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Anubis: Zone of the Enders (2003)
I've had this game 3-yrs. now since its NA release in March 10, 2003. I'm quite surprised that there's only one review of this game to be found here on IMDb, so therefore, I am writing an in-depth/spoiler-free review of one of Konami's very prominent videogames entitled, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner (Zone of the Enders: Anubis, in Japanese import)
First and foremost, its obvious that many people would say, Mech Warrior, when the Mech-gaming trivia is questioned, and its sad to say that most of them has not heard of the, Zone of the Enders series. That's not cool...at all. Cause' the Zone of the Enders definitely blows away ANY of those Mech Warrior or Armored Core games. I don't intend to brag here, but let me give you the simple low-downs here.
Gameplay-wise, ZoE is the winner here. Although some would say that comparing ZoE and Mech Warrior is like comparing apples and oranges, and both games do have their own pros and cons concerning the setting of their respective plays, I believe ZoE is better since it allows the player to experience such vast control over the robot, and especially the FREEDOM ZoE has. Although the only thing some people might not like about ZoE is that it doesn't have a multi-player feature like Mech Warrior does. So what if this is only a single-player game? ZoE definitely makes it up for its gameplay, graphics, replay value, and sound/music.
As mentioned above, the overall satisfaction you experience in ZoE: 2nd Runner is the feeling of freedom. Unlike Mech Warrior, you take charge of a gigantic high-speed mech/robot equipped with unique and powerful arsenals (not anything lame you'd find in the Mech Warrior series); some you can gain after you defeat stage bosses. Oh yeah, did I mention that your robot has infinite flight boosters? yup, 99% of the time, you'll fight air-borne instead of fighting on-ground with very slow-paced robots huh. Your Orbital Frame (the robot that you take control of) can dash, burst, fire long-range, and a very powerful-effective saber when in close-ranged battle scenario, and as well as a defensive force shield when there are multiple attackers on your face all at once. And...if you still don't know what a, 'Zero-Shift', does for you in this game, you'll come to an agreement with me that ZoE: 2nd Runner blows away ANY mech games out there. So look out for this sub-weapon the, ZERO-SHIFT. There's A LOT going on in this game (especially when you play in Hard mode) whether you're fighting under water, outer space, inside a mothership; the myriad of enemies incoming and attacking you all at the same time...yet there's no slowdown, none at all.
The graphics and overall visuals of ZoE: 2nd Runner is beautifully designed. the backgrounds, the in-game anime cut-scenes, they're all top-notch on the PS2's graphics processor. the robot designs aren't as stupid-looking like the robots you'll see on Mech Warrior. the Orbital Frames are designed in a vague and orphic way similar to how mechs would be in the realm of anime. the sound/music of ZoE: 2nd Runner is a good recommendation if you like collecting game soundtracks by the way. the battle and drama themes perfectly suits certain situations happening in the game that connects the player to the game's mood. the theme song of the game, "Beyond the Bounds", is a very beautiful-yet-esoteric song with lyrics inscribes what in the hell's been going on in the world of the Zone of the Enders saga. I totally dig the words in this song. I also think that everyone (in real-life) can relate to it, and the song itself could be talking about current events in the world today. The narration and voice-overs are also very good, especially ADA's. (we gotta give, Cynthia Marcucci, our many thanks for doing the part of ADA ^_^')
The story picks up right after where the first Zone of the Enders left. While on a mining mission named, Dingo Egret, accidentally sees a giant-sized storage container, he accidentally awakens a very powerful Orbital Frame (Jehuty) as the brigade of Bahram unit arrives to take it into their custody. Dingo, now fearing that the Bahram organization will come after his friends (who has nothing to do with his inadvertent discovery of Jehuty) if he doesn't stop them. Little does he know, he's really gotten himself into a door with demons from his past coming back to haunt him, and an opportunity to finally set things straight with a former associate...that is if he can manage to stay alive till the end.
Overall, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is a DEFINITE RECOMMENDATION here. it doesn't matter whether you're an anime fan, a mech gamer, or just someone who's looking for a different kind of mech-game, this game IS for you.
Presentation: 8/10 | Story: 7/10 | Gameplay: 10/10 | Graphics/Visuals: 8.5/10 | Audio/Sound: 7.5/10 | Replay value: 8/10 | Overall: 8/10
Yami no matsuei (2000)
Death is not as bad as you think
For those of you looking for a decent bishounen-type anime (boyish/masculine), Yami no Matsuei (Descendant of Darkness) fits just right in. With a grotesque-like storyline and a rather peculiar line-up of characters, Yami no Matsuei redefines the theme of the common anime with cute boys/men as it's frontline of eye-candy for the otaku. You'll also find some yaoi (male love/like) scenarios in there as a vague discretion other than the drama and sometimes short comedic inserts Yami no Matsuei brings.
Yami no Matsuei portrays, Tsuzuki Asato, our protagonist and is the strongest (although he's not aware of that fact...yet) of the Shinigami (Angels of Death), who are an underground organization of Ju-Oh-Cho (govenrmental bureaus) that works on the 'afterlife'. As powerful as they come, even an Angel of Darkness/Death still has some responsibility to do...in the HQ's office administration; doing a batch of paperwork, answering phone calls, and making photocopies, that is if they're not out on a fieldtrip investigating a case.
The animation quality is as vivid as other well-known bishounen anime like Angel Sanctuary, Fushigi Yuugi, or X. There are some pretty bloody scenes in there to satisfy and prove to you that this isn't some lame anime with gay guys (or so that other guy thinks...) in it. And what would Yami no Matsuei be without those jaw-dropping powers the casts has? Yeah, you'll see some ugly (but drawn in a creative way) beasts in there that they (can) summon if called upon. Although the characters are neatly well-created with their straight-forward/stoical personalities and costume/facial designs, there's a lot of labyrinthine interactions going on in there. Mostly it comes and emphasizes in the (their) past, which raises further questions from start to finish as the show progresses, regardless of the yaoi angst it consists of.
+ great story, animation, music, characters, script, and overall composition of an above average bishounen anime. - not for those who are (narrow-minded) not into yaoi-like anime.