GAME REVIEWS

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Burai II

~ BURAI II ~
Riverhill Soft
Super CD-ROM
1992

The one thing about this game that truly intrigued me when I first played it ages ago was the colorful, action-packed combat. The first Burai's battles are ultra primitive, but the ones here feature large, animated enemies; loud, flashy, party-demolishing attack spells; cool music; and backdrops that don't look all that great but certainly represent a step up from black nothingness. Even with all the animation and effects, the fights proceed fairly quickly, unlike some other graphical combat "show scenes" like those in sloggy Monster Maker. Early on, you can actually avoid overworld fights altogether simply by staying away from the areas where monsters reside (like forests and deserts).



Whether you partake in combat or not, overworld treks are much more enjoyable in B2 than they are in the first Burai. The playfield in this one isn't scrunched, thank goodness. And while they don't exactly rank among the PCE's best, Burai II's field graphics annihilate those of its predecessor. You'll revisit many locations from the first game, but you might not even recognize them initially because they look so much better here.



The cinemas are interesting in that they have more of a "hand-drawn" look to them than do most of the anime-style sequences in other PCE RPGs.



They look somewhat basic at times, but they're neat in style as a one-time sort of thing, and there are plenty of them, especially towards the end of the game. The conclusion, which has sort of a Final Fantasy X vibe for a stretch, is quite memorable.



This is a sequel that revisits its roots in many ways and usually improves on the way things were. Your old party members return, but they constitute a much more balanced lot now. They still have to take care of personal business before coming together, but the game is split into episodes that are longer and larger in scope than the previous chapter's mini-quests. You'll still be assailed by mini-bosses, and there are still numerous secrets to stumble upon. The event scenes feature cinema-style art as opposed to the abstract drawings in the first Burai, and there's more overt humor this time around, much of which involves the funny furry folks, who engage in such antics as dancing and putting on concerts to raise cash.



Burai II is certainly a successful title, but there are a few not-so-positive things to note about it. Once you've assembled a seven- or eight-character party, random battles can take an extremely long time. In addition to selecting actions for all those characters and watching their magic-spell light shows, you'll have to deal with enemies who can take lots of hits and perform attacks that do damage to each of your party members, one at a time.



Still, I've experienced worse, and this problem plagues only a couple of chapters. In fact, the last area of all is packed with enemies who go down quickly. But while it isn't much of a challenge, that last area can take quite a long time to get through, and it doesn't allow you to save your game as you proceed. It's a cool final stretch that features lots of cinemas and bosses, and it provides plenty of healing spots, but you'll have to set aside a lot of time to play through it, and there's always that chance that you could screw up at some point.



And I should warn prospective buyers that the game occasionally freezes at the end of skirmishes. Luckily, the old "tapping trick" has worked every single time this has happened to me. So just give your system a few taps or tosses and everything should get back on track. B2 has never completely crashed on me.


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