Izuna 2 takes off where the first game left off and after a brief catch-up about what happened in the first game, it's revealed that Shino's long lost sister has been making her way around the different towns. It's up to Izuna and the gang to track down Shino's more endowed sister and figure out what's going on.
The game is yet another entry in the newly popular genre of rogue-likes. While it's not as brutal as the Shiren games, don't expect this game to treat you lightly. I died at least ten times before finally reaching the game's first boss. Yes, the deaths were frustrating, but the boss fight was oh-so rewarding.
Izuna 2 features the tag system, which lets you pick two characters to take into the dungeon. You then get to switch between each character in the dungeon and when the Tag Gauge fills up, can unleash a Tag Attack. The Tag feature is a nice touch that makes an otherwise brutal game a little easier. It's like having one extra life, since the game isn't over until both characters die. The Tag Attack is also handy to have when you find yourself cornered and outnumbered in a room full of enemies.
I like that the hunger system found in other rogue-likes have been replaced with the SP gauge, which gets depleted whenever a character is attacked, when a talisman is used, and when characters spend too long on floors. The SP gauge can only be replenished in the dungeons by items, which means players have to be careful with their wandering around.
Also appreciated in Izuna 2 is the fact that when you die, your characters lose their entire inventory (except those with a talisman that sends the items back to the storehouse), but they still retain their character levels. This definitely makes the game easier, but that's not to say the game still isn't a challenge. It just makes the player feel like they made at least some progress. It also makes it easier to level up new characters that get unlocked as players delve further into the story.
Izuna 2 is a nice middle-ground for someone who wants to play a rogue-like but doesn't want to get trampled over like in a Shiren game, but also doesn't want to be coddled like in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. While I'm a fan of rogue-likes, which can make me biased towards them, I feel that Izuna 2 has enough RPG elements (such as the story) and leniencies (such as the Tag feature and keeping character levels) that even someone who is new but curious about this genre can enjoy the game.
One tidbit of advice: don't hoard items. It'll make it less frustrating when you die with an inventory full of things you should have used.
Images courtesy of Atlus.