things besides.
Okay, with the 8 treasures bit, things aren’t looking great in the originality department. And the gameplay hasn’t really found its own identity either, representing more “an evolution of the first Neutopia” (Which, again, was not known for its innovation) than “A revolutionary original experience”. This isn’t a bad thing in itself–the big things that have been added are eight-way directional movement and a couple new staffs with which to attack your foes–but it wasn’t the originality I was looking for.
Where the game distinguishes itself a bit from Neutopia (And, for that matter, from most incarnations of Zelda) is that the overworld–which is now one contiguous overworld, rather than the distinct Spheres of the first Neutopia–has multiple villages scattered throughout it, making it feel more like an RPG overworld (Worth noting: The Virtual Console blurbs for both Neutopias refer to them as RPGs; whether you agree with this will depend on how you answer the question “Is The Legend of Zelda an RPG?”). Additionally, the treasures you collect through the first 2/3 of the game or so don’t have a common theme to them–they mainly serve as trinkets to allow you access to the next part of the overworld. The last third of the game changes this, as you go about collecting four Medallions to allow access to the final labyrinth.
Even though I would say that Neutopia II is, in fact, a better game than the first one, I’d still recommend playing one first. The reason is that the difficulty of the game is comparable to that of The Legend of Zelda’s second quest. While it won’t be a big deal if you’ve played Zelda (Or the first Neutopia) before, some of the tricks the game throws at you (Such as hidden rooms in labyrinths that even your crystal ball won’t reveal) occur much earlier in this game. Plus, the game throws in some evil variants of traps that you saw in the first game. Additionally, on the whole, Neutopia II’s bosses are a good deal more difficult than the first. One boss in particular has something of a gimmick making it difficult to hit; figuring out (Or getting around) this is the only way to win.
Still, I definitely had fun with Neutopia II. It is better than the first game, if not really any more original. Still, derivative isn’t inherently bad, and if you enjoyed either The Legend of Zelda (Particularly its second quest) or Neutopia, you’ll like Neutopia II. There are certainly worse games of its type you could be playing.
This sequence is making me think of doing an equivalent one on my blog – I often write about the games I buy and beat, but not nearly in as much detail.
Also, this is a reminder to find Alundra and play it :p