Izuna 2: The Pandering Returns

Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja wasn't my favorite game of 2007. In fact, it likely wouldn't have made my top ten if I'd bothered assembling such a thing. But I liked it enough to finish it, and it became the only game I reviewed on this site last year. So I have a reflexive interest in the sequel and the way Atlus is promoting it. They let everyone vote on which Izuna poster should be bundled with the game on Amazon.com, and the options shouldn't surprise anyone who remembers the first Izuna's advertising.

I'm not shocked by the shameless courting of base hormonal impulses, since Atlus did the same thing for the first game. I am, however, shocked by the second poster showing what appears to be, at a glance, an erect, flesh-colored phallus emerging from the water around Izuna's crotch.

A closer look reveals that it's just a knee belonging to Shino, the dark-haired girl sitting more daintily in the upper corner. Still, it's a shame that the first poster won the vote, as people who'd hang these on their walls deserve to get weird looks for reasons they never intended.

The Lunar II That Wasn't

Ah, the Lunar games. Perhaps they're now archaic, but the first and best two introduced many a sheltered American kid to the ways of Japanese RPGs, including that honored convention of setting a sequel hundreds of years after the first game. Lunar II did exactly that, and it abandoned most of the original Lunar's characters in the process.

That wasn't always the plan. GameArts' original ideas for Lunar II: Eternal Blue called for the main cast from Lunar: The Silver Star to return, older and perhaps as supporting characters. That's what some early concept illustrations from Softbank's Lunar I and II artbook show, anyway. I've never seen these online anywhere, so I decided to scan them and finally get some use out of the book. I bought it in Japan during the height of my RPG obsession, after giving up on finding the Xenogears art collection.

Alex, the hero, was a kid with a harp and a fur hat in the first game. For the second, he became a lumberjack and grew one hell of a mullet, while his passive love interest, Luna, started wearing makeup.