I still know what you dug last summer.
Another welcome announcement from the Tokyo Game Show files, another quirky NIS America game, another goofy, unwieldy, hyper-punctuated title: What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? 2 (originally, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! 2: Time to Tighten Up Security!) is the direct sequel to last year's Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? (which is now What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord?). It's a little stranger and considerable bigger than its predecessor and promises a pretty solid incentive/bonus for those who purchase it.
[image1]The original title was an oddball PSP strategy/sim outing—originally a 2007 release in Japan, under the title Yuusha no Kuse Ni Namaikida (“For a Hero, You Are Quite Cheeky/Impudent”). In this deliberately retro-styled hybrid game, players oversee the excavation and maintenance of their own custom dungeon, viewed in a Dig Dug-esque, subterranean cross-section. The goal is to give your dungeon its own monster-populated 'ecosystem' that can self-sustain and survive the occasional incursion by human heroes from the surface who are bent on invading your domain and kidnapping your all-important Overlord.
Control is largely handled via the d-pad and a single button. The former moves your God of Destruction pickaxe about the screen's underground environs, and the latter, when pressed, demolishes any subterranean blocks with one or more exposed sides. Each such removal lowers your available power level—when the power level bottoms out, that's it for chipping away at blocks.
Soon, you'll have a suitable dungeon-master's estate of corridors and cul-de-sacs. Depending upon the type of earth-block you've just destroyed, you can release creatures that will protect your newly-excavated dungeon, by wandering, eating, reproducing, and autonomously killing off any nuisance heroes that may wander down into the depths of your underground lair.
Once you've created a suitable subterranean dungeon, it's time to await your uninvited Hero guests. Heroes from the surface enter the freshly-dug labyrinth, and it's your job to take your Overlord and tuck him away in a the safest, most removed place you can find somewhere within the sprawl of your corridors. Heroes will wander available paths through the maze, battling any monsters they come across; if they're lucky enough to stumble across your Overlord, they'll capture him and try to drag him to the surface, retracing the same path taken to reach the Overlord.
[image2]It's the same deal with the ecosystem: When you carve out the passages of your dungeon, you'll hit soil blocks filled with either nutrients or magical mana. These soil-blocks sustain the early mosses and slimes that will eventually, communally evolve into a balanced food-chain supporting a (hopefully) thriving ecosystem. Each category of creature has specific behaviors, life-spans and dietary requirements—in fact, each creature sports its own sad little life-bar, which slowly depletes until they take a bite out of the next-lowest rung of the Circle of Life ladder. With any luck, that self-sustaining ecosystem of monsters that has been fruitful and multiplying in your dank tunnels will make it difficult—or impossible—for the surface-dwelling, Overlord-napping interlopers to return to the surface. My Lord 2 operates on these same basic mechanics, but adds some new elements.
For starters, there are five entire new continents to take over. even on the bird's-eye overworld map, the continents appear just as retro and '80s-arcade blocky as the dungeon creatures themselves (a nice touch). This translates to about four times the game-world offered in the original game. Not too shabby.
Next, My Lord 2 offers 3.3 times the number of monsters in the original game... and those monsters now have some disturbingly-useful behaviors to keep an aspiring God of Destruction on his infernal toes. The monstrous denizens of your subterranean lair can suddenly and radically mutate, changing their sizes, physical forms (a simple, compact crawler can accordion out into a huge caterpillar-like version of itself), behaviors, and strengths. The three modes of mutation include Deformity, Gigantism, and Obesity. To see some of this evolutionary wrongness is action, you can check out this video.
Another addition to the new game is the inclusion of the Overlord's Chamber. In this mode, players can grow their monsters and observe the change and mutations they can undergo, in a laboratory separate from the real-time pressures of the main game challenges. And of course, there's a full training mode for those who initially don't know what the hell they're doing; at last count, this includes anybody who picks up the game for the first time.
[image3]And of course, the patented NIS America brand of humor and general weirdness from the original digging-intensive game is back in—so sorry!—spades. This includes the occasional onscreen intrusion of pop-in captions, similar to those found on video-sharing websites.
There are 8 areas in My Lord 2, for a total of 40 stages, and we haven't even gotten to the cool bonus I mentioned earlier. Few, if any other, game companies come to mind that so consistently indulge their loyal fans like NIS America does, and My Lord 2 aims to carry that proud reputation forward—by the free inclusion of the complete original title with the purchase of My Lord 2. If you missed the weird-ass, hard-as-hell, retro-styled boat that arrived the first time around, consider yourself covered.
What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? 2 is slated to ship in February 2010. Is it still bang-your-head unforgiving, or has the sheer strangeness overshadowed even that? We'll leave some helpful markings in the soil when we give the retro chunkiness our full review.