From Software announced Lost Kingdoms II (Rune II in Japan), the sequel to the GameCube's first RPG, in August 2002. We recently had the opportunity to chat with the game's producer, Atsushi Taniguchi, about the game and its progress during development.
RPGamer: What can you tell us of the storyline of Lost Kingdoms II?
Atsushi Taniguchi: Lost Kingdoms II is set 200 years after the events of the original Lost Kingdoms and tells of the story of a new heroine, Tara, and her quest to save the Kingdom of Argwyll.
Abandoned in her childhood, Tara was taken in by Victor, the leader of a band of thieves. Though she detests the gang, she continues to live and work with them, as repayment to Victor for his kindness. Tara posseses a rare and magical Runestone that can summon Creatures, which Victor and the band have exploited throughout the years.
After two hundred years of peace throughout the Kingdom of Argwyll, the kingdom finds itself on the verge of destruction. The renegade region of Kendarie has begun a war of conquest throughout the land, using mechanized beasts and creatures to eradicate whole villages and towns.
With the kingdom in turmoil, Tara finds herself as the Kingdom's only hope to battle the invading force and uncover its terrible origins.
RPGamer: We have read that Lost Kingdoms II will not only be much longer than the first title, but will also be far less linear. What kinds of elements are you adding to make the game less linear?
Taniguchi: For Lost Kingdoms II, we created Transform cards. Using these cards, Tara can transform herself into creatures that can fly or destroy large objects such as walls. The levels of Lost Kingdoms II have many areas that the player can enter only by cleverly using these cards. Hints and conversations with the NPCs in these areas will lead the player to alternative ways to complete the game.
RPGamer: What changes were made to the battle system, and why did you choose to make these changes?
Taniguchi: The battle system in the previous Lost Kingdoms separated the battle area. In Lost Kingdoms II, however, we have removed that limit in order to increase the level of freedom and interactivity. Now the player is able to use cards anywhere in the levels and can strategically anticipate enemy moves from a distance. In this sense, we have greatly enhanced the level of strategy and freedom of game play.
RPGamer: How does the addition of characters joining with Tara change the mechanics of game play?
Taniguchi: One of the characters we have added is Sol. He belongs to the same band of thieves as Tara and supports her from the shadows. He is a good swordsman and the player will cooperate with Sol on several missions.
Although Tara has forgotten who he really is, Sol is a friend from her early childhood. This will be revealed gradually in the story.
These characters increase interactivity and story depth.
RPGamer: How many more card monsters can we expect to find in this game compared to the original?
Taniguchi: Lost Kingdoms II has 226 cards, more than twice as many as in the previous Lost Kingdoms. Since there are many unique characters and cool monsters, players should be able to find one that they can call their favorite/
RPGamer: Were there any features you could not implement in Lost Kingdoms that made their way to Lost Kingdoms 2?
Taniguchi: There are so many things that we could not get into Lost Kingdoms that we were able to include in Lost Kingdoms II that I cannot even begin to list them here. When we finished the first Lost Kingdoms, we knew that there were still many ways to expand the card-based action RPG genre. With this in mind, we worked with Activision to create a top quality game.
RPGamer: Were there any features you planned to implement in Lost Kingdoms II, but were unable to include them?
Taniguchi: In all honesty, we had too many features for the schedule that we created originally. When we realized this, we extended the production schedule so that we were able to include almost all of the elements and features that we planned.
RPGamer: Why was the decision made to add a fifth kind of element in the form of mechanical monsters?
Taniguchi: Lost Kingdoms II features a character named Leod VIII who is key to the story. He is a very unique person. To emphasize his peculiarities, we created the mechanical soldiers since we rarely see these kinds of characters in a fantasy setting. These mechanical monsters have characteristic moves and attacks making them fun to watch.
RPGamer: How much fan-feedback about Lost Kingdoms influenced the development of Lost Kingdoms II?
Taniguchi: When we began designing Lost Kingdoms II we were already referring to the fan-feedback. We were so delighted to hear comments and opinions from the fans that we were constantly challenging ourselves by asking if there was something more that we could do to satisfy them.
RPGamer: Are there any Easter Eggs or hidden surprises in Lost Kingdoms II? If so, could you give us an example of one?
Taniguchi: Gurd returns from the original Lost Kingdoms. This time, she acts as a gatekeeper for rooms that hold powerful enemies. Some of these enemy characters are from the original Lost Kingdoms. And since you can unlock them as the playable characters in VS Mode, we hope players will take the time to track them down.
RPGamer: Assuming Lost Kingdoms II sales meet expectations, could a Lost Kingdoms III be a possibility? If so, are there any plans to adding online features to the third title?
Taniguchi: I currently cannot say anything about a third title. In regards to online, however, I can say that we have no plans to implement it. If we receive many requests from players for this, we do have another feature in mind that we feel could help satisfy this need.
RPGamer: Are there any plans to port Lost Kingdoms or Lost Kingdoms II to either PlayStation 2 or Xbox?
Taniguchi: Currently, there are no plans.
RPGamer: What is your favorite moment in Lost Kingdoms II?
Taniguchi: It is hard to select a favorite moment, but I can say that I care very much for the enemy character named Leod VIII. I created his 3D model, and spent many hours refining his animations and scripts in order to bring out his individuality. I hope you enjoy his battles and cut scenes as much as I enjoyed creating them.
RPGamer: What do you feel the biggest improvement in Lost Kingdoms II is over its predecessor, and why?
Taniguchi: The game has so many improvements it would be difficult to write them all down. But if I had to say it in one phrase, I would say it is more action oriented. For example, we revised the camera system in order to make the game play more intimate and intense. Add to this the real-time battle system that makes it easier to build the strategies for each level and keeps the game moving. For Lost Kingdoms II, whenever we began to think about improvements and new features, we always tried to evaluate them in terms of how they would affect the action.
We would like to thank Atsushi Taniguchi for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. Lost Kingdoms II is currently on track for release in Japan and North America in May. For more information on the title, check out our Lost Kingdoms II page.