Rolan's Curse 2 / American Sammy Corp.
Genre Action RPG
Features GameBoy
Reviewer Dreamfire
If you were to turn on and start playing a saved Rolan's Curse 2 game, it might seem like an average Action/RPG. You move a character through different quest areas, seeking evil bosses to defeat, find items that up your hitpoints and abilities, and eventually have the big battle with the evil baddie
that's been trying to take over your world. Sounds a lot like Zelda, the first Rolan's Curse game, or hundreds of other Action/RPG's, eh?

But wait, something's seems different! If you go into the menu screens, you'll see that you have four members in your party. A warrior with limited magic, a dagger-throwing rogue with ways of getting into inaccessible areas, a cleric, and a mage. A classic turn-based RPG group of heroes. But only one hero can battle at a time…

Rolan's Curse 2 is an odd hybrid RPG. It's not a one-of-a-kind though. Back in 1988, TSR released a computer game called Heroes of the Lance. It was followed a year later by another game called Dragons of Flame. Both featured a classic group of adventurers, but with a single character moving across the screen to do combat with the baddies. You could switch between them, but only one could fight at a time. Heroes of the Lance was also released around 1990 as an NES RPG, apparently the first of the Advanced Dungeon and Dragon games to be converted into a console RPG. Rolan's Curse 2 came out in 1992, and may have been inspired by Heroes of the Lance.

Rolan's Curse 2 is an Action/RPG. It is a real-time time game. (You can pause the game by going into the inventory and character screens.) You start the game with one character, the hero who's destined to free the world from the evil King Barious. Throughout the game, you will meet 7 more adventurers who will offer to join you. As you can have only 4 members in your party at one time, you will need to choose carefully which characters you want in your group. (When a new member joins and you already have four in your party, you are told to choose which member is replaced. You can go back anytime to each of the 7 characters and ask him or her to rejoin.) Because of the wide variety of character types you can have in your party, Rolan's Curse 2 can play differently each time. A group with lots of mages will do more spell casting and long-range fighting. While a group with all fighters and warriors will do a lot more close-up "swing your weapon" battling…

The gameplay is similar to other Action/RPG's like Zelda and Final Fantasty Adventure / Mystic Quest. The quest areas are more maze-like though, and you may want to draw maps of some of the more complex areas. The enemies have excellent AI (artificial intelligence), and a variety of different styles of attack. Most will home in on you and try to take you out. Learning the startegies to defeat them is one of the biggest challenges of the game. Only three of the Boss Fights are real rough. The rest are kindof static, as the bosses in most of the fights don't move around much. While the Boss fights should have been improved a lot, they are a rather small part of the game. Most of the game is exploration and learning startegies to battle the enemies that abound.

Your characters don't gain experience and go up levels. Instead there are experience chests for each character in the areas between towns and in the quest areas. The chests are all experience chests that increase one hero's level by one. If you open a chest (by walking over it), and there is a small potion in it, then the character the chest is for isn't in your party. The chest will keep resetting each time you re-enter the area until you have the character in your group and rewalk over the picture of the character that appears.

On the first play, Rolan's Curse 2 can seem difficult. Because of the maze-like quality of many areas of the game, it can be difficult to find all the experience chests. Some of the enemies can be quite brutal and relentless in their attacks. (I am particularly unfond of the crows, as they keep multiplying no matter how many you take out..) But there are strategies you can use to defeat or avoid each enemy, and if you make a note anytime you find an experience chest that leaves a potion, you will be able to return later with other heroes to that area. (Note: One of the most powerful adventurers that you get later in the game has experience chests in the very early parts of the game, so it is vital you go back to all those unopened experience chests each time you get a new member in your party) And you don't have to fight every boss. The only ones you have to fight are the final boss and the border guards. These bosses must be defeated before you can go further into the game. (Some heroes are actually better if you don't finish their quests. Jude and Pitt are good examples of this. And Lane's 1/2 shield spell can be very handy throughout the game if you choose to keep it.) Also, if you don't explore the entire area of the world accessible to you before you do any major boss fights, you may have some heroes who's levels are too low to survive. So find all of the experience chests you can before you tackle the bosses!
Verdict Rolan's Curse 2 is an excellent Action/RPG. It is still one of my absolute favorite gameboy games. There is plenty of exploration, lots of challenging enemies, and a wide variety of characters you can have in your party. With the exception of three very challenging ones, the Boss Fights are a real letdown though. So if you are looking for a game with lots of complex and challenging boss fights, you may be dissapointed. In my opinion, the enemies that abound in the rest of the game more than make up for the wimpy bosses though. And because of the many different types of party members you can have in your group, the game can play differently each time. This game can be difficult to find, but is well worth buying when you do locate a copy.