Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja review
Fun But Balls To The Wall Hard
An obscure DS title created by Success in 2006 and released in 2007 in America and Europe by Atlus and 505 Games, respectively. Success are one of the most obscure game developer companies ever made but if you've ever heard of the "Cotton" shooter games you know who they are. They also published Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, or to be more specific the PC port, and Metal Saga for the PS2.
Izuna itself is a roguelike game and like most roguelikes, it is hard as all hell. The core gameplay is simplistic in nature, due to being a roguelike but of course, that only suffices to make it even harder. The main gameplay "quirk" is that you can modify your weapons by burning scrolls into them. This costs SP to grant them special effects but very few are even worth a damn, and each weapon only has a limited amount that it can contain (swords, for example, can only contain 3 at most). You can do the same to armour but with an annoying limitation on what works; the attack boost, for example, doesn't which is an aggrivating effect that you only figure out by wasting one.
The plot is also basic, which is not a problem in this case but it does lead to an annoying quirk of not being able to advance without using the plot Macguffins on every possible character or, do the simple thing and use a guide. There's only one town in the game that connects to every dungeon in the game with no overworld to speak of; you have to enter the dungeons in an arbitrarily sequential order and if you try to enter one before you can, you're not able to do so. The one town, additionally, consists of the catalyst of the problem; a crystal that Izuna, the main character (of course), steals because well, why not? Oh, that's right: by doing so it pisses off the Gods! Because the gods are always dicks, they curse everyone but Izuna. To rectify the problem? She has to enter the arbitrary dungeons to kick the Gods' asses. Naturally the Gods are the bosses of the game, one per dungeon, and are absolute dicks in battle. This causes a big problem; the game is grindy as *bleep* and everytime you die, and you will die... a lot... you have to start the dungeon all over again with no equipment (you can store some items BUT not until you beat the first dungeon and if you store some via the imbue ability you can't get it back until after the first dungeon). This isn't a problem at first, since the early dungeons are short, but it does become extremely annoying later and the post-game is a nightmare due to it. When you finally do beat a God, you can fight them again whenever you go through the dungeon again to refight them at will, and your reward for doing it the first time is a relevant orb. Each orb uncurses a small amount of characters, but there's absolutely no indication as to who gets uncursed by what, and you only find out where to go next by uncursing a specific character dependant on the orb...
The music leaves a lot to be desired, as it is fairly repetetive and isn't exactly memorable. Regular enemies are also pretty dickish, as some enemies are stupidly overpowered and, whilst each enemy does have a weakness, it's often better to NOT attack the weakness as it can often deal LESS damage than normal. Status ailments are as you'd expect; if you try and use them they'll be pretty much useless, but the enemy uses them you're pretty much doomed. There are also traps which are completely hidden and, of course, change location every time. The only way to know where one is, is to stand on it in the first place which can be a bugger in and of itself and are able to inflict a variety of ailments (none are helpful; this isn't Final Fantasy XII after all), some of which can only be inflicted this way... and traps don't trigger whenever an enemy stands on one, meaning that several ailments can ONLY be inflicted on Izuna.
Despite the flaws, however, the game is actually pretty fun to play and is highly immersive. The difficulty does shoot up highly fast, which can be seen as a good thing as it makes it that much more satisfying to beat enemies fairly (every enemy can be cheesed if you know what you're doing).