"The original Black Matrix was a great game in each of it's forms, whether you played it on Sega Saturn, PSX, Dreamcast, or even on the Gameboy Advance. It wasn't anything revolutionary as far as turn-based strategy RPGs went, but the art style, storyline, characters, and unique setting garnered it attention it probably wouldn't have had otherwise. It's tale of angels vs devils was strongly and violently portrayed with not a single polygon to mar it's beautiful 2D presentation; not one lifeless..."
The original Black Matrix was a great game in each of it's forms, whether you played it on Sega Saturn, PSX, Dreamcast, or even on the Gameboy Advance. It wasn't anything revolutionary as far as turn-based strategy RPGs went, but the art style, storyline, characters, and unique setting garnered it attention it probably wouldn't have had otherwise. It's tale of angels vs devils was strongly and violently portrayed with not a single polygon to mar it's beautiful 2D presentation; not one lifeless, texture mapped triangle to steal any of the life and character from the hand drawn art. The game was as alive as a game can be, and did it all within the confines of a fairly ordinary strategy RPG engine. It had a few minor additions to the genre, but nothing to be of much note, although it played so smoothly and addictively that it could be forgiven for not innovating. It was truly the total package that made it special, from the prelude where you spend 4 seasons hunting, fishing, farming, and doing chores around your house as a stat generator (instead of just assigning numbers), to the first time you spill an angel's blood, to the bitter, painful end of the awesomely F'd up story. This was a game that relied wholey on the complete package to stun you; take away any individual part and it would have been merely pedestrian.
So NEC thought it would be a good idea to strip all that fluff from the sequel.
They took out all the 2D artwork and animation and replaced it with polygons. Not just any polygons mind you, but first-gen Dreamcast looking polygons. They removed the "familiar" you could pick in the first game (from 6 girl demons) and the Harvest Moon style prelude and replaced them with... nothing. They even removed the blood. The BLOOD! The whole game is based on "blood points" instead of experience points and they took out the graphic violence!
To add insult to the already grievous injury, NEC didn't even updated the battle engine, in fact you could even say it's a step backward due to the graphics being so bad. The same exact grid-based gameplay is used here, but with the 3D battle maps you have to constantly rotate the camera to see all your characters since they become hidden behind objects WAY too easily in the badly rendered terrain. Nothing is more frustrating that constantly adjusting the camera because some crappy looking, low-poly, boringly-textured hill is obstructing the view to your equally aesthetically disappointing devil archer.
What we're left with here is a standard, generic strat RPG with nothing to set it apart from all the strat RPGs that have come before, and definitely nothing to make a potential buyer choose it over myriads of other, superior games in the genre.
Even as a die hard fan of 2D games I would have accepted a 3D Black Matrix 2 had it been done well. What NEC gave it's fans though is a total slap in the face, a waste of money, and the death of a potentially incredible series.
Community review by nuts4cowboybutts (June 22, 2005)
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