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Review:Ends of the Earth 2

Ends of the Earth 2 is the sequel to one of the most well known games in OHR history. It was received with much praise for its time, most likely because it was a complete game. “Good”, complete games were quite rare back in those days. Valkayree Productions had a way of getting his products out into the public, which led to tens to hundreds of thousands of downloads of both products combined. It is safe to say that the Ends of the Earth series likely touched more people than any other game in OHR history.

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Other than its obvious marketing success, what does the game itself have to offer? For its time, the game had incredible graphics, decent gameplay, tons of secret items and characters, as well as an okay story. Times have changed though, and with that, so has the general standards of a “good” OHR game. Was Ends of the Earth 2 a worthy sequel, and how well does it fare against current OHR standards?

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For those who have played Ends of the Earth, this one takes place almost 1000 years in the future. There have been rumors of a prophecy that foretells that in the year of Nax (apparently the period that the game takes place in), five wizards will unite to resurrect the demon inside Caramawn, who was vanquished by Centaurus and his cohorts almost 1000 years ago. The prophecy also speaks of one that will rise and overcome the wizards and prevent the summoning, thus restoring harmony in the world.

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Besides the initial dialogue, there is not much to the story. Townspeople generally don’t have anything useful to say, except for a few that can point out some secret areas and items for you. In fact, one town has three people that say the exact same thing. I guess this could somewhat be acceptable if the town was gigantic, but honestly, it is a small village with just a few shops and homes. I guess I just expected more than that given the length of the game. Things like this really make it feel like some aspects of the game were rushed and not worked on very much.

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Character development is also nonexistent. Ends of the Earth 2 boasts over ten playable characters, each with unique abilities and statistics. However, they all suffer from not having much…well, “character” to them. Even our main hero, Atoch, is underdeveloped and plain. He sounds a bit concerned about the task fate has handed him during the introduction, but never complains thereafter. Because of that, dialogue responsible for story progression is generally weak. If anything is said, it is typically something like, “Hey! Let’s kill that wizard! Hey! Let’s move on to the next village! Alright!” Again, dialogue like that really killed any sort of emotion that might have developed as the story went along. You would think if the Earth was actually ending that most townspeople, and even the protagonists, would show a little more concern with the state of the world. Much like the first game, EOTE2 ends abruptly, and promises “to be continued” in another game.

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Back in its day, Ends of the Earth 2 was considered groundbreaking in terms of graphics, and a few pieces are still quite acceptable even today. The only thing that annoys me a bit is the fact that a decent amount of the graphics were ripped, most notably from Final Fantasy V. The castle at the beginning is breathtaking, but besides arranging the colors and minor edits, it was not Valkayree Production’s work. The Gohran village towards the middle of the game also appears to be ripped, although I am not sure of the source, and some of the world map graphics smell a bit fishy. The majority of the walkabouts have an extreme resemblance to Final Fantasy V’s, but I suppose they are unique enough to not be considered a rip.

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Laying the rips aside, the rest of the graphics ranged from decent to great. Battle graphics were generally well done, especially some of the enemy sprites. The battle backdrops have a nice “zoomed in” style to them, which was later adopted by many games. Some of them do seem a bit strange though due to poor imports and colorization. The maps look fine but are much less exciting when compared to the battle graphics. With or without the ripped graphics, the game seems to have improved cosmetically over Ends of the Earth.

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The entire score was supposedly done by Kain, the same person who did most of the music in the first game. This is a bit misleading, as many of the game’s tunes, such as the general town theme and both the random battle and victory music were compositions from Aaron Walz. Despite popular belief, Aaron Walz is NOT Kain! Regardless, the soundtrack is a huge improvement overall over the first game.

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Like its predecessor, Ends of the Earth 2 was fairly easy. There were only a few instances where battles presented a challenge (Muriel’s Castle comes to mind, as well as the final map), but most were quick and painless. Melee heroes generally trumped the magic users in terms of use. There are some extremely powerful magical attacks in the game, but because of their extremely limited availabilty, you are better off using melee heroes, such as Tronas, instead. On the other hand, skill masters, such as Tronas, should have not been as powerful as they were. Your skill points or “magic points” go down as you equip better gear, but not enough to effect skill masters at all. When Tronas can wear the best weapons and armor in the game and still do Tri-Pummel, an insanely powerful attack, 60 times, there is something very wrong. Increasing the penalty of wearing items would have helped balance melee-oriented heroes with the magic users.

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I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the Unicorn enemies that you could encounter did not give you any experience or money upon defeating them. I suppose this would have been okay if you were forced to fight them, but you were free to run from them at any time. Also, at the beginning of the game, you can receive Ertac’s staff as many times as you would like, even though it really doesn’t make sense to do so.

Gaining currency was never an issue either, even towards the end of the game when you have access to the rare items shop. Participating in random encounters in that area netted you enough cash in just a few fights to buy the best equipment the game had to offer. I feel like a “rare” item should take either a crap load of money or time to obtain. Unfortunately, Ends of the Earth 2 failed to do this in both ways.

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With that being said, I think that Ends of the Earth 2 has always been nothing more than a mediocre game. Yes, it did have a few strong points, but I think the bad outweighed the good in the end. Only spanning a couple of hours, the story and dialogue seemed rushed. Because of the length of the game, I think Valkayree Productions could have spent a bit more time making original graphics rather than ripping from other sources. Many people anticipated the released of Ends of the Earth 3, but looking back on it now, I am glad that it never came to pass. If the first sequel in the series had this many issues, then the second one would have likely been much worse. The only thing this game really has going for it is the fact that it is indeed a complete game and will offer some enjoyment to those willing to play it.