After a long wait since its first announcement, “Tears to Tiara II: Descendants of the Conqueror King” was finally released last month. Being a true sequel for the PS3 remake, it doesn’t fail to impress, in many ways…
Hamilcal (or Hamil for short) is the successor of the Hispania’s throne, but his country was conquered by the ever growing Holy Empire (yeah, they’re still around). He and his people are treated as a slaves and Hamil has to pretend to be a fool (acting almost like a retarded) just to discourage his people from doing a counter attack that would surely fail.
A fateful night, he meets a strange girl who claims to be the main goddess of his religion, the war goddess Ashtart (or just Tart). She treated Hamil’s wounds and sang a lullaby to help him sleep. This was certainly the happiest day of Hamil’s life, but everything crumbled when messages from the empire interrupted their sacred festival to officially announce the slavery of the Hispania’s people, and as a symbolic act, they decided to sacrifice Tart for heresy against their supreme god Watos.
This made Hamil go into a rampage, summoning the forces of the god of Conquest Merkato and releasing all the magic he have been building up for 7 years to assassinate a whole army by himself. However, Hamil failed to notice that Tart was set on fire by one of the empire’s guard, and he desperately jumped into the flames to rescue her. Deeply moved by Hamil’s bravery, every Hispanian in the festival started to root for him and their savior goddess, their restored faith revitalizing Tart’s power, saving her from the flames. Rejoining with Hamil while still inside the flames, they performed the sacred ritual of marriage between a goddess and a mortal to use the power from their magical resonance to summon an army of giant elephants and machines from the Heavens and, with it, they smashed many other Imperial troops. Taking advantage of the situation, Hamil ordered every Hispanian troop to attack. This was how he came to be known as the Conqueror King and how he retrieved his whole country in a single night.
Hamil is a very likeable hero, he starts off as a EMO who thinks he is better dead if this makes his people happy, but Tart fix this soon enough. As the Conqueror King he is very determined, and intelligent. He will direct his fury not only at his enemies, but even to his most trusted friends if they dare to go against his orders. He is also a very unique main character because, while he claims to be a hero fighting for the good of his people, he is always laughing like a maniac when he “punishes” the Imperial trash. I have not seen this since Dark Schneider from Bastard!! I also admire how he doesn’t hesitate to admit his love for Tart, being very different from those indecisive protagonists.
I would love to say that Tart is not just another damsel in distress, but she unfortunately ends up being rescued by Hamil two times during the game. Nevertheless, she is still a great heroine! She is energetic, smart and very brave but also very caring, specially with Hamil around.
Diogenes (or Dion) is Hamil’s best friend and a big coward (at the same fashion as Usopp from One Piece). However, it’s later revealed he treasures all his friend’s lives as much as his own. This is first showed when he puts himself in danger to protect his mother, but who wouldn’t? She is such a MILF!
Monomachus is a yet another character based on the legendary Musashibou Benkei (like White Beard from One Piece), and much like the source, he is a war veteran from the past generation who was lost but found new meaning to his life by serving a new young master. He is also a giant who wields an even bigger lance. One of the best characters in battle!
Like most Strategy RPG out there, you party is HUGE, so it would take too long to talk about every character in the game, but I want to make clear that every character is great! They not only are very charismatic but they all got interesting stories and personalities (even better than most characters from the original game). Some are very unique for a Japanese game. Like a certain “bishounen” who is dressed like a maid to serve a rich girl, so you would think that his work has something to do with his condition, but no! He is just plain gay and is not afraid to admit it.The only problem is, once a character introductory chapter is finished, he doesn’t do much later and just stays there during major events. The only ones who are still very active and significant until the end are the ones I introduced above.
Like the previous game, this one also has a master and apprentice element, as well as a much more significant love story than its predecessor. Something that is done much better here is the Hamil’s role as a king, because different from Arthur, he is respected by his people (it also helps that he is the primary protagonist here). Hamil is also a strategy genius, and you actually see his strategies in action, and they make sense! One of the main quality points in the plot is how you are able to perceive that the characters are truly as intelligent as they claim to be, and not just an arrogant asshole who is just trying really hard to sound smart.
Different from the first game is the fact that Hamil does not have a Harem. Therefore, there are little distractions in the game, which means there are no daily life events with romantic comedy, thus, the plot is always moving forward.
The game succeed at better establishing the world’s culture and economy, and I love those details. Like how Hamil’s school works in a way that would totally make sense with their conditions, and not just a copy-paste of the Japanese school (If you think no one would ever do that because this is a fictional world, then play Sen no Kiseki and think again!).
It’s also very important to note that this game has VERY LONG event scenes, with some going for over 3 hours (This is no exaggeration! I checked it!). It easily dethrone Metal Gear Solid 4 as the game with the longest cut-scene. I think that Aquaplus is not yet used to do games other than visual novels.
Nothing was modified since the last game, but there are some additions, like the system that lets you ride animals, something very similar to Disgaea D2’s feature, but much less useful. Together with it, there is a system to tame monsters, but as I just said before, it’s not worth the pain. There is a chariot where you can change characters during battles, which is (again) similar to Disgaea’s summoning circle, but the chariot is pulled by an elephant, so you don’t need to return to your start point to use it.
You can also freely go back a lot of turns. I think the max is 20 turns, but it’s hard for a battle to take so long. However, be aware that, once a result is given, it is written on stone, so repeating an attack that missed its target until it hits will not work, unless you do something to change your hit percentage!
Something very sad about this game is how it forces you to grind. Here it becomes more of a necessity, as the enemies’ levels and equipment get much better than yours from battle to battle. Fortunately, there are some cheap ways to level-up really fast, but it’s not like this make-up for the grind problem.
There is a strong belief amoung J-Gamers about graphics being not so important to a game as long as it has a good gameplay and a decent story, and this game got both done right! However, it is sad to look at it and feel the limit to this belief, as this game has certainly the worst graphics on the PS3 library. Sting has recently become involved with Aquaplus, so they are not responsible for the first game (which, as far as I know, was an Aquaplus-only creation), even so, I am not sure why they could not reuse the same engine from the previous game, as it was infinitely superior. “But how this can be the ugliest PS3 game with Disgaea 3 around” you could ask. There is a good reason for this: Sting was responsible for the very first Dreamcast RPG called “Evolution”, which had shit graphics even for Dreamcast standards. TtT2 graphics are pretty much identical to the ones from Evolution (it could even be the same engine updated), while Disgaea 3 had PSOne-level graphics, but those were high-quality PSOne graphics, so they were much more decent than the ones found here. It reaches a point where the bad graphics get in the way of the narrative, since many actions during events are represented by those ugly SD models, but many times it’s hard to tell what they were suppose to be doing!
I love the music in this game! While most tunes are recycled or arranged from the first title, there are many new ones just as good as the original soundtrack. There are a lot of vocal tunes that play during important events and help to make everything more epic! There is also this BGM which makes me remember of Reading Rainbow’s theme song every time I heard it!
The voice acting is fantastic as most Japanese games. Rie Kugimiya still a goddess amoung seiyuus and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu’s Hamil makes me feel sorry for him when he screams in pain during the torture scene, but he can also be very scary when he gets excited during battles.
The only exception for this is the extra cast, who goes from terrible to laughable…
So this game events really happens after the Tears To Tiara fan-disk, and even has some cameos. What happens here is that Arawn and his crew were responsible to defeat the white spirit who was influencing the Empire, while Hamil and his fellows had just to go to the Empire capital and pretty much defeat everyone there. It’s a much longer journey than Arawn’s, but if you are able to withstand the terrible graphics, this quest has a very satisfactory end!
Aquaplus’s made a fantastic job here! Story, setting, characters, music, CGs…Everything they were responsible for was made with excellence! That’s why I would love if they could cut all their ties with Sting for their next RPG (probably Utawarerumono 2) as they deserve better. They should go after a better company (and while we are at it, the team behind Dept. Heaven too!) But, unfortunately, I know this is a much more complicated matter…