PlayStation Portable has received few original properties since its launch well over a year ago; instead, its library is peppered with ports and extensions of well-known franchises. Konami has been among the very few publishers attempting to create totally new games for the handheld, one of which was Rengoku: The Tower of Purgatory. While not a spectacular as one would hope, it did kick start a new series of action games on the fledgling portable that continues with its new sequel. Rengoku II: Stairway to H.E.A.V.E.N. extends the frenzied action of the original with loads of new weapons, a set of new levels, and online features. As a sequel, however, Rengoku II: Stairway to H.E.A.V.E.N. remains too close to the design of the original with gameplay that falls short of expectations.
Rengoku II puts you in the role of a powerful battle android imprisoned in a tower at the conclusion of a massive war between humans. Now, you’re forced to combat other androids in a never-ending battle. Through the course of seven levels, each a floor in the tower themed according to the seven deadly sins, you’ll confront a host of competing androids vying for supremacy. At the end of each level, you’ll face a boss and unlock a bit of the game’s incomprehensible plot. Know that Rengoku II is intended as an action distraction; that is, pick up the game to hack through a bunch of enemies, but don’t expect a compelling story or innovative combat system.
Defeating your android enemies rewards you with elixir skin and new weapons to equip on your body; additionally, you connect via WiFi to download new items or trade them with other players locally. Elixir skin is a type of experience that enables you to increase your hit points, attack, and defense values, as well as add additional equipment slots to your body. As an android, weapons and items are actually equipped as part of the body; therefore, you can load up five body parts with equipment: head, torso, right arm, left arm, and legs. Adding more slots enables you to equip multiple weapons which serve as auxiliaries should your primary weapons run out of uses. Rengoku II offers a generous amount of freedom in customizing your character both in terms of equipment, but in how you develop its attributes. In this aspect, the game surpasses others in the genre by placing control of character development in your hands.
Unfortunately, the time needed to upgrade your android exceeds the amount of time you’ll actually want to invest in the game. While the customization options are robust, the action is repetitive and levels are mediocre. Supposedly each level is themed according to one of the seven deadly sins, but it is nearly impossible to decipher the themes. Levels look pretty similar, differing only in their color. The enemies that populate each floor of the tower are all alike, different only in their combat skill as you ascend the tower. As a result, it feels like you’re facing the same enemies in the same environments repeatedly. You can join up wirelessly with up to three other players, which does improve the experience, but only because of the competitive spirit inherent in live multiplayer matches. Combat consists of mashing the four face buttons, so there’s little variety to be had there either.
Rengoku II: Stairway to H.E.A.V.E.N. is mediocre hack fest that can fulfill an earnest desire to visit the virtual battlefield. Despite its good looks and wealth of customization options, Rengoku II: Stairway to H.E.A.V.E.N. offers little variety, modest action, and few reasons for purchase.
- Overall: 6
- Generally not a terrible game, but it grows tedious all too quickly..
– Tracy Erickson