Record of Lodoss War: Advent of Kardis


   In a classic The Far Side cartoon, a dinosaur stares at its calendar, every day of which is marked with a reminder to "Kill something and eat it." Had that dinosaur's calendar read "Kill something and loot it," it would have been a rather apt summation of Record of Lodoss War's gameplay.

   The sort of game the term "dungeon hack" was created for, this Dreamcast action RPG is short on variety and story and long on combat. Unlike some of its kin, Lodoss has plenty of different scenery to fight through: there's a substantial overworld and the dungeons range from thick forests to pyramids and ice caves. However, the actual levels are rather repetitious, as they're lacking in puzzles and other special challenges. While not actually randomly generated, the dungeons might as well be.

 Record of Lodoss War
Parn and Deedlit in battle

   Fortunately, Lodoss War gives players a fair chance to explore. The game contains 40 extra "dungeons" as well as a number of other miscellaneous side quests. Each one-room bonus dungeon contains a slew of enemies of a specific type; beating them rewards the player new equipment and abilities, as well as a medallion. Collecting enough medallions nets the hero additional bonuses, including a very handy transportation ability. However, many of these optional areas aren't really that optional, as Lodoss War requires a fair amount of powering-up in order to get through the mandatory quests.

   Record of Lodoss War's item creation system, while not altogether bad, can be rather non-intuitive, especially given the poor explanation in both the manual and game and a few confusing dialog boxes when actually creating equipment. Players augment weapons and other items by engraving them with Ancient Words, which confer statistical bonuses such as increased attack power and magical attack moves. Engraving words costs Mithril; Mithril is generally found by defeating enemies and cashing in unused equipment. The player can also transform a weapon into any other weapon that has been found in the adventure; this is done to switch to a more powerful weapon type while retaining all the Ancient Words engravings you've accumulated. The weapon system can be difficult to manage, but its effects are easy to see. All the hero's statistics are presented on one status screen, and the purpose of every statistic is clearly delineated.

Record of Lodoss War
Spell selection

   While the status screen is user-friendly, actual combat has a number of irritating control quirks. The auto-map is opened by pressing the R, L, and Start buttons simultaneously; it's easy to trigger the status screen (activated by just Start) instead. Additionally, the auto-map cannot be rotated at all, forcing players to close the map, change the camera, and open it again. While a nuisance, these oversights are not as much of a problem as the unwiedly spell selection mechanism. To choose a new spell, players must hold down the X button until the spell selection menu appears on the sides of the screen, then release it and enter a button sequence corresponding to the spell they want to choose. This needlessly-complex mechanism is far too difficult to handle properly in the heat of the action.

   Switching between items, on the other hand, is a snap: Up to six items can be selected from the status screen to be stored in a bar on the right side of the screen. Using an item is as simple as moving a cursor to the item with the D-pad and hitting the Y button. (Actual movement is controlled with the analog stick.) In another nice touch, healing potion bottles are simply refilled from fountains, eliminating any need to hunt monsters to build up one's potion supply.

   While Record of Lodoss War is certainly centered on monster-fighting, it also has a solid story by the standards of its subgenre. The game picks up the story after the conclusion of the original anime series and manages to do so without seeming tacked-on. Most of the major characters show up, with many of the heroes joining you as temporary computer-controlled allies. The game's excellent translation also has a touch of sly humor that goes a long way in preventing the story from becoming too overblown.

   Compared to other recent titles such as Dark Cloud and Vagrant Story, Record of Lodoss War is lacking in variety and balanced gameplay. Gamers are up to the task of battling through legions of monotonous monsters can still find some entertaing moments, however, and followers of the Lodoss series may want to give the title a look to find out what's happened to their favorite characters.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA
Record of Lodoss War: The Advent of Kardis
Developer Neverland
Publisher Conspiracy Entertainment
Genre Action RPG
Medium GD-ROM (1)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  04.99
Record of Lodoss War North America-bound
6 screenshots
Ad artwork
North American box art