My review of Otogi 2 is now up at PopMatters. What amazes me most about this game — when I can stop staring at its prettiness — is the way in which they improved by leaps and bounds over the first game without actually fixing any of its flaws.

The controls are still as floaty as ever. In the first game, this tended to leave you at a great disadvantage against enemies as you flailed about trying to touch the ground. In Otogi 2, however, this floatiness is transformed into an advantage thanks to changes not in the controls, but in the level design. More topographic variety means more time spent jumping between low and high ground, which encourages hang time. A number of levels have you dashing between mountain peaks with nothing below you to land on, and one of my favorite levels has you literally flying through the sky as you take out an entire fleet of airships with no ground at all beneath you; it’s an exhilarating experience.

I’m still not sure why the camera didn’t drive me as crazy as it did in the first Otogi. It continues to spin slowly in directions you don’t want it to, but this time around, it doesn’t seem to lead to as many cheap deaths, despite the fact that there are just as many enemies surrounding you as before. The only theory I can come up with is that your weapons have slightly more range or speed than in the first game, so that blindly stabbing in all directions is more effective than it was. I don’t have a copy of the first game to check on this, though, and I’m too lazy to do any empirical testing anyway.

Not knowing exactly why it’s so much better doesn’t change the fact that Otogi 2 seems to have fulfilled the promise that I saw in the first game, and it’s rare for me to have such a fulfilling experience playing a sequel. It’s a nice thing to see.