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Name: Youju Ranbu 2 (72.86% in 7 votes)
Type: RPG
Platform: WINDOWS
Company: Zone
Release date: 1997
Reviewed by: Lamuness

Youju Ranbu 2 is the second H-RPG released by Zone, and this is also their second product after their debut Youju Ranbu 1.

Your mother, on her last breath, reveals the secret of your identity. After that, you, the hero of the story, travels around the world as a mercencary to find more about where you came from, and as you perform more tasks you find out more about yourself. Accompanying you are 5 girls (but you have to find them first in order to have them join your party).

Generally, the game is a really successful improvement from the previous Youju Ranbu. The graphics are hellofalot more improved. For one thing, you have a much bigger map screen to view. There are much much more dungeons to explore. Also, the 3d dungeon mapping is further improved from the first game. Animations in dungeons are much smoother. There is a day-and-night element in the game where certain stuff is only available during the night. Along with multiple female party members comes with the impression parameter. During the game, you are to make decisions, and non-heroic and ecchi decisions will of course affect impressions in a negative way. Therefore, think carefully when you are confronted with decision making.

Battle engine is also improved. No longer are you worried about party order. Each charater can purchase a wide range of magic spells for use. Weapons and armor can also be bought, and each equipment can be enhanced (level up) if you pay some extra money at the weapon shop. Like Youju Ranbu 1, 99% of the enemies are females, and guess what happens when you defeat do not have to find certain pearls anymore as you had to do in Youju Ranbu 1 in order for this to happen, so that saves you some time exploring for one particular item (though I prefer that more). Also introduced are Special Attacks, which can be bestowed if given a rare item to a particular person. In addition, if you defeat certain characters or encounter certain events, you gain the ability to summon them (all females of course), and summon spells are very powerful in the game.

The CGs in Youju Ranbu is probably one of the best selling points in the game. It's much much much more improved and more in quantity than the previous game. The use of watercolor style CGs is still present, which is very effective. However, I have to say that generally the colors used in non-CG places are a little bit too dim (overuse of warm colors) and gloomy (and I am sure that's not the intended mood), and lack vividness. Nevertheless, the graphics are still very nice, just wait till you see the Opening. The music, like Youju Ranbu 1, is equally amazing. I think Zone is one of the very few companies that makes really good BGM. Sadly, I wish to see COMPLETE use of voice tracks in this game, because this was used in Youju Ranbu 1.

Other nice features include the introduction of Click and drag in the menu system, which is very convenient for mouse users. For example, if you want to cast a healing spell to someone, you drag the spell name to the person's image and that's it. This is something that is rarely seen in other RPG games. Also, this game supports either DirectX for win95 users and WinG for those who are still use win31 with win32s installed. I guess this is done to attract a wider range of audiences with different computer types. Oh yeah, one more interesting thing. At the beginning of the game you can select your prefered image (from 3), and you can alter it in any way you want. Hell you can put glasses and mustaches if you prefer, or you can simply draw your own face from a blank image. However, of course your alterations will not affect the event CGs.

Now, the drawbacks. The plot is sadly not as interesting as Youju Ranbu 1. Character and plot development is rare in the game. One can feel that there isn't much purpose to perform all these tasks as a mercenary. Also, RPG-wise, the party members lack characteristics. Once maxed out the attributes (which is not hard to do), one party member is no different than the other, plus the fact that anybody can purchase any magic spells makes it even more indifferent. The level of difficulty in Youju Ranbu 2 is slightly unbalanced. You start of pretty steady, but very soon enemies get stronger faster than your party does. Therefore, expect to spend a considerable length of time just to level up.

Overall, besides the lack of plot development and other minor tidbits, Youju Ranbu 2 is something you would not want to miss. There are so much improvements over the previous game that makes Youju Ranbu 2 one of the best H-RPGs ever created. Although this game is a little bit old, Graphics-wise, audio-wise, it deserves a full 10/10. If you are an H-RPG fan, you would not want to miss out on Youju Ranbu 2.
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