Released shortly after the launch of the Gamecube, FromSoftware’s Lost Kingdoms was a peculiar game that often went unnoticed. Published by Activision exclusively for Nintendo’s console, it starred a strong female protagonist and showcased a dark and gritty atmosphere. I remember renting it, bewildered by its desolate landscapes and unique gameplay.
A Game That Faded Into Obscurity
During its release, the Gamecube boasted a strong lineup of titles like Wave Race: Blue Storm, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II, and Luigi’s Mansion. Super Smash Bros. Melee had already made a splash, with Super Mario Sunshine, Animal Crossing, Star Fox Adventures, and Metroid Prime on the horizon. In such a crowded landscape, Lost Kingdoms failed to stand out.
Now, before you get your hopes up, Lost Kingdoms has nothing to do with the iconic Souls series, despite being developed by FromSoftware. While a few staff members worked on both games, Lost Kingdoms follows a unique premise. It tells the story of a kingdom being consumed by a dark fog, with Princess Katia on a mission to save her father and defeat the encroaching darkness.
Unveiling the Unique Combat System
Where Lost Kingdoms truly shines is in its combat mechanics. Unlike traditional turn-based card games, the battles unfold in real-time. As the player, you wield a deck of up to 30 cards, each with different uses. These cards allow Princess Katia to summon spirits and monsters to aid her in battle. It’s like a more intense version of Pokémon, where turn-based tactics take a backseat.
The three types of cards – weapon, summon, and independent – offer diverse strategies. Weapon cards grant Katia various attacks, summon cards not only give her powerful abilities but also transform her into the represented monster, while independent cards roam around the battlefield, proving to be less effective. Experimentation is key to finding the perfect deck combination.
A Beautifully Imbalanced Adventure
Lost Kingdoms embraces its own unique brand of imbalance. While some cards are incredibly powerful, others may feel useless. However, this imbalance doesn’t detract from the fun; it simply adds an element of unpredictability. Furthermore, the game’s upgrade system allows you to transform cards and gain new abilities, enhancing the strategic depth.
The levels in Lost Kingdoms are varied and captivating, albeit with a desolate atmosphere reminiscent of Demon’s Souls. Exploring the ruins and confronting monsters that have taken hold creates a thrilling experience. However, the game’s camera angle, fixed in an isometric view, may prove frustrating at times, obscuring the beauty of the world.
A Hidden Flaw, Yet Still Worthy
One notable flaw is the inability to replay levels until completing the game. While each level is graded on a five-star scale, missing a secret or a chest means it’s lost forever. Although it might seem like cheating, having the option to revisit levels with overpowered cards could have been a welcome addition. Nevertheless, Lost Kingdoms remains playable and engaging, despite its minor shortcomings.
In summary, Lost Kingdoms stands as a unique gem within the Gamecube library. Its intriguing premise, distinct combat system, and bleak world offer a memorable experience. While the gameplay may be unbalanced and the polish lacking, it’s still worth exploring, especially if you’re seeking exclusives that flew under the radar. Just a word of caution, due to recent events, the game’s price has seen a surge. So, if you’re intrigued, be prepared to invest. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll see a re-release or a King’s Field compilation that we’ve been waiting for. To learn more about captivating fantasy experiences, visit Capturing Fantasy.