Atlus, developer/publisher of many Japanese games, has become beloved among RPG fans for helping to create some of the best, most unique, and hardest to find games out there, including the cult classic Disgaea. Then again, Atlus is also responsible for some major let downs, such as the highly anticipated, but decidedly mediocre Riviera: The Promised Land.
The latest entry out of Atlus is Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, developed by Success and Ninja Studio. Advertising itself on its box as a game in the style of an old-school dungeon RPG, Izuna does capture some of that old-school essence, but does it live up to the Atlus name that so many RPG fans love? For the most part, the answer is yes.
Izuna and her friends — Shino, Gen-An (a.k.a. â€śGrandbossâ€ť) and Mitsumoto — have just lost their jobs as ninjas in the city, so theyâ€™ve got to find a new place to live. They come upon Kamiari village, which they decide to make their home. After going on a quick tour, Izuna is told to go find Gen-An, and heads off in search. Eventually, she gets to the villageâ€™s shrine, where she spots a beautiful gem, and Izuna decides to snatch it for herself. This is generally not a good idea, as it usually leads to some kind of retribution.
Right on schedule, Izunaâ€™s actions anger the six gods protecting the village, and somebodyâ€™s got to pay for it. The gods curse the village and everyone in it, causing them to act strange. That is, except for Izuna, oddly enough. Realizing the trouble sheâ€™s caused, Izuna sets off, determined to kick the godsâ€™ butts and restore everyone to their old selves.
The game has several features that are unique to it. For example, Izuna is perhaps the first game Iâ€™ve seen where you can recover HP simply by skipping in place or running. No, Iâ€™m not making that up. Itâ€™s a nice and necessary feature, though, because youâ€™ll be fending off a lot of enemies as you make your way deeper and deeper into the dungeons.
The gameâ€™s dominant feature, and the one advertised the most, is that Izuna randomly generates the dungeon layout each time you begin one. This includes which items and enemies are on each floor, where the traps and stairs are placed, and of course, how each floor is laid out. While itâ€™s nothing new to video games to include a generator like this, Atlus has done a good job in ensuring that weâ€™re not just seeing a set of 20 or so different designs repeated over and over again.