Ah, sequels. You gotta love them. Well OK, if not the execution then at least the idea of what a good sequel should be. After all, no matter how bad a sequel might turn out, at least we’ll always have the original. But in some cases, the sequel is vastly superior. Lennus II is the little known sequel to Paladin’s Quest (known as Lennus in Japan). Paladin’s Quest had much potential but fell short in a few key areas. Lennus II is definitely an upgrade in many ways. It’s everything the original should have been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not in the elite class of top flight SNES RPGs, but it more than holds its own. There’s also a charm to it being so obscure and the game itself being very weird in general. It’s got that Japanese flare to it and if you thought Paladin’s Quest was a bit off the beaten path, you haven’t seen anything yet…
THE FIRST LENNUS — PALADIN’S QUEST
My previous review was for Paladin’s Quest, the prequel to Lennus II. It is a flawed RPG but there was some merit to it. Namely the mercenary system, its unique usage of magic skills and a bizarre dystopian universe. Unfortunately, the battles were a bit plodding, the control awkward, and character development lacking. A sequel was released (in Japan only) during the summer of 1996 under the name of Lennus II. It basically takes everything intriguing about the original and improves upon it. If you liked Paladin’s Quest then you’ll likely dig the sequel. A fair warning: the following review contains a ton of (late) in-game shots. While I don’t necessarily reveal any major spoilers, you may want to finish Lennus II before reading the rest of this review. But if you don’t mind, by all means read on… ^_^
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
Lennus II opens up rather auspiciously. Our hero is awakened in a strange cryptic world and is being heralded by the locals as some sort of SAVIOR. Everyone is counting on you to retrieve four hidden treasures. This must be done in order to unlock the “Great Union.” Hmmm…
It truly does. Whereas most RPGs you can only save when finding an inn or even select save points in a long dungeon, Lennus II allows you to save anywhere at any time. So you really can play this game for 15 minutes before bed and not have to worry about finding an inn. It’s not only convenient — it’s super inviting, too.
The bosses are much improved for the sequel. They’re bigger, badder and much more satisfying to kill. Just seeing their sprites on the map is quite a sight to behold. Whereas I had some complaints about the boss battles from the first game, I have none here. Copya Systems definitely made up for the first game’s boss shortcomings.
Part of the fun of playing RPGs is interacting with all the quirky non-playing characters. Of which Lennus II has in no short supply. The fan translation is a joy to read and made me want to push on to see what weird new NPCs I might run into next…
“You did it Steve!”
“Of course. Now what?”
“Place each one in its proper slot, and see”
“You promise nothing bad will happen?”
“Oh but of course…”
Told you there was something fishy about this fetch quest farce. You knew the game couldn’t end after securing the four artifacts. In fact, it is only just beginning.
Part of the fun lies in deciding which mercenaries to recruit. Some are better than others in certain areas. Who will you pick and invest in? Who will you let go of? Character development is still a little thin but it is better than Paladin’s Quest.
After securing the four artifacts and unleashing the Great Union, it’s up to you to right your wrong by collecting seven seals. It’s not called Lennus II: The Apostles of the Seals for nothing.
In the spring of 2013, I played the Blind Man in a major Easter musical. 10,000+ people came to watch our show over the course of two weekends. I minored in Theatre Arts in college so acting has always been something I’ve enjoyed. It was a great experience and a blast to get healed by Jesus every night. After which, I’d run around the stage screaming “I CAN SEE! I CAN SEE!” So when I came across this scene in Lennus II, you bet your ass it brought back fond memories!
I don’t know about you but where I live libraries are reducing hours drastically. Book stores are rapidly becoming rare. There’s even talk that one day libraries might even cease to exist. What a shame that would be. It’s bad enough that Toys R Us are going out of business, but libraries? That better NEVER happen. I’ll be damned should that day ever come! *shakes fist* My childhood was built on library and book store visits. And I want my future children to experience the same joys I did when I was a kid.
It makes me chuckle when I think about how I used to blindly detest RPGs back in the ’90s. It wasn’t until 2003 that my mindset toward RPGs did a complete 180. All the credit goes to the epochal Sega Saturn Magazine (the best gaming magazine of all time in my humble opinion). SSM championed the RPG genre like no other, and their overwhelming passion quickly won me over as I read through their issues. Glad I got over my youthful ignorance. 15 years, eh? Here’s to another 15 years!
I love archiving and always recommend the like-minded to keep some sort of log. It pays to keep a record of things. And games like this are perfect for keeping a list of notes on.
This scene reminds me of Black Friday. One of my favorite gaming memories was Black Friday 2010. Having partaken in the fiasco the year before, I decided to ditch the festivities in 2010. Rather than shopping with my cousins and wading through the masses, I went home to begin my trek through Terranigma. A most glorious evening, to say the least
It’s a flashback to the first game’s most difficult section. This version, however, is thankfully a cakewalk. Whew.
Another thing I appreciate about Lennus II is that stat increments across the board are shown when leveling up. Not all RPGs do this and it’s always annoying when that’s the case.
Lennus II does a splendid job of referencing back to Paladin’s Quest from time to time. It isn’t necessary to play through Paladin’s Quest first, though it doesn’t hurt if you want to know the entire backstory.
Lennus II continues the unique looking visuals from the first game. But now they’re significantly improved from the 8-bit looking predecessor. Speaking of which, did you know Paladin’s Quest originally started as a Game Boy game? But due to the rising popularity of the SNES in 1992, the Game Boy vision went up in flames. Although the visuals of Lennus II aren’t up to par with some of the RPGs that came before, they get the job done. I like this part in particular. The clouds zoom by in the background at a breakneck speed, creating a nice atmospheric scene.
I don’t know about you but I tend to have OCD when it comes to RPGs. I must explore every last nook and cranny so as not to miss any key items. It irks me when there are multiple routes and I happen to select the one that leads to a boss. And there goes my chance of finding any treasure! There’s nothing better than finding treasure on your first try when there are multiple routes.
Shades of the Runaway Five from EarthBound! Lennus II features its own musical group and it’s up to you to locate their five missing instruments. Nothing bad happens should you fail to secure them all. It’s just a silly little side quest for the OCD gamers out there, like myself!
I like the overworld map. Your hero looks a lot like a SD (Super Deformed) character. Later in the game you can move around the map by riding that funky looking animal there, or via airship.
I love when RPGs hit close to home with comments like this. They are thought-provoking and it’s always gratifying when a game makes you ponder for a moment about life itself.
Enter the theatre and bear witness to a masterful montage of Lennus’ history. Moments like this helps to sweep you away to a far away land of awe and wonder.
This cave is pretty rough. Those annoying blue blobs follow you around like a lost puppy. You’ll have to fight them if enough flies follow. Sure they look small and weak on their own, but they’re a sight for sore eyes when they combine together to form one huge blue blob of destruction.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Lennus II was never officially released in North America due to the simple fact that Paladin’s Quest didn’t exactly set the SNES world on fire. Also, the 16-bit era was all but dead by the summer of 1996. An English translation would have pushed a potential release date into late ’96 and there was no chance in hell of that even being considered. Lennus II is fairly obscure and not often talked about. After scouring the net for information on this game, I can count the total number of Lennus II reviews on one hand. But here are some of the comments I managed to dig up: “Truly fantastic” and “One of the best sequels ever.” While I wouldn’t go so far, Lennus II is definitely a solid and worthy sequel.
Lennus II is a sensible example of how to do a sequel right. The first game had potential but ultimately fell short in several categories. The sequel improves on every aspect while continuing the storyline and unique artistic style of Paladin’s Quest. It’s just simply a competent RPG in every respect. It doesn’t do any one thing in particular to knock your socks off, but it does it all in a quietly satisfying manner. Visually, it’s much improved over the first game. That’s to be expected though since Lennus II came out nearly four years following Paladin’s Quest. If you compare Lennus II to other SNES RPGs that came out around the same time or even a little before, it is admittedly a bit visually lacking by comparison. But it still gets the job done. The music is pretty good. It’s very ambient, which helps to set a striking mood. Most importantly though, the game plays much better than the first one did. It flows better than Paladin’s Quest. Movement is a lot smoother as are the battles. Those were two parts that hampered the first game big time. Thankfully, Copya Systems got it right second time around.
So what stops Lennus II from being great? Similar to the first game, the characters never feel fully fleshed out. The mercenaries come and go, some with very minimal development. Also, as with the first one, I felt the last third of the game started to dragged a bit. It took me 46 and a half hours to beat. I definitely took my sweet time, but it’s on the longer side when talking about RPG length from that era. On the bright side, the translation is entertaining as hell and there are plenty of fun NPCs to interact with. In addition, there’s the occasional side quest thrown into the mix to keep things relatively fresh, like building your own house. This was 20+ years before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did it — in your face, Link! There are some truly memorable moments to witness such as Jubal’s sordid fate. I loved all the references to Paladin’s Quest, especially anything involving Midia. I had fun collecting all the various spells and building them up in strength. When you beat the game and finally save Andel, you’re treated to a nice long 15 minute ending. You travel the world of Andel to catch up with several characters you’ve met along the way. These interactions run the gamut, ranging from silly and amusing to thought-provoking and poignant. It’s easily one of the best endings I’ve ever seen in a Super Nintendo game. Lennus II is a fun, simple and quirky RPG that does most things competently but not any one thing really well. If you’re an RPG buff (especially of the 16-bit era), Lennus II is worthy of a playthrough.
Lennus II is full of religious overtones. Also expect the following: big ugly bosses, magic spells galore, sacrifices, deceit, exploitation and dear old friends, among others. Not to mention the brilliant feature of being able to save your game at ANY point at ANY time. This means you won’t need to locate a blasted inn or statue to save. You can even save anywhere inside a dungeon for goodness sake! You’re in control of how long you play rather than being “held hostage” to locate the next save point. The save anywhere anytime system will spoil your ass as much as it will make you wish every other RPG did it too. In an ever increasing world of adult duties and less time to game, it’s really cool because you can play Lennus II in small 15 minute chunks each night before going to bed. So strap on your healing boots and explore the bizarre dystopian world of Andel… if you dare.