The Never Ending Realm
The Story behind a bad sequel: Alundra v.s. Alundra 2
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By Samuel Rivera

 

Alundra is an all time great game, Alundra 2 is an all time bust (at least when compared to the original) which is the reason why I have chosen this series to be dissected for the first installment of the story behind the bad sequel. Yeah that sounds like one of those VH1 documentaries.

The first thing that points out that Alundra 2 is nothing more than a rushed sequel to cash in the moderate success of the first one isthat Alundra 2 has nothing to do with Alundra (The Original game's main character) or his world or his items or anything related to the first games plot.

Alundra's plot is incredibly original and well told. Alundra 2's plot is cliched beyond belief and barely passes for a 5-year-olds fairy tale.

Summary of Plot:

Alundra: You start out as a young man named Alundra, who has the ability to enter dreams because he is from the tribe of Elna. Consequently a wiseman named Lars gives him a dream in which he is summoned to the village of Inoa. So he follows the mans advice and embarks in a ship that heads into Inoa.

Then you are reminded that this is indeed a dark story as suddenly disaster strikes, and Alundra is the sole survivor of the shipwreck. He is taken in by a man named Jessie who decides to watch over him because Alundra reminds him of his late son.

So this man takes him to Inoa Village who is currently undergoing through a plague in which people die in their dreams. Soon Alundra uses his ability as Dream Walker (the ability to enter and play part in a dream) to try to save the villagers.

Notice I wrote try because unfortunately he cant save all of them. Children die, Mothers die, Fathers die, some become devilish beasts and then die, in short many people die. This is not a lighthearted tale but a wonderfully depressive story written by Ichiro Tezuka.

SPOILER WARNING: The source of the nightmares is the evil Melzas, who had been sealed in a sunken castle in the lake. He is trying to intimidate the villagers and force them to pray to him so that with their prayers he would become more powerful. This will help him to escape his prison and unleash chaos upon the land.

Yet of course you dont know the full story until you play through because Ronan the priest tricks the villagers into thinking they are praying to the Gods when in reality there are praying to the demon evil alien Melzas. In short there is a deep religious theme going on. Melzas is only powerful because the people by praying made him a god.

In the end Alundra defeats him and the ending is sort of happy until Meia and Alundra go their different ways which left my a little teary. Alundra goes into some scary looking lands and the game ends. The impression I got from the ending was that Alundra 2 was coming and that it was going to follow Alundra's new adventures, but it turns out I was wrong...

Alundra 2: The writer for this games plot was different from the first one, which partly accounts for its "suckitude". I read the credits looking for the writer and I think I found his name but it has been such a long time since I finished the damn thing that I forgot his name. But you dont need to know his name because his story writing talent is comparable to that of an eight-year-old.

The crappy story starts out like this: You a play as Flint a pirate hunter, who sneaks in a pirate ship to sort of derail their (the pirates) plans (He detests pirates because his family was killed by them when he was but an infant). From there you fall out of the ship into the ocean and end up being rescued by an old man and taken to Paco village where you are introduced to the annoying Princcess Alexia. After that you are hired to help Alexia take the evil Baron Diaz out and restore the kingdom of Varuna to its right full ruler (Baron Diaz replaced Alexia's father with a pupet).

During the long quest Alexia will fall in love with Flint, the problem is she at first thinks nothing of Flint as man. Then she gets kidnapped and not until the very end of the tale do you get to see her again at which time Alexia is madly in love with you. How did they ever fall in love in the first place? Two thumbs down for character development!

Now for the plot, Baron Diaz is not the true evil here, all he wants to do is marry Alexia, and find the great treasure that Mephisto is supposed to help him find. Mephisto is the real bad guy in here as he is the maker of magical screws. The screws when inserted into a living thing (human, animal, plant etc.) it turns the victim in whom it was inserted into a hideous monstrous looking killing machine. However like every other cheap bad guy that has come before him Mephisto has a Master Plan which is to build a giant screw to well screw the entire planet. If a lot of people died in Alundra 1 then a lot of people get screwed in Alundra 2.

In the end Flint kills Mephisto and rides into the sunset in the back of a dragon with Alexia. The plot is simply dumb and if it werent for the Excellent translation and The Pirate Trio there would be not much of a plot to speak of.

Zeppo, Ruby, and Albert are that infamous pirate trio. They are very clumsy and their contrast in personalities makes for some funny moments. Ruby has a crush on Flint which was very well developed why Flint didn't fell in love with her instead of Alexia is anyones guess after all Alexia is a soul-less character not much of a personality going on there. Albert is her genius dork brother and the UGLY dumb Zeppo is her father, her mother is a GORGEOUS babe named Mileena. Mileena is a hottie, which can explain why she dumped Zeppo for Belgar.

Belgar is Flint's father!!! Yet Flint doesnt know it at first and unfortunately did not know it by the time the game ended because Belgar never told him. Now why in the hell does Belgar exist in the story then? Since he really does absolutely nothing, the story would have been better off with out him. His inclusion is unnecessary because he does not even make an attempt to make contact with his long lost son. He would have been better off left dead. Alundra 2 tries to make up a good story by throwing a lot of elements and sub plots but the inept writer for the game never followed any one of them through. Alundra 2's story is the shining example craptacularness.

PLOT WINNER: Easily Alundra 1, The humor, the tragedy, the love, the hate, the religious issues and the rest of the story were excellently written. Alundra 2's plot is the solidification of two very important elements: horse manure and crap. There are some humorous cliched moments but the rest is crap!

 

Music

Alundra 1: Kohei Tanaka did a wonderful job in this game, Alundras tunes are on par with Zelda's. Some tunes are weak (the dungeon one), but some are wonderful, like the main theme of the game that plays in the over world and in the ending anime scene in which appears in full orchestrated glory. The sad tunes shined too. However even though the main theme was nothing short of genius, I left the game with the impression that Tanaka was an average composer who had his day in the sun with this game and time would prove me right.

Alundra 2: In here Tanaka's luck runs out, because the music is simply average at best. My theories: Tanaka isn't that good he had a moment of brilliance in Alundra that's all really after all Alundra didn't have the strongest most consistent musical score ever. In fact the only reason I praise Alundra's soundtrack so much is because of the over-world theme. However to be fair to Tanaka and to give him some benefit of the doubt, crapyness spreads itself like a plague.

By that statement Im suggesting that Tanaka was given the game so that he could then be inspired to write a musical score. Of course with the games plot being a bag of crap, its safe to say Tanaka's musical tunes for this title were inspired by crap thus the music is less (much less) than stellar.

The ruling it's still out on Tanaka's musical skill, his work in Legend of Legaia is terrible at best, but on the other hand his work on the Sakura Wars Anime series keeps him afloat. In my honest opinion though he is just an average composer who had like I stated before his day in the sun with Alundra 1.

 

MUSIC WINNER: Easily Alundra, it might be Tanaka's best work like ever.

 

Sound

Alundra: Sound effects are great, you hear bird, and insects at night, creeks, plus you got to love the Monkey effects of the Murgg. The explosions and sword slashing sounds are also well done.

Alundra 2: The sound effects take a dive in this game in what the environmental sounds are concerned, which isn't surprising considering the lack of quality of the title. However that said, the game features some incredibly good voice work. Especially Zeppo, Albert, and Ruby's voice works which provides with some funny moments which consequentially are the highlight of the other wise poor game.

SOUND EFFECTS WINNER: Tied. Alundra 2's voice acting keeps the game from being completely dull on the sound department and Alundra's excellent enviromental effects are step ahead of Alundra 2's.

Graphics

Alundra: Two dimensional greatness period. No 2-D RPG looks better, only the Lunar series comes close to matching Alundras visual splendor. To be fair Alundra was developed for a more powerful hardware than the Lunars were. So Lunar is still ahead of it in terms of artistic design. However Alundra sports large sprites for the characters and a huge over-world. Every locale and setting is beautifully animated. Plus the game has that magic touch that the Zelda series has. Even today you can immerse youself in Alundras 2-D world and that is a testament to its greatness.

Alundra 2: Why Matrix decided to develop this game in full 3-D for the limited PS1 befuddles me. Simply put you can't develop a great Action RPG of the scale size of Alundra in full 3-D on the PS1. The game doesnt look terribly bad (Legend of Legaia looks worst) but unfortunatly it doesnt look as good as the first Alundra. Characters and settings design is also extremely weak. Ocarina of Time makes this game look like low class cow crap (if there is such thing). You view the game from an over the top view and you can rotate the environments but the game simply looks bland and blocky. Alundra 2 doesn't even have an over world!

GRAPHICS WINNER: Another easy win for Alundra. Going 3-D in the PS1 wasn't a very bright idea by Matrix Software; then again releasing Alundra 2 wasn't either.

 

Gameplay

Alundra- The best two-dimensional Action RPG ever Period. The games puzzles are tough but not cheap. The bosses are tough but after some thinking (and consequently some dying) you will find that they can be defeated. Plus the story moves smoothly along with the gameplay and that is something that not many games can't get right. The dungeons are absolutely brilliant. However more minigames would have elevated this title on to the level of the sacred Ocarina of Time. Difficulty wise this game makes other titles on the genre look like childs play (and yes that includes each and every one of the Zelda titles), this is a thinking man's puzzler! On the negative side the jumping platform sequences are annoying because its difficult to control Alundra with precision while he is on mid air and the 2-D view doesn't help.

Alundra 2-If anything Alundra 2 has some excellent puzzles (even if there are a few that doesnt make sense), however Alundra 2 also manages to accomplish something I thought was impossiblethis game manages to further complicate Alundra's platform jumping sequences. Yup the controls are terrible, the bosses are cheaply tough even in easy mode and the mini games while plenty offer absolutely no entertainment whatsoever. The story instead of helping the gameplay, manages to actually take it down a few notches. The game also lacks a real world map.

GAMEPLAY WINNER: Another easy victory for Alundra thanks to its nearly perfect gameplay.

Packaging- No one beats Working Designs in what game packaging is concerned and Alundra is a shining example of that. The case's face has an authentic metallic look while the back of the case has the typical game's description written in a golden font. The manual itself is full color with many packages including the lyrics of the ending song in both the Japanese and the American version. Also provided is a description of the changes that working designs made to the game. Little details like this has made Working Designs a personal favorite publisher of many RPG fans.

Alundra 2 on the other hand has decent packaging, obviously Activision did the best they could with the game (which wasn't enough to rival Working Designs), but the packaging is solid. The manual lacks the quality of the Alundra's but it also contains Lyrics to the ending song and details like that. Make no mistake: no packaging in this world could help this game out (Alundra 2) and that's why Working Designs stood as far as it could from it.

WINNER: Alundra easily. No one rivals Working Designs on what presentation is concerned.

 

Why the sequel (Alundra 2) is utter garbage?

My only guess here is that Matrix was in need of a quick cash in, they probably where developing an Action RPG game at that time. They probably foresaw that the game was crap so they decided to take their best license (Alundra) and slap the title in and tada we have Alundra 2. This probably helped the sales somewhat as unsuspecting fans of the first game probably fell for the trap and bought it. However by doing this they have forever tainted their nameonly a true sequel to Alundra could restore their dignity on my eyes. Their work with Legend of Legaia reinstates my belief that they might have had their day in the sun with Alundra and that they are truly subpar developers. Plus some of the key members in Alundra's development team have since the first game left Matrix.

It angers me though that they utilized the name of a game that is considered by true RPG fans as a timeless classic, in order to make money of the license in sloppy game. When its all said and done Alundra 2 isn't the worst game ever, but compared to its predecessor it is a tremendously inferior piece of software.

2003 RicanSaiyan. All works here are copyrighted by their authors.