TOKYO--Tenchi no Mon 2: Bosouden, which will most likely become Kingdom of Paradise 2: Bosouden (we can't get a reliable translation of the last bit, but it might mean something like "The End"), is an action RPG for the PlayStation Portable, and fans of the original will be glad to know that for the most part it's more of the same.
Although the version we got to play at TGS was in Japanese, and therefore getting to grips with most elements of the game was a little tricky, discerning the story was downright impossible. What we did manage to glean from it, however, was that it revolved around a man and a woman, whose names we don't know (though they don't look the same as any of the characters in the original game), who started out as captives summoned to face charges in a large coliseum. After nearly 10 minutes of dialogue and cutscenes, the two managed to escape by tackling a few guards, and running off into the city.
Thanks to an inept show of tracking from the rest of the security patrols, the couple succeeded in getting away, and that's where we took over their actions fully. The game was viewed from various different angles as we moved around, most commonly from the side or in front of the characters, a bit like some adventure games. In the bottom corner a minimap showed the immediate area and where we could go within it, as well as various special icons, such as the location of merchants. While it was possible to approach some people, usually to buy or sell items or progress quests, the finer points in such communication were lost due to language issues. As with a number of other adventure games, random treasure chests seemed to litter the place, ripe for the plundering.
Our initial travels were around the outskirts of the city in which our two characters were held prisoner, but after some brief exploration we ventured outside the gates. Once we did we were faced with a larger map, and a choice of locations to which we could travel. Moving between those was simply a case of selecting them, and we were transported there instantaneously. We assumed there was a logical order to these external regions, as our first uneducated wanderings led us straight to a rather tough enemy, who had little difficulty in killing us right away. Luckily, a handy save point allowed us to experiment further, and with a bit of trial and error, and some really decent equipment that the new save game had furnished us with, we made a decent attempt at the next set of enemies we encountered.
The actual fighting in the game was all-out action. Because you have two characters at your disposal, you can switch between them at any time by pressing the left shoulder button. This means you can pour out a variety of different attacks (the female has different moves than the male) from either character, as and when you choose. However, these moves can be modified on a separate screen by collecting certain scrolls, along with tiles to fill them out. This looks like being the same system as in the original game, and new combo moves can be learned as you pick up and fill more scrolls.
It's possible to carry and equip different weapons as you go through the game as well, and switching them is as simple as pressing the right shoulder button. The attacks themselves are performed just by using the analog thumbpad and the X button in different combinations, and while this may seem overly simple, by using the different moves discovered within the scrolls, your characters can perform a good range of increasingly satisfying moves.
There was also enough evidence to indicate that the magic "chi" system returns once again, and we saw a variety of powerful attack spells used in battle. Sometimes the opponents can come along three or four at a time, with groups following on immediately after each other, so you'll be glad of some hefty attacks to back you up. Whether or not the magical power unbalances the combat, as in the original, was unclear from the short time we had with the game.
What is perfectly clear, however, is just how beautifully drawn this game is. Right from the very beginning the PSP screen is filled with lovingly rendered characters and colourful, varied backgrounds. The result is a joy to behold, and the developer has utilised the sharp screen to great effect. Sound, too, was nice to listen to, although with the voice-overs in Japanese we couldn't really tell if they worked or not.
All in all Tenchi no Mon 2: Busouden is shaping up to be a promising sequel to what was already a very capable RPG title. Although it was hard to tell just where the story was going and whether or not the detail in the menus and scrolls had been developed, we'll be able to tell you more in the future, provided the game does make its likely transition to the West.